Sony will give NAB attendees a sneak peek at the third generation of its XDCAM HD recording system, which offers 4:2:2 processing and increased data capture of up to 50 Mbps (from the current limit of 4:2:0 at 35 Mbps). MPEG-2 and its inherent long GOP structure will continue to be supported. A dual-layer Blu-ray disc will offer 100 minutes of record time.
This new functionality won’t be shipping until later this year or sometime next year. Sony said increasing the picture quality and making the cameras and related equipment 1080i/720p switchable is paramount to the future of the format. For the foreseeable future, the cameras will use ½-inch CCDs, but a 2/3-inch XDCAM HD camera is planned for some time in 2008. [Sony said their current ½-inch imagers use the entire surface area, making them comparable in acquisition quality to others’ 2/3-inch CCDs.]

The company will also show a new NAS server, called HDXchange, that initially will only handle 25 Mbps HDV files and takes full advantage of the XDCAM HD’s proxy system, MXF files and metadata to speed up the HD production process. It also includes support for QuickTime, AVI, DVI, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 files and offers built-in server applications for content management and distribution. This enables the HDXchange to work seamlessly with Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid’s Liquid and Sony’s Vegas NLE software.

The current single-layer 23 GB disc system seems to be taking hold. Sony said it has sold 21,000 XDCAM units (SD and HD) since last year and more than 6,000 XDCAM HD camcorders and playback decks alone.