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Sonys XDCAM Helps Power Sundance Labs

Sony’s XDCAM Professional Disc system

is spending the summer in Sundance, Utah as the main technology behind two of the Sundance Institute’s annual workshops: the Filmmakers Lab and Composers Lab.

For the recently completed Filmmaker’s Lab, several XDCAM optical disc camcorders “did all the heavy lifting” according to Ian Calderon, Director of Digital Initiatives for the Sundance Institute. This is the second consecutive year that the Lab has used the XDCAM blue laser-based system, following a successful test run in 2004.

This year, the DPs at the Lab used five XDCAM PDW-530 camcorders on a rotating basis, and their feedback was again positive. The characteristics of the camcorders that the Lab participants found most attractive were in-camera editing capabilities and the ability to review footage as thumbnails on the camcorder’s LCD screen, which can eliminate the need for a separate playback monitor.

The XDCAM system’s cache recording feature also allows the XDCAM camcorders to continuously record 10 seconds of video, audio and metadata in memory while in standby mode. Then, when the record button is pushed, these previous 10 seconds and all associated data are automatically recorded onto the Professional Disc media and the camcorder will continue recording in real time.

According to Sony tests, the Professional Disc media can achieve a minimum of 1,000 write/read/erase cycles, and up to 10,000 cycles under ideal conditions.

The Professional Disc’s reusability is also playing a large role in the Sundance Composers Lab, where the use of disc instead of tape is proving to be a time-saver. The footage that was captured on the discs during the Filmmakers Lab is now being used by composers to attach music scores to the picture material.

The XDCAM system’s blue-laser technology based Professional Disc media offers unique benefits in terms of split-second random access to footage in the field or during the post process, and multi-format flexibility and flexible record times, DVCAM (approximately 85 min.) or MPEG IMX 50 Mbps (approximately 45 min.), without having to change media.