New Products Include PDW-F800, SRW-9000 Camcorders

Sony added to its XDCAM HD line-up at its NAB press conference, announcing the PDW-F800 ($41,990), a 24p 3-chip (2/3-inch) camcorder with variable frame rate capabilities, and the PDW-F1600 ($27,990), a deck with insert/assemble editing capabilities that allow it to perform like a conventional VTR. Both products are expected to ship in June.
Alec Shapiro, senior VP of sales and marketing, said the big story this year is workflow. He pointed out the company’s new HXC-100 and HSC-300 studio cameras, which use digital triax transmission technology to allow customers to move gradually from legacy triax infrastructure to HD, along with the new MVS-6000 switcher.

On the other end of the spectrum is the SRW-9000 camcorder, which is built around the HDCAM SR recording format and is aimed at high-end TV programming and commercial production. It’s a 10-bit 4:2:2 camera that shoots in 1080p at 23.98, 24, and 25 frame rates, and in 1080i at 59.97 fps. In a prepared statement, Sony’s Rob Willox described it as a possible “B camera complement to the F23.” Optional hardware extends its capabilities to include such goodies as 4:4:4 support and S-log gamma (with the HKSR-9003 processing board), dual-link HD-SDI output (with the HKSR-9001), or variable frame rates from 1 to 60 (known as SR Motion) and a continuous three-second recording cache when the camera is in stand-by mode (both features enabled through the HKSR-9002 picture cache board). Physically, the camcorder is the same size as the original F900. It’s slated to be available in December; pricing will be announced.

Another part of the story is, finally, the hoped-for emergence of what could be thought of as mature tools in the world of digital cinematography. Naturally, Sony would like its cameras to be considered in that light, and Shapiro cited a number of shows that are using the F35 CineAlta camera, including TV shows Defying Gravity, Californication, and In the Motherhood, as well as the upcoming Lucasfilm production Red Tails, based on the story of World War II pilots the Tuskegee Airmen. But the marquee project, no doubt, is one using the F23 – Michael Mann’s dazzling-looking Public Enemies, which stars Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, and Marion Cotillard in the John Dillinger story.

The film’s tech-savvy co-producer, Bryan Carroll, was on hand to show a new trailer for the film and wax enthusiastic about the F23, describing it as “the ideal tool.” He ran down a list of features, including multispeed recording, 4:4:4 10-bit support, ramping, depth of field, and the ability to push exposures, Collateral-style. “And let’s not leave out one of the most important abilities,” he said. “We are creative people. We need to be able to make those decisions. We choose the Sony camera so that we can choose to shoot in a video space. If we want to shoot in an S-log or a hyper gamma, we can choose to do that. The point is, the artist makes the decision and not the technology.”

As if Carroll weren’t quite enough of a celebrity to fill the room, Sony next brought out Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, to talk about how Sony helped build out elaborate video capabilities at the new Cowboys retractable-roof stadium. Jones said his thinking about the project was shaped in part by his experience at a Celine Dion concert here in Vegas where the performer was shadowed throughout by her own glamorous mega-image on a giant display. He’d like to apply the same principle to linebackers. Like Public Enemies, the new stadium opens this summer.