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Header image for article Hidden Features of Sony VENICE Firmware v2

Hidden Features of Sony VENICE Firmware v2

After the recent surprise announcement from Sony, I was was able to play with some of the new imager and recording modes in firmware v2 for the VENICE, and it includes some killer new features that are easy to overlook at first blush. Specifically, the two all-new 6K imager recording modes (6K 17:9 and 6K 1.85:1), enabled with the new firmware on cameras with the 6K Full Frame license, allow recording of the sensor’s full width (6,000 pixels across) to SxS cards in XAVC-I class 300 and class 480.

While the full sensor recording mode (6K 3:2 "open gate") remains RAW only, for now, many had assumed that all 6K recording modes would as well, thus requiring the AXS-R7 RAW recorder module, which mounts to the rear of the camera. Now, with firmware v2, the full width of the 6K full format sensor in the VENICE is available in common aspect ratios to those who have not yet purchased the R7, or for projects where X-OCN RAW isn’t required.

Effective Picture Sizes
Sony VENICE Effective Picture Size

Additionally, ProRes (up to 422 HQ) is now supported in HD resolution as a downsample of the full-width 6K image. The quality of the scaling looks to be excellent, free of artifacts and excessive sharpening, and appears to bring all of the color and definition benefits one would expect from this approach. This is significant since no HD or 2K recording modes have been announced for the camera, and HD ProRes 422 HQ produces a high quality file that is laptop-friendly and can stand up to additional transcodes. What's more, the currently selected look (including User 3D LUTs created in applications like DaVinci Resolve and others) can be burned into the ProRes files, allowing them to be viewed without a LUT directly on a timeline for editing in all NLEs that support ProRes. Of course, in addition to recording ProRes on its own, it can also be recorded simultaneously as a proxy for X-OCN RAW files.

This sums up what our testing has revealed so far, check back often for more information as we delve further into the not-so-obvious features of VENICE firmware 2.0. In a future blog, we’ll take a look at how these new imager modes interact with the VENICE’s extensive RAW recording options. Until then, we can report that we've received confirmation that a new version of Sony RAW Viewer will be required to view and interact with RAW files recorded on cameras upgraded to firmware 2.0. We’ll be sure to highlight the release of this update as soon as it happens, so stay tuned.


Note: For those who do have the AXS-R7 RAW recorder, there is separate firmware in the v2 distribution that must be installed to update the RAW recorder to be compatible with firmware v2 on the camera. Be sure to read the updated manual (included in the AXS-R7_V200.zip file contained in the larger ZIP archive comprising the v2 firmware distribution). It details how the USB thumb drive should be formatted in order to successfully install the 2.0 AXS-R7 firmware. Most importantly, the thumb drive should be 4GB or greater in capacity and formatted using the FAT32 file system with an "allocation unit size" (aka block size) of 32KB. USB thumb drives with capacities below 4GB will not allow a 32KB block size to be set. Additionally, the FAT32 option may not appear when formatting some thumb drives. In this case, Sony recommends trying a different USB thumb drive. They also note that these options may be easier to set on a PC vs. a Mac.

Geoff Smith
Technology Specialist, AbelCine NY

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