Sony takes first steps toward 8K camera

Posted By Tom Coughlin on November 03, 2011 07:44 am | Permalink
By Tom Coughlin

At the recent SMPTE Technical Conference here, Sony's Hugo Gaggioni made an interesting presentation on the new Sony F65 CineAlta camera.

The Sony F65 CineAlta camera introduced in September 2011 has a resolution of 8,000X2,000 pixels. This camera is the first commercial camera offering where one of the aspect ratio reaches 8,000 pixels and 20 M pixels total using a large format CMOS image sensor. The product can run up to 120fps and supports 16-bit RAW output on SRMemory flash memory cartridges from Sony with storage capacities of 256GB, 500GB and 1TB.

The advanced Bayer pattern sensor in the F65 boosts the number of blue and green pixels by twice what is in the normal Bayer sensor giving a much more extensive color space (especially in blue and green-most visible to the human eye) as shown in Figure 1 below.

The greater color space is one of the main reasons for the camera's high resolution along one of the imaging axes (8K) since the actual output of the camera is 4K X 2 K images. The RAW image output from the camera provides a file size smaller than uncompressed RGB data and the extra resolution in the RAW format provides many lower resolution formats for post production.

The Sony SRMemory (S55) flash memory cartridge writes data up to 5.5Gbps (sustained) and reads data up to 8Gbps (sustained 5.5Gbps) with storage capacities as high as 1TB per cartridge. Figure 2 shows recording times as a function of cartridge capacity and content resolution.Recording formats supports are 16-bit linear RAW (4K format), Uncompressed HD Components and SR-Codec (MPEG-4 Simple Studio Profile, SStP). The SRMedia is inserted into the SR-R4 recording device which is mounted on the back of the camera as shown in Figure 3.  Information on the recording characteristics for F65RAW recording are shown in the figure. Figure 2 below: Recording Times on SRMemory S55 Cartridges as a Function of Cartridge Capacity and Content Resolution.

Figure 3 below:  SR-R4 SRMemory Recorder for Cameras.

Figure 4 shows MPEG-4 Simple Studio Profile (SStP) resolution and data rates vs. MPEG 2 and MPEG 4 showing that up to 4K at 60 fps can be achieved with data rates up to 3.6 Gbps.
Figure 4 below: MPEG-4 Simple Studio Profile (SStP) vs. MPEG 2 and MPEG 4 Resolutions and Data Rate

Figure 5 shows a comparison of file sizes for Digital Negatives and Post Work Files showing that the resulting file size for these 4K images (RAW and MPEG 4-SStP) is less than other 4K images and isabout the same as 2K RGB digital negatives and significantly less than RGB digital work files.
Figure 5 below:  Comparison of File Sizes for Digital Negatives and Post Work Files for Sony F65 RAW and MPEG4-SStP vs. RGB and other Formats.

As usual Sony also provides editing and post solutions for their camera formats.  Figure 6 shows F65 RAW/MPEG-4 SStP data workflow in Post.  Note that this figure shows the varioususes and sources of content from storage devices used for capture, ingest as well as digital storage for post production collaborative work.
Figure 6 below: F65 Camera RAW/MPEG 4-SStP Data Workflow in Post Production

The Sony CineAlta video camera price runs in the neighborhood of $65K. Although expensive for some the advanced imaging features in this product point the way to the future and usher in the era of single camera 8K recording.  We expect the price of this product will drop with time and that competing products with similar features will come on the market in the next two years. Perhaps with the success of this camera true 8K X 4K content capture commercial cameras could be introduced within five years. Of course with more resolution comes more storage. As Figure 3 shows F65 RAW format images will take over 1 TB for an hour of content.  With total captured footage of 100 hours or more (even 1,000 hours is not uncommon) for a single production, approaching half a PB and even more than a PB (with true 8KX4K content) could become the norm for total captured content for a single project in just a few years.