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Panasonic Rollouts Focus on Delivering Live, Engaging, Immersive Experiences with Remote Workflows

New releases include AK-HC3900 studio cam, AW-UE100 4K PTZ camera, and KAIROS live production platform

Panasonic’s May 6 “Future of Live Production” virtual press conference brought announcements of a handful of eye-catching new products for live producers that the broadcast video giant would have unveiled at this year’s NAB had the show gone on. Including a new 4K studio/field camera, an SRT-supporting PTZ model, and a new IP-driven live production platform, the new releases highlight efficient remote production capabilities in tune with current realities, but also emphasizing workflows that elevate the fruits of remote production beyond “good enough for now” to the realm of engaging, and even immersive live video.

Panasonic kicked off the briefing by unveiling the AK-HC3900 HD/HDR studio/field camera system (Figure 1, below), successor to the warhorse HC3800, which augments Panasonic’s existing line with expanded multi-format support that now includes 7 different 1080 formats, as well as a built-in upgrade path to 4K 60p/50p thanks to an internal, HDR-capable 4K imaging system that supports HDR and ITU-R BT.2020 wide color space. 4K support is available as an optional upgrade.

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Figure 1. Panasonic’s AK-HC3900 new studio/field camera system

The HC3900’s new cost-effective AK-HCU250PJ/PSJ/EJ/ESJ camera control unit (CCU), in combination with the new AK-HRP250GJ remote operation panel (ROP), will connect the high-grade uncompressed video and control to the camera head via optical fiber or utilize SMPTE Hybrid cable to provide camera power as well. The new CCU includes all the system features of the HC3800 along with simultaneous output of HDR/SDR, and the HC3900’s expanded multi-format capabilityand 4K upgrade path. New features include 3G trunk and 3G prompter functions. The new ROP now includes PoE power (no power supply required) for easy installation. HC3900 users can choose between 2 LCD electronic viewfinders, the 9” AK-HVF100GJ or the 7” AK-HVF75G. The camera, ROP, and LCDs, sold separately, will ship in Q4 2020 with pricing TBA.

Panasonic also unveiled the latest addition to its eminent line of PTZ cams, the 4K AW-UE100 (Figure 2, below). The UE100 features Panasonic’s 60p-capable 1/2.5” 4K CMOS sensor, and supports multiple interfaces including 12G-SDI, 3G-SDI, HDMI, and a range of IP protocols, among them the field-leveling NDI | HX. The UE100 sports a wide-angle lens with a horizontal angle of view of 74.1 degrees—enabling wide shots in relatively tight spaces—and a 24x optical zoom.

Figure 2. The Panasonic AW-UE100 4K PTZ camera

Panasonic Remote Production Product Manager Hamid James highlighted the UE100’s “totally new direct-drive pan & tilt design,” implemented to reduce operational costs and create efficient four-axis movement. James also touted the PTZ camera’s support for Secure Reliable Transport (SRT), asserting that it allows “the best image quality and secure streaming over the public internet in real time.” Its RTMP/RTMPS function provides direct streaming via a single cable to live broadcasting services such as YouTube Live and Facebook Live.

The PTZ camera’s FreeD output enables connection with AR/VR systems and allows camera tracking information (pan/tilt/zoom/focus/iris) to easily build systems without an encoder. According to James, this feature makes AR/VR production more accessible and cost-effective for webcast producers, and gives UE100 users the necessary tools to create “more realistic, engaging, and immersive experiences.”

The AW-UE100 will ship in Q3 with pricing as yet undetermined.

Mike Bergeron, SVP, Live Production, introduced the company’s ambitious new KAIROS live production platform—pegged as the title track of Panasonic’s “Future of Live Video Production” presentation. KAIROS (Figure 3, below) is a next-gen IT/IP video processing platform that offers an open-architecture system for live video switching with complete I/O flexibility, resolution- and format-independence, and reported maximum CPU/GPU processor utilization and virtually unlimited ME scalability.

Figure 3. KAIROS live production platform schematic

Designed to deliver “creative and operational freedom for efficient production of expressive live video,” KAIROS is built for TV studios transitioning to IP-based production and houses of worship whose workflows demand diverse screen management. “With an ever-growing set of tools and hardware, producers need a comprehensive solution for multiple applications to break free of the boundaries of traditional hardware,” Bergeron said. “KAIROS is the ideal platform for taking advantage of ST 2110 and IP for distributed workflows.” Going “all in on IP future frees us from the constraints of fixed hardware,” Bergeron added. “We don’t want to lock people into a format.”

The KAIROS system centers around the KAIROS Core mainframe, which handles all video processing. Version 1 mainframe will manage video I/O through a Deltacast gateway card and/or a Mellanox 100 GbE NIC (Network Interface Card) connection to COTS IP devices and SDI and HDMI gateways. Control will be managed on devices operating over a separate Gbit Ethernet including Kairos Creator, GUI software for setup, and software-based control panel and KAIROS Control, Panasonic’s 2ME-style hardware control panel.

Going “all in on IP frees us from the constraints of fixed hardware,” Bergeron added. “We don’t want to lock people into a format.”