by Craig Johnston ~ April 24, 2006
Using the theme, "HD for All," Sony's NAB2006 press conference illustrated applications of its HD technology for all levels of video production. It also announced its newest HD technology: the XDCAM HD line of optical disc camcorders and decks.
"Our line-up of HD systems serves the entire pyramid of customer applications, from event, documentary and corporate video at the base all the way to TV big budget motion picture production at the top," said Alec Shapiro, senior vice president of sales for Sony's broadcast group.
"When we say, 'HD for All,' we really mean for all: all kinds of professionals, all price points, and all applications."
Sony let its high-definition customers do a lot of the talking.
News 12 Networks, which operates seven 24-hour local news channels in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, is adopting XDCAM HD for all ENG and news production applications. The group said it plans to deploy 90 XDCAM HD camcorders across its channels over the next two years.
News 12's Senior Vice President for News Development Norm Fein pointed to the unique advantages of Sony's optical production technology being well-suited to the daily demands of gathering and producing regional news programming.
XDCAM HD technology is being rolled out at Gannett Broadcasting.
WETA in Washington, DC will start using XDCAM HD for its production of "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," and WYCC in Chicago will begin acquiring in XDCAM HD. Both stations are also upgrading with a range of Sony HD gear including studio and portable cameras, and production switchers.
These two PBS member stations, in addition to WQED in Pittsburgh, are the latest to begin their HD conversion under the joint Sony-PBS HD Pilot Program, joining San Francisco's KQED, which went online with its new equipment earlier this year.
Stations aren't the only ones attracted to XDCAM HD. Director of photography Mark Falstad, spoke about his experiences using the new camcorders at last month's Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Alaska.
He said the camcorders, which stood up to sub-zero temperatures, were mounted onto the sleds, dropped, and weren't even enclosed in protective weather gear.
"Despite the hammering the sled and the mount took, every frame was perfect," Falstad said.
Sony's professional 1080 HDV family of products has also expanded over the past year, with the HVR-A1U camcorder joining the HVR-Z1U.
A recent expedition up Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa was documented with one of the Sony compact HDV camcorders, outlined by climber and shooter Joanne Hock.
"The camcorder's compact size was critical and its durability allowed us to keep shooting in every environmental condition we encountered, heat, cold, wind and dust," she said.
She said the camera was a "quick learn," adding that the ability to use touch-screen presets was a big timesaver and that it was easy to just pull it out, quickly check and adjust the settings, get the shot and continue climbing.
The press conference highlighted the growing presence of Sony HD technology in key market segments. In the house-of-worship market, Lakewood Church, which now holds its services in the former Compaq Center sports arena in Houston, has purchased eight Sony high-definition cameras as part of a phased migration to HDTV.
Additional Sony announcements at NAB2006 included the continued success of its CineAlta line of digital 24P products for TV and motion picture production, and the increasing use of HD cameras and switchers for high-profile studio production installations including "Late Night with David Letterman," "Saturday Night Live," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "Good Morning America."
And Shapiro spoke of development in sports production with Sony's new HD production equipment, including the MVS-8000A switcher, HDC-1000/1500 internal 1080/60P camera and HDC-3300 super slow motion camera, capable of three-times slow motion acquisition.
© 2006 NAB