Sony NAB Intros Designed To Make Content Dreams a Reality

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Sony Broadcast will head to the NAB Show this year with a slew of new products: an HDV camcorder, compact POV camera and recorder, HD field recorder, viewfinder, new monitors, and more than two dozen others to be announced at the show in April. And while the products will no doubt generate a buzz among attendees, so will the location of the company’s booth: it moves to the back of Central Hall and will be in the same physical space occupied by the Sony booth at the Consumer Electronics Show.

“It will be the same size as last year’s booth, 26,000 sq. ft., and moving will allow us to leverage some of the assets we use at our CES booth,” says Alec Shapiro, SVP of Sony Electronics’ Broadcast and Production Systems. And there will be more room for product displays since the theater will be moved out of the booth into dedicated space in one of the Las Vegas Convention Center meeting rooms.

Like all NAB exhibitors, Sony executives are expecting a crowd that won’t match the large numbers of previous years. Even its own team will be 15%-20% smaller than usual (expect about 850 Sony staffers in Las Vegas).

“As much as we’re seeing [capital projects] frozen or delayed, we aren’t losing business to our competition,” says Shapiro. “And while it’s lamentable how things have slowed down, it’s amazing to see us selling as much as we are.

“Our hope is that, especially in the high-end space, customers don’t settle for something less,” he adds. “Good enough is okay for certain applications, but there is always a demand for high-quality productions.”

This year’s booth and theme” “Dream. Create. Connect.”” will drive that demand for quality. Along those lines, Sony’s new HVR-Z5U HDV camera clocks in at less than $5,000 and can record tapeless HD content onto CompactFlash cards (with the help of an adaptor card), bringing HD recording to stations and networks seeking new cost-effective HD options. It has three Sony ClearVid ⅓-in. CMOS sensor chips along with Exmor technology that reduces noise via a column-parallel analog-to-digital conversion technique and dual noise-cancelling.

For those facilities looking for new field recording options, the Sony XDCAM HD PDW-HR1 deck can record 4:2:2-quality signals. “It’s significant because it can also support all legacy formats, like MPEG, IMX, DVCAM, and 4:2:0 HD 24p content,” says Shapiro. “It allows for faster file-based operations.”

The recorder has a built-in up/down-converter and can even do cross-conversion during playback between 1080i and 720p. A VTR-like jog/shuttle allows control through the front panel or a remote-control unit, and a 9-in. LCD color display with built-in speakers makes it easier than ever to monitor content quality as content is recorded onto 50-GB dual-layer optical discs or PFD-23A single-layer discs. Expect it to be available in June priced at approximately $21,000.

Sports networks on the hunt for POV camera systems will want to check out the HXR-MC1 POV camera that actually separates the head from the control unit/recorder. “It’s great for applications like locker rooms,” says Shapiro. It measures only 1.5 x 1.7 x 3.5 in., even with a 10x optical zoom and built-in microphone.

The camera can record up to six hours of HD content in the MPEG long-GOP format onto a 16-GB Memory Stick and is available now for $2,995.

For higher-level acquisition, a new HD viewfinder, the HDVC-C30WR, is available for use on Sony HD cameras and camcorders. That includes the likes of the HDC-1500, -1000, -1550, -1400, and -1450 cameras; XDCAM HD camcorders; the HDC-300 super-slow-motion cameras; and even CineAlta F23 and F35 cameras. It has a 2.7-inch LCD screen with a pixel resolution of 960×540 and a new image processor with better color reproduction. It also has improved focus-assist functions like 2x (dot-by-dot) magnification to smooth out diagonal edges and a color-peaking function. It will be available in April for $13,600.

And then there are the new LCD monitors: the 9-in. widescreen LMD-940W and the 23- and 17-inch models, the PVM-L2300 and BVM-L170, respectively. The 9-in. version is designed for use in production trucks and other areas that need multiple monitors while the larger units are for critical evaluation functions.