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This weekend I was away on a shoot in Muskoka,  working with the usual crew expect for one new addition…

The Panasonic AG-HPG20.

This small device is capable of recording, and ingesting footage and yet is small enough to be brought into the field, approximately the size of a brick. and weighing only 2.5 pounds. With this device Panasonic brings the master quality codec of AVC-Intra at 10-bit, 4:2:2 to either the field or the studio. It contains two P2 card slots and a 3.5-inch LCD monitor. This allows you to view content immediately in a variety formats, 10-bit, 4:2:2 AVC-Intra, or DVCPRO HD, or even standard definition in DVCPRO50, DVCPRO and DV, for those of you still working in SD. It is further capable of inputting and outputting HDSI, and has inputs for USB and Firewire 400. ( My new 17″ MacBook Pro has only Firewire 800, Apple has dropped FW400 from their latest machines.) It also supports Up/Down/ cross conversion for footage, bonus! check out the full specs:

Key Features

  • AVC-Intra (100/50) recording and play back using the most advanced video compression codec for high-quality production workflow
  • Recording and playback formats include 1080/60i, 1080/50i, 720/60p, 720/50p in AVC-Intra and DVCPRO HD; and 480/60i, 576/50i in DVCPRO50, DVCPRO and DV
  • Supports up-, down- and cross-conversion for HD (1080, 720) or SD (480) transmission. Operates in 50Hz or 60Hz
  • Time-saving file management functions including: Clip copy (copy select clips from one P2 card to another in the P2 Portable), Thumbnail image change (By default, the first image in a clip is used as the thumbnail), Clip Metadata Edit (update a clip?s metadata with specific information such as names and location), Text Memo (save a text memo to individual clips when recording or previewing) and Shot Marker (shot mark specific clips)
  • More convenient playback functions including: format auto playback (plays format automatically without the need for pre-selection), slow/fast playback, single-clip playback, repeat playback
  • Metadata editing function allows users to edit a clip?s metadata (European languages supported)
  • 4:3 Marker that can be displayed over incoming video for safe-shooting requirements.
  • Plays back variable frame-rate sources
  • Supports waveform and vectorscope display for either incoming signals or recorded signals
  • Continuous loop playback function
  • 8-channel audio input/output (HD SDI); headphone (M3 mini) jacks
  •  IEEE 1394 and USB 2.0 with host function for PC and Mac connection; IEEE 1394 input/ouput (stream only) recording/playback
  •  Supports SD VITC/CC signals, OSD output to SDI and UMID recording/playback
  •  Component and Composite video output
  •  Comes standard with AC Adapter AG-B25 and Battery CGAD54SE/1B
  •  5-year limited warranty (1-year standard, plus 4 years extended warranty upon product registration)

Working with this device I was astonished that I was able to not only ingest clips but preview them on the 3.5 inch monitor, move them from one P2 card to another, and even delete footage before ever getting into my NLE.

This small impressive little device allowed me to maintain control over all my footage as the P2 cards were dropped off to me. Also when working in the field I was limited to the amount of disk space available to me as … I had to use external hard drives as opposed to to usual raid. In order to save drive space I was able to preview shots, and weed out any shots that were blatantly unusable. The reason why I say blatantly is because the LCD size prevent me from judging color, depth, or focus. Remember the screen is only 3.5 inches and should only be used for previewing, not for editing!

AG-HPG20 runs on a battery, which allowed me to travel along with the crew from location to location easily. Then by the time the sun sets I was able to immediately get to cutting as I was already familiar with the shots, and what was needed. This in turn allowed me to get some sleep at night. We were on a very tight schedule and deadline. Therefore this device made the chaos of the weekend move smoother.

If you work heavily with either AVC-Intra or DVCPro HD, in the field, this device is a must have. It is durable build, preview capability, and file management system, saved me countless hours of ingest at night, allowing me to be fresh in the morning. Panasonic has done a great job with this device, and now I want one for my own. Too bad I cant justify the cost….YET!

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