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Retailing Giant JCPenney Outfits Inhouse Production Studio with Panasonic HD Equipment

Jul 26, 2007 12:00 PM

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With 155,000 associates staffing more than 1,000 department stores, JCPenney, one of America’s leading retailers, has diverse communications and training needs ranging from video vignettes for cash-register play-out to full-length instructional videos to live shows emceed by top executives. As it transitions to high-definition video production, the Plano, Texas-based company has equipped its inhouse studio with an array of Panasonic HD gear, including two AJ-HDC27 VariCam HD cinema cameras, an AG-HVX200 DVCPRO P2 HD handheld camcorder, nine DVCPRO HD VTRs, and LCD production monitors, and plasma displays.

Among corporate America’s most sophisticated AV facilities, JCPenney’s production studio encompasses three sound stages, five edit suites, two control rooms, and a live link to headquarters’ main meeting room. Scott Hamil, chief engineer, Internal Communications, characterizes it as a fully functional HD facility.

“After several years of DVCPRO50-based production, we are beginning to shoot everything in HD, downconverting when necessary,” Hamil says. “Our decision to upgrade to DVCPRO HD was influenced by our extremely good track record with the DVCPRO50 gear, as well as the format’s attractive price point and good word-of-mouth.”

Hamil has often rented VariCams in the past, so his staff of operators and freelance photographers is well acquainted with the camera. “The HVX200 is a terrific catch-all, back-up camera to the VariCam,” he added. “We’ll use it when we need to be extremely portable, and when we don’t want to lock up a VariCam on routine assignments, such as recording a lengthy meeting. Also, working with the HVX200 gives us a chance to evaluate the P2 workflow.”

AJ-HD1400 compact DVCPRO HD VTRs have been installed in the facility’s edit suites. Via their HD SDI outputs, the VTRs transfer material to Avid Media Composer Adrenaline NLEs. AJ-HD1700 DVCPRO HD studio VTRs are being used for live production and duplication.

Three Panasonic 42in. HD plasmas are installed in edit suites for client viewing. A BT-LH900A 8.4in. color production LCD monitor (with built-in waveform monitor) is mounted to each VariCam and two BT-LH1700 17in. widescreen LCD monitors are used for on-set monitoring.

“Our producers love the fidelity of the location monitors,” Hamil says. “And with the BT-LH1700’s embedded audio option, we can run audio and video to the display over a single video cable.”

Hamil said all projects would be mastered to DVCPRO HD, with copies then made in formats that can include standard-definition uplinks to stores, Windows Media Player files for cash register play-out, and others as needed.

The sale to JCPenney was made by TM Television (Dallas).

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