Sony’s Cinema Shot: In conversation with Mr. Mukesh Srivastava, Head of Business - Digital Imaging, Sony India

By Ali Akbar Merchant | Published 05 Mar 2023 07:40 IST
Sony’s Cinema Shot: In conversation with Mr. Mukesh Srivastava, Head of Business - Digital Imaging, Sony India

Sony recently launched a new Cinema Line camera in India, dubbed the FX30. In the wake of the launch we got the opportunity to ask Mr. Mukesh Srivastava, Head of Business - Digital Imaging, Sony India some questions regarding the new camera itself, the Indian market’s attitude towards Cinema Line cameras and Sony’s unique R&D process of creating a new camera. Edited excerpts follow:

1. What makes the cinema line of cameras from Sony so different from the other video centric cameras like the Sony A7S series?

In the last couple of years, we have seen a tremendous rise in video content creation with huge demand for cameras that have cinematic features. Sony Cinema Line cameras are designed for filmmakers keeping in mind the features specific to movie shooting. Special attention has been paid to all areas including body design, durability, high functionality and battery life so that creators can comfortably produce impressive content for cinema film and movie production. As compared to the Alpha range, Cinema Line cameras come with the functionality of multiple screw holes on the body and handle, allowing accessories to be attached directly. The camera body is compact, lightweight and modular, giving the flexibility to grab and shoot. These cameras come with S-Cinetone, derived from the colour science of high-end camera Venice. S-Cinetone is designed to quickly create richer-looking final content with ease, without expensive post-production.

2. What kind of market does a camera like the FX30 have in India? What kind of filmmakers buy the cinema line of cameras?

In recent years, we have seen a major shift in consumer behaviour from mainstream filmmaking to OTT, regional cinema, YouTube and regional OTT. Viewers are turning towards flexible video platforms to stream content on demand. The best thing about these platforms is the wide availability of streaming content in different languages as compared to mainstream filmmaking. Due to ease of restrictions, travel has resumed and the number of weddings is at an all-time high. This has increased the demand for video-oriented cameras with strong cinematic capabilities for wedding filmmaking. The camera is made for young content creators and filmmakers who want to start their journey with Sony Cinema Line. It has two variants – ILME-FX30 which comes with an XLR handle for handheld shooting and ILME-FX30B which is only body. Compact and light in weight, the FX30 can be operated in combination with gimbals and drones or with a variety of attached equipment. It is designed to withstand long shoots, with sturdy construction suited to harsh conditions. FX30 features a distinctive flat-top design that is suitable for either handheld shooting or gimbal mounting. The camera grip has been designed to provide optimum flexibility, stability and comfort for extended handheld shooting sessions. It features an innovative heat dissipation structure for uninterrupted 4K/120p recording, reliable power for extended recording and a durable magnesium alloy chassis. We are continuously working on technology that encompasses the needs of the next-gen filmmakers and creators.

3. What features on the FX30 is Sony most proud of and why?

The FX30 is packed with multiple features for high-level cinematic expression that is meant for filmmakers. The camera has a Super 35 format, commonly used in filmmaking and is enhanced by the latest imaging system, BIONZ XR for high-quality image and operability. Some of the key features of FX30 are:

i. Capture high-level cinematic expression in every scene

The FX30 offers budding filmmakers’ cinematic expression with the latest imaging systems. It features a new back-illuminated 20.1 megapixels APS-C Exmor R™ CMOS sensor (Super 35 format) with a dual base ISO (800/2500) to deliver high sensitivity, low noise, and 14+ stops 1 of latitude. Like the rest of the Cinema Line, the FX30 features Log shooting modes by enabling Cine El, Cine El Quick, and Flexible ISO modes for recording with the S-Log3 gamma curve, which allows greater flexibility when colour grading.

