NAB 2008: Sony Nets Big HD Camera Sales

Las Vegas -- Sony announced a slew of HD-camera sales at the 2008 NAB Show here to major broadcast and cable customers, both for field applications and studio use.

Most notable was that CBS reality show Survivor will use Sony’s XDCAM HD optical-disc cameras to shoot the upcoming 17th installment in HD, with production scheduled to begin this summer and the premiere episode debuting in the fall.

The XDCAM HD camcorders and decks to be deployed for Mark Burnett-produced series are a direct replacement for Sony Digital Betacam gear that has been used since the show’s launch.

“Shooting in high-definition gives our production team tools for storytelling beyond what was previously possible and will give our loyal audience an enhanced viewing experience," said Ghen Maynard, executive vice president of alternative programming and entertainment content for new media at CBS Paramount Entertainment Group, in a statement. "The show’s locations and natural elements have always served as another character in the show and an important part of the competition. With HD, viewers will feel as if they are on location instead of in their living room."

Sony also announced a major XDCAM HD sale to CBS affiliate and Capitol Broadcasting station WRAL in Raleigh, N.C. The station is adopting Sony’s new XDCAM HD PDW-700 cameras with 4:2:2 color sampling and 2/3” imaging sensors to support its 7.5 hours per day of news coverage. Over the next two years, the station plans to use more than 30 of Sony PDW-700 optical camcorders and several PDW-HD1500 decks for news production operations. They will replace Panasonic DVCPRO HD tape-based camcorders that WRAL has been using since 2000, when it became one of the first local stations to launch HD news.

According to WRAL director of engineering Pete Sockett, the station went with XDCAM HD disc over Panasonic’s P2 HD solid-state format because the relatively cheap discs (list price of around $60) can still be treated like tapes, and can be handed off to reporters or editors without worrying about pulling the files off them. “It really came down to the workflow of the XDCAM format,” Sockett added. “Basically, it allows for all of the benefits of a nonlinear work flow, as well as the legacy benefits of tape.”

Sony also announced that ABC is standardizing on the XDCAM platform, as reported by B&C, and that reality show COPS will use XDCAM HD to shoot all 36 episodes of the show’s 21st season, which premieres this fall.

Spanish Broadcasting Systems in Miami will also use XDCAM HD to shoot a new miniseries, Manuel.

On the HD studio side, Sony announced a major deal with ESPN for L.A. Live, a new 4 million-square-foot entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles. The new ESPN facility, scheduled for completion in 2009, will include two studios and will be outfitted with three Sony MVS-8000G production switchers, 10 HDC-1500 studio cameras, more than 400 Sony LUMA professional LCD monitors and three BVM-L230 monitors, Sony’s new LCD display for critical video-reference evaluation.

Sony HD gear is also being used for HD upgrades for HSN technology and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. At New York’s Kaufman Astoria Studios, Sesame Workshop’s Sesame Street program already converted to HD production using Sony HD broadcast cameras and switchers, and last Friday, the Miss USA pageant was shot in HD for the first time using Sony cameras from mobile vendor All Mobile Video.

In that vein, Miss Universe 2008 Riyo Mori was on hand at the Sony press event to help show off Sony’s new EX-3 XDCAM EX camera, which records in the XDCAM HD format on solid-state memory cards. Miss Universe president Paula Shugart also gave a brief presentation on producing her first beauty pageant in HD.

“Nothing makes 51 beauty queens more nervous than the moment you tell them you’re going to be shooting in high-definition,” said Shugart, who was quick to add that the contestants all looked great in the higher-resolution format.

For complete coverage of the 2008 NAB Show, click here.