Sony has announced new deals with Irish companies almost weekly for the last month, on top of its ever-growing product launches announced almost daily.
Part of the reason Ireland is big business for Sony at the moment is due to the fact Irish people can “see the value” in products, according to Sony Professional country sales manager Dave Cheesman. The main reason, however, is that Sony is dominating the Irish film and TV market, one HD step at a time.
Sony’s rise to the top is an impressive feat. Although catering for the Hollywood market in more ways than one (Sony Pictures Entertainment is considered one of the ‘Big Six’ distribution companies in the world, producing shows like ‘Breaking Bad’ and franchises like ‘Spider Man’ and ‘Men in Black’; and many of Sony’s products are used on Hollywood films, such as ‘Cloverfield’ and ‘Tron: Legacy’), the company is not part of the Americanisation culture, having originated in Japan, where its headquarters still remain.
Its European branch, Sony Professional Solutions Europe, is responsible for all deals made this side of the world. It was this branch, along with its channel partners such as Eurotek, that developed the recently announced TV3 Sony HD Studio Dublin, the Visual Impact Ireland and D+P Multimedia Products deals, which will see Sony’s PMW-200 cameras made available, as well as the new projectors in the
VPL-D100 range and the latest 4K solutions as part of its ‘Believe Beyond HD’ vision.
This vision is fast spreading across Ireland and the UK, with ITV announcing a similar deal to the TV3/Sony deal this month, in which Sony supplies three of its UK studios with state-of-the-art HD cameras.
Dave Cheesman, the country sales manager at Sony Professional Solutions Europe, who is based in the UK, said the reasoning behind the TV3 deal is because “[Irish people] can always see the value in what it is that we offer. In general, we’ve got a long history of working very well in Ireland and delivering broadcast solutions through our channel partners. It is a very important market for us. It’s on our doorstep, and it’s always a pleasure to work with the Irish.”
Cheesman said the TV3/Sony deal, in which Sony has supplied TV3’s new 500 sq metres studio with HD cameras for the next three years at least, was “the fruition of a number of months work” between Sony, TV3, and media technology supplier Eurotek.
Sony Professional country sales manager Dave Cheesman
The new studio is the largest fully HD studio in Ireland, something Cheesman says is a testament to the future of technology in Ireland: “TV3 is a good indication of the way that Ireland is moving forward. There’s a real healthy thriving filmmaking market in Ireland that we’re very keen to engage with and in fact we do engage with.”
Sony’s ‘Believe Beyond HD’ campaign, which is aimed at providing creative professionals with new tools for creating content in both HD and 3D, was launched at the 2011 NAB Show. It is conferences such as these where Sony showcases its latest products and makes its biggest announcements. At the IBC conference 2012, which wrapped last week, Sony confirmed it would supply the huge broadcast production of the 2013 Confederations Cup in 2013 and the 2014 World Cup in full HD.
It is major social events such as the World Cup that Sony’s ‘Believe Beyond HD’ vision is allowed to come to life, with the electronics company supplying all Wimbledon 2012 footage in HD and 3D for the BBC and the Isle of Wight Festival for Sky in 3D.
“3D continues to be something that is very much part of what we do. Our corporate message is ‘Believe Beyond HD’ so 3D is rapidly happening. In the UK we’ve probably commissioned more 3D content in the last six months than we ever have before. In the summer we did Wimbledon again in 3D, which if you’ve not seen tennis in 3D it really has to be seen to be believed, you can actually see where the ball is going to land rather than just a white dot flying across the court,” said Cheesman.
Cheesman says the notion of having 3D in the home is now more plausible than ever, and a large part of this is down to Sony’s early 3D innovation with the Playstation 3: “Sony pulled a real ace out of its sleeve when it launched the Playstation 3 seven years ago, because anyone that bought one of those products hadn’t even considered having 3D in their home. Five years later there’s software that they’ve released that doesn’t cost anyone a bean, to turn Playstation 3 into a 3D player device. That’s pretty clever, and it’s really driven the drive of 3D into the home. That barrier has now been taken away.”
