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Outdoor Channel Shoots With Sony XDCAM HD

The Outdoor Channel is now using Sony’s XDCAM HD422 optical system as a select acquisition and delivery technology for its HD programming. Outdoor Channel airs several hundred hours of original programming each year, with content covering traditional outdoor sports like hunting, fishing and motorsports.

“We take our time evaluating a new technology, especially an acquisition or submission format,” said Gene Brookhart, senior vice president of operations and engineering for Outdoor Channel. “We have a history with the XDCAM system. We’ve seen it perform in conditions you wouldn’t normally risk taking a camera: heat, cold, humidity, the wild, you name it. The nature of what we do occurs in the great outdoors. We’ve put these cameras and decks through the most extreme conditions and they’ve consistently worked.”

Brookhart said Outdoor Channel wants all its third-party producers to fully convert to HD for field production and content delivery by the third quarter of 2010.

Outdoor Channel is also rolling out several of Sony’s XDCAM EX ExpressCard-based compact memory camcorders, a combination of models PMW-EX1 and PMW-EX3 that, for now, are used for acquisition only. “The EX footage matches up so well with XDCAM HD content and fits seamlessly into a tapeless production,” he said. The network also has several PDW-HD1500 optical decks used for program editing and mastering.

Among the PDW-700 camcorder’s benefits that Brookhart noted is its cache memory capability. This feature allows XDCAM camcorders to continuously record up to 30 seconds of video, audio, and metadata in memory while in standby mode. Then, when the record button is pushed, those 30 seconds and all associated data are automatically recorded onto the Professional Disc media and the camcorder will continue recording in real time.

“You don’t know when an animal might pop out from the middle of nowhere, a fish might bite or something might happen that you need to grab,” he said. “You want to make sure you don’t miss that shot, but you also don’t want to sit there burning up tape, waiting for it to happen either.”