More and more TV-station engineers stay home during the industry's annual NAB convention in April, giving manufacturers fewer chances to make sure the engineers are up to speed on the latest technologies. That need for education is part of the reason Sony last week hit the pavement, literally, with a 51-foot tractor-trailer filled with digital production gear. The truck will make more than 90 stops over the next seven months.
"The reason we're putting the technology on wheels is that seeing is believing," says Steve Jacobs, senior vice president of the broadcast and professional systems division. "Many facilities are still stuck in the analog world, and we want to motivate them operationally to get into digital and HD production."
The "Work Smart, Work Sony" truck tour will have areas dedicated to XRPI system and nonlinear editing, routing, displays, optical technology, and professional audio. Cameras will also be on display, with visitors allowed to take them outside the truck for testing in real-world conditions.
One new technology featured is the XDCAM optical-disc camcorder, which Sony expects to benefit from the exposure because very few broadcasters and production professionals have had a chance to work with it. Other new technologies to be found in the truck are the SRW-5000 HD digital mastering VTR and the LMD-230WS LUMA, a 23-inch multi-format, widescreen LCD panel for video production.
The tour will be stopping at broadcast TV stations, production companies, and video-equipment dealers. Jacobs says the first few hours of any given stop will be dedicated to educating local Sony resellers. The first stop was at Chelsea Piers in New York City. and the truck is now wending its way to Denver for the Rocky Mountain Film and Video Expo on Oct. 1. By the end of October, it will also have visited Chicago, Milwaukee, Phoenix and Los Angeles. The truck crew will be rotated every week to 10 days. And, yes, Jacobs says a stop at NAB is on the itinerary.
"We're trying to cover a lot of major metropolitan areas, but there are still 12 months of the lease left after NAB," he says of visiting facilities in small- and mid-market cities. "Business conditions, no matter what type of facility, have made it difficult for many professionals to [visit a trade show or exhibition] if it's an hour or two away. By literally taking the technology to their front door, we're increasing the comfort factor."
Those interested in visiting the truck should visit www.sonytrucktour.com. The Web site lays out the technologies on display and where the truck will be stopping. Users can also register to visit the truck. Jacobs says there are no limits to the number of people who can see the truck at a given stop. And, if all goes well, it'll be stopping by again.
"If the truck is successful," he says, "then we'll refresh the technology and send it out a new list of places to visit."