NAB Preview: Sony Looks Beyond 3D With New XDCAM, NXCAM Products

Sony is heading to NAB with a number of new products, including new cameras, a new production switcher, the MPE-200 3D Processor, and more. It’s the latter that may garner the most attention from attendees but it will be the 2D products that will help most for 2010 business needs. “We have a few new products in XDCAM as we continue to expand our optical disc offerings,” says Alec Shapiro, Sony senior vice president, sales and marketing, Broadcast and Production Systems.

The expanding family of Sony’s XDCAM EX video production technologies now includes two new camcorders, including Sony’s first 2/3-inch CMOS memory camcorder, the shoulder-mount model PMW-350, and the PMW-EX1R, which adds DVCAM recording capability as well as numerous enhancements directly resulting from customer feedback.

The full shoulder-mount PMW-350 camcorder has three 2/3-inch Exmor full HD 1920×1080 CMOS imagers, and a sensitivity of F12. It is studio-configurable, with timecode in/out, genlock in, and HD-SDI and HDMI out. The camcorder also features a DVCAM recording option.

With the lens-packaged model, PMW-350K, users can easily switch between auto and manual focus with a16x zoom 2/3-inch bayonet mount lens. It also offers automatic lens aberration compensation (ALAC); independent focus, zoom, iris rings; auto focus mode, manual focus assist and focal length of f 8~128mm (31.5 ~ 503mm on 35mm lens).

Also new is the PMW-EX1R, the successor to Sony’s first entry into memory recording – the PMW-EX1. It adds DVCAM recording capability, as well as an HDMI output, a higher-resolution viewfinder, cache recording, and one-push auto iris.

Additional features of the EX1R include: smooth handle zoom start/stop, and an image inversion feature that reverses an image upside down and left/right for a depth of field adaptor. To enhance editing interoperability with Sony’s XDCAM HD 422 camcorders, both the PMW-350 and PMW-EX1R camcorders feature 1440×1080 recording mode at 35Mbps.

Sony is also rolling out a new family of products called NXCAM. It includes the HXR-NX5U, Sony’s first professional camcorder that implements the AVCHD format and features Sony’s Exmor CMOS sensor with ClearVid array, to deliver full high-definition resolution and low light sensitivity with low noise.

The camcorder uses two types of consumer media along with an optional HXR-FMU128 128GB Flash Memory Unit for more than 11 hours of recording time at 24 Mbps.

The camcorder records AVCHD up to 24Mbps, delivering 1920×1080 high definition images with both interlace and progressive modes along with native 1080/24P, 720/60p and MPEG-2 standard definition recording. The professional NX5U camcorder includes both HD-SDI and HDMI outputs, as well as two-channel linear PCM audio capabilities. Other unique features for the professional NX5U camcorder include 720/60P recording, built-in GPS function, SMPTE Time Code I/O and the upgrade option for 60i/50i switchable.

3D Top of Mind

Along with the plethora of 2D solutions will be some 3D products, including the MPE-200 processor. The MPE-200 provides a variety of digital adjustments to the stereo imaging HD cameras, allowing a similar control experience to mechanical servos. It digitally simulates several of the adjustments that are currently performed mechanically on higher end rigs and provides stereographic engineers a means to manage camera and rig parameters in order to deliver high-quality 3D images. MPE-controlled systems could augment higher end rigs in complicated 3D live productions.

“In order to produce 3D it needs to be made easy and the MPE-200 is a software controlled compositor that can align camera angles, avoid mismatched rigs, and essentially correct and mistakes that relate to offsets,” says Shapiro. “It’s an important piece because 3D is tricky to get right.”

Sony is also addressing the 3D market need for smaller cameras. Sony’s new HDC-P1 full HD compact multi-purpose camera is unique among other competitive “point-of-view” type cameras for combining 2/3-inch CCD technology and a two-disc filter servo in a small and lightweight design, delivering superb picture quality and unrivalled performance. The camera is also capable of 2D and 3D operation, when used in a 3D camera rig configuration and, according to Rob Willox, director of Sony’s Content Creation group, “it’s the first Sony camera to be designed from the ground up with 3D in mind.”

