As far as full-frame digital cinema cameras go in Australia and New Zealand right now, the one in huge demand is without doubt the Sony VENICE. With its phenomenal colour science and creative versatility VENICE is a cinema camera created by and for the cinematographer. It’s equipped with a specially developed full-frame image sensor meeting the needs of the film industry in pushing the boundaries of large format image capture with exceptional picture quality. Two companies who have been renting out and using VENICE cameras more than most are Lemac in Australia and ImageZone in New Zealand.
Lemac MD Sue Greenshields explained the camera’s success saying, “The market is often after the most affordable, most capable camera and at this current time the VENICE ticks a lot of boxes. The VENICE’s versatility is key. It is capable of shooting in a wide range of formats and delivers phenomenal latitude, incredible colour rendition and this is all in a relatively compact unit that fits easily into the workflow of large-scale productions.”
None of the camera’s features or success are a coincidence according to Greenshields who continued, “Sony developed the VENICE in conjunction with feedback from countless cinematographers to ensure they got the features right in this camera. Lemac was fortunate enough to be involved in testing and feedback on the first Venice prototype in Australia. That collaboration shows in unique features such as the Rialto extension system that gives unparalleled flexibility for mounting the system in almost any situation and the internal ND filter system offering a world-first 8 steps of filtration.”
With this level of functionality and acceptance in the market the cameras have been flying off of Lemac’s shelves.
Greenshields added, “The VENICE is also appealing in versality to a wide range of users. They are very popular on longform at the moment. Cameras have also been sold to clients for productions encompassing TVC and wildlife cinematography through to corporate production. Our rentals department has recently had up to eight camera production units at one time on the Disney Amazon series The Wilds S2. This series has recently completed production in Queensland. Bad Mothers was the first drama to shoot on VENICE cameras in Australia and the camera’s popularity has grown rapidly since then. It was the camera of choice recently on the impressive ABC production of Wakefield and The Dollhouse feature Seriously Red. Many other productions are also currently filming with our support on VENICE in Australia. These include CJZ series Darby and Joan, Hoodlum/Stan feature film Christmas on the Farm and the ABC series Troppo.
It’s a similar story for ImageZone in New Zealand as their rental manager Stephen Baker explained, “We started looking at full frame cameras and decided to host an evening highlighting all the models and full frame glass that was available at the time. Sony came onboard, sent us a VENICE to look at and told us what was coming in future firmware upgrades. At that point we realised this camera could be a game-changer and we wanted in. Dean Thomas, ImageZone’s owner, felt the VENICE was the perfect camera for the companies leading the streaming market including Netflix, Amazon, Disney and Apple who request original footage to be 4K. The VENICE ticked this box and had the trump card of being a full frame camera. It wasn’t long before we had our first overseas production, Amazon’s The Wilds, who did indeed want to shoot on the VENICE and so we required 2-3 cameras in order to supply this production.”
Having spoken to their clients in the market it was clear to ImageZone that they required the VENICE full frame camera to make and meet the next step in cinematic filmmaking
Baker continued, “The VENICE has the ability to shoot in 6K full frame, or super sample down to 4K yet still use the full frame sensor for that full frame look without the 6K files. Also, for a full frame camera it has the best off-speed capabilities, which is a big plus. The dual recording function of being able to shoot on both AXSM cards and SxS cards is another clever and practical application and both DoPs and ACs tell us having the broad range of internal NDs is a real advantage in the real world of making movies.”
ImageZone have supplied VENICE cameras to multiple longform productions including The Wilds, X, Wellington Paranormal, Whina, Raised by Refugees and Interstate.
Baker said, “There have also been a number of commercial shoots that have used the VENICE, one in particular an anti-smoking campaign from a pet dog’s POV, in which the Rialto head was incredibly useful. Cinematographers have really embraced the large format, full frame look, and the VENICE is perfect for that. With its Rialto head the VENICE enables cinematographers to get the camera into some really tight spaces.”
So the VENICE is powerful, flexible and convenient but even so, Stephen Baker says it’s more than that.
He concluded, “One of the big questions DoPs had when the VENICE first came along was if its colour science was comparable to the industry standard cameras they were familiar with. The general consensus has been yes, yes it is! Whilst it obviously has a different colour science, the feedback is that the camera has a fantastic dynamic range, rich colours and great contrast. The dual ISO ability is also something that has impressed many DOPs especially when shooting in low light environments. ACs like the easy-to-use menu system and having the ability to access functions on the AC side of the camera. All in all, as we predicted, the Sony VENICE is a true gamechanger.”
Sony’s VENICE is equipped with a 36x24mm full-frame image sensor, designed specifically for high end cinematography, and can capture images up to a maximum resolution of 6048 x 4032. By switching imager modes, VENICE can natively support Super35 24.3 x 18.0mm at 4096 x 3024 resolution (equivalent to 4-perforation motion picture film), and Super35 24.3 x 12.8mm at 4096 x 2160 resolution (equivalent to 3-perforation motion picture film). In other words, VENICE’s new full-frame sensor can capture in almost any format, including full 18mm-height Super35 Anamorphic and spherical and full-frame 24mm-height Anamorphic and spherical. Almost any aspect ratio can be conjured up: 1.85:1, 2.39:1, 17:9, the list goes on in full-frame or Super35.