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Sony is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications, and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Its motion picture, television, computer entertainment, music and online businesses make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment and technology companies in the world.

Sony reveals new line-up of next-generation products, solutions and services at IBC 2019

Sony showcases its portfolio of new and existing products and solutions designed to meet the individual needs of its customers and help them realise their vision

Sony unveils its latest line-up of new products, solutions and services at IBC stand A10/Hall 13. These include: updated IP Live solutions, two IP extension adapters HDCE-TX30/HDCE-RX30, a flagship FX9 E-mount interchangeable lens camcorder with newly developed Full-Frame sensor for documentary shooting,  an  E-mount Cinema lens FE C 16-35mm T3.1 G, as well as the PXW-Z750, an XDCAM  Shoulder Camcorder with 4K 2/3-type 3-chip CMOS sensor system with global shutter, and additional models to the DWX series Digital wireless microphone system.

Visitors to the Sony stand will be stunned by a 6K x 3K Crystal LED display system, showcasing breath-taking imagery with exceptional picture quality.

A key highlight will also be the newly-established Intelligent Media Services suite of services and micro-services. These support media companies in transforming traditional supply chains, unlocking more value from content for deeper audience engagement and helping them evolve into more agile organisations.

Pushing boundaries with IP

By working with broadcasters from across the world Sony has developed advanced IP Live Production solutions and has delivered more than 60 IP live studios and OB trucks to customers including Euro Media Group, DPG Media, NEP Australia and SIC Portugal. The updated IP Live line-up continues to drive efficiencies and increase ROI for customers by optimising resource sharing and creating remote production environments.

  • HDCE-TX30/HDCE-RX30 – the two IP extension adapters transform current HDC series of SDI system cameras into IP-enabled cameras with SMPTE ST 2110 interface. Through their compact size, one third of the standard width, the IP extension adapters offer advanced IP Live remote production and resource sharing which create new efficient workflow patterns for existing HDC system cameras.
  • MKS-R4020/MKS-E1620 – two new remote-control panels that further strengthen the reliability, speed and accuracy of commands through Live Element Orchestrator.
  • PWSK-4509 – an optional interface board enabling SMPTE ST 2110 support for the PWS-4500 live production server

Earlier this year, Sony and Nevion AS, a leading provider of virtualised media production solutions, entered into a strategic partnership.  Together, Nevion and Sony aim to provide customers with the expertise and the products (both equipment and systems) needed to create tailored solutions for efficient and modern forward-looking live production operations.  At IBC, together with United Broadcast, a subsidiary of Euro Media Group (EMG), and Century Link, Sony hosts an end-to-end IP Live total solution demo, connecting the Sony booth (A10 / Hall 13) with the Nevion booth (B79 / Hall 1) and an IP remote production studio in Hilversum.  The demonstration will highlight the enormous potential that IP-powered remote productions and resource sharing can have for media organisations.

Sony has expanded its live production solutions line-up to include:

  • HKCU-REC55 – an option board for the Sony HDCU-5500, HDCU-3500 Camera Control Units (CCU) offering industry-first on-board recording capabilities. Realtime file transfer to NAS for post processing during recording as well as file transfer to a USB drive, ready to be removed and shared as soon as live production is over. In addition, simultaneous recording of 4K HDR and HD SDR strongly supports “SR Live for HDR” workflow.  By using the PWA-RCT1 server control software, it is also possible to control multiple CCUs with the Sony PWS series live production server.
  • HDCU-5000 – a 19-inch 3U full rack size CCU compatible with most current HDC camera system including HDC-5500, HDC-3500, HDC-3100, HDC-2500, HDC-2400, HDC-1700, BPU-4000 and BPU-4500A. The CCU supports all necessary interfaces for 4K and HD production, including SMPTE ST2110 in 4K and HD, as well as maximum 8x 12G-SDI and 8x 3G-SDI output. High Frame Rate (HFR) over IP as well as the ability to record on-board in future (option) will be supported to drive further efficiency in live production system.
  • HDC-5500 – system camera, launched at NAB, is also making its European debut at IBC.
  • RCP-3500 – a remote control panel for studio system cameras with a new LCD panel for improved visibility and the increased number of assignable switches and controls.
  • BVM-HX310 – The upcoming firmware version 1.1 of the flagship 4K HDR reference monitor of TRIMASTER HX supports the Monitor Auto White Adjustment function, which offers software-based colour temperature calibration.

Offering greater creative freedom to content creators

Sony is introducing a number of new products and solutions aimed at content creators, including:

PXW-FX9 –XDCAM camcorder featuring a newly developed Exmor R 6K* Full-Frame sensor and Fast Hybrid Auto Focus system with the dedicated 561-point phase-detection AF sensor. The camcorder delivers outstanding content that captures light and shade perfectly, thanks to its 15+ stops of latitude. Building upon the success of the PXW-FS7 and PXW-FS7M2, and  being inherited its colour science and the Dual Base ISO 800/4000 from the digital motion picture camera VENICE,  new camcorder offers content creators greater creative freedom to capture stunning images and represents the ultimate tool of choice for documentaries, music videos, drama productions and all-round event shooting. The FX9 is also compatible with the new UWP-D wireless microphone systems launched at NAB via Multi Interface Shoe™ (MI Shoe) with digital audio interface, incorporating the fast and easy channel setting NFC sync function in compact lightweight design.

