Movie production is changing. Computer graphics are more widespread, and studios are introducing digital workflows. The F23 digital movie camera is the first link in this chain. This series has met demanding needs in professional broadcasting and industrial applications. In the designers' approach, we can uncover sources of Sony design inspiration.
Nagai: Mention Sony products, and most people imagine consumer goods. That's only one facet of Sony, though. Over the years, we've also enjoyed successes in business and professional markets as well, too many to mention.
The Atsugi Technology Center has been at the heart of this development. The Center is behind all kinds of technology that has set new standards in the industry. In the field of video production alone, the first open-reel studio VCR in Japan was developed here back in 1958. This was followed by the U-matic (the world's first cassette-based color VCR), the Betacam format, and a new product combining camera and VCR features, the camcorder. The Center pioneered development of HD cameras and the D-1 and D-2 formats, which made recording at high resolutions possible. I think it is no exaggeration to say that the broadcast and video production industries as we know them today—the very source of video culture—can be traced to this center.
These days, even filmmakers are rushing to embrace digital workflows. Computer graphics in particular are so widespread that there's hardly a movie without them. But once footage is shot on film, it takes a significant investment in time and money to convert each scene that will be enhanced by computer graphics. Studios are therefore adopting fully digital workflows, from shooting and editing to post-production and projection. A unique advantage at Sony is our ability to offer integrated solutions for all stages.
As a digital movie camera for shooting in HD, the F23 represents the first link in this chain. What you first notice about it is that the camera and video cassette unit are discrete parts of the camera as a whole. This enables you to separate and combine them as needed. In the age of film, it would have been impossible to separate the recording unit, which was an integral part of video camera culture, you might say. It was innovative to introduce this concept for movie production.
Because the camera alone is quite compact, it can be used in narrow spaces inaccessible to traditional film-based movie cameras. You can easily shoot scenes that used to be painstaking, and capture what would simply be out of reach with film. That's what's inherently appealing about this camera.
Oka: Professional equipment must be reliable and easy to use. How equipment meets these basic criteria is a matter designers must solve. The designers at Atsugi set to work by actually going on site and observing the pros in action, trying to get a sense of their needs.
Have you ever watched filming at a movie set? Movie cameras are quite a different piece of equipment than camcorders at broadcast studios. Camcorders are operated by a single person. In contrast, it takes several expert users to operate a single movie camera. One camera operator looks through the viewfinder to decide the right angle. Another person is responsible for focusing. This person measures the distance between the image sensor or film surface and the actors while operating dials on the side of the camera manually in sync with the actors' choreographed movements to keep them in focus. Besides this, a crew of dozens surrounds the camera, taking care of sound, lighting, and other details.
These people have developed a keen physical sense of how to operate cameras, and we wouldn't want to change this unnecessarily. That's why we developed the F23 to be operated like a traditional camera in basic shooting while integrating a new digital interface.