Miami Heat Warms Up to Sony XDCAM HD

The Miami Heat NBA franchise has made the leap to tapeless HD with Sony’s XDCAM HD camcorder and Sony’s HVR-Z1U HDV camcorders after having a chance to work with both products during the 2008 NBA Europe Live Tour last fall.

The Heat played one game in Paris and in London, and the footage shot with the XDCAM PDW-F355 camcorder was used as an episode of

Inside the HEAT, the team’s flagship anthology series that aired on Fox Sports Net’s regional network in the Southeast and on NBA TV.

The positive experience in Europe convinced the group that HD production was the right move for the future. According to Ed Filomia, senior director of broadcast services for the HEAT Group, the Heat recently took delivery of Sony’s newest optical-disc camera, the ⅔-inch XDCAM HD422 PDW-700 camcorder, and the PDW-HD1500 deck, which Filomia says will become the group’s primary HD-production system.

The HEAT Group first started using XDCAM standard-definition technology in 2005, during the team’s “RED ZONE” playoff run that season. “We had a camera and a few decks that we used to shoot, archive, and preserve those games, and we’ve been acquiring on the XDCAM platform ever since,” he says.

While all HEAT acquisition went HD starting with the Europe trip, the group is still editing and airing in standard-definition. But that doesn’t mean acquiring in HD is a waste of resolution.

“Our facility is SD,” Filomia says. “But having an HD master is very important to us. We want to preserve our history in the highest resolution. So, for example, one thing we’re doing with the HD1500 deck is recording the truck feeds for every game so they can all be mastered in HD.

“As soon as we got the XDCAM deck,” he continues, “we started dumping all that history onto optical disc so we would not only have it in a digital asset but also be able to preserve it in high quality for the next 100 years.” He adds that the system has allowed him to create a complete digital storage environment without the large capital expense typically associated with such an effort.

“While we’re an SDI house, I prefer to stay in a fully digital IP workflow rather than have to open a capture window and digitize files for every new project,” he explains. “The XDCAM system lets us do this in a very cost-efficient manner.”

The group’s plans for the new XDCAM HD camcorder will be similar to the SD camera’s role: shooting content for in-arena and Website use, as well as for the team’s
Inside the HEAT program that is played on the LED board during games and on Fox Sports Net.

“Essentially, our group is the team’s in-house ad agency,” Filomia says. “We put together all the content you see in the arena on our board, and we also use our production tools to take care of all our advertising needs: TV and radio, and the Internet. And the majority of this content is captured on the XDCAM system.”

The XDCAM system is also used to distribute content to digital signage displays located throughout AmericanAirlines Arena, the HEAT’s home court.

In addition to the new PDW-700 camcorder, the group will be using an XDCAM EX Series PMW-EX3 solid-state compact camcorder to complement its optical technology. There are plans for the arena to undergo a complete HD renovation later this year, with Sony studio cameras, switchers, and display technology planned for installation.

“My ticket holders, my premium-seat holders are already living in an HD world,” Filomia adds. “So it’s important that we keep them in that world when they’re here. Our HD capabilities with the XDCAM system have made a dramatic difference in the way we approach video production. It’s a whole new world for us.”