Sony's SRW Family of VTRs: Quality Option for Broadcasters
Consumers today have a full plate of options when it comes to consuming multimedia content. You can view a blockbuster movie at the local multiplex, on a large-screen TV, streaming on a computer or even on an iPod or cell phone. And the number of options for consuming content is only going to increase.
Contingent upon this knowledge, it is very important for content owners to ensure that their media is produced and stored at the highest quality possible, because nobody wants those multi-compression artifacts to get in the way of a good time at the movies. Sony, with its new line of professional SRW/2 HDCAM-SR VTR’s and playback decks, is set on helping you achieve that goal of "highest-quality media" as efficiently as possible.
Sony has introduced four models, including three videocassette recorder decks—the SRW-5000/2, the SRW-5500/2 and the SRW-5800/2—and one playback deck, the SRW-5100/2. Don’t let the sticker price of these units shock you. Video tapes are still the most reliable and cost effective long term storage solution for digital media. Using the new HDCAM-SR format, these rugged decks feature full 1080 recording and playback at all the standard progressive and interlaced rates (50i/60i and 24p through 50p/60p). The /2 line of VTRs adds 4:4:4 RGB SQ 10-bit recording and playback with very mild compression. Using this mode enables 880 Mbps, 1080 recording with a compression rate of 2:1. The older SRW models required the additional HKSR-5003 board to get this feature, but now, it’s built right into the unit.
There is also a 4:2:2/1080/60p and 50p mode, 720p recording, playback as well as 720p/1080i and 720p/480i bidirectional conversion options are also available. These bad boys also offer up to 12 channels of 24-bit audio at 48 kHz (or up to 96 kHz with the SRW-5800 / 5100) and each channel is independently editable. They have internal format converters to down-convert footage into SDTV from 1080 and 720 and with additional plug-in boards, you can get a whole slew of capabilities, including 2-3 pull-down, 1080 to 720 and 720 to 1080 conversion, and 4:2:2 to 4:4:4 and 4:4:4 to 4:2:2 conversion.
A cool feature of these decks (except for the 5100, which does not have this feature) is the playback head that follows right behind the recording head, so you can monitor exactly what is being captured on the tape as it’s being captured, which can save a lot of time, compared to rewinding and watching the tapes for verification.
The SRW-5800 can record and play back, and and the SRW-5100 can play back in 2K (2048 x 1080, 2048 x 1556) mode in real time. With an optional HKSR-5001 board, footage can be downsized for viewing on traditional monitors. The 5800 / 5100 models also allow for double speed material transfer with dual link HD-SDI or 3G-SDI interface, so you can transfer your footage to other decks or servers in half the time of other units.
These units have internal memory to save up to eight groups of parameters, so you can have all your favorite settings within reach. If eight isn’t enough, you can also save your settings onto Memory Stick media.
These decks offer a variety of interfaces, with multiple inputs and outputs, so you shouldn’t have any problems connecting your gear.
If you’ll be upgrading from older HDCAM or even DIGI-BETACAM systems, not to worry, these decks all have the option of legacy playback of the older formats, and the SRW-5500/2 is fully backwards compatible with HDCAM.
For those of you looking to hop on the 3D production trend, the HDCAM-SR SRW-5800/2 has single-tape Dual Stream recording enabled. That means it can record the images of two cameras simultaneously with in-sync audio and time code. Or if 3D isn’t your thing, this feature gives you the ability to record two scenes simultaneously.
If producing content of the highest quality is important to you, you can't go wrong with any of the SRW/2 decks.
Click here for a chart to help differentiate between the four decks.