By Beth MarchantIn early February, I joined 12 of my colleagues from other industry publications on a Sony-sponsored press event in Japan. At the Atsugi Technology Center, Sony’s largest R&D facility, the company laid out its product strategy for the next phase of “ubiquitous HD” production, one that it says is as inevitable as waves hitting an SD shore. (SD will remain part of the mix, however. Ichiro Segawa, executive vice president of Sony’s Professional Solutions Network Company, stressed that all of the company’s new and future products will be backward-compatible with existing SD formats.)

At NAB, Sony will be showing 19 HD cameras, including a compact, multipurpose HD POV camera, the HDC-X300. With a flourish, our engineer guide in Japan opened the side of a bulky, older-model HDCAM and produced the miniaturized 3-CCD prototype, which supports 1,080i/60i and 24p, and weighs only about 2.5 pounds. Featuring Genlock in and HD/SDI out, the HDC-X300 is expected to ship this spring for less than $20,000.
Sony will unveil more HD-related products in Las Vegas, including the MFS-2000 Series of SD/HD compact switchers (a companion to the HDC-X300 with a shrunken rack-unit footprint and an LCD touch-panel menu); updated versions of its HDCAM and HDCAM-SR cameras and VTRs; and the overhauled XPRI nonlinear editing software, billed as the first real-time HDCAM and MPEG IMX NLE. XDCAM, Sony’s Professional Disc-based optical system, will also get its due: We were taken into the “command central” hive of engineers at Atsugi to see how well XDCAM and XPRI work together (via proxies and thumbnail screen selections). At NAB, Sony and Avid will show you how XDCAM, with its new optical drive, is now compatible with Avid’s native MPEG-IMX and DVCAM NLEs, including Media Composer and NewsCutter. Also new at the show—and potentially selling in that same sweet spot of under $20,000—will be the Anycast (AWS-G500) Live Content Producer, a 12-pound, briefcase-size production switcher, recorder, audio mixer, encoder and still-store that streams out at 300 kbps to the Web, or to a projector. Anycast supports multiple cameras and up to six inputs, and features three keyers and internal pan/tilt/zoom camera control.

How far will Sony push the HD wave into the desert? And will the company announce an HD version of XDCAM at the show? As we went to press, the answer from Sony to the latter was no. But with the HDC-X300 and an MFS-2000 switcher, you just might find that you get what you need.