Known for developing camera monitor recorders, the Australian-based filmmaking company said that the sensor design is the byproduct of the company’s acquisition of Grass Valley five years ago.

The Canadian-based Grass Valley developed a reputation for its video broadcast switching equipment, and it quickly became a popular solution for the live media and entertainment market. Atomos acquired the intellectual property rights and technical team five years ago with the expressed goal of developing a next-generation 8K video sensor.

A New Mystery

There isn’t much known about the new sensor or Atomos’ plans for it, except that the company is talking with camera manufacturers about the potential of putting the new sensor into a future camera design. Whether Atomos would be a part supplier providing sensors to third-party camera companies or if they are looking to get into the cinema camera game through some sort of development partnership remains to be seen. 

Camera sensorUnfortunately, this is not the new Atomos sensor.Credit: Dan Cristian Pădureț

Either way, the company seems to be very bullish on the new image sensor design, stating that the development for it is completed and the sensor is ready to go for any camera company looking for a world-class ultra high definition sensor to take their camera designs to the next level. 

Though camera companies like RED, Canon, Panasonic, and Sony have created cinema cameras that capture high dynamic range video in 8K resolutions, the standard is largely relegated to original camera files, with output for cinema houses being downscaled to 4K. Broadcast is even rarer, with most television channels still broadcasting in 1080i or 720p. 

It was only for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo that an 8K broadcast was attempted, and only about 200 hours at that. But as more companies begin to offer 8K television sets for sale, the price of that higher standard will begin to drop. Alongside improvements in high-efficiency codecs like H.265 and Apple ProRes RAW, it may be that a new era of content natively viewable in 8K will mean that the standard will become more widespread.

Red Dragon 6KRed Dragon 6KCredit: Jakob Owens

On the Horizon

Therefore, Atomos seems to be of the mindset that there’s no time like the present to get into the game. 

The only question is, will the design yield more cinematic characteristics or rely on the broadcast pedigree of those who developed it? Whatever the case, it’ll likely be at least a few years before we'll see it come to market. But by then, based on how fast image resolution has increased in the digital era, will the time have passed Atomos?

Do you think Atomos is barking up the wrong tree? Or are you on board with its new sensor? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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