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Sony Brings 1080p to HDV lineup

Sony this week introduced a new HDV camcorder that incorporates a new imaging technology that delivers native 1080p resolution at 24, 30 and 60 frames per second and can also record on a 60 GB attachable hard-disk drive and DV tape simultaneously.

“This is the first of its kind,” says John Scarcella, president, Sony Broadcast and Business Solutions. “Users can record on the hard-disk and feed video directly into a PC or nonlinear editor and also backup to professional videotape.”

The camcorder is expected to be available in December for $4,800 with the companion hard-drive units priced at $1,800.

The enabling technology in the camcorder are “ClearVid CMOS Sensor chips” that use a new imaging algorithm that turns the pixels on a 45% angle. As a result the chips can capture 1080p images with very little power consumption, making it possible to make the camcorder smaller than was previously possible when 1080p recording was desired.

Hugo Gaggioni, Sony Broadcast and Business Solutions Company CTO says the camcorder exceeds 800 TV lines of horizontal resolution. “We’re very happy with the capabilities,” he says, adding that the image quality makes it suitable for broadcast applications. “‘Pixel shifting,’ an approach used by others to provide HD resolution, seems to work but it sometimes has extreme aliasing,” says Gaggioni.

As for the new hard-disk technology, it can record up to 4.5 hours in either HDV or DVCAM/DV mode. It also has Smart Protection, a technology that, combined with a built-in “shock absorber,” protects against forces up to three Gs. It can also detect when the unit is being dropped, turning the power off and disengaging the record head to protect the integrity of the drive for falls up to three feet.

The hard-disk, coupled with the tape-based recording, gives users flexibility and a built-in backup device. In addition, the hard-disk has a buffer memory function that allows for up to 14 seconds of video and audio signals to be continuously recorded so users never miss a shot.

Bob Ott, Sony vice president of optical network systems, says other features like a filter diameter of 62 mm and a 20x zoom or 30x zoom with digital extender allow the camcorder to stand out from the competition. Recording to disk also means files can be quickly accessed by nonlinear editing systems to quickly get material to air.

“Workflow is very important and a large part is the compatibility with third-party solutions,” he says. “We’ve worked with NLE makers to develop products that make the most sense to our customers.”