Panasonic helps Dolphins deliver Fins TV

The Miami Dolphins, with the help of Panasonic AJ-HDC27 VariCam and AG-HVX200 DVCPRO HD camcorders, are giving fans in the stands and at home close-up interviews and other in-game features.

It’s all part of the stadium innovations project undertaken by the Miami Dolphins and Dolphin Stadium, with new technology is being implemented to provide fans with more entertainment and an enhanced experience. The stadium recently installed the largest high-definition video boards in professional sports and the longest ribbon board in the world. With all this new technology, the Dolphins needed the right cameras to maximize the use of the high-definition boards.

Jeff Griffith, Director of Programming and Production, is responsible for a variety of unique programming and video production needs of this NFL football team. His team of videographers covers all types of challenging assignments such as commercials, interviews, highlight reels, in-game features, community events and public service announcements as well as providing content for Fins TV, the first-ever 52-week show of its kind on the Miami Dolphins shown each week on the local NBC affiliate, Comcast Cable and DirecTV. In addition, team videographers capture special projects ranging from instructional videos for youth football leagues to community events where players visit local high schools to inspire students to succeed in sports and life.

“Whether it’s a community event or a new commercial, wherever the players are, we bring the Varicam and HVX200 right along to capture the footage,” said Griffith. “We’re asked to do all kinds of video work, so we needed cameras that are just as versatile.”

With access to the camera’s flexible recording formats, Griffith’s video team shoots in the 720P format accepted by their super-sized stadium video boards, but can also take advantage of the camera’s ability to shoot 1080i as well. The recent purchase is one of many efforts to enhance the game experience for fans and viewers.

“The cameras produce amazing details. The range and clarity of the picture are almost too perfect, picking up every possible detail,” said Griffith. “We were zooming in on people at a practice and I could even see the five o’clock shadow on their faces when the footage is displayed on the Daktronic video board. Sometimes we have to pull out because we are seeing too much detail. We thought it would just be a step above Digital Betacam, but it went well beyond. Also, there is very little need for color correction. It’s unbelievable.”

Griffith added HVX200 to his team’s equipment roster mainly because of its ability to shoot such high-quality HD content as well as the operating convenience of P2 solid-state memory recording. “Using P2, if I don’t want a clip I can delete it,” said Griffith. We can shoot off our hard drive and the footage is already designated by clips.”

With HVX200, Griffith said he likes the fact he can record on P2 cards or on Mini-DV videotape depending on the event.

“One time, we took the HVX200 to shoot a commercial feature in the Bahamas,” Griffith recalled. “The temperatures were very high at that time, but despite the heat and humidity, the camera always performed well with no fog condensation at all. It really has exceeded our expectations. We have never been so excited about shooting.”

The Dolphins edit the DVCPRO HD and digital footage on Avid systems, seamlessly integrating footage from the HVX200 and VariCam.

Panasonic’s AJ-HDC27 VariCam replicates many of the key features of film-based image acquisition, including 24-frame progressive scan images, time lapse recording, and a wide range of variable frame rates (4-fps to 60-fps in single-frame increments) for “overcranked” and “undercranked” off-speed in-camera effects. The AJ-HDC27 VariCam also features CineGamma™ software that permits Panasonic’s HD Cinema camera systems to more closely match the latitude of film stocks.

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