Panasonic Olympic broadcast cameras clock speeds of 1GB a minute

By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: Panasonic’s DVCPRO HD is the official recording format of the Beijing Olympic Games and its broadcast quality cameras use P2 solid-state memory cards instead of tapes, which Panasonic says saves weight and reduces CO2 emissions.

Living up to the promise of making the Beijing Olympic Games the first in history to be broadcast entirely in full high definition (HD) is Panasonic’s responsibility, as supplier of the official recording equipment.

The company has supplied around 100 of its DVCPRO P2 HD cameras that record onto P2 cards instead of videotape. Each P2 card (which is itself a bank of four memory cards) totals up to 32 GB and the cameras take up to five P2 cards for a maximum total of 160 GB of storage space. At the high data requirements of broadcast quality recording, the 160 GB provides around 160 minutes of full HD recording time or 2.67 hours — a rate of 1 GB per minute.

Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co Ltd (BOB) use Panasonic’s P2 cameras to film the HD footage. Guest international broadcasters then take this footage and can make their own programs with it by adding their own commentary to the official broadcast as well as filming their own content such as interviews after an event with their country’s athletes.

Another advantage of the P2 cards is that they can be viewed and edited instantly without interrupting filming. P2 cards also plug directly into a laptop, use USB 2.0, and can be rewritten tens of thousand of times, according to Panasonic.

Panasonic also says that using P2 cards instead of videotape allows a broadcast station to reduce its CO2 emissions by 1.5 tons and Panasonic says that they can gain a further 0.5 ton saving by virtue of the fact that solid state memory cameras reportedly use less power.

As with other technologies that have trickled down to consumer camcorders, such as 3CCD, while Panasonic hasn’t announced any plans to offer P2 technology on consumer cameras in future, the storage potential of the P2 format is huge with 32GB cards already currently available to consumers.

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