Sony Enhances 3D Lineup With Camcorder, Quality Controls

Sony’s stand at the NAB Show will feature some new 3D products that expand the arsenal of options for sports broadcasters, networks, and remote-production-facility providers looking for simple, more cost-effective solutions.

Topping the list is a shoulder-mount 3D camcorder that has dual lenses and packs two cameras into one body. With the help of six ½-in. CMOS sensors (three each in the right- and left-eye cameras), according to Sony, the camera will have the right balance between picture quality and compactness, and users can expect full 1920/1080p performance.

Sony also says that two cameras in one body will reduce the need for alignment of the left and right images. And a short inter-axial distance of 45 mm allows objects to be shot in 3D from as close as 1.2 meters.

The recording format is XDCAM EX 4:2:0 as well as SxS cards, with two slots for the left and right signals. That means a potential six hours of seamless 3D recording with the use of four 64-GB cards. The SxS cards can also be used to make backup recordings for 2D operation.

A noteworthy feature of the camera is a new concept in manual control. Because the large diameter of the dual-lens system eliminates traditional control locations, three rings are nested on the left side of the camera: zoom is controlled by the outside ring, focus by the next, and convergence by the inner ring. Iris control is located next to the three manual controls, and convergence controls are easily adjusted via dedicated dial.

The shoulder-mounted camcorder will be complemented by the NXCAM compact 3D camcorder. Similar in size to the consumer 3D Handycam, the NXCAM offers such enhancements as detachable XLR audio and two shotgun microphones. It also has 1080/24p recording (as well as 1080/60i and 50i), making it suitable for projects that need a film look. Priced at $3,500, it will ship in the second half of this year.

The MPE-200 multi-image processor also will continue to play an important role in Sony’s 3D lineup. The cell-based processing unit loaded with the 3D Box application can electronically adjust camera angles, rig alignment, and image shift; flop the image; and tilt and tow the cameras in and out. Color correction is also possible.

The MVS-8000X production switcher is getting an enhancement via the X Frame, providing 3 M/E in 1080p with four keyers in 1080p or eight keyers in 720p or 1080i. It has 80 inputs and 48 outputs and a 3D utility menu that allows engineering to easily set up the input/output link between sources and even swap as needed. The X Frame allows 2D graphics to be converted to 3D via a knob to dial disparity between a left and right image.

For postproduction needs, a new 3D quality-control system enables real-time analysis and display of 3D parameters. The system looks for errors in four 3D parameters: depth analysis, alignment, color histogram, and focus. A frame around the incoming video signal is green when all is well and turns red when there is an error. When errors occur, the unit notes the timecode and type of error in an XML file, making it easier for postproduction professionals to fix errors.

Also at the show, Sony will introduce a 42-in. passive display intended to find a home in 3D-production environments, such as sports-production trucks, where staffers need to look at multiple 3D monitors. Active monitors that sync with a single pair of glasses are not suitable for that application since it is impossible to watch 3D images on multiple monitors simultaneously.