The Australian Navy Video Unit, part of the RAN Training Force, has been using Sony broadcast kit for over fifteen years. According to the unit’s Senior Producer Peter Ryan, when they recently looked for a Digi Beta alternative, they turned to Videocraft for the solution.
Ryan explained, “The Navy Video Unit is responsible for all video-based training. Digi Beta has served us well but it’s widely appreciated that the industry is evolving towards disc based acquisition and storage, thus we started talking with Andy Liell and Videocraft about what equipment and which workflow we should be looking at as our logical progression.”
With the Navy Video Unit already using four Sony Vegas workstations plus an SDI online suite for its professional audio and video production, ease of integration with existing hardware and software was a key factor.
Ryan continued, “The Sony XDCAMHD workflow makes it extremely easy to simply transfer MXF files directly into Vegas. For cameras, we already had a Sony DVW709WSP that has been great, so our next choice of camera had to be as good. After discussions with Andy we decided on a combination of the Sony PDW700 XDCAM HD camcorder and PDWHD1500 deck.”
The Sony PDW700 and PDWF800 XDCAM HD camcorders have been very successful in the Australian market by producing some of the highest quality HD images and also offering a variety of SD and HD recording formats to satisfy diverse requirements.
The PDWHD1500 XDCAM HD Deck records and plays back in full HD 1920x1080i and 720p, MPEG HD 4:2:2 at 50Mbps as well as SD (MPEG IMX and DVCAM) with up to 8 channels of audio recording. It has all the features of a traditional VTR with the added ability to work as a file transfer device via Gigabit Ethernet, allowing XDCAM files to be transferred much faster than real time into edit suites.
Videocraft State Manager Andy Liell said, “The professional optical disc recording media can work and cost the same as BETACAM tape, or can allow a file based workflow which saves users time and money. The XDCAM media is also more reliable than BETACAM tape as both an acquisition and archival media and more versatile because it accepts several different video formats on the one media, as well as additional user data. These features appeal to broadcast and non broadcast customers alike.”
Ryan continued, “The functionality of working with discs as opposed to tapes is great. The PDWHD1500 is a very useful hybrid deck that is just so flexible. It’s part computer, part VCR, connecting by traditional video interfaces, or by Firewire or Gigabit Ethernet for extremely fast file transfers. You can even use it to up and down convert too.”
In addition to producing training material the Navy Video Unit is also responsible for major Navy documentaries, one of which Peter Ryan and his team decided to use their new XDCAM kit and workflow on.
Ryan added, “We are in the middle of producing a major documentary on the history of the Navy. As you can imagine our source material is coming from all parts of the world and in many different formats. In particular we have hundreds of hours of Digi Beta and DVD footage that needs to be edited and this is where the PDWHD1500 really comes into its own. For example, we take the component out from a DVD player to the component in on our Digi Beta DVW500 deck, then connect the SDI output from the 500 into the SDI in of the PDWHD1500. The HDSDI out of the 1500 then gets fed into a DeckLink HD Extreme capture card from Blackmagic. The material is then transferred in realtime into Sony Vegas as an HD .MXF file. It’s not the conventional way to use a PDWHD1500 but it certainly works for us on this kind of job.”
The Navy Video Unit is constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency and make budgets go as far as possible. According to Ryan, this is where Videocraft excel. “Videocraft is a very professional organization with Andy Liell as their formidable hub. They are always give competitive prices and are very well versed in terms of equipment whether it’s for sale, rental or support and I can honestly say it’s a pleasure to deal with them.”