Fremantle Media Praises Sony's XDCAM HD

Sony's PDW-F800 XDCAM camcorder
Fremantle Media North America produces hundreds of hours of TV each year for a wide variety of cable, syndicated and network clients. Our products range from reality competition and game shows to scripted comedy and "docu-series."


When I joined the company, I noticed we were shooting on at least five different tape formats. As we shoot mostly in a multi-camera setup with both field and studio cameras, have high shooting ratios, employ multiple camera "isos," and have quick acquisition-to-air deadlines, we felt it was time to standardize our productions on one recording format. We wanted a proven platform that would give us high quality, performance and flexibility today, while giving us sustainability in the future.

We found this in Sony's XDCAM optical system. We're using PDW-F800 XDCAM camcorders to produce our field packages as well as the 1500 and 1600 series decks for recording. The cameras give our DP's creative flexibility in the field, along with a robust set of controls and frame rate options, and also provide a rugged and reliable format for delivering great images to our post-production teams.

The XDCAM decks have integrated seamlessly into our nonlinear edit bays and studio and mobile unit tape areas and provide us the benefits of a tape deck along with the ease of a file-based IT device in a small form factor.

When we launched "Let's Make a Deal" for CBS last year, XDCAM became an important part of an operational solution. It became apparent that in order to get a brand new daily daytime, one hour network game show that's shot on six cameras and needed to be edited, delivered for air within a few days, we needed the right tool.

XDCAM's ability to ingest material faster than real time gave our producers and editors the extra time needed to create a great product, while the access feature of the optical disc helped us to speed up the online finishing process and get the shows out the door.


XDCAM is also a "green" format and budget friendly. We can re-use the camera discs for future shows, due to their 1,000 use/50-year shelf life properties. Additionally, when you're producing 175 shows for a year's worth of programming, the small physical size of the disc makes it easier to store and cheaper to ship.

We're also very pleased with the great pictures that XDCAM gives us.

On one of our productions, "America's Got Talent," we use multiple XDCAM crews to shoot backstage as the contestants get ready to perform, while out in the production truck, XDCAM decks record the multi-camera stage performances in front of a live studio audience.

As you can imagine, on shows such as this, we only have one opportunity to capture the performance, along with one shot for the sound bite and only one chance to show the audience who the "winner" is. It's clear to us that XDCAM has become a winning solution for our production recording requirements.

John R. Holmes is a television production veteran who has held executive and production management posts at NBC and CBS, as well as at his own production company, Visual Frontier. He may be contacted

For additional information, contact Sony at 201-930-1000 or