London-based broadcast rental company, Pro Motion Hire, has added two more Sony PMW-500 XDCAM camcorders, making it the largest PMW-500 rental fleet in the UK, thanks to demand from productions shooting for Sky, writes David Fox.
It now has eight PMW-500 cameras, bought from CVP, and has had three out shooting Mentorn’s Brixham Fish Town for Sky Atlantic, two on Monster Munchies, for UK Living, and two on Shipwrecked, for Channel 4.
“It’s a very versatile camera,” Duncan Martin, Pro Motion’s Managing Director (pictured) told TVBEurope, and one of the simplest for self shooters to adapt to if they’ve been used to the EX1 or EX3 but need a camera that can shoot HD at 50Mbps. Of course, the Canon XF305 can also do this, and it is proving very popular (which is why Pro Motion has 20 of them), but the small, 1/3-inch sensor of the XF305 isn’t accepted by Sky (although most other broadcasters will, including the BBC), which is why the PMW-500 with its 2/3-inch sensors is proving popular, especially for observational documentaries.
It is also one of the lightest (3.4kg) and most power-efficient file-based shoulder-mounted cameras. “File-based makes up around half of our total sales and the PMW-500 is easily the most popular shoulder mounted tapeless camcorder,” commented CVP’s Darren Simpson. “Since its launch at IBC we’ve seen great interest from rental houses and independent camera operators alike as broadcasters adopt the format and tapeless workflow becomes increasingly common. The fact that freelance camera operators are investing shows just how confident the industry is in both the XDCAM format and the PMW-500.”
However, the number of different formats on the market, allied to varying broadcaster requirements, means “it’s a good time for hire companies,” added Martin. Pro Motion has invested a lot more in equipment this year than it had planned to, because of extra demand. Usually it expects to make most of its investments in even years (due to large events like the Olympics). This year, all of its roster of equipment has been working, so it hasn’t got rid of any of its cameras. Its four Sony PMW-F3s have been “particularly busy”, not just for the expected promo and feature work, but even for observational documentaries, where it’s combined with the Angenieux Optima zoom lenses and Movietube hand-held rig.
Sony’s latest firmware update for the PMW-500 has improved its power consumption, allowing for longer continuous shooting. The camera records to SxS cards and benefits from “the fastest workflow in the XDCAM product line-up, resulting in significant time and cost savings for productions, as well as the ability to turn around content quickly and easily,” according to the manufacturer.