“This camera satisfies a professional shooter’s need to combine high resolution images with versatile performance,” says Wilox. “As HD productions become more complex and the number of camera angles increase, flexible and multi-purpose products such as the HDC-P1 that can offer image quality comparable to studio cameras are in greater demand.”

Based on the proven performance of Sony’s flagship HDC Series studio cameras, the new camera integrates seamlessly with Sony’s HDC- 1000 and HSC-300 series camera families, and can be used in a range of unmanned and POV HD applications, including houses of worship, as well as stadiums, conference rooms, or schools. It can also be used as a companion camera in automated broadcast studios.

The camera’s 2/3-inch CCD deliver 2.2 million pixels, a 14-bit A/-D converter and sensitivity of f10 at 1080p/60. It supports a range of recording formats including 1080/50i., 59.94i and 720/50P, 59.94P, with 23.98PsF, 24PsF, 25PsF, and 29.97PsF capabilities available as options through software upgrades.

In Other News…

Sony will also feature its SRW-9000 camcorder, which combines the HDCAM SR format’s image quality with the versatility of a one-piece camcorder. Designed for television, commercial and motion picture production, the full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution camcorder uses 2/3-inch CCDs with a 14-bit A/D converter and digital signal processing to capture up to 1080/60P images with a high level of detail.

A range of option cards are available to add performance and features, including: dual-link HD-SDI outputs and an extra AUX input; ability to capture and record images with variable speed (SR Motion capability) from 1 to 60 fps; and full-bandwidth digital 4:4:4 high-definition RGB recording and output capability.

Sony will also feature the next generation of HDCAM SR production technology, with new products and planned upgrades ranging from acquisition and storage to archive and production efficiency, including the SRW-9000 camcorder with an upgrade path to 35mm imaging and file-based production; the planned delivery of new SR memory solid-state media; and more cost-effective BCT-SR series tape pricing.

A Smaller Switcher

Sony is also expanding its successful line of MVS Series production switchers with the new MVS-6000, which inherits many of the capabilities of the MVS-8000G in a small and efficient design. The new multi-format switcher is expandable with up to 49 inputs, and is available in configurations up to 2.5ME.

The switcher offers options for internal format conversion, frame memory, and internal DME, and can be purchased as an SD unit and upgraded to multi-format at any time.  Users can select smaller fixed control panel configurations, or the traditional MVS fully customized control panel for complete flexibility.

At the heart of the MVS-6000 switcher is Sony’s new “System on a Chip” image processor. This technology embeds keyer and DME processing within the switcher’s CPU, and enables multi-format switching, multiple key channels, transitions and DME functions to be carried out on one chip. This efficiency allows for a compact frame, high-speed effect processing, and low-power consumption, all at a reduced cost compared to the MVS-8000G.

The size and capabilities of the MVS-6000 make it a good companion for Sony’s ELC automation software. The new software option, model ELC-MVS01, is designed for integration into standard- and high-definition news control room systems, and is also available for the existing MVS-8000A and MVS-8000G model lines.

The ELC designation stands for “Enhanced Live-production Control System” because it adds efficiency to existing control room workflows while maintaining the creative flexibility that broadcasters require.

The system is centered on a simple-to-operate graphical user interface to control on-air devices including robotic cameras, audio mixers, and existing MOS controlled devices. The ELC automation option integrates into existing newsroom computer systems, such as iNews or ENPS with an ActiveX window, allowing producers to maintain their existing workflow, and continue building their rundowns in one familiar interface. A simple drag-and-drop operation allows for pre-programmed command templates to be added into news story slugs. This generates a rundown in the ELC system that maintains a real-time synchronization with the news room computer system, so stories can be floated or rearranged with ease. At all times, full control of the switcher is available through physical interfaces so that going in and out of breaking news is seamless.