Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Upgrades Broadcast Facility With Four Panasonic AK-HC3800 HD Studio Cameras

With Field Segments Shot on VariCam® 3700s, Signature 'Electronic Field Trips' Series Will Be Broadcast in HD on PBS Stations and Cable Channels

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, which operates the world's largest living history museum in Williamsburg, VA, has just installed four Panasonic AK-AC3800 studio cameras as part of an overall HD upgrade of its broadcast studio. For the past four years, the Foundation has assigned its extensive field production assignments to a pair of Panasonic AJ-HPX3700 P2 HD VariCam camcorders.

During the upcoming 2014-2015 school year, the VariCams and HC3800s will team up on pre-production and live broadcasts of the Foundation's Emmy-Award winning Electronic Field Trips (EFT), live Internet events and television broadcasts for fourth through eighth grades. The EFT program is designed so that classrooms around the world can experience interactive history lessons from Colonial Williamsburg.

The EFT broadcast schedule features seven one-hour live programs airing October through April on participating public broadcasting stations, as well as on educational and cable channels. Viewers can also watch via free online streaming.

The Foundation's Director of Productions Bill Wagner explained that the HC3800s will be used to produce at least five live webcasts, beginning this September, as well as to support the institution's expansive educational mandate with video assets.

"This year, our EFT program will be fully HD, and the HC3800s are certainly a linchpin of that transition," said Wagner. "Based on our superior experience with the VariCams, we were disposed to consider a Panasonic studio camera, and we were sold on the HC3800's attractive pricing and superb color handling, which is so similar to that of the HPX3700."

"We been doing preliminary work with the HC3800s and can immediately appreciate the depth of the camera's color space. And with its F11 sensitivity, we need less illumination in the studio," he added. "Our studio output has never looked like our VariCam field work before, but with the HC3800's precision 16-bit image processing, we are realizing that."

Wagner said that along with the four HC3800s, the Foundation also purchased four AK-HCU200 CCU units, which have two HD/SD-SDI output channels and two additional HD/SD-SDI output channels that can be used in conjunction with the picture monitor outs.

Since 2010, the Foundation has shot hundreds of field and studio assignments with the HPX3700 VariCams, ranging from single-camera interviews in the broadcast studio to the elaborate scripted, historic reenactments that are shot for the EFTs.

"We love the HPX3700's image production and low-light handling," Wagner said. "Our field assignments are wide ranging and we use the VariCams on sticks, dollies, jibs and often shoot handheld. We're very comfortable with the P2 workflow."

The HPX3700s are outfitted with Canon zoom lenses; Wagner shoots AVC-Intra 100 in 1080/30p, and edits in HD on Avid Symphony.

"Until now, we've been all-HD in the field, but with SD deliverables," he noted. "With our studio and truck HD upgrades, we'll be all HD, including broadcasts of the EFTs this coming year. We're happy with our decision to stay with the Panasonic family of cameras."

For more information about the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation,


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