Todd Rapisarda and Ben Krol prepare for an ActonTV shoot.
WAYNE, N.J. — ActonTV, a PEG (public, education, and government) station serving Acton, Mass., is now using HD and 4K camcorders to produce coverage of local sports and other productions throughout its community. The new camera gear is from JVC Professional Video, a division of JVCKENWOOD USA Corp.
ActonTV was established in 2010, after the nonprofit organization took over a small studio in a local high school from Comcast. The station moved into its current 5,800-square-foot facility in 2011. There are three full-time and two part-time employees, as well as an extensive network of volunteers. Although ActonTV produces and archives its programming in full HD, its channels are only available in SD on Comcast, Verizon and its Web site, www.actontv.org.
A true PEG station, ActonTV produces content for three channels — public, education and government — and has an extensive online video-on-demand library. According to Rick Degon, studio manager, ActonTV averages about 30 productions per month across its channels, including government meetings and original programming.
High school sports are a major focus for ActonTV; the station covers football, boys’ and girls’ hockey and soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, baseball, basketball and more. Sports coverage is produced using three JVC GY-HM850 ProHD shoulder-mount cameras, which were purchased in 2014, along with one of the station’s three GY-HM750 ProHD cameras. The station’s production truck features a NewTek TriCaster 450 four-camera video production system and 3Play slo-mo instant replay system.
Degon is big fan of the GY-HM850, which features a three-CMOS optical system with a removable Fujinon 20x optical zoom lens.
“It’s great because you have the full HD capability and you can record 60 frames per second. That’s critical for replay,” Degon said. “We’re always amazed at how great the image is.”
Beyond sports, the GY-HM850s are used for a monthly cooking show produced for an outside client, as well as original programs shot on location, such as Talk of the Town, a fast-paced, 30-minute current events program produced by ActonTV’s new executive director, Marc Duci.
Bryan Coullahan behind the camera for an ActonTV sports program.
When it purchased four JVC GY-HM100 cameras in 2010, ActonTV began its migration to a tapeless workflow and “never looked back,” according to Degon. The camera’s native file recording, which allowed the JVC cameras to work seamlessly with Final Cut Pro without transcoding, was a driving factor in the purchase. The station purchased three GY-HM150s the following year, and the lightweight cameras are still a popular choice for some of the station’s volunteer producers.
“JVC has always held up for us,” Degon said.
ActonTV also invested in a new GY-HM200 4KCAM compact handheld camcorder earlier this year. It features an integrated 12x lens with optical image stabilizer, 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS chip, dual XLR audio inputs, dual SDHC/SDXC card slots, and color viewfinder and LCD display. The GY-HM200 also includes a built-in HD streaming engine that allows live HD transmission directly to decoders, with support for various protocols for direct streaming to Ustream, YouTube and other content delivery networks (CDNs).
Degon is very interested in the camera’s wireless integration with the station’s TriCaster systems (in the production truck and studio), and hopes to use the camera’s built-in streaming capabilities in the future. For now, the camera is mostly used in HD mode and is part of the monthly cooking show.
“We’ve integrated it into our workflow — it’s a good little camera, especially at the price point,” he said. “It is the next logical step beyond HD, and we like to be ahead of the curve.”