SONY VENICE PREVIEW

On 26th January 2018, Visual Impact’s Sales Representative Andy Todd hosted a presentation of the new 6K, Full Frame, VENICE Camera at Sony’s own Digital Motion Picture Centre in Pinewood Studios. Video Europe were lucky enough to be invited to the private event and see the camera for itself in a quiet and informal setting. As Technical Operations Manager, I was more than happy to attend and see Sony’s new offering for myself.

During the presentation from Sony’s Chief Engineer Richard Lewis; it was explained that the VENICE boasts a complete renovation in Camera technology. For starters, the VENICE is equipped with a 36 x 24mm full-frame image sensor, designed specifically for the demands and performance of high end cinematography, and can capture images up to a maximum resolution of 6048 x 4032 and almost all aspect ratios in between (pending a software update due to be released in August 2018). The sensor also has an exceptional 15+ stops of latitude, which gives Operators and Cinematographers great scope for creativity when putting together footage for use on a High Dynamic Range (HDR) platform and gives more options for grading in post. As the sensor size gets larger, depth of field becomes shallower. VENICE’s wide 36 mm full-frame sensor can capture images that have the equivalent of 1-2 stops shallower depth of field compared to Super35, after the update in August. With these features, the VENICE will start to meet NETFLIX’s specifications for content – so there is a chance this could break into RED’s monopoly of on-demand style content. Sony have also developed a new X-OCN recording format which will enable 6K S-LOG recording at a lower bitrate than RAW, but still at full 16-bit colour – this will require less storage and card changing on set!

The sensor isn’t the only ground-breaking part of the Camera – the actual body and mechanics of the Camera are innovative too. The Camera comes with the industry-standard PL lens mount and is compatible with all Super35 and full-frame PL lenses, spherical and anamorphic – but the interesting thing is that if you remove the four bolts attaching the mount to the Camera, you’ll find that the Sony E-Mount is hidden underneath. After the contacts are enabled on the E-Mount in the August update, this will allow compatibility with a variety of lightweight and inexpensive lenses – including the use of adapters to enable the use of Canon and Nikon lenses, as well as other vintage stills lenses which would not usually be compatible with this kind of high-end Camera. This may help up-and-coming Operators and Cinematographers to get used to the Camera on smaller, lower budget shoots and progress with the Camera to bigger and better projects in the future.

Overall, the VENICE appears to be a really promising Camera. With Sony’s mechanical improvements, familiar menu format and sensor development, they appear to have succeeded in creating an innovative and potentially successful Camera, but only time will tell in a market saturated with Cameras boasting UHD, 4K, 6K and other recording formats that have been accepted by the industry over the past few years.  As long as users can get to grips with the new shooting formats and post-production houses are prepared for HDR & 6K – this Camera should make waves creatively and be at the forefront of new and exciting projects.