Sony has enjoyed a dominant position in the broadcast video world, thanks to a wide array of high-end video systems that have become the staple production tools in both live and scripted television. The company’s FS7 and FS5 cameras have been popular choices for the 4K market seeking a handheld “long-form” platform for content generation. Based around a Super 35mm-sized sensor (which measures 24.89×18.66mm), the FS line has been popular due to their small size and high-quality codecs.
But the market for digital video continues to evolve, and a number of competitors—and even Sony’s own mirrorless cameras—now provide 4K output from full-frame sensors. With RED, Canon and others competing for a slice of the full-frame pie in not only broadcast but in digital cinema markets, it’s no surprise that Sony has unveiled a new 6K motion picture camera system in the CineAlta line, which they’re calling VENICE.
We covered Sony’s pre-announcement of the VENICE at this year’s CineGear Expo trade show, where they teased the specs of the full-frame sensor and modular design. The final system offers a lot more features and functionality than the company hinted at a few months ago.
Built around a full-frame sensor, the VENICE works with a variety of lenses, including Anamorphic lenses, which Sony spent a lot of time discussing at the pre-announcement event. The VENICE can capture full-height 2x squeeze Anamorphic video and both 17:9 and 16:9 Super 35mm with PL-mount lenses. The camera has an interchangeable lens mount that allows it to use the company’s lever-lock E-mount lenses.
While the camera isn’t based around a global shutter, the company claims that the “jello” effect of rolling shutter will be greatly minimized, something they said about the Sony a9’s sensor, which we found to be accurate.
The VENICE offers more than 15 stops of dynamic range and uses the Rec. 2020 color space for an even greater range of colors than the DCI-P3 standard. S-Log 3 allows for accurate color grading across devices. The company has what Sony claims is the world’s first 8-step mechanical ND filter, with a range of 0.3 to ND2.4. The mechanical ND filter, they point out, will reduce downtime when the camera is used in shots with drones, cranes or housings.
A firmware update will allow the VENICE to shoot in full 6K resolution in X-OCN for a 16-bit extended tonal range, and XAVC 4K can be written to cards from the 6K sensor’s full resolution. The VENICE can record in XAVC at 10-bit and XAVC Class480, ApplePro Res (including 422 proxy) X-OCN 16-bit S-LOG via Original Camera Negative format, and 16-bit linear RAW.
The VENICE can record two different formats simultaneously to two different sets of recoding media, whether internally or to the AXS-R7 recorder.
While modular, the company says that the body is “engineered to survive” and has been designed to separate the airflow and the electronics to keep out dust, sand and water. Even the company’s sensor is interchangeable in the VENICE, which means that future sensor updates can be swapped into the body without the need to replace the whole system. Thanks to a design that’s compatible with the height of F55 accessories, baseplates and other tools can be used with this camera.
The DVF-EL200 viewfinder for the system has a native 1920×1080 OLED panel with high contrast and a rotary encoder for adjusting brightness, peaking and contrast, plus a standard LEMO connector. Unlike with many other systems, the viewfinder can be attached or removed with no tools.
See the press release below:
Sony Unveils VENICE, Its First 36x24mm Full-Frame Digital Motion Picture Camera System
Anamorphic Capabilities, Interchangeable Sensor, 8-stage ND Filter System, New Color Management & Established Workflow Combine into Unique Creative Filmmaking Tool
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 6, 2017 — Sony Electronics is unveiling VENICE – its first Full-Frame digital motion picture camera system. VENICE is the next generation of Sony’s CineAlta camera systems, designed to expand the filmmaker’s creative freedom through immersive, large-format, Full Frame capture of filmic imagery producing natural skin tones, elegant highlight handling and wide dynamic range. VENICE was designed through close collaboration with the creative community, fulfilling the requirements from filmmakers and production professionals.
VENICE will be officially unveiled on Sept. 6, in front of a select audience of American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) members and a range of other industry professionals. Sony will also screen a short film, “The Dig”, the first footage shot with VENICE, produced in Anamorphic, written and directed by Joseph Kosinski and shot by Academy Award winning Cinematographer Claudio Miranda, ASC.
“We really went back to the drawing board for this one,” said Peter Crithary, marketing manager, Sony Electronics. “It is our next-generation camera system, a ground-up development initiative encompassing a completely new image sensor. We carefully considered key aspects such as form factor, ergonomics, build quality, ease of use, a refined picture and painterly look—with a simple, established workflow. We worked in close collaboration with film industry professionals. We also considered the longer-term strategy by designing a user interchangeable sensor that is as quick and simple to swap as removing four screws, and can accommodate different shooting scenarios as the need arises.”
Full frame sensor and wide range of lens compatibility
VENICE combines a newly developed 36x24mm Full Frame sensor to meet the high-quality demands of feature filmmaking. Full Frame offers the advantages of compatibility with a wide range of lenses, including Anamorphic, Super 35mm, Spherical and Full Frame PL mount lenses for a greater range of expressive freedom with shallow depth of field. The lens mount can also be changed to support E-mount lenses for shooting situations that require smaller, lighter, and wider lenses. User-selectable areas of the image sensor allow shooting in Super 35 mm 4 – perf. Future firmware upgrades are planned to allow the camera to handle 36mm wide 6K resolution. Fast image scan technology minimizes “Jello” effects.
New color management system and established workflow for flexible post-production
A new color management system with an ultra wide color gamut gives users more control and greater flexibility to work with images during grading and post-production. VENICE also has more than 15 stops of latitude to handle challenging lighting situations from low-light to harsh sunlight with a gentle roll-off handling of highlights.
VENICE achieves high quality and efficient file-based production through Sony’s established 16-bit RAW/X-OCN via the AXS-R7 recorder, and 10 bit XAVC workflows. VENICE is also compatible with current and upcoming hardware accessories for CineAlta cameras (DVF-EL200 Full HD OLED Viewfinder, AXS-R7 recorder, AXS-CR1 and high-speed Thunderbolt-enabled AXS-AR1 card reader, using established AXS and SxS memory card formats.
Intuitive design & refined functionality support simple and efficient on-location operation
VENICE has a fully modular and intuitive design with refined functionality to support simple and efficient on-location operation. It is the film industry’s first camera with a built-in 8-stage glass ND filter system, making the shooting process efficient and streamlining camera setup. The camera is designed for easy operation with an intuitive control panel placed on the Assistant and Operator sides of the camera. A 24 V power supply input/output and LEMO connector allow use of many standard camera accessories, designed for use in harsh environments.
License options for individual production requirements
With VENICE, Sony is giving users the option to customize their camera by enabling the features needed, matched to their individual production requirements. Optional licenses will be available in permanent, monthly and weekly durations to expand the camera’s capabilities with new features including 4K anamorphic and Full Frame, each sold separately.
The VENICE CineAlta digital motion picture camera system is scheduled to be available in February 2018. For more information, please visit: www.sony.com/venice.