Fletcher Group is a leading specialist in the international rental market for broadcast and in-house production, providing high-quality, special capture camera technology for live entertainment and events including sports broadcasts, shows and concerts. With over 25 years of experience and accolades including Emmy Awards, the company has created some of the most innovative and memorable images for the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, among others. Fletcher, a broadcast services company of NEP, is a longtime Sony customer and they recently expanded their complement of cameras to include dozens of the company’s HDC-P31s, a compact, HD, POV system camera boasting three 2/3” CMOS image sensors, that also offers remote capabilities and support of HDR workflows.
Dan Grainge, President, U.S. Specialty Capture & NEP Broadcast Services, helped found Fletcher and remains an extremely hands-on and involved part of NEP’s technology selection and usage process. Recently, his team was looking to add versatile new camera technology to their roster to address the demand for remote operation and provide HDR capture. Grainge looked no further than Sony, adopting the HDC-P31. He commented, “We selected the HDC-P31 as an upgrade to our Sony HDC-P1 cameras. The functionality they provide, including HDR, helps us fulfill customers’ requests. We also own many HDC-P50 cameras, which we actively use, and recognized that the P31 falls into a really nice niche between the P1 and P50. It is the perfect middle ground for the current needs that we have.”
The flexible and lightweight cameras have already supported many high-profile sporting events including the NBA All-Star Game, the Big Ten (in 1080p HDR) and the Women’s Final Four.
Another reason Grainge chose the P31s was due to their “balance of cost versus functionality.” He continued, “You can certainly get all the functionality you need on other cameras that are higher end and higher priced, but to be responsible in our own CapEx budgets, we’re buying what the customers are asking for – which, right now, is HDR functionality. The P31 was perfect because it provided everything that we needed while checking the boxes for price and quality.”
As customers show an increasing interest in HDR, Grainge appreciates having the HDC-P31 as an option to capture in HDR, while the HDC-P50 fills their 4K HDR needs. He also sees the value in the cameras’ ability to use simultaneous SDR and HDR outputs for shows and in truck share situations.
Furthermore, Grainge maintains that the HDC-P31’s size was a selling point, as was its adaptability and ease of integration. “The P31 is the same size as our P1s and offers enhanced quality. This means we’re able to put them in all of the same unique locations where our P1s were used,” he explained. “It’s beneficial that the P31s have the same form factor and footprint as the P1s they replaced. There are other cameras on the market that can compete with the P31 but they are bigger, and we often require a small size due to the limited space in remote locations. Additionally, the P31 incorporates a better chip that matches all of the latest cameras on any truck and that’s very important to us. Now, our technology integrates as one and you can control it on the same platform, which saves a lot of time when used on a Sony truck with a Sony camera. The P31s are easily usable alongside our other Sony P1s and P50s and they match well when used together on the same shows.”
Grainge also noted that while it wasn’t the primary reason for selection, the HDC-P31’s robotic abilities help address the current health and safety guidelines and the camera naturally lends itself to social distancing requirements. He also hopes to take advantage of the remote access to the camera’s menus and perform maintenance, upgrades and updates remotely.
One of the main reasons that Grainge and his team at Fletcher choose Sony time after time is the support. “Sony not only has great products but they offer cooperative service. We know if we buy new technology or adopt new workflows, Sony will provide the necessary training and support. We trust their products, their staff and their expertise and appreciate the collaborative relationship we’ve built and maintained over the years. We’re confident that Sony is listening and that our feedback – and even our challenges – are being considered and addressed as new solutions are developed.”