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F65 Helps Seven Network Score a First for Australia

F65 Helps Seven Network Score a First for Australia

The F65’s high dynamic range, excellent resolution, great performance in low light and high contrast helped me create wonderful imagery relatively quickly.

John Stokes
Director of Photography

When acclaimed DOP John Stokes ACS was asked to shoot the Seven Network’s new flagship Australian TV series ‘A Place to Call Home’, he knew it was an opportunity to raise the bar, again.

Having used Sony’s F35 on ‘Packed to the Rafters’, another Seven Network drama production, Stokes was curious to try out Sony’s new masterpiece, the F65 4K camera. Touted as the world’s highest resolution camera (as of August 2011), it didn’t take very long to convince Stokes of the F65’s amazing capabilities.

Explains Stokes of the F65, “After a lot of research and testing I came to the conclusion that the F65 would be the perfect system to shoot ‘A Place to Call Home’. I liked the look of the images coming out of the F65 in both HD and RAW. The colors looked natural and rich. The images looked crisp yet not unnaturally sharp.”

‘A Place to Call Home’ - TV series in Australia

As Australia’s leading television network, Seven has consistently been the country’s highest rating network since 2007. The network covers primary and multi-channels through its stations in all major Australian cities as well as regional affiliates.

Leading with more than just high viewer numbers, the Seven Network also has an enviable track record of breaking new ground in drama production. It was already familiar with many of Sony’s CineAlta range of cameras and systems, having previously worked with the groundbreaking HDW-F900, the incredibly mobile SRW-9000PL and the highly regarded F35.

When it came to the F65, Seven Network knew exactly who to turn to. For nearly four decades, Lemac has been the go-to place for production equipment. One of Australia’s most prominent production equipment rental companies, Lemac’s armoury included many of the best known brands and an outstanding range of equipment. Like Stokes, Lemac too was hugely impressed with the F65’s specifications and had just made Sony’s new camera its flagship model.

The F65 was a natural choice for ‘A Place to Call Home’. Set in the 1950s in regional Australia, the show launched earlier this year and has been described as “sweeping, grand and epic.”

It is also the first TV series in Australia to be shot entirely on F65, with up to four cameras used in this breathtaking production.

Stokes recognised the immense value-add of the F65. “The F65’s high dynamic range, excellent resolution, good in low light, good in high contrast helped me a great deal. I could work faster knowing that I have confidence in tight situations,” he says.

Through all the decades, Sony’s design goal has been to match the photographic quality of 35mm film. With the F65 it is now able to set its sights higher and even surpass the limits of human vision. All this is due to the remarkable Sony CMOS sensor, which incorporates technology that cannot be found anywhere else.

A study in superlatives, the F65 image sensor boasts the most photosites of any digital motion picture camera (20 million) and is the world’s first to offer a dedicated green photosite for every pixel in the 4K output image. The F65 provides exquisite images of supersampling 1080p High Definition, resulting in a 35mm filmic look as seen on ‘A Place to Call Home’.

The F65 can also output 16-bit linear RAW, which preserves all the information obtained from every photosite on the image sensor — up to 8K of resolution. This gives users phenomenal ability to demosaic, adjust grayscale, colour correct, composite and even re-frame the image in post. The advantage here is the ability to derive 4K, 2K or HD from 16-bit linear RAW.

‘A Place to Call Home’ cast

Not one to leave anything to chance, Stokes needed an efficient workflow that is designed for the time-is-money pressures of episodic television like ‘A Place to Call Home’.

He found it in the F65. While others design cameras, Sony designs comprehensive production systems that anticipate users’ needs from the set to postproduction, delivery and archiving.

The F65 is designed to work with the docking SR-R4 SRMASTER field recorder, which captures footage to solid-state SRMemory™ cards. The SRMASTER system thrives on Sony’s SR Codec. Already a fixture in high-end facilities all over the world via the HDCAM SR™ tape format, the SR codec is ideally suited for episodic television.

DOPs like Stokes gave Sony a wish list. Higher resolution than any previous motion picture camera. Even greater exposure latitude, dynamic range and wider colour gamut than Sony’s previous best. File-based SR codec recording for fast, efficient episodic TV production workflow. Plus 16-bit linear RAW to support the most demanding feature films. On the Sony F65 digital motion picture camera, it’s all true. And it’s only the beginning.