* 6K Oversampling, not capable of 6K recording

  • FE C 16-35mm T3.1 G lens– a new Full Frame E-mount lens offers high optical performance, reliable operability and intelligent shooting functions for professional video shooting.
  • DWX series Digital wireless microphone system – The third generation of the DWX digital wireless microphone system includes the DWR-S03D digital wireless receiver and the DWT-B30 bodypack transmitter, both available in December 2019. Sony has developed interface compatibility with UniSlot®** by utilizing DWA-SLAU1, D-sub 25pin adaptor for DWR-S03D, to offer a wideband digital audio solution for location sound recording for movies, dramas and documentaries.

** UniSlot® is a registered trademark of Ikegami Tsushinki Co., Ltd.

To further expand the operability in sound recording application, Sony collaborates with Sound Devices and AATON Digital respectively, leading companies in audio technology for mutual support of applicable products. The firmware update of DWR-S03D receiver and their mixer-recorders enables the direct audio transmission between both devices, direct monitoring and control as well as scan and setting frequencies of Sony’s wireless microphone system from their mixer-recorder. The new firmware will be available in Spring 2020 free of charge.

The digital motion picture camera VENICE, with its recently announced, customer driven version 5.0 firmware and version 4.0 now available in the market, will also be on display at IBC.

Getting ready for the future of news production

For those specialising in news productions, Sony is introducing the following new solution:

  • PXW-Z750 – a flagship XDCAM Shoulder Camcorder with 4K 2/3-type 3-chip CMOS Sensor system with global shutter technology for capturing clear and crisp images while negating artefacts such as flashband and rolling shutter distortion. PXW-Z750 offers greater sensitivity, less image noise and wider colour gamut and can record in HD/4K and HDR, as well as support slow motion up to 120fps in HD. To improve workflow efficiency, the camcorder also has a built-in wireless module and is compatible with Sony cloud-based workflow service, XDCAM air. In addition, PXW-Z750 can also be used with the latest DWX series digital wireless microphone system and offers enhanced usability including synchronized power on/off, control by menu settings or assignable buttons and audio information on the viewfinder by wireless audio solutions.

Artificial-Intelligence-based video analytics solution

  • REA-C1000 – an Edge Analytics Appliance, Sony’s first AI-based video analytics solution, is evolved with newly available function with its ver2.0 update such as chroma key-less CG overlay, extracting the presenters and overlaying them onto multiple layered background without the need for a dedicated backscreen or specialist training. REA-C1000 is showcased with latest generation of Pan Tilt Zoom Cameras BRC-X400, SRG-X400 and SRG-X120.

“At Sony, everything we do is driven by our customers and our desire to help them realise their creative vision in the most efficient and streamlined way. Our aim is to provide them with real return on investment and help them make the most of their ideas through our products, services and solutions,” explained Hany Bartella, Business Head – Broadcast & Media ME, Sony Professional Solutions MEA.. “IBC is a great opportunity for us to engage further with the wider industry, receive feedback from our customers and discuss what challenges lie ahead for us all. As always, we have a strong line-up of advanced next-generation products, solutions and services being showcased on our stand and we’re looking forward to welcoming IBC 2019 visitors to our stand.”

Sony will be exhibiting at stand A10, Hall 13 at RAI Amsterdam from 13th – 17th September.

Sony unveils new E-mount Cinema lens FE C 16-35mm T3.1 G offering high optical performance and reliable operability for professional video shooting

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This new lens offers greater creative flexibility in video content creation, with servo zoom and autofocus/autoexposure system

Sony introduced a new full-frame E-mount lens, 16-35mm (FE C 16-35mm T3.1 G) to accompany the newly announced FX9 (model name: PXW-FX9) full-frame format camcorder, offering high optical performance, reliable operability and intelligent shooting functions for professional video creation. Compatible with a wide range of E-mount cameras from VENICE to Alpha™ Interchangeable lens cameras as well as the new flagship FX9, the addition of this new lens optimized for professional video shooting brings unprecedented creative flexibility for content creators.  Sony will further enhance its Cinema Lens line-up going forward.

“Our ongoing conversations with partners and customers have shown that there is a clear need for versatile tools which improve efficiencies and drive greater ROI (Return on Investment). Along with Sony’s “One Mount” solution based on its Alpha series, the flexibility of our new E-mount Cinema Lens series offers content creators greater creative freedom and helps them concentrate to their artistic vision,” comments Hany Bartella, Business Head – Broadcast & Media ME, Sony Professional Solutions MEA.

Lens for a new age of full-frame video shooting

New lens is compatible with intelligent shooting functions of E-mount system that support and improve Large Format Sensor (LFS) shooting. Paired with the new full-frame format camcorder FX9, the new lens supports fast and accurate auto focus, making it possible to track fast moving subjects while maintaining a shallow depth of field.

Stunning bokeh and corner-to-corner resolution

The two XA (Extreme Aspherical) elements with extreme surface precision of 0.01-micron, together with circular 11-blade apertures deliver beautifully smooth bokeh in every frame. The two XA elements and three aspheric lenses are positioned in a way that effectively reduces field curvature, astigmatism and, in combination with two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glasses, reduces colour distortion. Additionally, floating focus provides outstanding resolution at every zoom position. Nano AR (Anti Reflection) coating drastically reduces flare and ghost phenomenon.

Excellent operability with three independent rings, remote control from the camera, and a detachable servo zoom

The new E-mount lens further offers accurate and precise operability thanks to three independent rings for focus, zoom and iris that content creators can manipulate so they get the exact results they desire. The linear response Manual Focus (MF) feature provides for precise manual focusing action. The focus ring with a large rotation angle comes with a distance scale, which makes it possible to quickly and easily set the same focus position during scenes that need to be shot repeatedly.

