Adding Internet protocol and connectivity to a video camera isn’t a new idea. JVC created the first "streaming video" camera, the Streamcorder, in 2002. While the camera was a success, its importance was reduced by the limited bandwidth available a decade ago. Today, with robust Wi-Fi networks blanketing most urban centers, JVC returns to the market with the Wi-Fi-capable camcorder that actually may go viral.
The GY-HM650 is a three-chip, handheld HD camcorder with a 23:1 lens capable of simultaneously recording full HD and web-friendly 1/4 HD files. Announced at NAB 2012 and shown in prototype form at IBC, the HM650 is scheduled to hit the market in November 2012. Aimed at mobile news gathering (MNG) shooters, which evolved from electronic news gathering (ENG), the HM650 meets the demand generated by both the technological advances in broadband connectivity and the willingness of broadcasters to employ every source of media imaginable. JVC now offers professional MNG shooters higher quality, superior connectivity and features that promise to far outstrip handheld camcorders, as well as iPhones.
Expect to see more metro news crews hanging out at free Wi-Fi cafés. Soon, the HM650’s onboard FTP and Wi-Fi connectivity will make rarer the ubiquitous microwave trucks with their teetering antennae. After shooting a ratings-winning new clip, crews won’t lose their scoop due to a slow HD upload nor sacrifice quality. The HM650 will shoot and store two simultaneous streams of video—one in a web-friendly 480×270 size (H.264) and one in full HD (MPEG2 or AVCHD).
Once recorded, clips can be uploaded by the operator in the field to his or her station via the onboard FTP and Wi-Fi. Later, when the crew returns to base, the higher-resolution clips can be given to the editor for inclusion in the next broadcast at full resolution. A standard-definition H.264 codec also will be included as a switchable recording format, allowing the operator to send 1/4 HD to one card and SD to another. Like most recent JVC camcorders, low-cost SDHC/SDXC memory cards are the preferred medium.
Responding to the many postproduction options now being used by broadcasters and filmmakers alike, the HM650 will employ a wide media format compatibility, offering .MOV (MPEG2, HD/SD) for Apple’s Final Cut Pro, MP4 for Sony’s XDCAM EX™, .MTS (AVCHD) and .MXF with rich metadata for use in archiving.
Other features that will enhance the immediacy of the HM650’s capabilities are a fixed Fujinon autofocus zoom lens (ƒ/1.6-3.0), high sensitivity (ƒ/11 at 2000-lux) for improved low-light performance and optical image stabilization. The 23x zoom lens when converted to 35mm has a range of 29-667mm, which would suit any retro martial-arts film, but when locked off for static shots, provides a vast range of framings and depth-of-field choices to the tasteful DP.