TFWM: What direct benefits do you feel the church market can gain from the advent of the new AVC-Intra and AVCHD codecs?
Robert Harris: These two different implementations of AVC (or H.264) compression offer higher quality at a much lower bit rate cost than older MPEG-2 compression. Independent frame AVC-intra is made for demanding media production applications that allow faster workflow, hold up to compositing, and re-rendering much better than any Long GOP format. AVCHD, the next generation affordable HD format offered by Panasonic, Sony and more than 30 other manufacturers, offers the same HD quality as advanced Blu-ray disc players but offers much lower bitrates with longer recording times and less storage requirements than older HDV systems. Panasonic’s line of professional AVCHD camcorders, called AVCCAM, record onto SD cards like digital still cameras, so there is no need for a deck and digitizing video. And SD cards, which continue to grow in capacity, can be purchased anywhere. Products like our AG-HMC70 shoulder-mount, the compact AG-HSC1U and the forthcoming AG-HMC150 AVCCAM camcorders, makes AVCHD inexpensive and simple to use.
TFWM: What is Panasonic’s stance on working in conjunction with other manufacturers- similar to the approach taken with creating codecs in conjunction with SONY?
RH: As I mentioned, the new AVCHD format was introduced jointly by Panasonic and Sony. Hitachi recently announced that they will support P2 and AVC-Intra in some new products.
TFWM: Have you seen an increase in the demand for HD products from the house of worship market recently?
RH: Absolutely. Like everywhere else, people are buying new widescreen HD compatible flat panel TVs and video projectors. Churches have an important message and to hold the attention of their audience, they are utilizing the best tools that they can afford. HD provides the quality that people now expect and the compatibility with these new displays.
TFWM: What are your recommendations on how houses of worship can be making the transition from SD to HD?
RH: Probably more important than the movement to HD, is the transition of technology to tapeless, file based acquisition. Computers and networks are everywhere and compatibility with them is becoming a requirement. Solid-state recording in P2 or AVCHD offers fast, IT compatible workflow, with quick, random access to HD content, reliable performance, increased capacity and more.
Products that bridge the gap between the SD and HD worlds — like our AJ-HPM110 P2 Mobile (offers SDI and HD-SDI I/O) or AG-HVX200A (provides both DV tape and P2 solid-state recording), or AV-HS400 switcher (allows users to combine SD and HD sources) – are designed to ease the transition to HD.