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Why shoot movies in 8K?

It was during my time at film school that I developed my love for celluloid film. Working with 16mm and 35mm cameras was something completely different. But in 2013, I got to test the Sony F55 with its digital 4K sensor for the first time. At the time, I wasn't sure how useful it was to shoot feature films at all with this then-high resolution. Why use high-resolution details to draw attention to irrelevant things and thus distract from the actual story? That´s maybe why some directors prefer to shoot their films on 16mm or 35mm today. A successful example is "The Lighthouse" by Robert Eggers, which was nominated for an Oscar.

Nevertheless, Netflix now requires you to film at 4K resolution. So you learn to deal with it. After all, it's entirely up to us filmmakers what we do with all those pixels. You can make an 8K image of a RED Ranger into a movie that makes people think it was shot on celluloid film when you are skilled enough. "Mank" by David Fincher may be an extreme example of this. But it shows very well how the advantages of 8K can be used. The monochromatic shots were rotoscoped, then backgrounds and 3D elements added. The high 8K resolution is incredibly helpful in this process. At the end, the sharpness of the image was reduced, grain and other elements were added, thus creating that uncompromising 35mm retro look. In 2021, cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, ASC won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Cinematography for "Mank".

Left: Shot before postproduction. Right: With digital backgrounds added. Image taken from "Mank VFX Breakdown - Artemple" on YouTube.


Sony has one - if not the longest - history of digital cinema cameras. The CCD sensor cameras HDW-F900 (2000) and the F35 (2008) were followed by the CMOS models F65 (2011) and F55 (2014). Although the cameras were getting better and better, it felt like holding a video camera in your hand while operating them. That changed with the VENICE (2017). Sony listened to input from DPs and simplified the menu and improved the design of the camera. It's probably no coincidence that it now looks a lot like the ARRI Alexa. And it was precisely this change that brought me back to use a Sony camera again.

Framed Dubai Scene, with actors Moritz Vierboom and Bianca Nawrath, shot with the Sony VENICE 2.

When I got the opportunity to use/test the Sony Venice 2 before it was released, I was thrilled. My experiences with the camera on filming “Framed” are best summarized in this interview:

The Sony VENICE 2 is one of the best digital cinema cameras and perhaps even the best 8K camera around today. But it's not just about the number of pixels, as ARRI has shown again with the Alexa 35. ARRI can get the most out of the sensors made by OnSemi like no other manufacturer and I am convinced that they will deliver an impressive image with the ALEV 4. That said, ARRI will eventually follow suit and release an 8K camera. Until then, I´m happy that we can use 8K creatively and don´t have to deliver this resolution to Netflix.

Framed Dubai Scene, with actress Bianca Nawrath, shot with the Sony VENICE 2 by Tom Keller, BVK.


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