Sony XDCAM HD Professional Disc System Is ‘The One’ For New Reality Show From Endemol USA
LOS ANGELES, July 18, 2006 – Endemol USA, the producer of hit reality TV shows like “Deal or No Deal,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Big Brother” and “Fear Factor,” has selected Sony’s new XDCAM™ HD Professional Disc™ system as the originating format for “The One: Making a Music Star,” a 10-week summer series that will be broadcast on ABC beginning July18.
Endemol USA’s first experience with the Sony optical workflow was with the standard-definition version of the XDCAM system on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” With this new show, “The One,” the availability of an high-definition version allowed Endemol to realize the same production efficiencies, while also responding to network demands for more HD programming.
The models that the production company will use for “The One” include the PDW-F350 HD camcorders and PDW-F70 decks.
“Sony’s XDCAM HD system is a breakthrough format for a breakthrough series,” said Brad Bishop, the executive in charge of production for Endemol USA. “We can attain new levels of imaging quality and efficiency with this technology to give viewers a unique look into the lives of these musicians that was impractical before.”
According to Bishop, producing “The One” will be an intensive round-the-clock production with a fleet of XDCAM HD camcorders tracking the lives of contestants as they attend a music academy that turns aspiring singers into music stars.
Each week, contestants will perform live with audience members voting to keep their favorites in the competition. The winner will receive a recording contract with a major record company.
The show’s concept centers on capturing the contestant’s behind-the-scenes experiences as they prepare for their performances. For viewers, the twice-weekly broadcasts will combine live music punctuated with pre-produced packages to provide a rare view into the real-life dramas lived by these aspiring artists.
“The challenge is to capture the intimacy and immediacy of the live events as our producers scramble to deliver the back story,” Bishop said.
Bishop and Endemol USA worked closely with Wexler Video and Chris Thompson, its president and CEO, to select the XDCAM HD technology for the show. The Burbank, Calif.-based equipment rental and sales company has been working with the XDCAM technology since it was introduced in 2004. At the recent National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show, Wexler purchased a large quantity of the new PDW-F350 XDCAM HD camcorders.
When Bishop asked Thompson how to best meet ABC’s request that “The One” be produced in HD while remaining within the bounds of SD production budgets, he recommended the XDCAM HD system. According to Thompson, the PDW-F350 camcorders will be capturing in progressive scan mode at 35 Mbps quality for a high-definition image that easily meets ABC’s requirement for HD originated content.
“This camcorder changes the economics of professional-grade HD production, allowing our customers to meet the growing demand from the networks for HD programming,” Thompson said. “A pro-sized camera body with real HD lenses at its price opens the door to phenomenal workflow gains.”
As part of the pre-production preparation, Wexler has also been working closely with the production staff to develop a signature “look” for the show, selecting from the camcorders’ wide range of imaging options.
For example, setup files, once chosen, are easily stored and replicated to match the cameras and to ensure uniformity through the shoot.
“There’s not much time for color correction and other fixes in post so we need to start with beautiful images,” Thompson said.
Key to the show’s production plans is utilizing the camcorder’s wireless capabilities. During the recording process, the camcorder automatically generates a timecode accurate 2Mbps MPEG-4 proxy that is captured to the Sony Professional Disc optical media.
In addition, the high-resolution proxy material is transmitted via wireless microwave links and used as a reference for making edit decision lists. Edits are carried out without the need to ingest the high-resolution video.
“We are working with Endemol to create a workflow for “The One” with XDCAM HD to attain a level of performance that was impossible not long ago,” Thompson said. “We’re streamlining the process and making edit decisions before content even gets to the NLE.”
The production crew for “The One” will also benefit from the use of Sony’s Professional Disc Media. The same Professional Disc media used in the standard definition version of the XDCAM system is also compatible with the new HD version. Now, professional users can record up to two hours of high definition content on the versatile optical media, maintaining their workflow continuity by combining HD resolution with the same IT-based benefits made possible by XDCAM technology since its initial launch.
The XDCAM HD products offer the flexibility of recording 1080i video in three data recording rates: 25 Mbps, plus 35 Mbps and 18 Mbps. The system records high-definition content to Sony’s existing Professional Disc single-layer media using an HD MPEG-2 Long GOP video compression codec.
Based on blue-laser technology, the XDCAM system’s 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.
The Sony Professional Disc media is re-usable up to 1,000 read/write cycles and up to 10,000 read/write cycles in ideal conditions, based on Sony’s own testing. The greater number of repeat recordings possible with the XDCAM Professional Disc allows a production crew to re-use it more often than a videotape and without experiencing degradation after multiple uses of the media.
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