Sony Looks Beyond Definition As It Preps for NAB 2013

Sony’s NAB Show booth will once again help attendees get a sense of the big trends across sports-content creation, especially when it comes to acquisition and production. This year’s theme, “Beyond Definition,” applies not only for Sony but for the entire content-creation industry, which is thinking in terms of multiformat delivery to multiple screens with multiple resolutions. And then there is the beginning of interest in 4K as a production tool for HD and, eventually, a home-delivery format.

There is also the sense of peace promises by a show that, over the years, has had its share of battles.

“This is the first NAB that we will go to in 30 years where the industry is not engaged in format wars,” says Alec Shapiro, president of Sony Professional Solutions of America. “We can do SD, HD, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, 4K, and even 8K. And the great part about being beyond definition is, we can focus more attention on workflow solutions.”

Customers will be curious as to the future of 4K, the next-generation format that delivers vastly more picture information than HD. Sony’s existing 4K products will be on display, and the company is waiting until its press event on April 7 to let the world know what other developments in 4K production tools are in the works.

“Since CES, the attention to 4K has accelerated, and, as the consumer sets become more prevalent, the interest in 4K production is going to rise,” says Shapiro. “But it presents a lot of challenges, especially for live sports, as it will need a whole new infrastructure. So we are still listening to our customers to learn what they need.”

He believes that 4K will avoid the media hype that put 3D squarely in the crosshairs of industry execs looking to give it an immediate thumbs up or down.

“In motion pictures,” he adds, “the use of 4K is very well established, and I do think 3D has become more commonplace in the movies and is not going away.”

And, while 3D productions still face the difficulty of camera positions, for big-time 2D productions that already use the prime camera locations, the move to 4K may be more similar to the move from SD to HD. “The reality is,” he adds, “you can shoot in 4K and transmit the same production in HD.”

Then there is the price point of 4K cameras relative to first-generation (and even second- and third-generation HD cameras).

“The 4K cameras we selling today cost less than some of the HD cameras 10 years ago, and, if you go back even further, the price of the F55 4K camera is less than the first Digital Betacam cameras,” he says. “So you can shoot in 4K today and archive it for future revenue generation.”

That is where Sony and others see the potential for a sports industry to think beyond definition.

“Why not have at least your primary events produced with the highest-quality format you can?” Shapiro asks. “Three years from today, 4K will be a very real format.”

The hard work of getting 4K to that place within the industry is under way. Be sure to check out SVG in the coming weeks for show coverage about Sony, and others, that will help you understand the latest developments.

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