Sony Unveils XDCAM HD Production ToolsJanuary 18, 2006
by -- Sony of CanadaSony of Canada Ltd., Canada's leading supplier
of electronic and computer products for consumers and business, today introduced the Company's next generation of the XDCAM(TM) Professional Disc(TM) system, a new line of High-Definition camcorders and decks offering
broadcasters and video professionals a complete toolkit of
flexible, HD digital production options.
The new Sony XDCAM HD family of optical disc-based products includes two camcorders and two decks. They use the same Professional Disc media deployed in the standard definition (SD) version of the XDCAM system. Now, professional users can choose to record up to two hours of HD content on the versatile optical media, maintaining their workflow continuity by combining HD resolution with the same Information Technology-based benefits made possible
by XDCAM technology since its initial launch in 2004.
The XDCAM HD family of products can also record and play SD DVCAM recordings, making them ideal for users who are migrating from SD to HD production.
"The introduction of a high-definition version of our XDCAM system marks the continuing evolution of optical technology as users shift from tape-based, standard definition production to file-based, non-linear media with advanced workflow," said Jeff Ibbotson, General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Content
Creation Division, Broadcast & Communication Solutions Group, Sony of Canada Ltd. "This new XDCAM line-up rounds out Sony's range of HD production tools, filling an important niche between Sony's entry-level and high-end formats,
meaning Sony is the only manufacturer to offer HD for everyone."
The two XDCAM HD camcorders - models PDW-F330 and PDW-F350 - offer the production features that professional users need, such as true 24P recording in both SD or HD and also offers interval recording and slow shutter.
The XDCAM PDW-F350 HD camcorder additionally offers variable frame rate recording capabilities commonly referred to as "over-cranking" and "under-cranking" or "slow-motion/fast motion" functionality.
"This is a much-desired and often critical feature for cinematographers and directors of photography who need the flexibility of changing frame rates to create unique 'looks' for their productions or to create special effects," explained Mr. Ibbotson. "For digital cinematographers, the ability to shoot at
slower or faster frame rates than playback gives them the great motion effects often seen in film cinema."
The XDCAM PDW-F350 HD camcorder enables variable frame rate recording at a range of frame rates from four frames per second (fps) to 60 fps in one frame increments. For example, when viewed at 24 fps, four fps yields motion
600 percent faster than normal. In comparison, 60 fps yields slow motion at 40 percent normal speed. These effects can be played back in the camera or on a Sony optical deck, without the need for any additional special processing
through a non-linear editing system or converter.
The XDCAM PDW-FF350 HD camcorder also enables true 24P, 25P and 30P image capture, without any additional conversion required.
The XDCAM HD products offer the flexibility of recording 1080i video in three data recording rates: 25 Mbps (megabits per second), plus 35 Mbps and 18 Mbps. The system records HD content to Sony's existing Professional Disc single-layer media using a HD MPEG-2 Long GOP video compression codec.
The camcorders use three half-inch CCD (charge-coupled device) 1.5 megapixel imagers with a variety of lenses from major manufacturers available. In addition, a 2/3-inch to 1/2-inch lens adapter will be available.
The Sony XDCAM PDW-F70 and PDW-F30 decks enable high-speed data transfer between compatible nonlinear devices. Both decks up-convert XDCAM SD content
recorded in the DVCAM format to 1080i HD at output, and all XDCAM HD camcorders and decks can down-convert HD material to SD in anamorphic, letterboxed or 4:3 format.
"We are also continuing to develop our alliances with 30 leading manufacturers of compatible products to further strengthen the adoption of an optical workflow by a broader audience of customers," explained Mr. Ibbotson.
The XDCAM system's blue-laser technology-based Professional Disc media offers unique benefits in terms of split-second random access to footage in the field or during the post process, and multi-format flexibility and
flexible record times (approximately 120 minutes or more of HD content at 18 Mbps, over 85 minutes at 25 Mbps or over 65 minutes at 35 Mbps or, in SD, 85 minutes of DVCAM at 25 Mps). The Sony Professional Disc media is re-usable up to 10,000 re-write cycles with more than 1 million read cycles - and a shelf life of more than 50 years. The greater number of repeat recordings possible with the XDCAM disc
allows a production crew to re-use it more often than a videotape and without experiencing degradation after multiple uses of the media.
Additional features of the new XDCAM HD products include:
- Expand function: Takes a clip that has been initially tagged as a
thumbnail and divides it into 12 even-time intervals. Each
interval also contains its own thumbnail for easy identification.
This expand function can be applied up to three times, making it
easier to search rapidly for scenes within a long clip, and also
an operator to drill down into a clip and quickly locate the
desired editing point;
- Freeze mix: Enables a videographer to switch seamlessly between
pre-recorded material and live footage by showing these images on
the LCD (liquid crystal display) screen or viewfinder. This
function also helps adjust the camera's position to set the same
framing for the next shot;
- Slow shutter: Allows a maximum of 64 frames to be accumulated. In
low light levels this produces clear and noiseless video to be
captured, and provides a "fantasy" video effect with a ghost
- Proxy Recording Support: Like the SD versions of XDCAM, XDCAM HD
supports simultaneous proxy video and audio recording, which
supports advanced off-line logging and editing workflow; and
- 4-Channel PCD Audio: XDCAM HD provides high-quality 4-channel PCM
audio support for both acquisition and mastering in both SD and HD
Since 2004, more than 9,000 units of the SD version of the XDCAM system have been installed and adopted worldwide by news organizations, videographers and for television production. In addition, corporations, educational and
government facilities, houses of worship and major sports teams have also implemented Sony's optical technology.
The XDCAM HD camcorder and deck products will be available in March 2006, with manufacturer's suggested retail pricing as follows:
- XDCAM PDW-F350 camcorder: MSRP of $30,999;
- XDCAM PDW-F330 camcorder: MSRP of $19,999;
- XDCAM PDW-F70 deck: MSRP of $21,000;
- XDCAM PDW-F30 deck: MSRP of $12,500; and
- PFD-23 Professional Disc media: MSRP of about $40 per disc,
capacity of 23.3 GB (gigabytes).
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