NAB: Sony Launches Its First 4K Camera

Complete NAB 2011 Coverage

In a development that could have important long-term implications for high-end theatrical movies and big-budget prime time series that is still shot on film, Sony has introduced its first 4K camera, the CineAlta F65.

The camera has an 8K image sensor, with approximately 20 megapixels and 16-bit RAW output. "This camera will be the star attraction of the show," noted Alex Shapiro, senior VP, Sony Professional Solutions of America in a lengthy interview with B&C prior to the camera's unveiling at Sony's annual NAB press conference. "It offers just spectacular performance that certainly rivals any 35mm film camera and may even go beyond that in terms of performance."

The camera is part of Sony's commitment to develop a "complete 4K production workflow, from 4K acquisition, though the production process to the screen with our 4K movie projectors," added Shapiro.  

The camera is primarily targeted to motion picture filmmakers as an alternative to 35mm film production "but by the same token we think it will find a lot of applications in prime time episodic drama and action shows," many of which were still being shot on film, Shapiro said. "I would say that about half of all dramas are shot digitally and most sitcoms are done digitally."

Sony is already the largest camera supplier for high end prime time production and the advent of a new 4K Sony camera that fits into Sony's existing workflows could encourage more producers to give up film.

Beyond the 4K camera, Sony also announced its first single 3D camera and number of other cameras and products, including new OLED 24 inch and 17 inch monitors.

The launch of the new monitors are important, Shapiro explains, because "these screens are really the first OLED production monitors that can outperform the CRTs that were for so long the standard in most post production facilities and TV operations."

Shapiro also announced some notable wins in their solutions business, which recently completed contracts to upgrade four Major League Baseball stadiums, and number of major equipment sales.

These include an agreement with Belo Corp. to rollout out Sony's XDNEWS news production system across its stations, with the first system installed and on-air at WFAA in Dallas/Fort Worth market, the #5 DMA.

The group plans to install a total of five XDNEWS systems, ranging from larger markets like Seattle and Dallas to smaller cities like Louisville and Austin.

In another deal, Gray Television has been deploying Sony's HDXchange networked content management system to streamline its workflows. The technology has been installed and is on-air at KXII -- the Gray station in Sherman, Texas -- with plans to roll-out systems to more stations across the group.

At the press conference, Sony also announced that deals to upgrade facilities at Austin City Limits with its equipment and an agreement with FremantleMedia to use Sony XDCAM-EX workflows and XDCAM camcorders in the production of X Factor on Fox. "We're very excited to be involved in what may be the most anticipated show of the fall TV season," Shapiro says.

On the 3D front, Shapiro also noted that the finals of the Wimbledon tennis championships will be shot in 3D with Sony HD camera and screened live in 3D in 3D-capable cinemas around the world in June and July of 2011.