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Is sci-fi getting more cinematic because of extremely senstitive dual ISO?


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Here's my theory.

As a lifelong sci-fi addict, I will watch even the most cringe-worthy science fiction flicks. But this year, there have been so many good sci-fi titles that are just crazy cinematic, I [almost] can't watch them all.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to Salvatore Totino about DPing 65. (You can read the article on SonyCine here.) Totino is a wonderful human, and 65 is gorgeous, shot on Sony VENICE and Hawk V-lite anamorphics.

Totino mentioned that once he decided on the Hawk anamorphics, he knew he had to shoot Sony VENICE. Because anamorphics are slower, and he didn't have a ton of lights in the middle of the 65 swamp, he NEEDED the Sony VENICE dual ISO. So I started wondering, because the sci-fi realm is often characterized by the aesthetic of anamorphic, is the increase in visual innovation in the genre linked in part to Sony's dual ISO letting DPs use anamorphics with less restrictions, lighting and otherwise?

Here's three good examples:

  • 65: DP Salvatore Totino, Sony VENICE + Hawk V-lite anamorphics
  • Andor: DP Adriano Goldman, Sony VENICE + Panavision anamorphics
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth: DP Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, Sony VENICE + Panavision G Series anamorphics

Anyone have opinions on this?

If anyone has any other sci-fi titles to add that I should look into, please share.

I'm also dying to find someone who has shot a sci-fi, short or feature, on FX9, FX6, or FX3. If you know of anything, let me know!

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I'm a huge fan of Dual Sensitivity on my FX6, but I'd be surprised if that feature matters very much to the makers of feature films.  Dual Sensitivity is great for news, documentaries, sports, wildlife, and other production environments where we are not in control of the lighting.  But most film production, including sci-fi is produced under very controlled circumstances with man-made lighting.  If there isn't enough illumination to get the exposure  . . . add more lights.  I don't see Dual as changing that. 

Even in my own situation, I certainly wouldn't kick the camera over to HIGH while shooting an interview, product shots, etc. where I was in control of the lighting.  In fact with a lot of today's cameras, the base sensitivity is already too high.  I can't remember the last time I shot an interview with any of my cameras that didn't have some ND added just to give me more elbow room with the lighting ratios and DOF.

And anyone who thinks there isn't some image quality loss between HIGH and LOW is just fooling themselves.  It's there, and you don't have to look that hard to see it.  That's why Sony calls it dual SENSITIVITY instead of dual ISO. 

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I'm not a huge sci-fi fan but I can say that once we all use more sensitive camera's like the Venice and really anything else by yesterday's standards it's hard to go back. The little you need nowadays to get so much done is where the value comes in. I can imagine your examples above if they were shot on the Alexa mini at 800 iso or even 400 in order to have cleaner shadows -  you'd need way more light for everything. That would mean more people, time, money, and potentially a different look. But the time and people variable is what really changes up a production. I love the tools we have in today's world and it's only going to continue to get better each day. Thanks for sharing.

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