Using with compatible cameras such as FX9, remote controllers and supported smartphone applications, full-control of zoom/iris and focus can be operated from the camera. This drastically simplifies lens operation and give more opportunities to capture the critical moment.

The new range also supports a number of lens accessories to facilitate a variety of different shooting styles. The industry standard 0.8mm pitch gear on each lens ring enables to provide the option to use follow focus. Equally, the widely-available 115mm diameter matte box and lens support can be used to aid accurate, responsive and precise operability. Additional functions include a de-clickable iris ring that prevent unintended iris change during shooting, the option to reverse the rotation direction of the zoom ring to be fitted with user’s preference and detachable servo zoom that provides smooth zooming expression.

The new 16-35mm (FE C 16-35mm T3.1 G) will be available in Spring 2020.

To learn more about the new lenses, visit Sony stand (A10, Hall 13) at IBC 2019 from the 13th – 17th September.

Sony Unveils PXW-Z750 Flagship XDCAM Shoulder Camcorder, with 4K 2/3-type 3-chip CMOS Sensor System with Global Shutter

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Delivering Ultimate 4K Image Quality with High Sensitivity and Vivid Color reproduction, Ideal for News and Live Production

Sony today announced the PXW-Z750, the world’s first 2/3-type shoulder camcorder to support 4K shooting with a 3-chip CMOS sensor system. The latest member of the XDCAM family is optimized for news and live production applications including sports broadcasts, magazine shows, unscripted television, and documentary shooting.

Sony’s premier 3-chip CMOS image sensor system is mounted on a wide prism band to ensure detailed imagery and vivid colors, along with 4K, High Dynamic Range (HDR) and High Frame Rate (HFR) acquisition with high sensitivity with low noise.  Its 2/3-type sensor delivers imagery with deep depth of field and enables quick focus operation.  B4 mount lens can be attached directly to maintain high sensitivity and resolution.

The PXW-Z750 is also the first 2/3-type 3-chip camcorder equipped with global shutter technology for capturing clear and crisp images while negating artefacts such as flashband and rolling shutter distortion.  This makes the camera an ideal tool for shooting in uncontrolled lighting conditions, as well as for capturing quickly moving objects and action often associated with sports, live events and nature videography.

As a result of industry demand and adoption, the camera supports HFR for HD, up to 120fps, to minimize blur or distortion.  Its HD images are generated through 4K oversampling, resulting in clear images with minimal noise.

Maximized flexibility in HDR operation

The PXW-Z750 also features maximum HDR operation.  The camera supports S-Log3 / HLG and employs BT.2020 and BT.709 color spaces.  Leveraging the PXW-Z750’s 4K/HD simultaneous recording feature, users can enjoy the benefits of 4K HDR and HD HDR at the same time.  Additionally, the camera accommodates Sony’s SR Live, and supports simultaneous recording of 4K HDR and HD SDR to meet various demands such as simul broadcasting of 4K and HD.

“Our cutting-edge new PXW-Z750 flagship model expands Sony’s lineup by bringing the most transformational visual elements – including 4K, HDR and HFR – into a portable and ergonomic package,” said Hany Bartella, Business Head – Broadcast & Media ME, Sony Professional Solutions MEA.  “In one camera, we’re meeting the demands of producers by delivering a robust 4K platform with global shutter 4K image sensor.  The camcorder can be further enhanced to create an even more comprehensive Sony’s solution when paired with our audio, media and wireless workflows.”

The PXW-Z750 incorporates encoding algorithms for optimizing HDR recording, as well for recording 4K sequences.  The camera supports XAVC-L for long-GOP QFHD 10bit 4:2:2 at 200Mbps, allowing large volumes of captured data to be compressed to approximately 1/3 in size when compared to XAVC-I Class 300*.  XAVC-L does this while maintaining its high quality, high resolution 4K imagery and wide dynamic range.

*600Mbps at 59.94p, 500Mbps at 50p

Another powerful feature is 12G-SDI support, which enables the transfer of 4K images (50p or 60p) over a single BNC cable, enhancing the flexibility of the camera.

Seamless integration with Sony’s hardware and service

The camera supports a range of complementary accessories and options to suit a user’s needs, preferences and budget, while offering expanded interoperability.  Sony’s high-quality wireless audio solutions and shotgun mics, including the latest DWX series digital wireless microphone system; the new slot-in receiver DWR-S03D and bodypack transmitter DWT-B30 are compatible with the camcorder.  Advanced integration with the DWX series includes synchronized power on/off, control by menu settings or assignable buttons and audio information on the viewfinder.

Paired with Sony’s newest durable SxS PRO X cards, the SBP-120F (120GB) and SBP-240F (240GB), ultra-fast transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps* are supported allowing the camera to capture high bit rate content.  When the new cards are used in conjunction with the new reader/writer, SBAC-T40 equipped with Thunderbolt™ 3 interface, it permits the transfer of 240GB of video in approximately 3.5 minutes* creating a fast and reliable solution for shooting and offloading large volumes of content.

*Based on Sony’s internal testing. Transfer speeds vary and are dependent on host devices, the OS version or usage conditions.

The camcorder also supports B4 mount lenses, enabling use with a wide range of in-market and new lens solutions.  B4 mount lenses offer a range of focal lengths tailored to suit the needs of unscripted and news shooting environments.  The PXW-Z750 also supports several viewfinder and battery solutions.

