Panasonic released details on a lot of revolutionary solutions in Amsterdam. Here we’ve rounded up some of the highlights including 8K sensor development, a brand-new IP-based platform that starts with an IP switcher, VR studio technology and more.

NEW | IT/IP-centric platform development

Panasonic used IBC to show its latest development in the form of a groundbreaking IP-based platform. We say platform because it is not a dedicated tool. It is based on an open software architecture and is scalable with off-the-shelf IT hardware include servers, PCs and network switches. We were told that the platform is not scheduled for release until April 2020, but because there is such confidence in its performance and stability, it was the central hub of the stand at the show.

The key feature is that despite being IP-based, it will have a latency of just 1 frame regardless of the resolution – be it SD, Full-HD, 4K, 8K etc. It is also format-independent, meaning it can support baseband and IP signals such as SDI, ST2110 and NDI, all of which can be handled simultaenously. Fully embracing the latest IP technologies, the platform is ready for Remote Production and can be integrated within a full IP-based environment. As a result of the platform being software-based, the latest advances in CPU and GPU processing means that the platform is extremely efficient and helps achieve performance levels currently impossible with traditional hardware-based products.

The GUI for the platform is extremely intuitive and well-designed, and can be customised according to how the operator chooses to work. This includes the option of managing an unlimited number of video layers. We think that it will also open up the opportunity for a lot more people to vision mixing in the future too! We also think that the platform is the perfect solution for a smooth transition to the IP world and offers a new level of flexibility and control. More to come!

NEW | 8K Organic Sensor

Panasonic have designed an 8K Organic sensor. With first commercial use anticipated at the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo in the form factor of a box camera, the organic sensor has a number of competitive advantages.

The first is that it has a wide dynamic range of between 15 and 16 stops, which helps deliver more colours and higher-quality images than ever before. It also has electronic ND filters, which can either introduce or reduce light more smoothly than its traditional Optical Neutral Density counterparts. The additional advantage of being a global shutter over rolling shutter is thaat it removes the skew found when shooting fast-moving images, as well as eliminating flashband from still-camera lighting.

The interview with Takashi Ishii covers the technology in a little more detail, and he also commented that after the Olympics, Panasonic will be implementing the technology into Panasonic’s motion image camera technology in the future. We really hope to see it in the next incarnation of the VariCam, EVA1 and S-Series. Watch this space!

8K ROI (Region Of Interest)

Panasonic followed up the 8K theme with its demonstration of the 8K ROI (Region of Interest) camera system, which promises to change the landscape of broadcast production. The 8K ROI system is able to produce 4 different HD signals from a single 8K camera system. The 8K sensor produces a wide angle, large canvas, out of which four separate “crops” can be generated out of the processing unit.

Multiple cameras can be integrated across the system, with a main operator-controlled camera linked to further sub-cameras, which can also be pre-programmed prior to the event. As a result, a single operator can control multiple cameras each with several pre-set crops. The 8K ROI system also includes an automated picture correction technology, which ensures that any distorted images are corrected and cropped with a natural, cut out, Full HD image from within the main 8K image.

We believe that the system is going to improve the coverage of a live event thanks to its ability to offer the director additional camera positions from one location, making it the perfect option for sports production, live events and even studio environments. The camera system consists of a 8K multi-purpose camera (AK-SHB800), a processing unit (AK-SHU800) and framing control software (AK-SFC101), and goes on sale in Europe later this month at an RRP* of €130,000.

NEW | 4K Switcher (AV-UHS500)

We’ve been waiting for a 4K upgrade to the widely-used AV-HS410 for a while now, so we were particularly pleased to see the announcement of the AV-UHS500 compact switcher. It features 12G-SDI compatibility, and the option for multi-format support for 4K and Full-HD environments. It also features expandable inputs which can control up to 16 SDI-based cameras or 8 HDMI-based cameras.

The unit is equipped with 5 keyers, including 2ch of chroma-key and 2ch of PinP, to enable a variety of production effects. The switcher is also equipped with an up/down conversion function, HDR/SDR conversion function and ITU-R BT.2020/BT.709 conversion function. These enable the flexibility to select video output as needed in environments where there are a variety of formats being used. Operators will also be able to fully control Panasonic PTZs straight from the switcher which is another first. We see this going straight into PPUs for live events and staging, OB vans and corporate studios.

NEW | 4K shoulder-mount camcorder (AJ-CX4000)

The AJ-CX4000 is a B4 lens mount, interchangeable lens camera recorder that will typically be used for broadcast use. It is equipped with a large-sized 11MP image sensor and enables high quality 4K (UHD) image recording with a horizontal resolution of 2000 TV lines. It is also compatible with HDR, thanks to being compliant with BT.2100 and BT.2020.

In order to help broadcasters with the transmission to UHD, it features a HEVC codec that supports longer recording time for UHD 10-bit images whilst keeping the storage size under control. It also supports the “AVC-ULTRA” CODEC (HD) from the conventional P2HD Series.

It appears that Panasonic have made this camera with live-streaming capabilities at the forefront of their minds. A HD stream can be taken using the “Direct Streaming” function, compatible with RTSP, RTMP and RTMPS. The LAN terminal, equipped with a lock mechanism (1000BASE-T compatibility), supports NDI|HX connectivity. Transmission and camera control is possible with an IP connection and can be linked to a recording/distribution system combined with Panasonic’s remote cameras.

Virtual studios and augmented reality

Panasonic has been working with two of the leading players in virtual studio and augmented reality to ensure their systems work seamlessly with Panasonic broadcast cameras. The AW-UE150 camera is the first PTZ on the market to provide Position Data Notification (PTZF), and thanks to the adoption of the FreeD protocol, it is compatible with Virtual Studio and Augmented Reality applications, providing real-time positioning to the VR/AR engines.

Panasonic and Zero Density have combined to provide a cost-effective and photorealistic virtual studio production solution for small to mid-range TV stations and content providers. Zero Density’s Reality EngineTM virtual production software combined with the Panasonic 4K PTZ camera (AW-UE150) delivers a powerful, high-quality and affordable solution to provide many more users with access to virtual studio applications.

Panasonic has also worked closely with Brainstorm, the all-in-one virtual set and real-time 3D graphics solution provider, to certify its Panasonic 4K PTZ camera AW-UE150 for use with its products. Brainstorm’s award-winning InfinitySet dramatically enhances production value to capture and retain new and larger audiences, whilst greatly reducing production costs and opening up new sources of revenue.