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I don't think I have read much here on the Sony telecine. I guess with all
the other excitement at the Convention Center and the Sands - and of course
the news about Richard dampening most people's enthusiasms - maybe many of
you did not get across to Bally's to see the presentation. Here is my view
of what Sony is proposing.

It is reasonably well known that Sony has developed a couple of prototype
HDTV telecines at the Culver City studios. It is the latest of these which
they are proposing to convert into a product.

Starting at the back, this uses a bog-standard HDVS three-chip area array
CCD camera. This is pointing at a Mitchell step-motion optical printer
gate. High sensitivity of the CCDs equates to short exposure times, so the
ballistics of the Mitchell claw and pin mechanism have been altered to give
relatively gentle acceleration and deceleration, which in turn should
minimise the risk of damage to the film.

The light source is interesting. Three Xenon lamps, filtered for red, green
and blue, feed into an integrating sphere. There are light valves in each
of the three optical paths (currently vanes, but there is talk of "solid
state"), so that primary colour correction is carried out in the light path
rather than in signal processing.

Sony's plan is to demonstrate a prototype at the July ITS show in
Hollywood, and work to have a deliverable product by November 1998.

My personal view - for all its very limited worth - is that this is a
non-starter for at least the following reasons:

- it is limited to HDVS pure and simple: no alternative line and frame
rates; data output only by advanced electronic lash-uppery

- it relies on a step motion transport, which cannot be as kind to film as
continuous motion

- the only way to achieve pan and scan (still necessary in getting 1.85:1
into 16:9) and other advanced features like rotation is mechanical: move
the camera. Zoom will use a zoom lens. None of these can be achieved
instantaneously, so they will have to be done in assembly edits, which
means running the film back and forth through this claw gate, increasing
the risk of sprocket damage.

For me, though, the really interesting question is why Sony would be
interested in making a telecine. It is not something they could sell on
their usual grand scale (what's the total sales of Cintel and Philips - 100
machines a year?), and anyway haven't they always backed "electronic
cinematography"? I asked the question at the presentation I attended, and
got the answer to something completely different.

Dick Hobbs

PS I loved the recent posting on the advertising list selling a complete Mk
III room, which had, tucked in at the bottom of the "miscellaneous
equipment" section, a Quantel Harry with Classic Paintbox. Sorry - it just
made me laugh. Maybe it's the British sense of humour.

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