Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Upgrades Broadcast Facility with Four Panasonic AK-HC3800 HD Studio Cameras


With Field Segments Shot on VariCam® 3700s, Signature ‘Electronic Field Trips’ Series Will Be Broadcast in HD on PBS Stations and Cable Channels

Last Updated: June 25, 2014 5:08 pm GMT
(Newark, New Jersey--June 25, 2014) The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, which operates the world’s largest living history museum in Williamsburg, VA, has just installed four Panasonic AK-AC3800 studio cameras as part of an overall HD upgrade of its broadcast studio. For the past four years, the Foundation has assigned its extensive field production assignments to a pair of Panasonic AJ-HPX3700 P2 HD VariCam camcorders.

Colonial Williamsburg Productions, Jorin Hood, director of photography, grabs a handheld shot of two members of the Fife & Drum Corps. Courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Colonial Williamsburg Productions, Jorin Hood, director of photography, grabs a handheld shot of two members of the Fife & Drum Corps. Photos courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

During the upcoming 2014-2015 school year, the VariCams and HC3800s will team up on pre-production and live broadcasts of the Foundation’s Emmy-Award winning Electronic Field Trips (EFT), live Internet events and television broadcasts for fourth through eighth grades. The EFT program is designed so that classrooms around the world can experience interactive history lessons from Colonial Williamsburg.

The EFT broadcast schedule features seven one-hour live programs airing October through April on participating public broadcasting stations, as well as on educational and cable channels. Viewers can also watch via free online streaming.

The Foundation’s Director of Productions Bill Wagner explained that the HC3800s will be used to produce at least five live webcasts, beginning this September, as well as to support the institution’s expansive educational mandate with video assets.

“This year, our EFT program will be fully HD, and the HC3800s are certainly a linchpin of that transition,” said Wagner. “Based on our superior experience with the VariCams, we were disposed to consider a Panasonic studio camera, and we were sold on the HC3800’s attractive pricing and superb color handling, which is so similar to that of the HPX3700.”

The Panasonic AK-HC3800 camera in the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
The Panasonic AK-HC3800 camera in the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's broadcast studio.

“We been doing preliminary work with the HC3800s and can immediately appreciate the depth of the camera’s color space. And with its F11 sensitivity, we need less illumination in the studio,” he added. “Our studio output has never looked like our VariCam field work before, but with the HC3800’s precision 16-bit image processing, we are realizing that.”

Wagner said that along with the four HC3800s, the Foundation also purchased four AK-HCU200 CCU units, which have two HD/SD-SDI output channels and two additional HD/SD-SDI output channels that can be used in conjunction with the picture monitor outs.

Since 2010, the Foundation has shot hundreds of field and studio assignments with the HPX3700 VariCams, ranging from single-camera interviews in the broadcast studio to the elaborate scripted, historic reenactments that are shot for the EFTs.

Jorin Hood, DP, gets a shot of a cart full of muskets outside the Anderson Armoury in the Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg.
Jorin Hood, DP, gets a shot of a cart full of muskets outside the Anderson Armoury in the Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg.

“We love the HPX3700’s image production and low-light handling,” Wagner said. “Our field assignments are wide ranging and we use the VariCams on sticks, dollies, jibs and often shoot handheld. We’re very comfortable with the P2 workflow.”

The HPX3700s are outfitted with Canon zoom lenses; Wagner shoots AVC-Intra 100 in 1080/30p, and edits in HD on Avid Symphony.

“Until now, we’ve been all-HD in the field, but with SD deliverables,” he noted. “With our studio and truck HD upgrades, we’ll be all HD, including broadcasts of the EFTs this coming year. We’re happy with our decision to stay with the Panasonic family of cameras.”

For more information about the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, visit

About the AK-HC3800
The AK-HC3800 is an HD studio camera equipped with three high-sensitivity, high-quality 2/3-type 2.2-megapixel CCDs, a high-precision 16 bit A/D image processing circuit, and the latest generation 38-bit Digital Signal Processor (DSP). Compact and lightweight at only 8 lbs, it offers chromatic aberration compensation (CAC), scene file settings, and a sophisticated implementation of Panasonic’s exclusive dynamic range stretch (DRS). The HC3800 achieves a high sensitivity of F11 at 59.94Hz (2,000 lx) and an S/N ratio of 60dB. The 16-bit A/D and 38-bit DSP utilize Spatial Offset Technology, and an advanced single transfer system to provide a high resolution picture (1,100 lines) with less moiré and a vertical smear level less than -130dB.

About the VariCam® 3700
Combining uncompromising cinematic quality, film-style operability and the exceptional reliability of solid-state, file-based recording, the VariCam 3700 provides premium-quality performance for narrative feature films, episodic television and commercial production. The 2/3” 2.2 megapixel 3-CCD camera features full native 1920x1080-pixel acquisition and independent-frame recording with 10-bit, 4:2:2 color sub sampling. It records in full-raster 1920x1080 resolution in AVC-Intra 100 for the highest quality, in lower-bit-rate AVC-Intra 50 for extended recording and in DVCPRO HD for added flexibility. The HPX3700 outputs a 4:4:4 RGB dual-link live signal (via HD-SDI) to deliver pristine images for uncompressed workflows and composition of visual effects, while simultaneously recording 4:2:2 HD video in camera. The HPX3700 offers variable frame rates from 1fps to 30fps in single frame increments for overcranking and undercranking.

For more information on Panasonic professional video products, visit

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