New ABC TV Series 'Defying Gravity' Takes Off With Sony F35 Camera


Capturing the look and feel of life aboard a spacecraft on a six-year mission through the solar system requires imagination, creativity and a flexible camera system. The production team behind the new TV series "Defying Gravity" used all three, including Sony's F35 high-definition camera system.

According to producers for the show, premiering August 2 on the ABC television network, the F35 camera and Sony HDCAM SR™ cassettes delivered "a rich, clean quality" and were a perfect match for the heavy amount of visual effects used in many scenes.

"The F35 was the hands-down winner for 'Defying Gravity,'" said executive producer Michael Edelstein. "It had the best image quality and great 35mm depth of field. We had a tremendous amount of visual effects and the F35 is a fantastic digital camera for heavy green screen VFX work."

During pre-production, the team conducted extensive side-by-side comparisons with many competitive high-end digital cameras and found that the dynamic range and color rendition of the F35 was the best choice for the show, according to Edelstein.

"This camera rendered the most attractive flesh tones on our actors, which is an area where most other digital cameras fall short," he said. "The F35 gave us a beautiful 'filmic' look. The shallow depth of field made our actors and sets look fantastic and the variable speed performance gave us a great deal of flexibility to achieve the weightless look of outer space."

The camera's ramping capabilities are notable in several scenes and played a key role in creating very dramatic effects that were used to reveal elements of the characters' backgrounds. For example, one scene shows a main character flashing back to her childhood, standing alone and abandoned in the middle of a train station.

"I started at 3 fps and people are just flying by her," said director of photography Steve McNutt. "Then I pushed the ramp down to 50 fps, and everything just slowed down. It's a wonderful shot and this camera allowed me to pull it off flawlessly."

McNutt previously used Sony's HDW-F900R camera on another space series, "Battlestar Galactica," and found the F35 offered the same familiar interface, with several key improvements, such as the MSU-950 master set-up unit, which can give him access to the camera's key operating and paint parameters.

"Along with lighting techniques, the MSU allowed me to do some basic coloring on the set," he said. "I manipulate the gammas, the knees and the color controls. I will shade the show a bit during principal photography, while always leaving room for even more enhancement during post. I can do that with pretty much any Sony camera. But the F35 gave me an immense latitude and an incredible colorspace. It was difficult for me to push it beyond its limits. It's an outstanding camera."

Sony's HDCAM SR digital videocassettes are designed and co-engineered to fully maximize the benefits of the F35's 4:4:4 RGB recording technology. HDCAM SR recording media uses ultrafine high-performance metal particles 50 percent smaller than those in Sony's HDCAM tape applied in the thinnest magnetic coating, to enable wavelength recording to 0.29um. The result is up to +7dB higher output than HDCAM tape.

"Defying Gravity" is the latest TV series to be shot with Sony's high-end CineAlta™ digital cinematography technology, which includes the F23 as well as the F35.

"These systems are designed with the cinematographer's needs in mind," said Rob Willox, director of content creation systems for Sony Electronics. "The combination of high image quality, performance, features and flexibility can add a distinctive style to a production and enhance the producer's vision."

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SOURCE: Sony Electronics

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