NAB 2010: Sony to Pitch Process in Las Vegas

NAB 2010: Complete Coverage from B&C
Sony, best known in the broadcast business for making cameras, recorders and switchers, is shifting its focus at this month’s NAB show to demonstrate an end-to-end production system with software linking various products, including hardware from third-party manufacturers.

While Sony will have a large display of 3D camera rigs and monitors in Las Vegas, the centerpiece of its booth will be “Solutions World,” where Sony will demonstrate a complete file-based workfl ow. The system includes ingest, production, post-production and archive, featuring its own products working in combination with third-party hardware and software from Harris, Avid, Omnibus, Omneon, Cisco, Quantel and others.

Driving the demonstration will be Sony’s new Media Backbone software, which is designed to bring the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) approach popular in the information-technology world to the content-creation business. “It’s the force that binds everybody together,” says Steve Stubelt, director of Sony’s Systems Solutions Group.

Media Backbone Conductor software supports an open-platform, modular architecture that allows easy integration of various systems and different components to be changed without disrupting the core workfl ow. In a nod to the specific needs of the broadcast business, it will also support high-speed transport of large audio/video files across a Media Bus network and storage system.

Sony’s complementary Media Backbone Ensemble software manages ingest and archiving workflows, working in conjunction with third-party systems. It also provides centralized management of files, including updates through the editing process, by communicating with various third-party codecs (coder-decoders) and metadata systems.

Sony is not the only large broadcast vendor pitching open platforms and SOA-based software at NAB. Avid, for example, will be demonstrating the Integrated Media Enterprise, an SOA-based production architecture centered on its Interplay asset management software. And it is commonplace for camera, server and editing suppliers to support a wide range of third-party formats and codecs.

But Sony is acknowledging that cameras are increasingly becoming a commodity, particularly in the broadcast market. “Broadcasters are interested in workfl ow solutions,” Stubelt says. “The camera is simply becoming a device. We think we make the best devices, but the future of the business is trying to address file management.”

Sony will be introducing one significant piece of hardware in parallel with Media Backbone—a multiformat ingest and transcoding device called ELLCAMI, based on Sony’s high-performance Cell processors. ELLCAMI, which will sell for $40,000 to $50,000, can rapidly ingest video in a range of formats and resolutions from 4K down to proxy resolution, and also provide file-based transcoding at resolutions up to 4K.