M&E Daily

NAB 2019: Sony to Tout AI-Based Video Analytics

NEW YORK — Sony’s booth at NAB 2019 will feature a new area showcasing artificial intelligence-based video analytics, according to Alex Rossi, senior marketing manager for media products at Sony Electronics Professional Solutions of America.

Providing details on Sony’s booth during a pre-NAB press briefing March 13, he noted the company will also demonstrate its latest Alpha and Venice cameras, as well as tout 8K native and 8K upscaled video content on a 98-inch Sony Bravia display. That’s designed to state that, “while we are focusing on 4K HDR applications, we do have our sights firmly set on the future, which may not be too far in the distant future,” he said. There will also be Sony’s latest pro audio products, he told reporters.

The new theme of the Sony Electronics Professional Solutions Americas (PSA) group, meanwhile, will be “Live Your Vision,” Katsunori Yamanouchi, the division’s president, disclosed.

Yamanouchi, who was named president of the division in 2017, is returning to Japan by the end of March and Sony’s professional business division now has a new management team, he also revealed.

Replacing him is Theresa Alesso, who was promoted to division president of Sony Electronics Imaging Products & Solutions-Americas, Pro from vice president of sales and marketing-B2B Applications. As part of the division’s “leadership transition,” Neal Manowitz was promoted to deputy president of Sony Electronics Imaging Products & Solutions-Americas from vice president of sales and marketing for the Digital Imaging business in North America.

John Studdert’s role remains the same as vice president of the Media Segment within Sony Electronics Imaging Products & Solutions-Americas, Pro.

Sony introduced the Media Solutions Division only about two years ago and has changed its name to “be more reflective of what we actually do, which is media services, and now that we’re adding automation and intelligent [AI and] machine learning, we again evolved the name a little bit more,” and now call it Intelligent Media Services,” Studdert explained to reporters. Intelligent Media Services includes various Sony companies and services under one umbrella, including Ci, Memnon and Ven.ue. Sony continues to improve all these services and one way it’s doing that is by connecting them together, Studdert pointed out.

“What we’re finding is almost in every aspect of our business right now, our customers are looking for their workflow to be automated,” he said, adding: “That’s what we’re trying to accomplish, and we have accomplished.”

Sony, meanwhile, understands the media industry is still “facing significant, massive changes” that include increased competition from not only traditional broadcasting companies, but also large new entrants to the sector through mergers and acquisitions, Yamanouchi said, echoing comments he made at last year’s pre-NAB press briefing. He also once again pointed to the need for media companies to meet the demand that’s been generated by the increase in over-the-top (OTT) video streaming solutions and continued popularity of mobile devices that are allowing consumers to view content anytime and anywhere.

As a result, “our mission is” to continue to listen to customers’ requirements and “also develop a solution together by combining our core technology, product, software and, more importantly nowadays, services, and to empower today’s operation, as well as develop” and “transform” solutions for the future, Yamanouchi said.

Sony will focus on two “core values” areas at NAB this year: Content value and workflow efficiency, he said. On the content value side of the equation, Sony is focused on enriching content with resolution, High Dynamic Range (HDR), wide color gamut and high frame rate (HFR), he told reporters. To improve workflow efficiencies, Sony is using its intellectual property (IP), cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) and Intelligent Media Services, he said.

The Ci media cloud service has enjoyed a “record-breaking year,” with “over 10 million files uploaded, over 4 petabytes of content downloaded and 1.5 million MediaBoxes opened across the world,” David Rosen, vice president of cloud applications and solutions at Sony Electronics PSA, told reporters by phone at the event. Over 65 new features were also added, and 3 petabytes of content were uploaded, according to Sony.

New Ci features include integrated AI, which Sony said eliminates costly manual logging and transcription processes, enhances discoverability and search ability, and instantly makes transcriptions available for curation.

The company, meanwhile, has been “making great progress” with its Enhanced Live-production Control (ELC) System, it said, noting it’s seen a 20% increase in system installations its last fiscal year compared to the prior year. It’s also been able to enter new markets, including regional sports, and customers are coming to Sony from other systems rather than just existing Sony customers who are upgrading their current installations, the company said.

On the new product front, Sony recently made Firmware Version 3.0 available for its Venice full-frame Ultra High-Definition (UHD) pro camera. New features made available with the update include two new imager modes: 6K (full-width) 2.39:1 and 5.7K 16:9. The company also introduced a Venice Extension System, Rialto CBK-3610XS, that it said enables cabled separation of the Venice camera body and image sensor block up to 5.5 meters, with no degradation in image quality, for enhanced mobility. It’s being used by filmmaker James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment for the new “Avatar” films, Sony said.

Up next is Firmware Version 4.0 this summer adding support for high frame rates with an optional license and remote control functionalities, it said.

Sony will also be showing off the recently-shipped, cost-effective HDC-3500 4K System Camera at NAB, the company said, noting 4K signal processing will be added for it in May and a UHB side panel will follow this summer.