Sony NAB Press Conference

bythom US NV NAB April-2016 A6300 19678


Beyond definition. That’s Sony’s big type message these days. A smaller message is "From the lens to the living room.

Here at NAB this year, there wasn’t much for the A7 to FS shooter in Sony’s press conference. The F5, F55, FS5, and FS7 all get a firmware upgrade, mostly to up the bit rate capabilities. 

The big announcement of the day was a new broadcasting camera whose output you might have seen (specifically, 14 times during this year’s Super Bowl broadcast, because the camera can provide an 8x slow motion stream of 4K resolution data). 

So, for readers of this site, not anything particularly of interest. 

Still, there’s a theme starting to emerge under the covers: 4K HDR. I’m barely a few events into the show and I’ve pretty much heard it mentioned every time. Indeed, I was struck by a comment made in a panel discussion about building all new 4K mobile broadcast trucks for sports, entertainment, and even things like Fox’s live version of Grease: “HDR may be more important than 4K.” 

So it’s probably worth repeating myself a bit. The S-Gamut3 that Sony has been putting into their cameras—even the ones I use—is bigger than REC.2020, which is the gamut used by the 4K HDR solutions. Remember I mentioned the color differences I saw in the SMPTE screening earlier: the thing I’m learning is that Sony is basically already all-in with providing capture devices that are capable of producing and displaying the content needed for 4K HDR. 

It’s coming to you soon: Sony is now producing 4K HDR-capable TV sets. 

I’m sure in the back rooms in Japan (and Korea) there’s a bit of celebration going on. CES and NAB each year try to establish some new technology that’ll drive new TV sales. 3D was a flop. Curved screens aren’t the answer. But 4K HDR might actually be something you want. It’s up to the content producers and the distribution systems to make it so.

Yesterday Ang Lee (oscars for Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain) introduced his new film Billy Lynn to an overflowing audience here at NAB with 11 minutes of footage. 4K, 3D, HDR, 120 fps. That’s pushing every button on the content, distribution, and technology side, for sure. I wasn’t there, but I’ll quote The Hollywood Reporter: "most of the reactions to Lee's footage were overwhelmingly positive, with viewers tossing out words like 'awesome' and 'unbelievable.’" 

So I’m reminded of what I learned back when I got my BA in Communications in the early 70’s: there’s a trinity of things that have to advance together. You need content, distribution, and technology to march together. And that march has to be appreciated by an audience, or you need to find another path. 

The current technology on the path is 4K HDR. It’s looking promising, but the content produced using it has to reach that Sony 4K HDR TV you buy or we’ll have another repeat of 3D.


Oh, you want to know what all those people were taking pictures of on the stage. The new products introduced, and the proud fathers of them:

bythom US NV NAB April-2016 A6300 19681


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