CES Report: JVC Unveils 4K Handheld Camcorder, Sees Potential for 4K in Sports

The buzz around 4K technology got a huge boost at CES this week in Las Vegas, when JVC unveiled what the company says is the world’s first handheld 4K camcorder. The GY-HMQ10 captures, records, and plays video at 3840×2160, four times the resolution of HDTV. And, although widespread 4K distribution of live sports programming still looks to be years away, JVC’s offering does present some enticing possibilities in the world of sports production.

“[We realize that] the sports market isn’t [currently] using 4K for distribution of programming and that is not likely to change anytime soon,” says Dave Walton, assistant VP, marketing communications, JVC Professional Products Co. “However, our GY-HMQ10 does open up some interesting possibilities in this field.”

Powered by JVC’s Falconbrid large-scale integration (LSI) chip for high-speed signal processing and a ½-in. CMOS imager with 8.3 million active pixels, it is capable of delivering real-time 3840×2160 footage at 24p, 50p, or 60p. The 4K camcorder is scheduled to hit the market in March at a retail price of $4,995.

A Full-4K Workflow
High-resolution 4K still-picture imaging has been around for several years in DSLR cameras, but motion-video capture with these cameras has always been done at a lower video resolution because of lack of processing power. However, the GY-HMQ10 is able to capture, process, display, and record full-4K images in real time.

JVC’s Falconbrid LSI processing takes raw image data from the camera’s CMOS device and dematrixes (deBayers) it in real time. According to JVC, the GY-HMQ10 is able to output 4K images to a monitor or projection system in real time with virtually no latency. In addition, using MPEG-4 technology and a variable-bitrate H.264 codec operating at up to 144 Mbps, the GY-HMQ10 records up to two hours of 4K video to SDHC or SDXC memory cards.

4K for Coaching
This long running time, combined with the ability to output 4K video for display opens up a bevy of possibilities on the capture side of live sports coverage.

“The camera can record 4K for two hours using 32-GB memory cards, which is enough for most games,” says Walton. “Even longer recording is possible on SDXC media.”

In addition to 4K, the GY-HMQ10 also captures and records 1080i or 1080/60p Full HD, with extensive detail provided by its 8.3-megapixel imager and superior lens. HD is recorded on a single memory card in a format compatible with most editing systems.

The camcorder also boasts the ability to crop an HD image from a 4K frame. This can be accomplished in postproduction or in real time during camera playback. The “trimming” feature makes HD cropping easy via the camera’s touch-panel LCD monitor. This function presents a potentially revolutionary workflow for video coaching analysis.

“By recording a game in 4K at 60p, the coaching staff can go back and view plays in greater detail by panning and zooming an HD frame within the 4K picture,” says Walton. “And 60p images provide excellent slow-motion quality when viewed at a reduced frame rate. The GY-HMQ10 provides a net benefit to the coaching staff by offering more-precise, higher-quality imaging with fewer cameras and operators.

Although not all the components of this “sports-viewing–system” workflow are available to coaching staffs, Walton says JVC is currently “working with partners who may be able to offer this capability very soon.”

4K for Sports Broadcasters
The trimming feature is not just for coaches, however. Because the camera is capable of providing live 4K output, sports productions could potentially use this function for game telecasts.

“It would be possible to perform this same pan-and-zoom function with a live signal, which is something that sports broadcasters may find intriguing,” says Walton. “Again, it would require specialized viewing hardware from a third-party manufacturer.”

Camera Specs
Similar in size to JVC’s lightweight GY-HM150 ProHD camcorder, the GY-HMQ10 includes a built-in F2.8 10x zoom lens with optical image stabilizer, as well as a color viewfinder and 3.5-in. touch LCD monitor with a new, intuitive user interface.

The GY-HMQ10 is equipped with manual level controls for audio, with audio metering in the LCD and viewfinder displays. A microphone holder and two balanced XLR connectors with phantom power are located on the handle. The camera is equipped with a built-in stereo mic for ambient sound pickup.

Other features include JVC’s patented Focus Assist, as well as manual and auto control of focus, iris, gain, shutter, gamma, color matrix, and white balance. Plus, the camera has the unusual capability of live 4K output via four HDMI terminals.

A Commitment to 4K
The introduction of the GY-HMQ10 represents JVC’s latest move into the 4K market, following a line of home-theater 4K projectors in September 2011. In addition, JVC’s high-end projectors are widely used in commercial flight simulators and planetariums.

“We’re witnessing the birth of what is destined to become a broad market for full-4K end-to-end production,” says Edgar Shane, GM of engineering, JVC Professional Products Co. “[This is] part of a larger move at JVC to bring 4K technology to a wide range of customers. The GY-HMQ10 is a breakthrough product that opens up 4K imaging to users who previously wouldn’t have considered it.

“4K is the logical step beyond HD,” he adds. “And JVC is uniquely positioned to lead the industry in this new direction.”

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