Sony Releases First Hollywood Film Shot on Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera


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Compact digital cameras are becoming increasingly popular tools for film production, and the latest Hollywood release from Screen Gems demonstrates that trend in full force. The studio's new horror flick, The Possession of Hannah Grace, is the first Hollywood production to be primarily shot with consumer full-frame mirrorless digital cameras -- specifically the Sony A7S II which currently retails for around $2,200.

The A7S II's dynamic range, color science, skin tone rendition, detailed blacks, natural highlight roll off, and support for Sony LOG are all cited as essential elements considered when selecting the device. During the shoot, the camera was used in conjunction with large format Hawk 65 Anamorphic lenses from Vantage, allowing the filmmakers to capture high quality Anamorphic imagery within a tight budget.

"I knew that Sony's A7S II had a full-frame sensor and could capture in 4K," said Executive producer Glenn S. Gainor. "And I knew that we had to make the film in a manner that would fit our schedule and budget. I had a relationship with Vantage, so we put it together and made a motion picture in a way that has never been done before."

The unique equipment also allowed the crew to approach the production a little differently than most conventional Hollywood projects. On that note, the filmmakers were able to keep a separate camera body on each lens they used throughout the shoot.

"We had four or five cameras at the ready at any time, so we were able to pick up and go," said Gainor. "We never had to wait for lens changes. I think the full-frame sensor is where the industry is going. Given the trends in digital cameras and the importance of lenses, you could argue that this is the future of cinema."

And beyond budgetary and logistical considerations, the A7S II and Hawk 65 lens combo ended up serving an important creative purpose as well, allowing director Diederik van Rooijen and DP Lennert Hillege to capture the film's morgue setting with the visual style they desired.

"The director and I really wanted to create an eerie and imposing morgue," said Hillege. "We immediately liked the Brutalist architecture we found in Boston, and the morgue set was built to match that. Glenn was very interested in shooting with very lightweight and light sensitive camera, and bringing a different perspective on how to make the movie. These two things led us to conclude that the only way to shoot was with a full frame, with a hint of anamorphic, and a sort of vintage style. Sony's A7S II with the Hawk 65 lenses were the perfect tools for the job."

sony_alpha_a7sii.jpgOf course, there were some limitations the crew had to be mindful of when using their chosen equipment, but the team learned how to play within the camera's strengths.

"The biggest challenge was the camera's 8-bit compression," said Hillege. "It's not like the conventional shooting we are used to with ALEXA. There are definitely limitations to be aware of, but the image is spectacular. It's not what you would expect with 8-bit. If you're not too dirty, and you keep to certain rules about exposure and color, you can shoot really beautiful, monumental images with it." 

The Possession of Hannah Grace is now playing nationwide. The film stars Shay Mitchell, Grey Damon, and Kirby Johnson. Meanwhile, the Sony Alpha a7S II Mirrorless Digital Camera is currently on sale via B&H Photo-Video for $2,198.

Source: Sony