Sony Electronics' executives in the U.S. and Japan are expressing confidence that 2004 is the year that high-definition digital production becomes as ubiquitous as standard-definition (SD) technology. With the wide array of HD channels and feature films shot with HD video now available to consumers, and more to come, most industry observers would agree.
During a trip to Japan sponsored by the company, Sony said it is “riding the HD wave” to the NAB convention in April with several new products and a new workflow strategy that fits into two main themes: Workflow Innovation and Rich Content Creation.
At the NAB convention Sony will show a new compact HD POV camera (HDC-X300) that supports 1080i/60i and 24p production, an HD triax adapter for its HDCAM cameras; enhancements to the HDCAM and HDCAM SR video format lines; a new compact multi-format SD/HD switcher; its previously announced wireless digital camera system; and redesigned (Microsoft Windows-based) XPRI nonlinear editing software that is now available in both a desktop and portable field system (“XPRI Mobile”).
Also key to Sony’s message this year is the XDCAM line of professional optical disc-based production equipment that leverages metadata and the MXF file wrapper to enable reliable acquisition and fast file transfer back to the station. The entire line of SD gear has been shipped to select broadcasters and production professionals in the past few months and will be available for purchase in March.
The XDCAM strategy includes the ability to simultaneously record a low-resolution “proxy” file used for previewing clips and a high resolution version for editing and final program production. This proxy file can be sent over a wide area network or even the Internet for review or, in the case of breaking news, can be sent to live to air. At its Atsugi Technology Center research facility in Japan, Sony showed a proxy clip displayed full frame and it looked better than any of the videophone images aired by broadcasters to date.
Using XDCAM, shooters can select and mark clips in the field, and create an edit decision list. Once the proxy clips are located and approved, the full resolution clips can then be easily accessed and downloaded by an editor back at the station; saving time by not having to scan and digitize the entire disc’s worth of images. Sony said field crews could transfer the proxy data back to the station at up to 20x real-time with the XPRI Mobile and 50x with XPRI MetaStation. Also, both systems are capable of editing high-resolution DVCAM and MPEG IMX content as well.
Sony has rounded out the XDCAM production family with the introduction of the XPRI MetaStation, which further strengthens the acquisition features and workflow benefits of the new tapeless recording system. XPRI MetaStation’s compatibility with the XPRI Mobile software allows engineers working in the station to quickly reproduce timelines created in the filed by importing a compatible EDL that includes effects and titles.
The new MFS-200 Series multi-format switcher is a 3RU, software upgradeable switcher available in 1, 1.5 and 1.5 wide versions that can produce SD (480i and 576i) and HD (720p, 1080i, 1080/24p) projects. It can be bought with 8 or 16 inputs and an optional built-in digital effects generator.
Networked News Production System
Sony will also show an end-to-end Networked News Production System--in use by Japanese broadcast network NTV--that leverages Sony’s NewsBase shared storage production system and metadata stored on the XDCAM disc to full advantage. Sony said 60 NewsBase systems are in use worldwide (including KING-TV, in Seattle Wash.) and these systems could be upgraded with the new software. The new system includes the ability to automatically send stories to air once they are completed.
In Japan, Sony also demonstrated a prototype “AnyCast” system that is a complete production studio in the size of a briefcase. The system includes a 1M/E switcher (6 inputs), logo and downstream keyer, still store, two-channel audio mixer, Web streaming encoder and server, device controller, camera (pan/tilt/zoom) controller, dual LCD monitors, frame synchronizer, and more.
Equipment monitoring software and services
Finally, Sony announced new equipment monitoring software and services that enables a broadcaster to diagnose individual devices or complete systems from a single networked workstation. The company said that by using SNMP-compatible technology at its eCSpert Centers located in New York, Hong Kong, Atsugi, Japan, Europe, users can find an error in a device before it fails and respond accordingly. A broadcaster can sign up to have Sony monitor its gear via a secure private network on a contract basis or it can be done on an individual basis.
For more information visit www.sony.com/professional.