In addition to hardware integrations, the PXW-Z750 has built-in wireless network features and supports XDCAM air, Sony’s cloud-based workflow service for news production that offers streaming from the field and the efficient file clips management.

The PXW-Z750 is planned to be available in February 2020.

Sony launches flagship FX9 camcorder

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Next generation camcorder offers content creators greater creative freedom, flexibility and custom features to help bring their artistic vision to life

Sony recently unveiled the PXW-FX9, its first XDCAM camcorder featuring an advanced 6K Full-Frame sensor and Fast Hybrid Auto Focus (AF) system. The new flagship camcorder offers content creators greater creative capabilities to capture stunning images that truly resonate with audiences.

Building on the success of the PXW-FS7 and PXW-FS7M2, the FX9 uniquely combines high mobility with an advanced AF system, impressive bokeh and slow-motion capabilities thanks to its newly-developed sensor. The FX9 also inherits its colour science and Dual Base ISO 800/4000 from the VENICE digital motion picture camera and represents the ultimate tool of choice for documentaries, music videos, drama productions and all-round event shooting.

The FX9 was designed in close collaboration with the creative community and is another example of Sony continuously evolving its proposition to innovate with the customer and market needs. The camcorder benefits from the versatility, portability and performance expected of an FS7 series “Run & Gun” style camcorder, while also offering High Dynamic Range and Full Frame shooting features.

“Today’s content creators require a camcorder that is agile, versatile and customisable to their specific creative needs, yet also offers superior performance and image quality. With the new FX9 we are striking the perfect balance between agility, ergonomics and powerful features, offering content creators the complete toolset to achieve their full artistic intention,” explained Hany Bartella, Business Head – Broadcast & Media ME, Sony Professional Solutions MEA. “At Sony, we consistently listen to our customers and every product, solution or service we unveil has always been developed with their specific needs in mind. Our latest flagship camcorder is no different and we are excited to see how it will help content creators to go make tomorrow.”

Powerful features for creative content creators

The newly-developed 6K Full-Frame sensor offers wide dynamic range with high sensitivity, low noise and over 15 stops of latitude that can be recorded internally in 4K³ 4:2:2 10bit. Oversampling by the Full-Frame 6K sensor allows professionals to create high-quality 4K footage with impressive bokeh effects through shallow depth of field, while wide-angle shooting opens new possibilities for content creators to express their creativity. This means that every scene captured looks true-to-life whether it’s shot in broad day light or in the middle of the night. The camcorder can also capture content up to five times the slow-motion speed with FHD 120fps shooting.

With the same colour science and Dual Base ISO 800/4000 as the VENICE camera, the new sensor can also create softer and more alluring facial tones.

The enhanced Fast Hybrid AF system with customisable AF transition speeds and sensitivity settings also combines phase detection AF for fast, accurate subject tracking with contrast AF for exceptional focus accuracy. The dedicated 561-point phase-detection AF sensor covers approximately 94% in width and 96% in height of imaging area, allowing consistently accurate, responsive AF tracking, even with fast-moving subjects while maintaining shallow depth of field.

Limitless creativity and flexibility

Inspired by the high mobility “Run & Gun” style approach from the FS7 series of camcorders, the FX9 offers content creators even greater flexibility thanks to Electronic Variable ND Filter. This allows more creative effects for content creators and instant exposure level changes depending on the filming environment – even when it’s moving from an inside space to outdoors or while filming in natural light conditions. By recording image stabilisation information and using it on the Catalyst Browse/Prepare⁴ option, content creators can capture incredibly stable visuals even in handheld mode. Sony is also working to encourage other third party none-linear editing tools to adopt this functionality.

The FX9 comes with a range of customisations and expansion features. These include compatibility with the new UWP-D series of wireless microphones via Multi Interface Shoe™ (MI Shoe) with digital audio interface, the XDCA-FX9 extension kit enabling 10bit S35 4K 120fps and 16bit RAW output⁵, compatibility with Sony BP-GL and BP-FL series batteries, D-Tap, RJ-45 interface and stable “Dual Link” streaming by using two carrier lines, as well as DWX slot-in type digital wireless receiver commonly used in broadcasting settings⁵. The FX9 will also be compatible with the newly launched E-mount lens FE C 16-35mm T3.1 G, which uniquely balances full manual operability for movie shooting and auto-control functions.

“Based on our ongoing conversations with customers, partners and the wider industry, we at Sony understand the needs of today’s creative storytellers – from the world’s top cinematographers, to documentary film makers, music video directors or broadcasters. What they all need is a flexible camera that allows them to tell their own unique story, no matter the environment they operate in. Our next-generation FX9 not only captures stunning visuals with life-like image quality, but it also offers advanced AF features and customisation options. This makes it the ultimate creative tool for modern content creators,” concludes Hany Bartella.

FREEDOM AND FLEXIBILITY: How the Rialto Extension System adds even more performance to the Sony Venice 6K RAW

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

In the May issue of Screen Africa we spoke to director of photography Willie Nel about the starring role that the Sony Venice 6K RAW camera played on the set of upcoming feature Die Verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer.

“By the end of a shoot,” he told us, “you know what a camera can or can’t do. With the Venice, there wasn’t an issue in sight. Honestly, it’s like the Swiss army knife of cameras to me, and definitely has set the new standard.”

With the launch of a brand-new, high-end accessory for the camera – known as the Venice Rialto Extension System – we checked in with both Nel and Goran Music (of local distributor Visual Impact) to learn more about how this latest piece of gear adds even more flexibility and performance to the Venice 6K RAW.

