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At the October 20, 2010 meeting...
Camera System Architecture
With Ken Freed, New England District Manager, JVC Professional

Our October 20th SMPTE-NE Section meeting featured Ken Freed, New England District Sales Manager, JVC Professional. Freed has been with JVC for eleven years, much of that time as East Coast Sales Engineer. While Freed's main topic was 'CAMERA SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE,' he also related the highly interesting back story of how a decade ago JVC set its sights on becoming a major player in the HD broadcast camera business and how it has finally begun to succeed.

"Back in the 90's we were essentially a manufacturer of cameras designed to appeal mainly to the event video business. We really weren't taken very seriously by the broadcasters."

"Then, one day," said Freed, "Robert Mueller, our then new vice-president arrived on the scene, fresh from a long stint with Panasonic Broadcast, and floored us with this vision that JVC Professional would one day emerge as a force to be reckoned with in broadcast arena. He summoned us all into a meeting in those early days and flat out told us so. No one exactly burst out laughing; we all feared for our jobs, but let's just say the room was filled with numerous skeptics."

Freed said Mueller's strategy was based on the fact that broadcasters, especially those in small and medium-sized markets, would be hard pressed to upgrade to HD while at the same time both their viewership and profits were on the decline.

So, JVC set out to concentrate its efforts on building fewer but more cost effective and targeted products that both performed well and met a broadcaster's specialized needs. This certainly took some time as well as some trial and error. Not every product was a raging success.

What finally evolved, are the three camera models that JVC offers today, the ENG capable GY-HM700U, the studio and EFP friendly GY-HM790U and the diminutive GY-HM100. All record to SD HC Class 6 or higher level memory cards at up to 35mbs in either Sony's XDCAM EX format, (that JVC licensed), or Apple QuickTime .mov files. Freed explained that the combination of these formats enabled the output of these cameras to download immediately into a host of popular editing formats from AVID, APPLE, ADOBE and others.

"While other manufacturers have always dictated what format they would record in—mainly because they wanted to sell their own proprietary VCR's—JVC finally broke away from this tradition and made the bold decision to go to the NLE manufacturers and ask them what they want," Freed says.

"No other built-in camera recording format, for example, can go straight to an Apple Final Cut Pro timeline without first going through a time-consuming log and transfer step," says Freed. "Our pro camcorders are the first to achieve that feat."

Freed went into some detail comparing 720p and 1080i formats, showing how in terms of data rates, at least, they were identical. JVC's current cameras can shoot in either format, as well in a host of frame rates.

He also delved into the differences between dynamic (motion) and static resolution, how Intra-frame and inter-frame formats compare, and how digital cameras make use of 14-bit (or higher) digital processing to adjust gamma and other critical imaging parameters.

A lively Q&A followed the formal presentation.

Freed reports that some 200 broadcasters now use their new camera technology. That's pretty heady stuff for a company that could at one time barely count one.

Marty Feldman
SMPTE/New England Section

Posted: 23 October 2010
Bob Lamm, SMPTE/New England Newsletter/Web Page Editor