While most equipment and techniques featured on 4K Shooters are for the budget-oriented shooters, or aspiring professionals, here’s something slightly different. For the price of an entire EPIC-M RED DRAGON Pro Collection, you can upgrade your existing Sony PMW-F55 from 240fps in 2K to 360fps in 1080p. Or, for the cost of a new ARRI Alexa XT and a Cooke S4, you can build the kit from scratch. Practical? Barely. Cool to watch? Absolutely!
The video above was shot in Kyoto, Japan in conjunction of Sony and Red Bull Studios, more as an exercise in broadcast ingenuity than a pure overcranking test. As camera operator Koshi Nakano explains, Sony has succeeded in making 4K broadcast possible using F55 and F65 systems with minimal changes in workflow from HD systems.
While the monitors, processors and transmissions adapters may change, the amount of moving parts in the system and the skill involved both on camera or at the switcher does not change. “Future-proofing” here doesn’t mean re-inventing the wheel, it just means making the wheel stronger.
So what would be a practical application for this $80,000+ system? Since 2012, ESPN has been implementing the F65 systems into some of their larger broadcasts. In early 2014, Sony and NBC teamed to use Sony F55s and F65s as the official camera systems of the Sochi Winter Olympics, citing the helpful tracking ability of pulling 1080 frames from within the 4K footage for fast-paced action coverage. 60p is already a common recording for sports, as it allows for simple and smooth slow-motion if a replay calls for it.
However, if you’re shooting the X-Games, or Olympic gymnastics, or a downhill ski race, the visual of 360fps is one that can be used equally as a prime addition to coverage, as well as increased judging ability for technique. Sometimes, the broadcast guys get cool toys of their own. This is one of those cases.