Update: We added a video from Panasonic France that demonstrates the technology.
If you’re still bragging about your TV’s 16:9 aspect ratio, then you’re either still living in 2003 or you haven’t seen Panasonic’s new 64:9 ultra-wide camera system. To give you an idea of what a 64:9 image would look like, imagine putting four HDTVs side-by-side, or look at this picture to the right.
The system is actually an 88-pound setup consisting of four 16:9 pan-and-tilt HD cameras (Panasonic AW-HE120) that gives it a single 160-degree panoramic view in 720p. The cameras are aligned so that one camera can pick up the view from where the other stops. Onboard computer and software not only control the cameras but also seamlessly stitch the images together, viewed on linked 16:9 screens or projectors (we weren’t kidding about putting four TVs next to each other). To the viewer or camera operator, it’d look like one super-wide panoramic image. Whether the human eye can view something that wide is another matter.
The primary purpose for this camera is for sporting events, which would allow an entire game to be viewed from one end of the field to the other, or a wide but up-close shot. This means that the viewer wouldn’t ever miss any of the action on the field, allowing refs and coaches to analyze the game better.
“There was a lot of interest in the ultra-wide camera system (UWCS) from major Australian sporting codes, cable, and free-to-air television broadcasters and representatives from live entertainment,” said Mathew Alexander, broadcast product marketing manager for Panasonic Australia. “The level of interest from sports and outside of sports is really exciting. The applications are proving to be very broad-based.”
Price hasn’t been determined, but Panasonic is already demonstrating the system this week at the Integrate 2013 trade show in Sydney, and plans to sell it in November. The system was also shown at the 2013 NAB Show in Las Vegas earlier this year. Before you get your checkbook out, though, the system is designed for commercial applications. We can also see other companies like Sony and Canon developing something similar, although it’s also about the software, not just cameras. Regardless, we doubt we’ll be seeing any 64:9 TVs anytime soon.