We’re living in the golden age of digital camera technology. It’s a true revolution as brands are continuing to push out new cameras left and right. However, as great as it might be for both consumers and professionals alike, there’s something to be said about actually taking the time to sit down, chat and review what makes these new cameras so great and unique.
Amat is known for his past work as the cinematographer on Man In the High Castle and his work with the original Sony VENICE on Outer Banks 2. Take Me was shot in Brooklyn, New York, using only available light. His tools were a Sony VENICE 2 8K digital cinema camera and Zeiss Radiance Prime lenses.
You can watch the film below!
"The new Sony VENICE 2 has incredible latitude and color rendition," Amat said of the camera. "The color rendition and skin tones are truly cinematic. And for an 8K sensor, it still has the subtlety on faces that I haven’t seen since shooting in film."
Another awesome DP working with Sony VENICE 2 is Curt Morgan, a commercial DP who recently shot a killer commercial spot for Titleist. He's a multiple Emmy award-winning director and cinematographer who broke into the scene with his action sports films, drawing upon his own background as a former pro snowboarder.
Just check out the incredible images he gets when he takes VENICE 2 into the skies for a dynamic aerial shoot!
Today, we’d like to take a step deeper than just sharing the specs and YouTube camera tests and actually speak to these working DPs about how they feel about Sony VENICE 2 in the real world and its incredible color science.
Let's dive in!
Credit: SonyNo Film School: Thanks for chatting with us. Could you tell us a little bit about your experience working with Sony VENICE 2?
Curt Morgan: I was fortunate enough to get an early unit from Sony and was able to put it in on set of a new Titleist campaign I was working on. It’s always a little scary putting a new camera on a big job, but it worked perfectly. The next day I decided to go put it up in the air. We integrated into the Shotover F1 (which fit nicely) and spent a couple hours flying around LA. It was one of those magic evenings where the weather was just perfect for shooting. The fog rolling in was low and dense and the light was absolutely incredible. The minute I got off the ground I could tell it was going to be a good shoot. After a couple hours flying around, I came to the conclusion that this would be the camera I would be using for the next many years.
Gonzalo Amat: Thanks so much for the opportunity. So what I did was a little short film. They asked me to test the camera and I wanted to do something a little different to what I have seen when people try new cameras. I wanted to see what the camera was capable of doing with available light. So no movie lights, and then just shooting in different situations all around the city, interior, exterior day, night, magic hour, you know, just to see what the camera could do. So my experience was really nice. I really think this is a really big improvement with VENICE 1. And I think the guys really listened to what we filmmakers needed from the camera or from a camera in general.
NFS: What attracted you to Sony VENICE 2 in the first place?
Morgan: Well I’ve been a generation-one VENICE user from the beginning and was always impressed with the camera but there was some room for improvement. Sony really listened to the community and came to the table with a new tool that has much better dynamic range and highlight rolloff, higher resolution, higher data rates, smaller size (when factoring removing the RAW back), and much greater low light sensitivity. All the right moves.
NFS: What do you usually look for in a cinema camera?
Amat: Well, I think the most important thing is that the sensor is good. Like for me, that's the most important thing. Like you can have a great camera that's really small, like the RED, for example, but if the sensor's no good, then it's kind of pointless. So for me, the fact that it has good latitude and it has good color rendition, and the fact that it has a certain resolution (which is the lowest of my priorities) all mean to me that a sensor is good. And then also, you know, that it has easy-to-use menus, accessible menus that are not overly complicated. And at the same time that it's just things in terms of cinema, you know, like that the menus are set up for filmmakers, not for like news people, you know, sometimes some cameras tend to do that.
Behind the scenes with Amat in New YorkCredit: SonyNFS: How do you feel about the color science and dynamic range?
Morgan: I have been able to play with the raw media now on the computer for a couple weeks, and it’s magic. The color depth is incredible, it’s virtually noise-free, and skin tones are spot on. In regard to the DR, it’s super wide, you can push and pull endlessly while retaining shadow and highlight detail. It gets me excited to get out and shoot more.
Amat: I think this camera is pretty spectacular when it comes to dynamic range and also color science. Dynamic range is really, really good. Like I shot in very difficult conditions like shooting under the bridge in Manhattan with the skyline with the full sun hitting buildings across the river or in the water. And I think the camera was able to capture everything and the raw files look incredible. The detail in the highlights in the shadows is also pretty great. So I think for me, that's key because that's what I look for in the camera. I don't like overexposed highlights. So that new sort of latitude that this new sensor has is pretty spectacular.
In terms of color edition, I would say I was really surprised with the color rendition and the color science behind it, because I do think that sometimes certain colors don't translate very well to digital media. And in this case, I do think that the color is almost like what you see is what you're gonna get with a regular rec 709. So I think it's really, really well done. And especially on the skin, you know, like skin tones are great, even if you are shooting under conditions of like color lighting, you still have that quality of the color being cinematic in a way that not being overly saturated.
'Take Me'Credit: Gonzalo Amat, SonyNFS: Would you recommend VENICE 2 to any fellow cinematographers? (And if so, why?)
Amat: Yes, I would, for sure. I do think that it's a really good alternative to the sort of camera that everyone seems to use in terms of just the color, the size of the camera, the internal filters, the dual ASA, and the sort of the cinematic quality. I mean, it's probably the first camera I've used with this resolution that doesn't feel like you are shooting an overly defined image with too much detail.
So I do think that this camera has a great quality and a feel like it has a very nice texture to it—which is something I think lacked in the first VENICE. It has a little more character and it feels more like an old film camera in the sense that the colors feel more muted. The skin tones are softer and it doesn’t feel overly sensitive.
The camera’s also a little smaller than the previous one, and it’s a really good camera for run-and-gun shooting like I did on my short film. So yes, of course, I would recommend this camera as a great option for shooting with available light. Which was my sort of objective to prove that the ability of a camera should be shown with no lighting in the way. Then, when you do light it, you know you’re getting something even better.