While we won’t be putting our 3D glasses on to watch ‘Tonight with Vincent Browne’ (which is shot on Sony) from the comfort of our own homes just yet, Sony is content with being a leader in HD innovation for now: “We’ve got a proven track record and products that broadcasters can rely on, particularly in the HD space, image quality, usability and innovation. We’ve been there since the start, and we’re in more HD broadcast environments than we’re not,” says Cheesman.
Although Sony mainly caters for the broadcast environment in Ireland - “We speak to all the major broadcasters, RTÉ and TG4 and we continue to work with them,” according to Cheesman - the camera giant is stepping up its product range for the film industry. This year has seen Sony products used for Irish projects such as Gavin Fitzgerald’s short film ‘Raymond’, in which he used a Sony PMW F3, as well as a number of Sony HDV Z1 cameras made available at Dublin’s Lispopple Studio, and the Sony EX-1 being one of the most popular cameras at supply house the Production Depot.
The Sony F65 camera
“The range of products that we have available now in filmmaking the last few years has gone through the roof. We started off with the PMW F3, which was based on the EX but had a 35 mil so it gives that cinematic feel, and then we have the NEX-FS100 which was a very affordable entry into that space, and then we followed that up earlier this year with the NS700 which is a really ground breaking product.
“When we say 4K in Sony we really do mean 4K. The other thing about the NS700 is that at that price point it had never been seen before, so this little 7K camcorder will do 240 frames a second in full HD, no one else can offer that today, and the filmmakers absolutely love the creativity that this gives them. It’s very easy to get hung up on the technology, but the picture looks great. Filmmaking is still quite an emotional activity and you want people to be engaged and the one thing that our cameras do give you is that picture quality that has the emotional resonance,” says Cheesman.
Sony’s latest 4K camera, the F65, was launched in January 2012, and has shot over 30 film titles to date. These include M Night Shayalaman’s ‘After Earth’, Joseph Kosinki’s ‘Oblivion’ and Raja Gosnell’s ‘Smurfs 2’, which stars Brendan Gleeson. Its key features include new firmware upgrade, with version 2.0 offering additional frame rates for slow motion for the first time.
Cheesman says when Sony was launching the F65 it was “very conscious” that the product was a leading edge technology in the 4K space. “I think we have now 28 alliance partners, that’s everyone from Adobe, Avid to Assimilate. This 4K work flow is ready to go for filmmakers now.”
Other recent announcements from Sony include the Trimaster EL OLED, which is Sony’s EL OLED technology monitors for the post-production environment, which give true black, and the PMW-50 SxS Field Gear and the PMW-150 50mbps HD422 handheld camcorder which make up the XDCAM HD422 range.
The PMW-50 SxS Field Gear has a dual SxS slot, versatile connectivity and a 3.5 inch LCD panel to allow for huge operational flexibility. The PMW-150 50mbps HD422 handheld camcorder joins a family of HD422 SxS camcorders that include the PMW-100, PMW-200 and the shoulder-mount PMW-500, making this the strongest and most versatile HD422 range in the industry according to Sony. Both products are expected to available in November 2012 and January 2013 respectively.
Internationally, another Sony branch, Sony Pictures Television, has added Louth-based production company Toto Productions’ ‘The Takeover’ to its acquisitions list ahead of MIPCOM next week. The distribution company has acquired the international rights to the format, which was developed for RTÉ’s Format Farm scheme. ‘The Takeover’ is one of two formats Sony is pushing at MIPCOM.
Commenting on the overall Irish market for Sony products, Cheesman says: “There always has been [a high demand for Sony products in Ireland]. It's something we're very keen to maintain moving forward.” If Sony does move any more forward, it may very well be a case of Sony HD Studio Ireland next.
For more information on all of Sony’s latest product announcements, visit www.sony.eu.