Sony announces release date and support for XDCAM

Sony’s XDCAM optical disc system offers an entirely new paradigm in field acquisition and editing. It facilitates the transfer of material at high-speed from the field to the television station for nonlinear editing, and introduces significant new efficiencies to a station's overall workflow.

With roughly 19 of its XDCAM optical disc camcorders and players currently being secretly beta tested by broadcasters and professional videographers in the U.S. and abroad, Sony Electronics announced that production models would begin shipping March 1, 2004. The company is offering a seven-year warranty on the Optical Drive Powertrain Systems (BRD-P1 and BRD-P2) inside the XDCAM camcorder to ensure its longevity.

Like all of its new digital cameras, the standard warranty coverage for remedial repair of the XDCAM Optical Disc Products is one year parts and labor from date of purchase.

XDCAM also picked up some key industry endorsements. Sony said that Avid Technology and Thomson Broadcast had agreed to build optical media compatibility into future versions of their respective nonlinear editing products. (Both companies have supported Sony and Panasonic formats for many years and have stated their support for Panasonic’s competing P2 solid-state memory system as well.)

Sony made the announcements to a small group of industry reporters in New York City while showing test footage of the XDCAM equipment being operated under such adverse conditions as falling from the sky (via a skydiver with a camera strapped to his stomach), in a speeding boat and on a ski slope (with the cameraman holding the XDCAM camcorder between his legs as he skied).

All of the resulting XDCAM footage was completely useable, according to Sony. Sony’s Digital Betacam tape-based cameras used for B-roll spun the tape off its transport due to excessive G-forces generated under the same conditions.

A single professional-grade XDCAM disc holds about 90 minutes of 25 Mb/s material, 45 minutes shot at 50 Mb/s, 55 minutes at 40 Mb/s, and 75 minutes at 30 Mb/s.

The first generation of software released for the XDCAM camera in March will include the system’s ability to create and manage video proxy files that carry metadata about each particular scene. These low-resolution versions can be used to select and edit scenes quickly, then conform them later with the full resolution files also stored on the camera’s Blue-laser optical disc. This capability will be available in a subsequent software release slated for August 25, 2004.

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