While the 6K market may start to get crowded over the next few years, what's so special about that resolution? As an acquisition format, 6K gives you all sorts of options for better-looking 4K with the ability to reframe and stabilize. That's why it comes as no surprise that ARRI looks to be developing their own 6K camera, but instead of squeezing those pixels onto a Super 35mm sensor like the RED DRAGON or the new Kinefinity 6K cameras are, the company is letting them breathe on a gigantic 65mm sensor.
While this has to be classified as a rumor, the sources confirming the existence of the camera are as legitimate as they come (and if they are just joking, some confirmation would be fantastic). It looks to be in testing right now on Tarzan, and another feature I can't quite decipher (maybe you guys can help):
@MNS1974 it's not much of a secret anymore - 65mm - 6K uncompressed to external recorder. Rolling on two features now at Pinewood.— Mark L. Pederson (@Mark_L_Pederson) March 22, 2014
First things first, this would not be the first medium format-sized digital cinema camera, as Vision Research used to produce the the Phantom 65 4K camera with a sensor size of 52.1 mm x 30.5 mm, which is nearly twice the size of RED's huge 6K DRAGON sensor (30.7mm x 15.8mm). This camera, if it does see the light of day, would likely be very, very expensive, and would probably not be released right away even if it was announced at NAB. ARRI themselves is also no stranger to image-making at this size, as they most recently produced the ARRI 765 65mm film camera:
And if you still think this is far-fetched, Panavision has been working on a 70mm/65mm digital cinema camera (which we haven't really heard much about recently):
We may see some new lenses if ARRI does produce a 65mm digital camera, though I think the lenses Panavision was talking about releasing with their new camera would also be a stellar option. In addition, there are rumors that ARRI is developing a separate 4K camera with a Super 35mm sensor. If you're jumping into 4K in the ARRI world, that makes much more sense as a starting point, especially since going all the way up to medium format sensors introduces its own headaches -- like trying to keep focus at lower T stops. The data rates of an uncompressed RAW 6K camera would also be tremendous, coming in somewhere around 650MB per second at 24fps and 12-bit (multiple terabytes per hour).
Since ARRI is committed to offering the best image quality possible, it's unlikely these would produce anything less than beautiful images. 6K-7K on a full-frame or Vista Vision sensor is near the threshold of current technology in terms of maximum image quality, so going to a larger sensor as you increase the Ks makes a lot of sense. A 6K 65mm cinema camera from ARRI would probably only be used on the biggest productions for a long time because of the costs involved, so I would see a 4K Super 35mm sensor being a better contender as their everyday camera to replace the ALEXA -- which is going to take some time either way.
Unfortunately, until ARRI announces anything, we can't confirm the 6K or 4K cameras, but with added pressure from Sony and RED, it is really only a matter of time before we start seeing sensors this big with this kind of resolution. Since they haven't released or announced anything, details can still change, but there is no question NAB 2014 is going to be interesting.
For those who are in the know, what have you heard?
[via OFFHOLLYWOOD Twitter]