KEYC-TV, a CBS affiliate for nearly 50 years, serves a widespread market throughout southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. For the past three years, we have also operated as a Fox affiliate on an ancillary DTV channel.
This spring, with the addition of four Panasonic AG-HPX370 P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorders, we converted our newsgathering operations to a tapeless, solid-state workflow.
When we started up the Fox affiliation, we invested in two AG-HVX200A P2 HD handhelds that worked with our tape-based ENG camcorders. As we examined our mid-term plans for high-definition news origination, we realized that a key component would be the elimination of videotape. Our experience with the HVX200As had acclimated us to a P2 workflow, and we'd seen how fast we could edit with the separate ingest/digitization process removed from the equation. We were also interested in a larger camera form-factor, and were considering Panasonic's AG-HPX300 just as its successor model, the AG-HPX370, became available.
PAVING THE WAY FOR HD NEWS
Even though we will continue to shoot standard-definition news for a while, we've seen improvements in our overall video quality, even in SD. When we do make the transition to high-definition, the HPX370 will provide us with an acquisition tool for producing network-quality HD images.
We're now shooting two hours of local news daily on 32 GB P2 cards, which work across all our editing platforms: Adobe, Avid, Edius and Final Cut Pro. We can really knock out a piece in a hurry, which gives us a competitive edge.
TECHNOLOGY THAT'S EASY TO USE
The HPX370 had a negligible learning curve, a critical element for a station such as ours, which essentially operates without news photographers. Everyone except our meteorologist uses the cameras and shoots and edits stories. We have no specialists, only generalists. And we've all found the HPX370 to be quite user-friendly.
Our production department has already used the HPX370s for some commercial and promo projects. While these have been shot in standard-definition, we do anticipate using the HPX370 for HD commercial work later this year.
The camcorder's color viewfinder is a tremendous help in setting up shots. It's a simple matter to make any necessary up/down iris adjustments. Our staff is constantly sharing gear and the cameras get banged around, so we appreciate the resilience of the camcorder's internal mounting mechanism. We've also been very impressed with the HPX370's battery life. Our batteries are lasting a lot longer than those we used with our tape-based camcorders.
Overall, we've been very satisfied with the HPX370's performance and are confident that our investment has future-proofed us for our ultimate high-definition news operation.