HIGH-PROFILE ADMIRERS

The Venice 6K RAW has won its share of fans – both locally and internationally – and it was, in fact, during “detailed discussions and further collaboration with James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment” that a prototype of the Extension System was first engineered to meet the production company’s exacting needs (including 3D rigging) as they began shooting the sequels to Avatar, the highest-grossing feature film in history.

First demonstrated at Cine Gear 2018, though refined since then, the Rialto Extension System essentially allows the Venice to be broken into two pieces – so that the image block and lens may be placed in tighter spaces, or else simply positioned further away from the body of the camera.

For Nel, being able to ‘build’ the camera in this manner changes both “the shots you can achieve and the shots you are willing to achieve”; he explains that the system allows you to think differently about camera placement. He describes set-ups where he has been able to put the image block “on the dashboard of a car and still look at the driver” and enthuses about the freedom of movement the Rialto Extension System allows, commenting that he is able to operate the system with the agility of a hand-held camera while still being assured of the ultra-high-quality images that the Venice is known for.

HOW DOES THE RIALTO WORK?

The Rialto Extension System consists of a front panel cover, an image sensor block case, a 9-foot cable and a 9-foot extension cable. The addition of the Extension System, furthermore, adds an HD-SDI output and a 12V or 24V output for powering accessories such as lens servo motors and monitors.

The Rialto system boasts great compatibility, with operators being able to customise the camera for specific scenarios in under three minutes using a single 3mm Allen wrench. The image sensor block weighs just 1.8kg (with PL mount) and 1.4kg (using the native E-mount), and the cable system can extend up to 18 feet (5.49m), offering a highly-configurable, flexible and portable method of operation.

Crucially, the Rialto Extension System enables the Venice to be suitable for many different mounting configurations and filming scenarios, including use with gimbals and handheld stabilisers, underwater and helicopter housings and 3D/VR rigs. Nel points out that this easy compatibility has a significant time-saving benefit on set, as the Rialto Extension System balances quickly and easily with gimbal set-ups, avoiding lengthy breaks and disruptions to the momentum of the shoot.

FIRMWARE UPDATES ADD FUNCTIONALITY

Also recently available from Sony is the free Venice Version 3.0 firmware upgrade.

This further enhances the camera’s capabilities, with the manufacturers incorporating feedback from filmmakers and taking the decision to “protect the customer’s investment by allowing the camera to grow with the user.”

Version 3.0 firmware will add a recording profile within the X-OCN (eXtended tonal range Original Camera Negative) codec. This new profile, called X-OCN XT, captures the highest-quality imagery with the AXS-R7 portable memory recorder. Moreover, for demanding visual effects work and productions requiring the utmost in image quality, the new X-OCN XT profile maintains exceptionally economical file sizes (comparable to Sony’s F55RAW file size), making the workflow affordable and efficient.

Other firmware highlights include new imager modes – including 6K 2.39:1 and 5.7K 16:9 – for greater shooting flexibility, and additional de-squeezed ratios for various anamorphic lenses (x1.25, x1.3, x1.5, x1.8), as specifically requested by filmmakers such as Nel, who enthuse about the “dramatic anamorphic drop-off” the Venice 6K RW naturally provides. The new firmware update also provides for a 6G/12G-SDI switchable output enabling 4K SDI output and wireless remote control via CBK-WA02, for controlling and changing key functions and menu settings with increased flexibility.

For filmmakers, the Rialto extension to the Venice 6K RAW promises the perfect marriage between agility and performance, with the smaller footprint of the camera not compromising its exceptional image quality, nor its range of iconic in-built features like its Dual Base ISO (500/2500) and eight-step mechanical ND filter system.

For Nel, the “amazing sensor” of the Venice 6K RAW is the closest approximation of “what the human eye sees” he has discovered so far – and cinematographers can now combine this peerless performance with a highly adaptable set up that removes constraints and enables greater freedom and creativity on set. “The Rialto Extension is a revolutionary innovation,” concludes Nel. “It has turned the Venice into a brand-new camera for me.”

 

Whose story is it anyway?: Sony Pictures Animation announces platform for emerging storytellers

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

Sony Pictures Animation is creating a platform for emerging storytellers… and two South African projects are on the bill.

This past June, at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France, Sony Pictures Animation announced the launch of an international division headed up by veteran producer Aron Warner (Shrek).

While the division’s pilot slate is still under wraps, Warner divulged earlier this year at the Cape Town International Animation Festival that he is in talks on two local projects. In fact, he credits South Africa as the inspiration behind the entire career move.

“Your political history and the social issues here create this tension that needs a creative outlet,” said Warner. “I saw not just the hunger and the desire, but the readiness to do the work.”

Warner is not the first to notice the potential here. As a voracious market, bristling with new platforms searching for stories, Africa has emerged as a treasure trove ripe for mining. The question preoccupying African filmmakers is, Are we ready to tell those stories before someone else tells them for us?

With films like Pixar’s Coco, Disney’s Moana, and Marvel’s Black Panther pulling in hundreds of millions at the box office, the phrase “cultural appropriation” has emerged out of niche academic discourse and into the big business of mainstream content.

This is where Sony’s approach is refreshing. Rather than appropriating stories and then developing them in-house, Warner’s division will help emerging filmmakers make the most of their own ideas.

