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Header image for article First Flight of the Angenieux Optimo Ultra 12x on Sony's VENICE

First Flight of the Angenieux Optimo Ultra 12x on Sony's VENICE

Recently, AbelCine’s Matt Livingston came up with a stunning way to show off the new Angenieux Optimo Ultra 12x FF/VV, a night flight over Manhattan.

To make things more interesting, we brought together—we believe for the first time—the components of a potent image-making machine: the Sony VENICE full format camera, a reference-grade, long-range cinema zoom (the aforementioned Angenieux lens), and the latest, highest capacity aerial stabilizer (Shotover’s new K1, mounted on an Airbus Twinstar helicopter). Plus, top-tier talent both behind the lens, as well as behind the cyclic (Gotham Filmworks). Last, but far from least, top color, mastering and finishing firm Post Pro Gumbo contributed an elegant HDR grade to the project, which you can see in the video above if you have an HDR screen.

Angenieux Ultra 12x

The latest in a long, storied line of reference cinema zooms from Angenieux, the Optimo Ultra 12x is actually three lenses in one thanks to its use of IRO (Interchangeable Rear Optics) technology. Depending on which set of dedicated rear optics the lens is loaded with, it can be a Super35 lens (covering a 31.1mm diagonal), an “Ultra35” lens (34.6mm diagonal), or, as with the version used here, a FF/VV lens (“Full Format/VistaVision”) covering up to a 46.3mm diagonal, which includes the RED DSMC2 with 8K MONSTRO sensor. Angenieux chose the moniker “Ultra 12x,” instead of a conventional focal-length-based model name in part because the widest and longest focal lengths are dependent on the rear optical group being used. However, the zoom ratio always remains at 12x. See the chart below for more specifics on each “version” of this lens.

IRO Module Zoom Range Max Aperture Close Focus
S35 24mm-290mm T2.8 1.22m
U35 26mm-320mm T3.1 1.24m
FF/VV 36mm-436mm T4.2 1.52m
Shotover K1, Sony VENICE & Gotham Filmworks

Shotover is a familiar name in the aerial cinematography space, having provided remote-operated, helicopter-mounted camera/lens housings to major studio productions for many years, while always pushing the envelope of what DPs can bring with them when they go “up in the air.” The K1 is their highest capacity 6-axis stabilized gimbal housing yet. The K1 features 360° continuous rotation, generous tilt (+60° to -140°), +/-85° of roll with steerable or auto horizon, and straight-down viewing. Its modular design and carbon fiber construction allow it to break down easily and transport as excess baggage, even on commercial flights.


AbelCine provided a Sony VENICE with R7 RAW recorder to mount in the Shotover K1. The footage was shot at 6K (17:9) on the VENICE in the X-OCN ST RAW codec starting at ISO 2500 — the “high base” of VENICE’s dual base ISO functionality. By the end of the night, some shots were being captured at VENICE’s highest ISO of 10,000.

Gotham Filmworks is an aerial support specialist for film and video productions based in New York City. Their talented DPs, gimbal operators, and SAG-AFTRA pilots provide 4K, 8K and VFX array filming and support to a wide range of clients.

Post Pro Gumbo

Based in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, Post Pro Gumbo specializes in color, mastering, and delivery for digital cinema, network broadcast, and film festivals as well as streaming services and the web. The new BVM-HX310, Sony’s latest 31” 4K mastering monitor was used by colorist Alan Louis Gordon to create HDR and SDR grades for the footage shown in the video.

Geoff Smith
Technology Specialist, AbelCine NY

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