Founded in 1958, Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) in Largo, Maryland prides itself on delivering quality academic and career training programs supported by cutting edge technology. Striving to provide superior hands-on education and expand its community relationships, the College selected cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) for two separate projects last year: a new production studio dedicated to student instruction, and a 4K studio upgrade for its PGCC-TV educational access channel.
PGCC-TV is available to more than 750,000 cable subscribers in Maryland. Until last year, the PGCC-TV studio doubled as a classroom for students in the College’s mass communication concentration, which prepares students for career positions in television, video, film, radio, and other mass media industries. In 2019, the College invested in building a second studio designed exclusively for teaching and learning in its new Center for Performing Arts (CPA). This in turn gave PGCC-TV the opportunity to expand its community engagement in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
“With the addition of the smaller studio, our plan is that the PGCC-TV studio will not only be for students, but also opened for the community to be able to learn how to use the equipment and to rent it for their community video projects,” said PGCC-TV Manager Dr. Angela Mathis. “While our external roll-out has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, our goal is to continue expanding our partnerships with non-profits, government agencies – including our local county government, which provided the funding for our upgrade – and others in the community.”
Having used Z-HD5000 cameras from Hitachi Kokusai since their last studio renovation in 2012, PGCC-TV again looked to the company to help achieve its latest goal of offering 4K acquisition and recording. “Prince George’s Community College wanted to stand out in the marketplace by becoming the only institution of higher education to have a 4K studio in our county, if not the entire state,” explained Dr. Mathis. “We worked closely with integrator Digital Video Group (DVG) to upgrade our equipment and infrastructure. I believe we are the only two- or four-year program in Maryland that can shoot and record in 4K, and people are looking at us as a place they can go for high-quality production.”
The College purchased four SK-UHD4000 Ultra HD cameras for the PGCC-TV studio. While the educational channel is currently broadcast in HD, content can be recorded in 4K to an AJA Ki Pro Ultra unit and mastered to HD in post-production. “We can edit in 4K even though we are mastering HD, and I am very impressed with what it looks like,” said Dr. Mathis. “The SK-UHD4000s have met or exceeded our picture quality expectations.”
Hitachi cameras were also the preferred choice for the new CPA educational studio, with the College purchasing three Z-HD5500 HDTV models for the facility. “We had a lot of success with students using the earlier Z-HD5000s at PGCC TV, so we wanted to continue using Hitachi cameras in our new facility,” said Dr Sherelle Williams, mass communications professor at PGCC. “The Hitachi cameras have great image quality and I like the fact that they’re an industry standard, so the students are gaining experience that will benefit them once they go out into employment.”
Dr Williams also highlights the merits of the operational consistency between the Z-HD5500s used for instruction and the SK-UHD4000s used by PGCC-TV. “We value having some continuity between what we use for productions on the student side and what PGCC-TV produces on the professional side,” she explained. “Students can train on Hitachi cameras in one studio and be immediately comfortable with them in the other.”
Production Coordinator Marshall Johnson has been with the College for 10 years, and highlighted the role Hitachi cameras have played in the evolution of the PGCC-TV studio. “They have given us a level of professionalism we hadn’t had before,” he said. “We are always trying to grow with the times, and value technology that allows us to improve. Hitachi Kokusai has been very good in their ability to grow with us.”
“From both an operational and instructional standpoint, I am very proud to use the Hitachi 4K cameras,” concluded Dr. Mathis. “I think they were an excellent choice. They give a good quality image, they’re very easy to train on, and knowing that I am training students on products they will encounter in real-world situations gives the students and myself a lot of confidence.”