Michigan Football Seeks Clearer View of the Action With Panasonic HD Gear

In football, coaches look for an edge in preparation anywhere they can get one. Sometimes, it’s as simple as having a clearer view than the other guy.

For the University of Michigan Wolverines, it’s going hi-def. This season, the video staff has begun shooting with Panasonic AG-HPX370 P2 HD camcorders to capture game action and practices for coaching analysis.

In addition to four AG-HPX370s, the Big 10 team has also invested in five AG-HMR10 handheld AVCCAM HD recorder/players, an AG-HPX170 P2 HD handheld camcorder for roaming coverage, and PT-DZ570 series DLP native-WUXGA-resolution projectors to display footage in meeting rooms for coaches and players.

“The solution, to me, is ideal,” says Phil Bromley, senior media designer for Michigan football.

Not only does the new equipment allow Bromley and his staff to produce clear, HD content with a quick turnaround time for the Wolverines coaching staff, but it also gives the team piece of mind in knowing that no footage will be lost along the way.

“We’ve already had instances where, if you had just one camera and something happens, you don’t have a backup,” says Bromley. “The nice thing about our setup for the Panasonic way is, you’re still shooting it on P2 in the background and, at the same time, you’re pushing out that HMR10. That’s really the magic of having that video.”

Bromley teams each HPX370 camcorder with an HMR10, taking advantage of the AVCCAM recorder’s ability to take an HD-SDI feed. The camcorder-and-recorder configuration combines the redundant, higher-quality recordings of P2 HD with the lower data rates of AVCCAM recording.

“To me, it’s been unbelievable,” says Bromley. “The ingest time is fantastic. When you’re working in situations on away games, you’ve got film for the coaches 30 minutes after the game. It’s all ready for them to view in offense, defense, and kicking.”

The video crew shoots with three camcorders at a game (two on end-zone platforms, one on the sidelines) and four at practices. The footage is recorded through the HPX370s’ HD-SDI output directly to the HMR10, and the software (Thunder Football HD by XOS Digital) allows Bromley to serve the AVCHD video to many clients at a very low bit rate.

“We’re definitely in a good time right now, because it’s not going to get much better than where we are at right now,” says Bromley. “I know people always say that, but I see it in real time.”

The AG-HPX370 is an interchangeable-lens camcorder (Bromley outfits his with a Fujinon BERM 18x HD lens) with 10-bit, 4:2:2 , independent-frame full 1920×1080-resolution AVC-Intra recording. The HPX370 incorporates newly developed ⅓-in., Full HD, 2.2-megapixel ULT (Ultra Luminance Technology) 3-MOS imagers and a 20-bit digital-signal processor to acquire native 1920×1080-resolution images.

Meanwhile, the AG-HMR10 recorder offers a portable method of recording and viewing 1080 and 720 AVCHD footage. The battery-powered device can be teamed with the optional ultra-compact AK-HCK10 Full HD camera head to form a point-of-view camera/recorder system. Because it is equipped with HD-SDI in/out, the HMR10 can also serve as a standalone recorder for any HD-SDI-capable camera, switcher and deck.

“It’s just a whole lot better for the coaches,” says Bromley. “They’re able to see things a lot clearer now. They spend about 50% of their time watching film anyway, so why not make it the best you can for them?”

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