The journey started when director Chris Appelhans came to Warner with the proposal for Wish Dragon – a feature set in modern-day China. “I said yes in the room,” says Warner, though it would be some time before the right team came together around the film – ultimately a co-production between Sony Pictures Animation, Beijing Sparkle Roll Media, Tencent and Base Media.

Idaho-born Appelhans could scarcely have been less Chinese, however, and authenticity was a serious concern. “Sophie Xiao, who worked at Base, helped us localise it,” Warner explained. “I started to see the power of a film about a kid growing up in present-day China, and how the Chinese-American crew was feeling about it, and how important representation was. That idea started to spread in my brain, and I ended up in South Africa. I saw this light in the people I met, and the industry teetering on the verge of an amazing time. I sat down and thought, how do I make a living doing this?”

He approached Sony with the idea of starting his own division and was met with resounding support. To date, projects are already in development in South Africa, Mexico, Korea, Colombia and China. As it gets harder to stand out in the market, this might be just the reinvigorating tonic that Sony Pictures Animation needs – not to mention the impact it will have on South African animation if the two local projects make it to the finish line. As Warner points out, finding filmmakers with enough stamina is the hardest part of his job…

Julia Smuts Louw: I find it interesting that you picked up on this moment in South Africa, because it’s a really confusing moment, politically and socially. We had apartheid, as you know, and some of our most iconic art came out of that period. Then we had a transition period that was very hopeful… and it turns out that artistically, hope is just not that interesting. You need something pushing against it. Now, we have a complex mix of factors and emotions.

Aron Warner: Exactly. Tension is a necessary part of creativity. It’s unfortunate that a lot of good stuff comes out of bad shit. Sometimes why you need to make animation or speculative stuff is because people aren’t ready to look at this stuff head, on but they’re ready to look at it through a filter.

JSL: I guess the other question is ‘who has the right?’ Are we allowed to tell a story from another race, or is that cultural appropriation?

AW: Every side has a good point. When the people who could be telling their own stories don’t have the opportunity, then there is something wrong with that. I think partnership is very valuable, and people shouldn’t let their egos get in the way.

JSL: What’s it been like working in China?

AW: The director I work with jokes “multiply everything by 12.” One of the issues we came up against on Wish Dragon is people without feature experience getting really tired and not knowing you’ll come out the other side okay. And I can understand that.

JSL: I get the impression they work pretty hard.

AW: They work incredibly hard. But the bar for this film is very high. And sometimes it breaks people.

JSL: There’s a perception of Asian animation studios that the teams want specific frame-by-frame instructions, and that makes creative collaboration difficult where you want to be able to just say “Here’s a shot, go wild.”

AW: I think there’s an artistic freedom that’s burgeoning there. I think they didn’t have permission. And there’s a lot of insecurity, but I’m telling you, it’s happening. I saw people blossom on our film.

JSL: I get the feeling they are reaching out more. More co-productions, more exchange.

AW: Part of that is because there are a lot of Chinese Americans who are going back to China, to work and be a part of it. So there’s cross-pollination.

JSL: I was interested in what you were saying about [2018’s surprise hit] Crazy Rich Asians – how your Asian American friends had tears streaming down their faces. It’s similar to how Black Panther played here. It’s definitely flawed. But it had such a powerful effect – who am I to say there’s anything that’s not working about it?

AW: You can’t know what it feels like, and I can’t either. In some ways I can, as a gay Jew growing up in LA, not being particularly beautiful, I used to see movies with gay characters, and it was like, there’s the flaming queen, the serial killer, or the pathetic old lonely person. Those were my three examples of what gay people were, growing up.

JSL: There was a book, Shrill, by Lindy West. She wrote about the experience of being fat.

AW: My friend Ali [Rushfield] is doing a show about that book for Hulu.

JSL: She said something similar – her role models were an old teapot, a villain, or a harmless matriarch. Wonder Woman showed that just women in general needed to see someone powerful whose thighs jiggle. And the #MeToo movement has proved there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.

AW: Absolutely, and there’s incredible power in it.

JSL: Is there anything you look for between one project and the next?

AW: I just want something I haven’t seen before. And I know that’s hard. If it’s really unique and has someone behind it who actually has the capacity to make it through that movie as a creator, then that makes it a lot more attractive.

Wish Dragon is due for release in 2020.

 

Visit Sony Professional Solutions at Mediatech Africa

At Mediatech Africa 2019, Sony Professional Solutions will be showing the VENICE motion picture camera system and the HDC-3500 camera system, among other exciting products and solutions…

VENICE from Sony is a cinema camera created by and for the cinematographer. It’s equipped with a newly developed full-frame image sensor meeting the needs of the film industry by pushing the boundaries of large-format image capture with exceptional picture quality. With the wide latitude and gamut recorded by the VENICE, freedom of expression is significantly expanded in grading. With a user-friendly design, clear and simple menu navigation, and a highly durable, reliable construction, the VENICE allows you simply to concentrate on filming, and not on the camera.

Sony is upgrading its capabilities by introducing High Frame Rate (HFR) shooting, advanced remote-control functionalities and Cooke/i3 and Zeiss extended metadata support as part of its latest firmware update. The new optional High Frame Rate license allows VENICE to shoot at speeds of up to 120fps at 4K 2.39:1, and 60fps at 6K 3:2 as well as up to 110fps at 4K 17:9 and 75fps at 4K 4:3 with anamorphic lenses. The new additional frame rates are particularly well-suited for drama, movie and commercial productions in 4K and 6K, as well as productions at 50/60p in 6K and large viewing angle VR productions at 6K 3:2 in 60p.

Did you know?

