NY Jets Huddle Up With Panasonic P2 HD Format

By Ken Kerschbaumer

The New York Jets are the latest NFL team to embrace the Panasonic P2 HD format, using two AJ-HPX3000 native 1080p one-piece camcorders, along with P2 drives and media and a DVCPRO HD VTR at a new postproduction facility at the Jets’ Florham Park, NJ, headquarters and training center.

“Right now, we’re shooting HD content that will be archived when our new postproduction house is built in 2009,” says Rich Gentile, New York Jets senior director of broadcasting/multimedia production. “We want to have HD footage already in hand, so we’re acquiring footage from games, player appearances, and other events.”

Gentile is well-acquainted with the HPX3000, having been involved in the purchase of several of the cameras for the Philadelphia Eagles Television Network, his employer prior to the Jets. “Then and now,” he says, “I selected the HPX3000 based on its master-quality HD imaging, its versatility with a range of shooting styles, whether for games, training camp, interviews, events, closed sets, and commercials, and its solid-state all-around ruggedness.”

One feature he likes is the ability to change the look of the video depending on the subject. “We can go from HD quality to lesser quality, and we also don’t have to shoot in 16:9,” he explains. “For example, when we are shooting an interview, we’ll shoot at 30 frames per second, but we’ll shoot games at 60 frames per second. I also like the time-lapse function.”

Another strong feature is the ability to mark clips. “That comes in handy when shooting an uncontrollable event like a football game or appearance,” he says. “We can mark 50 clips but then bring it into the laptop for editing, and only the favorite shots will show up on the screen.”

Once the team’s postproduction facility is fully operational in early 2009, the chief role of the cameras will be to produce multipurpose broadcast programming. In the interim, material is displayed inside the team’s training center.

“The HPX3000 delivers as clean and robust an image as I could possibly want and offers even more: the camera is exceptionally sturdy and impervious to travel, heat, humidity, salt air, and sand,” says Gentile. “That pretty much sums up the football season from training camp through the Pro Bowl.”

Much of Gentile’s camerawork is shot handheld (games, camps, events), but he also has the HPX3000 on platforms or tripods to shoot interviews. The camcorders are equipped with Canon KJ21ex7.6B IRSE portable HDTV production lenses.

Gentile notes that he included the AJ-HD1400 DVCPRO VTR in his production package to enable him to output to DVCPRO HD tape when necessary and also to ingest footage from outside sources.

The challenge of using P2 HD is configuring a long-term archiving solution as the P2 storage cards are reused time and time again. “That’s the biggest issue with P2, but what we’re going to do is use external hard drives that will be our equivalent of tapes on a wall,” he says. “We’ll save the clips we want to the hard drive and then clear the P2 card.”

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