Broadcast Technology Blog

Sony Imaging Systems Continue Move to IP, New Recording Flexibility

Sony Electronics gave an update on its imaging products this week as Robert Willox, Sony, Director of Marketing, Imaging Products & Solutions rolled through some of the new features and tools designed to make it easier for sports production professionals to capture quality images, take advantage of IP technologies, and more. “Innovation isn’t just about picture quality,” he says. “It’s about tools that can enhance the experience.”

The Sony HDC-5500 camera has found success in the marketplace.

The Sony HDC-3500 and HDC-5500 camera systems were introduced last year but have already been a hit with remote production facility providers as NEP recently committed to 50 of the systems, the Canadian Broadcast Center in Montreal will have 36 systems, and NBC has purchased more than 100 systems.

The recent advances, especially the move to IP, are best laid bare by the two IP extension adapters, the HDCE-TX30 and HDCE-RX30 that were introduced last fall at IBC. The units transform current HDC series of SDI system cameras into IP-enabled cameras with a SMPTE ST 2110 interface. Through their compact size, one third of the standard width, the IP extension adapters offer advanced IP Live remote production and resource sharing which create new efficient workflow patterns for existing HDC system cameras.

“They are format agnostic and can adapt to the needs of the market,” says Willox. The TX30 allows the HDC-3000, HDC-2000, and HDC-1700 series of cameras to easily interface with an ST 2110 network.

“It can perform the role of a simple CCU with on-board video control and controls of input and output but also has return video and tally and intercoms through IP,” says Willox. It can also bring in a second camera signal via fiber, convert it to IP, and send it back across the network along with the other camera signal.

The RX30 converts ST 2110 signals back to SDI, making it ideal for situations where IP is being used for camera signal transport, but the production infrastructure is SDI.

The HKCU-REC55 record option can be added to Sony camera control units to add recording.

Also look for iso-recording within the HDCU-3500 or HDCU-5000 or HDC-5500 via the HKCU-REC50/55. With the recording option HKCU-REC55, for example, the HDCU-3500 can record the live feed inside CCU. The file can be transfered to USB SSD or network storage in real-time during recording. Therefore, when the shooting operation is finished, the file is already transferred to portable SSD or NAS. The HDCU-5000 can record up to four hours at 4K XAVC-I C300.

“The concept is a 10-bit 4K HDR recorder than can simultaneously record 4K HDR and HD SDR without the need for external recorders,” says Willox. “It saves real estate and also gives an option for backup recording capabilities.”

New developments from Sony also include the PXW-Z450 4K 2/3-inch shoulder mount camcorder availability in a production package that will include a 18x zoom 4K lens, viewfinder and microphone. The PXW-Z450KC will be available in August 2020.

Also check out the MSU-3500 and MSU-3000, Master Setup Unit, a multi-camera remote control panel for camera configuration and maintenance. Both units are equipped with a new seven-inch WVGA LCD touch panel for better user visibility. The MSU-3500 is half rack with vertically orientation, while the MSU-3000 is a full rack width and is horizontally oriented. Both will be available in summer 2020.

Willox also discussed the use of UHC-8300 8K cameras and the camera’s ability to have three 4K 120fps cutouts from the image that can be recorded on the PWS-4500 server.

At Super Bowl LIV Fox Sports had two of the 8K cameras in use, one locked on each team on the sideline.

“We didn’t have to move cameras and could use the extraction window to zoom in on the action,” says Mike Davies, Fox Sports, SVP, Field and Technical Operations. “We also had a third camera that let us see what it looked like in 8K and it looked like you were looking through a window.”

Sony also will expand the capabilities of its digital motion picture camera VENICE and FX9 full-frame camera in 2020 to offer even greater expression and usability for cinematographers and their collaborators in production and post. These firmware upgrades build on the two platforms’ extraordinary image capture and color science. VENICE delivers more monitoring options and high frame rate and FX9 expands shooting and recording capabilities for content creators.

“Sony is committed to empowering filmmakers to fulfill their artistic vision with cameras developed by and for cinematographers,” says Neal Manowitz, deputy president of Imaging and Professional Solutions Americas, Sony Electronics. “Shooting capability and efficient workflow are key factors in the selection of camera. We listen to our customers and continue to enhance the functionality of VENICE and FX9 cameras to better meet their visual storytelling needs.”

FX9 was launched in 2019 to bring full-frame imaging to “run-and-gun,” documentary and independent productions. Employing the form factor, ergonomics and workflow of Sony’s FS7 and FS7II cameras, FX9 brings color science from VENICE, and auto focus (AF) technology from Sony’s interchangeable lens camera, Alpha, to creatives desiring a small camera footprint.

Version 2.0 of FX9 firmware supports 4K 60p/50p recording through oversampling from a 5K cropped area of 6K full-frame sensor. Version 2.0 also enables output of a 4K 16-bit RAW signal to an external recorder with the optional XDCA-FX9 accessory. This additional bit depth beyond the camera’s internal 10-bit recording is ideal for projects requiring more intensive post-production.

For more information on Sony, please contact John Studdert at [email protected].

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