James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment will use Sony’s new VENICE motion picture camera system for principal photography on the upcoming Avatar sequels.

The HDC-3500 (three 2/3-inch 4K CMOS sensors) portable system camera offers high modulation of depth for HD and 4K production, as well as wider dynamic range. The system camera supports HD, HDR and 4K, as well as IP capabilities. The HDC-3500 has an exchangeable transmission side panel allowing users the flexibility to choose between triax, fibre or wireless transmission, depending on their operational needs. All can easily be switched using Sony’s unique and simple side panel interface.

Visit Sony Professional Solutions at Mediatech Africa 2019, taking place from 17 – 19 July at the Ticketpro Dome, Johannesburg.

Meet the Editor: Haiko Boldt

Haiko Boldt is a freelance video editor and graphic designer currently living in Namibia, who worked as editor and cinematographer on #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm. He has received a Namibian Film Award for his editing work and is the owner of Thunderboldt Design & Post Production.

#LANDoftheBRAVEfilm, produced in Nambia, traces the journey of policewoman Meisie Willemse: a tough cop with an illustrious career, who hides a dodgy past. As she solves one the biggest cases of her career, she is forced to face herself; the closer she gets to catching the killer, the more the dark secrets of her past are revealed, ultimately derailing her life.

Screen Africa chatted to Haiko about the interesting story, the equipment used to capture the epic Namibian landscapes and the need to “kill your darlings” in the editing room…

How did you first become involved in working on the film?

My involvement came about through the director, Tim Huebschle, and producer David Benade. We had worked together on short films and various other projects over the years. I was given the opportunity to read one of the early drafts of the script and I enjoyed the story immensely. It is a local story, which I hoped would turn into a local production and would give me the chance to stretch my creative muscles as an editor. Initially, my involvement was only meant to be editor of the film, but during the pre-production phase Tim and David approached me and asked if I would also like do the cinematography for the film, as well. This was an amazing opportunity and daunting, as well, but of course I accepted.

The teasers all look amazing – especially the wide-angle shots. What cameras and lens set-ups were used on the film?

The early teasers were filmed on a Canon 60D with the 18-135mm kit lens. Some of the aerials were done with the Phantom 2 and later with the DJI Inspire One. For principal photography, we used the Sony A7s II with a Metabones adaptor and Canon lenses (EF 16-35mm, EF 24-105mm and the EF 100-400mm), as well as a Sigma Macro lens. We recorded onto the Blackmagic Design 4K Video Assist from the Sony A7s II HDMI out to be able to capture in 4K (UHD) and Apple ProRes HQ 422.

The director’s monitor on set was an identical 4K Video Assist. In the beginning of the production, the director’s monitor would get its feed via SDI cable. We did have a wireless video transmission option but could not use it because it only worked with HD and we were shooting in UHD. A bit into the production, however, I found a new solution after the launch of a few products from Blackmagic Design. Among these was the Mini Converter SDI to HDMI 4K. This was used to down-convert the UHD to HD and to connect the wireless video transmitter. Luckily, the device is small and compact and did not add too much weight to the camera rig. The whole setup was powered from a V-Mount battery plate system via 12V and D-Tap cables to the devices. Aerials were filmed with the DJI Inspire One and the DJI Ronin MX gimbal was used for the motion shots.

Can you talk us through your choice to complete full picture post in Resolve? What advantages did this bring?

Working on other projects, we had gotten into a bit of a workflow issue between FCP X and the export and import of the audio through third-party software for audio post.

I always assumed that the colour grade was going to happen in DaVinci Resolve, which led us to decide to choose Resolve for editing as well. Because of the free version, we could install DaVinci Resolve, give it a try and see if it would be the right fit. The advantages were clearly the fact that the entire workflow happens within one ecosystem. It is so easy to switch from edit to audio to colour workflow with a click of the mouse. This became evident when, during the rough cut of the film, the sound designer would come in over the weekends and clean up the audio for the past week’s rough cut. This meant that by the time we had a first full rough cut, we had clean audio, too.

Recording on the 4K video assist in ProRes HQ, which is optimised for DaVinci Resolve, also meant no transcoding. It was liberating, as we edited in full resolution – and so what we saw on screen was what we would get out, and it didn’t slow down the computer.

What was your Resolve setup, including panels, hardware, monitoring and more?

The studio setup consisted of an entry-level iMac Pro running DaVinci Resolve and a 16TB G-Tech Raid Drive for the media. Connected to this was a 4K Ultra Studio. We opted for a BenQ SW271 monitor and the Blackmagic Design Micro Panel for the colour grading. During editing, the audio was taken out of the 4K studio and sent into a small mixer and out to two Yamaha speakers. We also had a big screen TV for viewing in studio.

Can you describe the brief for the edit? What were you trying to achieve with it?

The brief was to forget what I had seen on location, and craft the edit from the footage that was there. The director and I started to make editing decisions as early on as the storyboarding stage. The edit was quite predetermined in a way, as we had created an extensive storyboard with more than 700 boards. We spent about five weeks on it and had already made decisions on shot sizes and angles, and had specified the shots we would use for specific parts of the dialogue. This helped us immensely on set, but also set the tone for the edit.

The story is really interesting – and the female lead, too. Did you face challenges in telling her story through your work?

‘To kill your darlings’, like the director said, was and is probably always a challenge. We all loved some shots for whatever reason, but for the greater good of the story, some of them didn’t fit or just felt a bit ‘out.’ Letting go of shots like these can only make the film better.

