The Indie Broadcaster

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Back in the old days—think 15, even 10 years ago—there was a huge gap when it came to the sort of gear used to shoot big-budget features and TV shows compared to low-budget indies and cash-strapped broadcast productions. But thanks to the digital revolution, and fueled by the insatiable demand of the Internet, the playing field has been leveled dramatically. While do-it-yourselfers and rank amateurs used to be happy to flood platforms like YouTube with out-of-focus cat videos (complete with terrible sound), today’s enterprising creatives now have access to high-quality, low-cost broadcast gear. And, instead of having to spend hundreds of thousands on gear—or having to rent—filmmakers, producers and shooters now can own a wide array of affordable tools for broadcasting for television or the web. With NAB showcasing a lot of these new products, HDVideoPro  takes a look at some of the great gear and deals currently available.


Shipping late last year, Panasonic’s new camcorder, starting at just $15,000, is a low-power, 2⁄3-inch, three-chip shoulder-mount ENG tool with AVC-ULTRA recording that weighs just over six pounds—the lightest in its class. The 2.2-megapixel, 2⁄3-type 3MOS (RGB) image sensors offer full-pixel HD (1920×1080) resolution, F12 (59.94 Hz) or F13 (50 Hz) sensitivity and low noise, with an S/N of 62 dB (with DNR on), plus, built-in network functions support wired LAN, wireless LAN and 4G/LTE connections, enabling fast on-site preview, streaming and uploading of data to a server with a PC/Mac, tablet or smartphone. Users can also connect to the camera via WiFi to control, add or edit metadata, view proxies, or watch live streaming for logging or monitoring. The PX800 and others in the new series—the AJ-PX270 and AJ-PX5000, as well as their companion field recorders, the AJ-PG50 and AJ-PD500—share the same recording formats, codec and file structure. "When used in modern field production, the toolkits provided are similar across the range of cameras or field recorders," notes Panasonic Product Manager Steve Mahrer. "AVC-ULTRA provides a companion proxy recording along with the usual high-res video; that proxy can be used to enhance workflows, speed up editing, preview content or be streamed to the station in real-time for ‘live coverage.’ The PX270, PX800 and PX5000 differ only in the lens/imager format, or the price point of the product. In many cases, a mixture of cameras may be used by various crews."


Introduced at NAB 2013 and priced at under $2K, the world’s first Ultra HD 4K production switcher with support for Ultra HD live production with 6G-SDI and HDMI 4K technology offers low-budget users maximum bang for their buck. For starters, they can connect up to eight SD, HD or Ultra HD 4K video cameras, disk recorders and computers for live production. The Studio 4K also includes such pro switcher features as chroma key, transitions, media pool, downstream keyers, audio mixer and multi-view. "Live production and streaming media are two of the fastest and easiest ways to generate massive amounts of Ultra HD content, and the demand is certainly there," says Kendall Eckman, Regional Manager, Western North America, noting that the system’s flexible and future-proof workflows and features "allow for maximum creativity for concerts, sporting events, theater productions, live streams and more." If shooting television or Internet programming, the Studio 4K also lets users "switch and produce content live and at a much faster rate and lower cost than shooting scenes and manually editing," he adds. Producers and shooters can save even more thanks to the software control panel, which provides full switcher control from any laptop or desktop computer. ATEM software control also provides full control of the Blackmagic Studio Camera via the SDI program feed to the camera, "allowing users to control built-in camera settings and full color corrector remotely," says Eckman.