Sony F35 HD camera system captures ‘Defying Gravity’

Capturing the look and feel of life aboard a spacecraft on a six-year mission through the solar system requires imagination, creativity and a flexible camera system. The production team behind the new TV series “Defying Gravity” used all three, including Sony’s F35 HD camera system.

According to producers for the show, which premiered on the ABC TV network this summer, the F35 camera and Sony HDCAM SR cassettes delivered “a rich, clean quality” and were a perfect match for the heavy amount of visual effects used in many scenes.

During preproduction, the team conducted side-by-side comparisons with many competitive high-end digital cameras and selected the F35 based largely on its dynamic range and color rendition, according to executive producer Michael Edelstein.

“The F35 gave us a beautiful ‘filmic’ look. The shallow depth of field made our actors and sets look fantastic and the variable-speed performance gave us a great deal of flexibility to achieve the weightless look of outer space,” Edelstein said.

The camera’s ramping capabilities are notable in several scenes and played a key role in creating dramatic effects used to reveal elements of the characters’ backgrounds. In one scene, a main character flashes back to her childhood, standing alone and abandoned in the middle of a train station.

“I started at 3fps, and people are just flying by her,” said director of photography Steve McNutt. “Then I pushed the ramp down to 50fps, and everything just slowed down. It’s a wonderful shot, and this camera allowed me to pull it off flawlessly.”

“Defying Gravity” is the latest TV series to be shot with Sony’s CineAlta digital cinematography technology, which includes the F23 as well as the F35.