The Sony VENICE does not follow the common throw-away-get-a-new-one scheme of many consumer products. It’s a proper pro-camera, aimed at pro users and rental houses with deep pro-pockets. Sony just released the already teased firmware V5.0 for their flagship digital cine cam. This piece of software breathes new life into the VENICE hardware, enabling extended HFR modes, internal HD ProRes 4:4:4:4 recording and other niceties.
Not only the camera itself is modular, the software is modular, as well. Only buy what you really need. In this case we’re talking about the HFR capabilities the current firmware V4.0 offers: The upgrade itself is free of charge but if you want to use the extended HFR modes found in V4.0 you’ll have to pay. Firmware V5.0 is, again, free of charge. If you still need a paid license for using certain HFR modes is a bit uncertain for me at the moment. However, you can’t just download the FW package yourself, you’ll have to contact your reseller for that. And, very important: Your VENICE needs to be on FW V4.0 or V4.01 in order to upgrade. Do not attempt to upgrade from V3.0 or V3.01!
VENICE Firmware 5.0
The following modes have been added to this software iteration:
High Frame Rates (HFR)
- 6K 2.39:1 @ max 90fps
- 6K 17:9 @ max. 72fps
- 6K 1.85:1 @ max. 72fps
HD ProRes 4444
- up to 30fps on internal SxS Pro+ cards
- Simultaneous record with AXS not available
- Flip & Flop via SDI & VF (useful for Steadicam, for example)
- High resolution Magnification via Monitor Out
Shooting Assist Function
- Display of aspect ratio and pixel count is now shown in menu
- Additional preset frame lines
- Recorded metadata now includes user frame line setting
- Cooke /i2 metadata recorded in X-OCN/RAW and XAVC files
- 4K 2.39:1 resolution operates like all other resolutions (previously it was limited to 120fps only)
- De-squeeze monitoring options increased: x1.65 added
- Main Display FPS information is now shown as Fix23.98 when in 23.98fps (23.976fps) project mode. Previously Fix24 was shown for both 23.98fps and 24fps projects (applies to sub display, operator display, etc.)
- Tilt/Roll gyro has been activated on VF and monitor outputs
- Additional Paint Menu support for live operation: User Gamma, Knee, White Clip, Detail Matrix, Multi Matrix, Scene File, Test SAW
All the changes, including the features of earlier firmware releases can be found here. If you’re not sure what the Sony VENICE is exactly you can bring yourself up to speed by watching the video below:
The video above is a bit dated already but you still can get a glimpse of its capabilities. The fact that you even can detach the sensor module from the actual camera (as in: recorder) is pretty amazing I think.
The ability of stripping the VENICE down to its bare bones and its modular approach hints to the fact that you also can replace or even upgrade all these parts in the future. Same is true with the internal (software-) workings of this camera, as the release of firmware V5.0 proves.
Since the firmware roadmap doesn’t seem to end with V5.0, there should be more to come over time and I think this makes the VENICE a proper and capable cine camera built for not only today but for tomorrow as well. Well done Sony!
You can’t buy a Sony VENICE online (who would do such a thing, anyway?). That’s why the prices below look a bit broken. At the time of writing this article, the VENICE is about $39,000 US list price. Optional software licenses can be found here.
What do you think about the VENICE? Did you ever had the chance working with it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!