Editor’s Note: Compiled by industry veteran Bryant Frazer, PVC’s Production Camera Round-ups collects the latest production camera news, updates, insights and who’s using what to shoot everything from blockbuster motion pictures to YouTube videos. To send along an update for inclusion, send us an email or get in touch on Twitter.
Camera News Round-up
Larry Thorpe has retired from his position as senior fellow at Canon U.S.A. A legendary pioneer of broadcast technology, a tireless advocate for quality HDTV acquisition, and a generous presence and knowledge resource in the industry whose career spanned well across both sides of the digital transition, Thorpe began his career at the BBC, then worked at RCA in Camden, NJ, from 1966 to 1982, helping create RCA’s TK-47 studio camera and collecting more than 10 patents related to broadcast technology. From RCA, he jumped to Sony, where he helped launch the BVP-360 studio camera and, later, the company’s first HD camera. (Eventually, he helped guide director George Lucas in his then-controversial decision to shoot Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones at 24fps with Sony HDCAMs.) Finally, in 2004, after accepting an early retirement package from Sony, Thorpe joined Canon, where he devoted his expertise to professional lens operations. One of the few industry executives who can make the workings of high-level optics accessible to laypeople, Thorpe always delighted in sharing his knowledge and making the case for the best possible quality. He is a SMPTE Life Fellow, he was inducted to the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2007, and he has earned the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award. Among his other honors: he won the 1981 David Sarnoff Award for innovations in automatic studio color cameras, the Montreux 2000 Gold Medal Award for Digital Cinematography, the NAB 2001 Television Engineering Achievement Award, the Society of Television Engineers (STE) 2001 award, and the 2004 Broadcasting & Cable Technical Leadership Award. The retirement is well earned — but the industry won’t be the same without him.
The Cooke Archives, a collection of documents, photographs and audio tapes held by Cooke Optics, have been transfered to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills. Cooke says the items in the collection date back to the 1880s and include letters from H. Dennis Taylor, who designed and patented the “Cooke triplet,” a design that effectively eliminated astigmatism in lenses, delivering sharpness across the entire image plane. The Herrick Library is still closed due to COVID-19, but is expected to re-open later this year.
Sony said it is developing a new HDC-series system camera with a 4K Super35 global-shutter CMOS for release later in 2021. As broadcasters have been experimenting with the use of larger-format, cinema-style cameras to capture footage with attractive depth-of-field effects (such as background bokeh), Sony is giving them an option to have a cine-style sensor inside of a camera that shares a form factor and is interoperable with the rest of Sony’s broadcast-oriented camera line-up. Sony said the new model will support SR Live HDR workflow with HLG and S-Log3 and promised more detail “in the coming months.” Something to look forward to at NAB 2021, then (assuming the Vegas confab goes off as currently scheduled).
Tokyo-based Astro Design is set to distribute the Bosma G1 8K in Japan. The first camera from Chinese optics manufacturer Bosma, the G1 8K is a box camera designed for streaming, live entertainment, teleconferencing, surveillance and industrial applications. It’s built around an 18.84mm x 10.60mm micro-four-thirds sensor that captures 8K (7680x 4320) UHDTV at up to 30p with a bit rate maxing out at 200 Mbps or 4K at up to 60p and 100 Mbps. The unit records 8-bit and 10-bit H.264 or H.265 .mov or .mp4 files internally on CFast2.0 cards or externally via USB 3.0 and supports HDR10. The camera has Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity on board as well as 8K 30p output via HDMI 2.1 — but no SDI ports. The G1 8K is a good fit right now for the Japanese market, where public television giant NHK already has an 8K television channel operating for 12 hours every day, but is probably not (yet) a contender in the U.S., where 8K production has been rolling out much more slowly.
Speaking of NHK, the broadcaster said a joint research experiment with Osaka University had yielded medically compelling video imagery of cells infected with coronavirus. Captured using an optical microscope fitted with an 8K camera, the footage shows cultured animal cells deforming and breaking apart after an injection of coronavirus. Researchers say the new footage reveals previously unseen details inside infected cells that could be helpful in developing drug treatments.
DroneDJ is spreading rumors — the drone-focused news site recently quoted a “trusted source” who claims DJI is considering putting an 8K 30p camera in the forthcoming Mavic 3 Pro. While that’s nothing like a guarantee, it is a tantalizing prospect for the successor to a $1599 consumer-level drone, assuming the optics are precise enough and the recording bit rate high enough to meaningfully capture 8K resolution. At the very least, an 8K option will make it easier to reframe shots in post or stabilize shaky footage in programming intended for a 4K finish, so if you fly this type of camera drone, you may want to keep an eye out for an official 8K announcement.
Who’s Shooting What?
Marvel Studios surprised fans with a new three-minute sizzle reel designed to compel them back to movie theaters — and to debut footage from the forthcoming Eternals, directed by Chloé Zhao, who just won two Oscars for producing and directing Nomadland. (That latter film was shot by DP Joshua James Richards with the ARRI Alexa Mini and ARRI Amiri, both fronted with Zeiss Ultra Prime lenses, in case you were wondering.) Zhao steps into the Marvel Universe with help from veteran DP Ben Davis (Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy) and a large-format camera upgrade. Eternals shot with ARRI Alexa LF and Mini LF IMAX cameras capturing ARRIRAW through ARRI Signature Prime lenses. Per IMDb, Zhao had Davis bring along a Phantom Flex4K for super-slow-motion as well as a film camera for some Super 16 acquisition.
After a long delay, director Wes Anderson‘s latest, The French Dispatch, is ready to go, with a Cannes Film Festival premiere set for this July. The U.S. release, originally set for summer 2020, will follow later in the year. The French Dispatch was shot in 16mm and 35mm by Anderson’s usual cinematographer, Robert Yeoman, ASC, using the ARRICAM LT and ARRIFLEX 416. By the way, here are the five films Anderson had the cast and crew watch before production began, according to IndieWire: Quai des Orfèvres (Clouzot, 1947), Le Plaisir (Ophüls, 1952), Diabolique (Clouzot, 1955), The 400 Blows (Truffaut, 1959) and Vivre sa vie (Godard, 1962).
Cinematographer Alan Stewart, BSC employed the Sony Venice camera system on heist movie Wrath of Man (the original title, Cash Truck, was both cruder and way more memorable than its new moniker). Based on a French film titled Le Convoyeur, it’s the latest from director Guy Ritchie and hard-boiled action icon Jason Statham. Wrath of Man opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, so consider supporting your local multiplex this weekend — if you’re vaccinated.
Another Venice win this month: DP Jordan Oram shot Spiral, directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (The Invisible Man) in 6K with Sony’s flagship cinema camera. The Saw sequel stars Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson and opens in theaters May 14.