University of Auckland chooses Sony PMW-400K XDCAM & PMW-F55 4K CineAlta cameras
SYDNEY, 26 August 2014: Recently the University of Auckland recognised it was time to begin modernising its production offering, both for internal and external clients, as producers required a new standard of work that had moved on from SD and tape-based production.
University of Auckland Manager, Media Productions Justin Benn explained, “There were several factors that led us to this significant upgrade. Firstly, we had a need to compete with more contemporary production practices and secondly, a requirement to better deliver services according to a shared and networked production and post-production architecture based on the FIMS framework. We had also come to the realisation that without such modernisation, it would prove hard for the department to continue to offer high-quality, up-to-date services to our clients around the University and outside.”
After a comprehensive assessment and evaluation period Benn and his team purchased five Sony PMW-400K cameras – three fully purposed for studio use with CA-FB70 optical fibre adapters – and a Sony PMW-F55 4K CineAlta™ camera with a RAW recorder for location and feature use from Sony dealer Stuart Barnaby at Digital Video Technologies (DVT) in Auckland.
Benn continued, “These cameras were chosen primarily after a review of our needs and on the basis of their ability to meet those production needs. We also considered their absolute performance and capabilities, the service network and support offered by the manufacturer and the likelihood that they would continue to perform well for years to come. The F55, in particular, is the right product for us at the right time. The PMW-400K offers very good value for money, particularly after the recent firmware and performance upgrade which enables it to offer 4:2:2, 10-bit capture using the XAVC codec. The option to be fitted with an optical fibre adapter for full studio functionality further enhances the camera’s versatility.”
Whilst the University of Auckland has enjoyed a long relationship with Sony, Benn was keen to emphasise that at every point of making the purchase, they sought to evaluate the field thoroughly and fairly, based on tightly specified requirements.
Benn added, “For any acquisition we make in this area, a lot of care and attention is given to review offerings from all manufacturers. Like others, Sony offers a comprehensive range of product and backs this with established service practices. On this occasion, the balance of offerings from Sony with its current range of cameras best drew and sustained our attention. Though 4K studio production may not be far off, we needed camera chains and pipelines that would produce outstanding images, reliably and consistently. With the new camera chains and particularly with the F55 camera we use in conjunction with a Fujinon Cabrio lens, we feel we can furnish our award-winning production team with cutting-edge tools for their work. We want to think about equipment as little as possible and concentrate on our storytelling. We believe our new Sony camera systems facilitate this.”
Whilst the Media Productions Department is separate from the University’s Film department, their studio environment is available for use by students for production training and coursework when it is not booked for commercial use.
Benn explained, “We also offer to line produce work for students, when needed. In this way, we support the development of new media producers with experience and modern technical capabilities. It is notable that the Film department has also recently acquired a Sony PMW-F5 camera for their use.”
The University of Auckland’s Media Productions Department films a huge range of content, from technical and procedural engineering and medical lab work, to marketing and communications content for general release, and scripted content for online MOOC delivery and much more. Though the main part of their work is creating content for teaching and learning, the breadth of this content is as broad as the subjects offered for learning and research at the University itself.
Commenting on the performance of their new Sony cameras Justin Benn said, “So far, the cameras have been very pleasing, the F55 especially so. A recent new recruit was happy to see us acquire the F55 as he has recently been using one for projects with BBC Scotland. The F55’s tonal range and colour science leaves very little to be desired. We think it is destined to become a classic design. I’ve been particularly impressed, though, with the updated capabilities of the PMW-400K. It now produces really surprising IQ for an ENG camera, and this was a most unexpected improvement. This high level of performance combined with Sony’s courteous, timely and professional approach has made the entire purchase process a seamless and enjoyable one. Sony understands our needs and the pressures under which we work and we very much appreciate this.”