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  PANASONIC AK-HC900 HD P-O-V CAMERA EQUIPS SKYCAM FOR BIRDSí-EYE VIEWS OF ESPN SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Panasonic 16:9/4:3 Convertible Camera Also Handling Aerial Assignment for ABCís Monday Night Football

AK-HC900SECAUCUS, NJ (October 15, 2003) - As the camera mounted to the Skycam aerial broadcast system, Panasonic’s ultra-compact AK-HC900 high definition progressive scan point-of-view (POV) model is playing a critical role in capturing the dramatic action of the National Football League’s featured games airing weekly on ESPN’s Sunday Night Football.

On another pro football assignment, Panasonic’s AW-800A 2/3” 3-CCD 16:9/4:3 convertible camera is handling a similar Skycam assignment for this season of ABC’s Monday Night Football telecasts. The patented Skycam® system, from CF InFlight, Ltd. (Malvern, PA), is virtually a flying Steadicam®, a broadcast-quality, robotic camera, suspended from a cable-driven, computerized transport system. Its unique design makes the Skycam the world’s only stabilized camera system that can unobtrusively fly anywhere in a defined three-dimensional space - right in the middle of a sporting event.

CF InFlight President and CEO Roland Thompson explained that the Panasonic POV cameras are mounted on the bottom of the Skycams, and through the dynamics of the systems can spin in any direction, even operating upside down. (The Skycam requires two operators, one in the press box flying the camera, the second running the glass.)

AK-HC900“The Skycams follow the play, especially high punts, then fall back looking over the quarterback’s shoulder,” Thompson said. “While we were very pleased with the performance of the AW-E800A in the most demanding circumstances, we needed to keep in step with major clients—ESPN and ABC—as they expand their amount of HD sports programming in 720P. We are making a similar commitment to deliver HD image quality to the viewer. And the results with the AK-HC900 have been nothing short of spectacular. The images look great in motion, and there’s a considerable weight advantage.”

He added, “We chose the Panasonic camera because it was the only HD box camera on the market with the size, performance and weight to fit our specifications and our 720P broadcast requirements. Another significant, influential factor was the camera’s successful performance with professional baseball.”
The Skycam system is composed of three distinct components (Central Control, the Spar, and the Reel) linked together through a highly sophisticated fiber optic network to create one of the most dynamic sports broadcasting tools available today. Two 1/2 feet tall and weighing under 30 lbs, the Skycam can fly at speeds of up to 30 mph. Small, fast and maneuverable, it can be quickly positioned to provide coverage from virtually any location and angle. With its speed and maneuverability the Skycam can provide a tremendous variety of shots, producing great aerial “blimp” coverage, beautiful crane style sweeping shots, and dolly and tracking shots that can span up to 800 feet.

AK-HC900Thompson said that InFlight plans to implement two additional HD Skycam systems with AK-HC900 cameras in the near future. The 3.9-pound AK-HC900 provides astounding color reproduction accuracy and its compact size opens new avenues for high-definition sports coverage, television program production, business communications, and government and scientific imaging. The AK-HC900 offers a 720-line high definition output at 60 progressive frames per second, an ideal configuration for sports coverage. The camera employs three 2/3” 1 million-pixel (1280 x 720) IT CCDs with dramatically improved dark and highlight image quality.

Earlier this year, Panasonic AK-HC900 HD cameras were used extensively during the broadcasts of the NHL and NBA final series, as well as the playoff series leading up to both leagues’ championships. The ABC Television Network utilized the AK-HC900 to capture its on-air talent, crowd reactions and field shots for the HD broadcast of the Super Bowl XXXVII telecast in San Diego, CA last January.

For challenging lighting and scene settings, the high-sensitivity AK-HC900 offers extensive gain control settings (-6 to 62dB), a minimum illumination of 0.03 lux, with a high sensitivity of F10 at 2000 lux when operating at 60-fps. The camera is equipped as standard with an RS-422/RS-232C control port that allows it to be integrated with a variety of remote control systems.