Broadcasters are embracing mirrorless and cine-style cameras to capture dramatic shots of live sports coverage. Sony has been leading the charge.
Fox Sports, for example, debuted what was dubbed a Megalodon live during NFL coverage last December. This rig combined a A7R IV, Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens, DJI Ronin-S gimbal, a field monitor, and a 1080p wireless transmitter. The system has been a staple of sports coverage since it was included by ESPN and Turner during the NBA Playoffs.
On the other side of the Atlantic, BT Sport employed Sony’s VENICE cine camera to film elements of soccer’s FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Leicester City last summer.
The broadcast was already using the cameras regularly as part of its Champions League coverage and goes along with the format upgrade of HDR and 4K (and Atmos) to give live a cinematic experience.
The goal is deliver a more human and emotional experience for the fan and to use the oft-used mantra “to get the fan closer to the action.”
Now Sony has unleashed a new system camera (shipping in December) designed to capture more of this market. The HDC-F5500 is the latest entry in Sony’s HDC camera series and has a Super 35mm, 4K CMOS global shutter image sensor that enables shallow depth-of-field. The global shutter effect prevents rolling shutter distortion and flash band, and its high frame rate capability of 120fps makes it suitable for fast moving sports (also studio live entertainment productions).
“There is a strong desire to integrate the ‘cinematic look’ into sports and entertainment productions to heighten emotions and enable more connected storytelling,” said Theresa Alesso, Pro Division President, Sony Electronics. “We’ve taken our expertise with 35mm cinema cameras and created a new Super 35mm system camera that will match perfectly and easily work alongside our HDC camera series, as well as our portfolio of production solutions.”
A first for a systemized S35mm system, the HDC-F5500 features a motorized eight-step ND filter adopted for the Sony VENICE, which can be controlled locally or remotely. It also allows for the precise selection of focus depth, as well as controlled capture of fast-moving subjects even in bright lighting conditions. Another highlight of the new system camera is its wide color gamut. It supports BT.2020, S-Gamut3/S-Gamut3.cine and HLG as well as Sony’s SR Live for HDR workflow with HLG and S-Log3.
The new camera also provides numerous workflow enhancements for more efficient live production. It integrates with Sony’s IP Live production system with the use of the HDCU-5000 series, which supports SMPTE ST 2110 and AMWA NMOS standards. The HDC-F5500 can utilize the new IP extension adaptor HDCE-TX50 for remote production or multi-camera flight pack “CCU-Less” operation.
Other features include a new viewfinder slide mechanism compatible with existing large viewfinders that minimizes the camera operator’s body movement while panning and allows for use in tight or challenging environments. The model also has an ergonomic grip for handheld work, and side tally lamp.
It should be noted that Sony is not the only camera maker being fielded in this way. Also this year, Sky Deutschland employed an ARRI Alexa Mini during its UEFA Champions League coverage. It will be used in conjunction with 27 traditional broadcast cameras to deliver the match in UHD HDR.
This particular set up included the Trinity stabilization system that was used by Roger Deakins, BSC, ASC to film 1917.
Spanish football’s LaLiga and its production partner Mediapro have also used 35mm sensor, mirrorless cameras to captures images with a very shallow depth-of-field.