Sony Takes Imaging to New Levels With True 4K Super-Slo-Mo, Improved Lens Control for Shaders
Among the new offerings at Sony’s NAB Show booth will be two new versions of the HDC-3500 and HDC-5500. Dubbed the V series, they feature an improved neutral-density (ND) filter and true 4K super-slo-mo at 4X speed. The variable filter is seen as a big step forward: it will improve the look of both SDR and HDR shows where shaders juggle a wide variety of perimeters related to brightness, depth of field, and focus.
“The V stands for Variable Neutral Density Filter,” says Rob Willox, director, live solutions, Sony Electronics. “The Variable Neutral Density Filter brings a lot to the table as the shader will have full-time control over the lens, even when the camera is on-air, allowing them to change the neutral-density filtering so they can get the exposure right for tight shallow–depth-of-field shots.’
The depth of field can also be preset so that fewer shots have to be dialed at the last second, enabling a more consistent production.
“This eliminates a lot of the guesswork when there is a large exposure change, like zooming in on someone in the crowd for a reaction shot,” adds Willox.
The virtual IRIS control allows the shader to use a joystick to make seamless adjustments. The desired f-stop number can be maintained by controlling the brightness via the variable ND filter and the gain control.
“We’ve come up with a way that we can lock what the depth of field is and then adjust the camera around the aperture priority,” adds Willox.
As for camera specifics, both V models have a pre-installed variable ND filter, optical low-pass filter, and VF slide mechanism. Also worth noting is that the upgrade kit for the HDC-3500L camera can be used by the HDC-P50 block camera to add the variable ND filter and the low-pass optical filter. The optical low-pass filter has been designed to prevent moiré effects when shooting LED walls and similar elements.
The new viewfinder slide mechanism is designed to allow the operator to change the position of the viewfinder to make it more comfortable. And speaking of viewfinders, Sony is also fixing another viewfinder issue: not being able to see the contrast range of a scene when working on an HDR show. New high-resolution OLED viewfinders, the HDVF-EL740 and HDVF-EL760, offer such new features as full-HD resolution on a 7.4-in.-diagonal screen, wide dynamic range, and a flicker-less mode.
“We have a mode that is between HD and HDR and is a very good representation of what the show looks like in front of the shader,” says Willox.
Support for 4K at 240 fps, which will be available in the fall, will be on the show floor as part of a demo with a new Hawk-Eye server. Available via a software upgrade to either the HDC-5500 or the HDC-5500V, it can interface with 12-Gbps–based servers and also allows virtual-ad systems to be used on 4K broadcasts.
Also featured in the booth will be the CNA-2 camera network adapter, which will enable 288 (or more) cameras to reside on one network (vs. 96 on the CNA-1) and also is compatible with Sony’s CNA Cloud system. An operator can control multiple CNA-2 systems and monitor them all from a remote location, thanks to Federation technology.
“This really enhances the capability for REMIs and international productions,” says Willox.
Sony will also have a new virtual-production stage, an addition this year that will give attendees a chance to learn more about multicamera switching, live AR with an HDC-5500, and virtual production for cinema and drama using a Venice 2 camera. Various camera signals will be passed into Unreal Engines and demonstrate background rendering and live-switching quality. Also on exhibit will be a new patent-pending ability to shoot in those environments at a higher frame rate and lower light levels, as well as ways to make it easier for a virtual studio to be used for multiple shows.
’We will also use lens data on the camera to tell the Unreal Engine how to render the background image to be most appropriate for the shot it’s taking,” adds Willox. “That allows re-tasking a studio for a number of shows very quickly.”