SVG Europe Sit-Down: Sony Europe’s Peter Sykes on IP and HDR innovations

Peter Sykes, Strategic Technology Development Manager, Sony Europe

Peter Sykes, Strategic Technology Development Manager, Sony Europe

Delivery methods for live production are changing – and while HD is still the standard demand for live production, says Sony, a change in quality has opened up with the advancement of 4K. Not only that, IP technologies offer new and affordable ways of capturing and distributing content. As Strategic Technology Development Manager, Peter Sykes, points out, with its comprehensive range of products, Sony Europe is well placed to talk about what is happening in the sports production market.

At NAB you demonstrated solutions to help customers go ‘Beyond Definition’. What does ‘Beyond Definition’ mean?

Beyond Definition describes Sony’s passion to go beyond the expectations of our customers. We aim, through our creativity and spirit of challenge, to take what our customers imagine and make it a reality. Beyond Definition is about enabling the greatest possible image through everything we do, whether that’s a firmware update, new solution, or partnership.

IP is, of course, the current ‘buzz phrase’.  What are your latest developments in that area?

We are continuing to make a strong contribution to the industry via our participation in the activities of industry bodies including EBU, SMPTE, VSF, AMWA and AIMS. When it comes to IP, we’re committed to delivering open standards with the solutions we offer our customers and partners.

Our philosophy is to provide solutions which are ready today and open for tomorrow, and our dedicated IP Live Studio, part of our Digital Motion Picture Centre Europe (DMPCE), at Pinewood Studios, demonstrates the full IP ecosystem and acts as a training centre and test bed for third party interoperability.

At NAB, we once again re-affirmed our commitment to support SMPTE ST 2110 and AMWA NMOS IS-04 interoperability.  We also enhanced our IP Live Production system. The new suite of solutions has been developed to help broadcasters make the most of IP technology, and includes new functionality to our IP Live System Manager, and a new version 2.3 of our XVS-8000 multi-format production switcher, which introduces resource-sharing capabilities as standard. This allows broadcasters to deliver on the increasing demand for 4K live content, while addressing the cost and scalability issues associated with conventional SDI live production workflows.

BBC Studioworks is the latest in a growing list of customers to turn to Sony for a Live IP Production system, joining TV Globo (Brazil), China Central Television (China), and others in a drive to future-proof workflows and make 4K over IP a reality for more people.

Apart from the expansion of IP use, what changes have you noticed in sports production regarding the utilisation of your solutions?

Sony PXW-Z150: Sony has added HDR capability to the PXW-FS5

Sony PXW-Z150: Sony has added HDR capability to the PXW-FS5

We’re seeing an increased familiarity with workflows for simultaneous SDR/HDR production as organisations gain more experience through live trials of the technology.

Interest in Virtual Reality is also growing, and from numerous different sports. We recently partnered with Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe and Sky Deutschland to deliver a successful beta trial for the UEFA Champions League final live match to be enjoyed by PlayStation® VR users.

Can you tell us about XDCAM air – and the thinking behind the technology with regards to sports-related production?

Through advanced wireless technology and smart workflow thinking, XDCam Air aims to reduce the cost and increase the speed of remote, time-sensitive production and in the context of sports this means being able to cover more courts and more matches at lower cost.

What is your latest thinking when it comes to HDR? 

HDR has been on the radar for some time now and we’re now at a stage of expanding capabilities to a growing number of production sectors. We’ve learnt that in addition to 4K, some of our customers are looking for products and solutions for HD production with HDR, so we’re providing that for them.

But HDR isn’t solely reserved for high-end productions. Videographers, producers of corporate videos and others are also embracing HDR. That’s why we’ve added HDR capability to a range of our camcorders including the PXW-Z150 and PXW-FS5.

And HDR remains a very attractive proposition for sport, as emphasised by the recent use of HDC-4800 and HDC-4300 cameras by BT Sport to deliver a full end-to-end HDR live production of the UEFA Champions League Final at the beginning of June.

And looking ahead to the end of 2017, will we have seen any major developments in the area of 4K?  If so, what will they be? If not, why not? 

We’re going to see a lot more in terms of 4K Ultra HD throughout the year. We expect more of our customers to be talking about their experiences of covering live events in 4K and, in particular, in HDR. So, we’re looking forward to seeing some spectacular images as things progress.

We also expect to see exciting news in the area of product development.  We’ve found it’s important to provide our customers with new products that fit into their existing workflows, whilst also providing them with the opportunity to migrate to 4K.  We recently announced plans for our next generation CineAlta digital motion picture camera system and will be providing more details in the coming months.

Finally, do you think colleges are turning out graduates that are familiar enough with broadcast technology to be of immediate use to companies like Sony? If not, what is the solution?

While we cannot comment on the education system generally, we do work with universities to provide opportunities for graduates and are in ongoing discussions about the requirement for the next-generation of technologists for our industry. We have strong relationships with many universities and specialist schools through the DMPCE and we can offer specific training there for undergraduates and students, as well as industry professionals.

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