Mountain West Digital Network

Panasonic P2 HD Cameras Offer Winning Combination of Streaming, Broadcast-Ready Video for Mountain West Digital Network

Challenge
To offer high definition, live streaming video for web and TV broadcast... with a crew of one.

Solution
The network deployed Panasonic AG-HPX600 and AG-HPX250, field cameras lightweight enough for solo shooting, but powerful enough to capture broadcast-quality HD video capable of streaming.

Result
The Mountain West Digital Network has already captured and streamed hundreds of videos – growing its viewership while maintaining low production costs.
The Mountain West Digital Network was established last year to cover the expanding Mountain West Conference's Division One college sports. In anticipation of its first season with a Championship Game, the network wanted to contemporize its athletics website with an abundance of relevant video content. For the task, it would need field-friendly, high quality cameras with streaming capabilities.

The network purchased a Panasonic AG-HPX600 P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorder as its primary acquisition camera, with a pair of AG-HPX250 P2 HD handhelds for backup. The 6.2-pound HPX600 features native 10-bit 4:2:2 AVC-Intra recording, and its future-proof options include an upgrade to AVC-ULTRA recording.

With newly-appointed award-winning sports broadcaster Jesse Kurtz as Executive Producer, the HPX600 has already been deployed as the "A" camera on major events such as the MWC's Women's Swimming and Diving Championship, held in San Antonio, TX; and the Men's and Women's Basketball Championship, held in Las Vegas, NV. Live streams of every swimming/diving final and all 16 basketball games were broadcast on the network's website.

Having spent more than 15 years as a reporter and sports anchor for local CBS affiliate KKTV, Kurtz was familiar with P2 HD solid-state workflow, and easily migrated to operating the new HPX600. "The HPX600 is truly top-of-line, with tremendous picture quality, remarkable in its clarity when tracking sports action," said Kurtz. "The four-channel digital audio is terrific: during the basketball tournament, I was able to record the natural sound of the crowds using the front ports, while capturing multiple radio calls on the third and fourth inputs."

Live Production Video Director Tim Laffoon knew that ease of use and flexibility were key. Laffoon recalls, "We wanted the quality of a 2/3-inch chip and the versatility of variable frame rates for potential field operation."

After reviewing the options available, James River Assembly added six Panasonic AG-HPX600 P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorders as the key component in its upgrade. Four of the camcorders were outfitted with Panasonic's 300Studio Systems and BT-LH910 nine-inch LCD production monitors, utilized on-camera as electronic viewfinders. The remaining two camcorders were deployed to operators on the stage.

Perfect for their handheld operators, the lightweight 6.2 pound cameras feature native 10-bit 4:2:2 AVC-Intra recording, with full streaming capabilities. Each week, two Sunday morning services are simulcast live from the South Campus to the West Campus and streamed on their online campus. James River Assembly also has a weekly TV show that airs on two local networks: KYTV and KRBK.

In both the South and West Campuses, services are projected onto three large screens. The simulcast at the West Campus has two individual feeds that are synced together to provide a center screen shot and then a normal IMAG shot on the side screens.

"The HPX600 was our optimal choice for migration to the HD world," said Laffoon. "With a full feature suite and various options to build-out the camera, the HPX600 gives us long-term flexibility: this is a camera we can grow with."

"While the HPX600 is one of Panasonic's top production cameras, with very little training it's quite intuitive to use," he added. "Easy operation is a crucial consideration as many of our operators are volunteers." His video production plans encompass taking HPX600s out in the field for pre-recorded segments, and potentially upgrading their existing cameras at the West Campus with the HPX600.

"The Gigabit Ethernet connection is crucial for our live streaming work," he added. "I like the fact that the color viewfinder is switchable to black-and-white. The camcorder's digital display is different from those of earlier P2 cameras, but once I mastered it I came to appreciate its user-friendliness and easy accessibility to the camera's extensive functionality."

Beyond live streaming of event coverage, Kurtz also supervises editing and posting highlights packages and post-game interviews for the website and for local news stations. In fact, Kurtz routinely shoots interviews and games across the conference's 18 sports, often working solo.

The Mountain West Digital Network found that Panasonic P2 HD cameras offer the right combination of mobility, streamability and high quality video for fast production and broadcast distribution. And for a conference that's on its way to its first Championship game, being prepared is its own victory.

"The Gigabit Ethernet connection is crucial for our live streaming work... The HPX600 is truly top-of-line, with tremendous picture quality, remarkable in its clarity when tracking sports action."
- Jesse Kurtz, Executive Producer, Mountain West Digital Network
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