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Sony camera sheds new light

Sony camera sheds new light
DoP Kartik Vijay harnesses the agility of Sony VENICE on the set of Yeh Ballet

Sony camera sheds new light

Asia:

Two of India’s leading cinematographers Kartik Vijay and Aseem Bajaj have been reacting to the increased agility of the VENICE, Sony’s first full-frame movie camera. Both report an expansion of visual horizons and increased opportunities for visual storytelling in their work.

DoP Kartik Vijay frames a shot on the VENICE with Cooke anamorphic/i prime lens for the movie, Ji Hun. (Photo courtesy: Rise Pictures)
DoP Kartik Vijay frames a shot on the VENICE with Cooke anamorphic/i prime lens for the movie, Ji Hun. (Photo courtesy: Rise Pictures)

Recently this includes use of the new digital camera on Yeh Ballet (2020), a Netflix original film directed by Sooni Taraporevala; Ji Hun (The Soul), a Taiwanese supernatural movie released in January 2021; the last three chapters of My Name Is Andrea; Bhuj: The Pride of India, directed by Abhishek Dudhaiya; and Mayday, directed by Ajay Devgn.

Yeh Ballet, shot by Kartik Vijay, follows two underprivileged dancers who escape their backgrounds to pursue dreams of performing ballet on a world stage. The screenplay demanded a visual narrative of shadowy streets, cramped corridors and rows of windowless houses as well as keeping pace with the energy of the dancers. There was also a need to explore occasionally dark interludes of individual introspection, requiring maximum dynamic range.

Director and lead actor Ajay Devgn and DoP Aseem Bajaj examine a shot on the VENICE Rialto extension on the set of Mayday which also stars Amitabh Bachchan. (Photo courtesy: Ajay Devgn Films)
Director and lead actor Ajay Devgn and DoP Aseem Bajaj examine a shot on the VENICE Rialto extension on the set of Mayday which also stars Amitabh Bachchan. (Photo courtesy: Ajay Devgn Films)

“That’s when I heard about Sony VENICE,” Vijay revealed. “With the VENICE, you could actually hot-swap between two base ISOs. You didn’t need to reboot the camera to jump from the first to the second base ISO and vice-versa.” According to Vijay, he was able to swap from ISO 500 (for higher light levels) to ISO 2500 (for lower light levels) in two seconds.

Vijau also cites the VENICE’s Rialto Camera Extension System (CBK-3610XS), which enables the cinematographer to remove the sensor block and extend it up to 5.5m-away from the camera body with, he says, no loss of image quality. This allows him to acquire shots remotely with the same 6K image quality and functionality.

Director Abhishek Dudhaiya and DoP Aseem Bajaj on the set of Bhuj: The Pride of India.
Director Abhishek Dudhaiya and DoP Aseem Bajaj on the set of Bhuj: The Pride of India.

Since its launch in September 2017, Sony’s VENICE has been endorsed by leading auteurs including James Cameron, whose Lightstorm Entertainment was the first company to announce the use of the Sony VENICE for principal photography when the upcoming sequels to Avatar were announced.

Shot by acclaimed cinematographer Russell Carpenter, ASC, Avatar 2 is slated for release in December 2022, followed by Avatar 3 in December 2024. Inspired by the choice of VENICE, cinematographer Aseem Bajaj spoke to colleague Russell Carpenter who was using the prototype of the VENICE to shoot the Avatar sequels.

“He briefed me about VENICE and asked me to try it out. I tested the camera and fell in love with it,” said Bajaj, who used the camera for the first time on Bhuj: The Pride of India, a historical war drama starring Ajay Devgn and directed by Abhishek Dudhaiya. One twilight scene confirms the wider possibilities enabled by the VENICE’s extraordinary signal gain: keeping a devastated airbase as grimly realistic as possible, the use of artificial light was ruled out. Bajaj instead exploited the ability of Sony VENICE to shoot in the dark.

“I decided not to use any light and decided to shoot this sequence wide open and rate the camera at ISO 2000,” he explained. “We could barely see the shot with our naked eyes, but the Sony VENICE wonderfully captured the action.”



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