Sony's big-league tryout

Sony's new digital multi-format production switcher got its first live test in the U.S., handling the HDTV production of six Seattle Mariners games at Seattle's SafeCo Field last month for Japanese broadcasters.

"The board was very responsive to my commands, which is something I really appreciated during these broadcasts where there were no commercial breaks," said Jim Waliser, the free-lancer who directed the broadcast aboard All Mobile Video's Resolution HDTV production truck.

Allan Wheeler, marketing manager for Sony's Production Systems, said that the tests were monitored closely by Sony product engineers in Japan.

More than 20 of the MVS-8000s, which ship in early September, have been sold, according to Wheeler. Among them are two going to Paul Allen's Action Sports production company in Portland, Ore. One will go into the company's in-house edit suite in Portland's Rose Garden Arena, the home of Allen's NBA Trailblazers.

The other will be installed on a new 53-foot HDTV production truck, built by Sony's Systems Integration Co.

Although designed for live sports and broadcast production, the switcher has other applications. CNNi in Atlanta is building two edit-control rooms around the MVS-8000 for its online news operation.

The switcher includes four separate mix effects, integrated digital video-effects systems, customizable panels and Ethernet control for access to the Internet. It can be configured with up to 80 inputs and 56 outputs with eight frame memories.

The MVS-8000 sells for $450,000 to $500,000, depending on features. An SD-only version lists for $300,000 to $350,000. (DVE channels cost approximately $25,000 each, in either the multi-format or the SD-only configuration.)

MVS-8000 was not used for the HDTV production of the July 10 All-Star baseball game from SafeCo Field. For that, AMV used Sony's HD-only HDS-7000.