Do you have a favourite scene or sequence? Can you tell us why, and give us an insight into the workflow behind creating it?

In #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm, my favourites are the shots that involved small edit decisions. Omitting certain parts of the story, or even just seconds of footage – small decisions that ultimately strengthened the film. Always remember that sometimes the things you don’t say also have an impact. For a specific example, I really like one of the city skyline shots. We kept the bottom of the shot at normal speed and sped up the top part to get some movement into the clouds, to create the effect that time was passing.

 

NEP expands 4K capabilities with Sony

Sony Australia has welcomed NEP Australia’s significant expansion of its 4K inventory, equipment and services in partnership with Sony Professional Solutions Australia.

The Sony products will be used for all NEP’s sports productions in Australia across its mobile fleet and at its world-leading all-IP Andrews Hubs, starting with NEP’s live ultra-high definition (UHD-4K) cricket coverage for FOX SPORTS on 4 November 2018.

“From November, Australian cricket fans will be able to view live matches in greater clarity than ever before on Foxtel’s new dedicated 4K channel, which will broadcast selected cricket matches in ultra high definition for the first time,” said Marc Segar, director of Technology for NEP Australia. “We are working closely with Sony to deploy this new 4K infrastructure in time for the FOX SPORTS’ first live UHD-4K cricket match.”

As part of this new 4K project, NEP has purchased multiple Sony XVS-9000 high-end switchers (the first delivered in any market internationally), XVS-8000 switchers with significant upgrades to 100Gb and IP, HDC-4300 camera chains, HDC-P43 box camera chains, BRC-X1000 remote PTZ cameras, HDC-4800 super slo-mo cameras, BVM-X300 OLED monitors, BVM-E171 OLED critical reference monitors, additional HDCU-4300 CCU in 4K IP configuration for NEP’s IP trucks, and 4K software upgrades for existing cameras.

“We have a high degree of confidence in Sony, having worked closely together on technology for NEP’s all-IP Andrews Hubs – both in deployment and product development. The results are testament to what’s possible when partnering with a true technology leader such as Sony,” Segar added.

“This purchase of 4K equipment yet again demonstrates NEP’s forward-thinking innovation, and their commitment to producing the very best quality productions and images,” said Anthony Kable, Content Creation Group manager of Sony Australia. “Sony Australia has had a long and successful partnership with NEP, most recently collaborating to bring the incredible Andrews Hubs to fruition. We look forward to continuing our partnership for many years to come.”

NEP Australia will begin taking delivery of the new Sony 4K equipment in October 2018.

Sony introduces new handheld NXCAM camcorder, HXR-NX200

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Sony recently announced a new introduction to its NXCAM handheld camcorder line-up, the HXR-NX200. Targeting at professional videographers and content creators, the latest camcorder, capable of delivering stunning 4K* images in beautiful colour achieved by the newly refined colour science. It is a cost-effective choice offering all the professional features one needs in a robust yet compact chassis.

“When Sony develops new camera technologies, our top consideration is to gather the voices of our customers. The HXR-NX200 is no exception,” said Hany Bartella, head of Media Sales for Middle East at Sony Professional Solutions MEA. “The latest addition to our NXCAM family is a versatile camcorder that is perfect for on-the-go shootings with its stunning picture quality and long battery life, allowing content creators and videographers to focus on what they do best, with minimal hassle.”

*3840 x 2160 pixels

High Quality Picture in 4K/HD

Positioned as an optimal choice for users venturing into 4K productions, the HXR-NX200 is capable of capturing 4K high resolution images, in addition to its excellent HD capabilities. This is possible with Sony’s 1.0-type Exmor R CMOS image sensor with effective 14.2 megapixel that achieves high sensitivity and delivers superb image quality in 4K. Further, thanks to the large high-resolution sensor, superior image quality when shooting in HD is achieved effortlessly. In addition, the latest NXCAM camcorder offers users the flexibility to shoot in 4K and cut out in HD during post production.

Beautiful Colour Reproduction

The compact and lightweight HXR-NX200 delivers stunning lifelike images beautifully with the newly developed refined colour science. Developed based on the voice of customers, this major advancement allows the camcorder to express more vivid, deep, rich variation of colours and natural skin tones regardless of exposure condition. The well-balanced and true-to-life colour reproduction is ideal for applications including live events, weddings and other festivities, as well in houses of worship, education and seminars.

Range of features to support professional shooting and workflow

To capture even the most expansive scenes with outstanding clarity, the HXR-NX200 is equipped with a 29mm wide-angle G Lens alongside three independent manual lens rings, enabling manual control of focus, zoom and iris, for quick and precise adjustment. A 12x optical zoom is dramatically enhanced with Sony’s unique By Pixel Super Resolution Technology, Clear Image Zoom, at 24x in HD and 18x in 4K. With the built-in 4 Step ND Filters, the HXR-NX200 is able to adjust quickly to capture quality content in a multitude of environments, producing sharp, clear images without losing the details anytime, anywhere.
The HXR-NX200 NXCAM camcorder enables users to stream live events in HD effortlessly through a simple and affordable production ecosystem when paired with the MCX-500 multi-camera live producer and the RM-30BP remote commander.
Extending the recording format of Sony’s NXCAM family, the HXR-NX200 is capable of recording 4K XAVC S 100Mbps for superb picture quality with less noise due to higher bitrate. Further, the latest camcorder features dual media slots, realising extended recording time and workflow flexibility through relay and simultaneous back-up recording.
The HXR-NX200 will be available in select countries from October 2018 onwards.

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