Editorial Contacts:

                        Stacy Moore                                                      Pat Lamb

                        (201) 392-4458                                                   (518) 692-8150  
moorest@us.panasonic.com                               patalamb@aol.com




* Network Initiates Multi-Camera AG-HPX300 Shoots of

Signature Music and Talk Shows *


SECAUCUS, NJ (March 25, 2010) — The Africa Channel (Chicago, IL), an independent, 24/7 entertainment and information television network that showcases the richness, beauty, culture and promise of modern Africa through an array of premier television programming, recently purchased six AG-HPX300 P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorders to shoot original programming, and has designated Panasonic as “the official camera supplier” for in-house productions.


The Africa Channel has assigned three HPX300s each to its Los Angeles headquarters and Chicago productions. One of the network’s signature productions, Soundtracks at Red Kiva, is shot on location at Chicago’s Red Kiva Lounge with three HPX300s. The one-hour show showcases both established and up-and-coming African singers and musicians through intimate performances and interviews with the artists. The HPX300s are also being utilized to shoot all new episodes of Conversations with Felicia, a series of exclusive interviews in which Dr. Felicia Mabuza-Suttle, award-winning businesswoman, acclaimed television host, sought-after public speaker, author and columnist, makes her U.S. television debut.


The P2 HD camcorders have likewise been used to cover the Pan-African Film and Arts Festival in Los Angeles, and Congressional Black Caucus panel discussions and receptions in Washington, D.C. Over the short term, The Africa Channel intends to outfit its New York and D.C. production teams with two HPX300s each, and has longer-term plans to equip its shooters in various countries across Africa with P2 HD camcorders.


The Africa Channel can be seen in many major cities across the U.S., including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, among others. The channel can also be seen in the U.K. on the Sky Channel platform as well as throughout the Caribbean on various cable systems.  The network’s diverse programming can be previewed at www.theafricachannel.com.


Elrick Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Africa Channel, spearheaded the search for a production camera. “We were interested in the latest technology and stipulated an acquisition tool that was digital, HD and solid-state,” he said. “We handle a massive amount of supplied material that has to be digitized, so we didn’t want to deal with that in our original production. The network needs additional HD programming; furthermore, we liked the fact that P2 is virtually impervious to wear-and-tear.”


“We evaluated the HPX300 against the Sony EX1 and EX3,” Williams continued. “I’m a longtime still photographer, and the deciding factor for me was the HPX300’s lack of chromatic aberration, which was clearly visible in the Sony models.”

“The HPX300’s value for the money has proven to be exceptional,” Williams said. “The camcorder perfectly met our needs.”


Shirley Neal, The Africa Channel’s Executive Vice President, Production and Programming, described Soundtracks at Red Kiva shoots, which she supervises. (Recent shoots have profiled such artists as Baaba Maal of Senegal, Corneille of Rwanda, Grammy nominee Wayna of Ethiopia, Dan Boadi & Ghanatta of Ghana, and Omega of Uganda, among others.)


“With each featured artist or group, we shoot for a full day at Red Kiva,” she said. “Essentially, we simulate a sound check, retaining the club setting and its limited lighting. We’re looking for roughly 40 minutes of content, and shoot six – eight songs, each twice. The first take,  we have the HPX300s on sticks for a wide angle shot. The second take, we use the HPX300s as handhelds for closer, impromptu shots. We set the cameras to time-of-day, and hard switch between them for monitoring purposes.”


“Next we set up for an interview with the primary artist,” Neal continued. “I conduct the interview, but sit out of the shot of the main camera. We also use an HPX300 to shoot behind-the-scenes material as the band is setting up, footage that we intercut within the show.”


“Red Kiva is a difficult location,” said Robert Tutman, Director of Photography for the Soundtracks at Red Kiva shoots. “Large windows must be blacked out and the amount of available wattage is limited.  We use small elements to highlight background items. Creating soft light is also a challenge. The quarters are very close so we can't use large silk setups. We use flags to control spill, and harder lights to create highlights. The HPX300s are extremely sensitive and forgiving to pools of light in the darkness, which allows us to create an intimate setting that has depth that is interesting.”  


“The D.C. shoots were also formidable,” he said. “We were not allowed to add any light while shooting at The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, where it had different displays with changes in color temperature. The white balance on the HPX300s worked without a hitch and the presets were on the money.”


“We deal with the full gamut of skin tones from very dark to white, and that usually creates problems for lighting and rendition,” Tutman continued.  “The HPX300, however, is very forgiving and we are constantly surprised by how well the cameras handle the different tones of our subjects.  We are always trying to shoot at an f-2 in order to give us control of focus and depth.  This has worked very well, yielding a rich picture very much like a film look.  In fact, we light as if we were shooting a film stock and get terrific results.  Our editor and colorists are always commenting on the richness of the look.”


“We are using the lens that comes standard with the camcorder (the 17x HD Fujinon XT17×4.5BRM-K14), which we find works well for us.  The focus is crisp and predictable. Otherwise, we shoot from tripods and handhelds. The HPX300 is highly controllable in handheld mode and we get very steady images.”


Soundtracks at Red Kiva (and all HPX300 production footage) is shot in 1080i in DVCPRO HD, using 64GB E series P2 cards. Material is edited in HD in Final Cut Pro; currently, programs are broadcast in letterboxed standard definition. HD masters are archived for future HD broadcasts.


“Our cinematographers are extremely pleased with the HPX300s, and we’ve been thrilled with the product,” said President/CEO Williams. “At its price point, we think it delivers exceptional HD performance. It’s easy to use, flexible in the field, and overall is a great workhorse camcorder for creative options.”


For more information about The Africa Channel, visit www.theafricachannel.com.


About the AG-HPX300


Incorporating a low profile shoulder-mounted design, the AG-HPX300 incorporates advanced 1/3” 2.2-megapixel 3-MOS imagers to acquire full native resolution HD images. These advanced 3-MOS imagers provide exceptional image quality while minimizing any noise or sacrificing dynamic range. A new 20-bit digital signal processor (DSP) enhances the HPX300’s image performance. Delivering the quality of AVC-Intra 100 and AVC-Intra 50, the HPX300 also records independent frame images in 100Mbps DVCPRO HD and in standard definition in DVCPRO50, DVCPRO and DV. The HPX300 offers the security of a five-year warranty program (one year + four additional years with registration), ultimate quality and flexibility in an affordable ($10,700 SLP), full-size HD camcorder. For more information about the HPX300, visit www.panasonic.com/P2HD.


About Panasonic Broadcast


Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems Co. is a leading supplier of broadcast and professional video products and systems.  Panasonic Broadcast is a Unit of Panasonic Corporation of North America. The company is the principal North American subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation (NYSE: PC) and the hub of Panasonic’s U.S. branding, marketing, sales, service and R&D operations.  For more information on Panasonic Broadcast products, visit www.panasonic.com/broadcast.


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