ii. Advance AF performance to support the creators’ needs

The FX30 features Sony’s fast and reliable autofocus, with settings including: Real-time Eye AF (human, animal, or bird), Real-time Tracking, Detailed AF settings, and AF Assist. This allows creators more control when using the Focus Map, which makes it easier to visualise depth of field, and Breathing Compensation offers a stable angle of view when focusing. The camera also includes effective stabilisation for run and gun shoots using Active Mode thanks to the optical in-body 5-axis image stabilisation and time code sync.

iii. Experience effective post-production workflow support

The FX30 includes added functionality to assist with the creative workflow, such as post-production editing using embedded LUT, and EI metadata. This metadata is available using the latest version of Sony’s Catalyst Prepare 2 or Catalyst Browse applications. It incorporates other features that retain the spirit of the Cinema Line, including:

      a) New customisable list-style main menu screen which provides quick access to frequently used items

      b) New standby movie screen that provides an unobstructed view of the subject

      c) Buttons and dials dedicated to movie shooting

iv. Compact and unique form factor with flexible operability

Compact and lightweight, the FX30 has a flat-top design with threaded accessory attachment points, making it easy to use for shooting handheld, capturing low-angle shots, mounting on a gimbal, or adding accessories. The FX30 also features an XLR handle unit, which can be used to capture low-angle shots and also allows filmmakers to capture crystal clear audio through various audio inputs, including two XLR audio inputs and a 3.5-mm stereo mini jack for 4-channel recording. External microphones can be connected directly to the camera via the Multi Interface Shoe or microphone jack. The FX30 also features an internal stereo microphone for audio recording.

v. Highly expandable memory for more storage

The FX30 and FX30B are equipped with two memory card slots that are compatible with both CFexpress Type A cards and SDXC/SDHC cards, bringing a wide range of shooting experiences to creators. The FX30 is also compatible with large-capacity CFexpress Type A memory cards.

vi. Solid reliability for every shoot

The FX30 offers not only advanced performance but also outstanding reliability. It features an innovative heat dissipation structure for uninterrupted 4K/60p recording, reliable power for extended recording and a durable magnesium alloy chassis.

4. While doing the research and development for a new camera system, what is the most challenging aspect to deal with or implement?

With the emerging trends of OTT, film making and content creation, the rise in cinematic movie-making and the growing vlogging segment, we have seen that customers have become more serious and mature over a period. The camera industry is witnessing innovation both in terms of shooting gear and content creation techniques. With the explosion of so many new genres, the demand for hybrid and video-oriented cameras has obviously grown. Today, we see YouTubers, filmmakers, photographers, and videographers upgrading their workflow and moving towards cameras that are compact, lightweight and flexible. To create a camera with advanced sensors, optics, software, hardware and to put all this in a compact body is challenging. However, at Sony, our engineers and R&D team build such powerful cameras with the latest technology that delivers unprecedented results just as the creator demands. The cameras we build are never focused on one feature, it is always a by-product of the industry’s requirement.

5. In terms of potential for growth within the Indian market, in which sector do you see the maximum potential in the next 5 years? The amateur/enthusiast segment? The semi-professional/professional segment? Or the cinema-level segment? And why?

The rate at which Indians are consuming video content is at an all-time high, establishing the potential of the market for Sony. OTT, vlogging, regional content and short films are some of the latest trends which are creating exciting opportunities for this market. Driven by the rising penetration of smartphones, smart televisions and with a multitude of streaming platform accessibility, the video segment is bound to grow exponentially. The post-pandemic era is also seeing a major rise in blockbuster movies which are making a comeback in theatres. What started as a YouTube channel out of curiosity is turning into a major profession for content creators. This has translated into a growing demand from content creators and vloggers for advanced imaging technology with easy-to-use functionalities to capture great-looking videos and versatile content without a tricky setup. We make sure that our innovation reaches our audience before time so that we lead them into exciting surprises of technology embedded with artificial intelligence on a digital canvas.

Ali Akbar Merchant
Ali Akbar Merchant

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