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New Sony HD Camera with Optional 4K, 8x HD Capture, Finds Believers in Fox, NBC, CBS, and More

April 12th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Ken Kerschbaumer

Sony took the wraps off its new HDC-4300 camera, the world’s first camera to use three 2/3-inch 4K imagers, in style at NAB as representatives from Game Creek Video, NEP, Bexel, CBS, Fox Sports, and NBC Sports took to the stage at Sony’s annual NAB press event and committed to purchase the camera and took to the stage for the camera’s official unveiling. The camera has optional licensing for 4K capture or up to 480 HD frames per second recording and ships natively with the ability to capture 1080p/60 fps as well as 1080p/180 fps.

Top industry execs on stage at Sony's NAB press conference

Top industry execs on stage at Sony’s NAB press conference

John Studdert, Sony Professional Solutions Americas, vice president of sales and marketing, says the new camera has all of the operational features of the HDC-2000 lineup that customers have come to love (including support of B4-mount lenses and existing HDC-2000 camera control and shading systems) but with the ability to do 4K and high-frame rate recording as with the super slo-mo option activated users can choose from 180 fps, 240 fps, and 480 fps. Users can save these high-frame-rate shots to Sony’s PWS-4400 multiport 4K/HD Live Server.

“Our thought process was to offer some high-frame rate recording with three-times 1080p/60 but we didn’t want to burden the customer with the full cost of [higher speed recording] so they can do [higher speed recording] on an event-based basis,” he says. “And we’ve been told by those who have seen it that our four times looks better than six-times cameras on the market so they can get the look they need and save money on the server side [as storage needs are not as large].”

Pat Sullivan, president of Game Creek Video, says his company has placed an order for 37 units with 14 destined to be used in the Encore truck that will be at the center of Fox U.S. Open golf and NFL coverage and 23 set to be used in Peacock, the new truck currently under construction for NBC’s NASCAR coverage that begins on July 4 in Daytona, FL. Delivery of the units is expected around June 1.

Game Creek began discussions with Sony three years ago for the need for a high-speed camera that had a form factor and operated like the HDC-2500 camera.

“Having 4K is a huge bonus as it turns out Sony delivered everything we asked them do in this camera,” says Sullivan. “We saw the camera in December and it’s an absolutely fabulous product. When we were presented with the opportunity to order it we jumped all over it.”

Four of the Encore cameras and two of the Peacock cameras will be licensed for the eight-times recording.

“And with the three-times recording it’s like having all HDC-3300 cameras,” he adds.

The ability to add 4K capabilities when market forces demand it will help lay the foundation for a quick move to 4K recording when it happens. The camera uses ultra-high-precision alignment technology to realize three 4K sensor on a new prism. This allows the support of the next-generation ITU-R BT.2020 broadcast standard’s widened color space for future-proof masters or postproduction options for today’s productions, shown on tomorrow’s 4K services.

“This camera provides 4K capabilities and a workflow that content producers are instantly familiar and comfortable with,” says Rob Willox, marketing manager for content creation systems, Sony’s Professional Solutions Americas. “We’ve developed an approach that allows the large existing HDC series user base to employ 4K advantages such as 8x high frame rate and 4K cut-out and zoom while using a familiar infrastructure and signal path.”

The 4K capability is accessed via the SZC-4001 software package while the SZC-4002 software package delivers the four-times and eight-times slo-mo recording capability. A BPU-4000 baseband processor unit receives the camera signals via SMPTE fiber and connects to an HDCU-2000 or 2500 camera control unit. This provides power and full intercom, tally, and return capabilities.

Other features include HD cut-outs of two full HD images to be cut out from the 4K picture in real-time including a selectable zoom and perspective mode. A focus point can be displayed on the viewfinder with a marker in 4K mode for easy focusing.

Sports content creators are not the only ones to commit to the camera as CBS’ Television City production facility, home to many of television’s top-rated entertainment programs including Survivor Finale, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, The Price is Right, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, The Late Late Show, and So You Think You Can Dance,  is adding Sony’s new HDC-4300 live 4K high frame rate camera system to its line-up in June.

“With the capabilities of these new cameras, we can continue to put the best-looking product on the air today, enhance our production values and protect our assets well into the future with the highest resolution master,” says Barry Zegel, Senior Vice President and General Manager, CBS Television City.

At NAB 2015, Sony is demonstrating an advanced 4K live over IP solution for live broadcasting. This solution centers on the world’s first 4K ready, IP networked live production switcher.  The exhibit will also present prototypes of a baseband processor and a live server currently-in-development that will be necessary for achieving complete live-production solutions.

As 4K broadcasting becomes a reality, the broadcast industry is faced with the challenge of building an adequate infrastructure for 4K productions. Conventional SDI  implementations can be prohibitive, as the necessary cabling and routing hardware is more than quadruple the requirements for HD—meaning the resulting setups are considerably more costly, heavy and space-consuming.

Sony has responded to this issue by developing an IP Live Production System.  Its key technology, Networked Media Interface, allows all devices to be connected, and all signal types transmitted, via a single Ethernet cable.

To achieve interoperability and compatibility, Sony is disclosing technical information under license and providing developmental support with leading companies in the industry, who support IP Live Production Systems.  As of April 2015, 30 manufacturers support Sony’s IP Live Production System.

“Sony has the technology and expertise required to be a leader in IP based live production,” says John Studdert, vice president of sales and marketing, Sony’s Professional Solutions Americas.  “We are excited to demonstrate our rapidly expanding, cutting edge end-to-end IP technology and solutions, which benefit live producers across the globe, and deliver the flexible tools they need now and moving forward, as IP becomes the new standard in live production.”