Movie Making Manual/Cinematography/Cameras and Formats/Genesis

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Table of Cameras Table of Formats
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Genesis
Model number
Manufacturer Panavision
Intro date 2004
Category Film-style HD
Price rent-only
Format(s) HDCAM SR
Mediums HDCAM SR tape
Sensor resolution 12.4 MP
Aspect ratio 1.78:1 (16:9)
Sensor tech RGB (not Bayer) CCD
Sensor manufacturer Sony
# sensors 1
Sensor size Super 35 (23.6mm x 13.3mm)
Recording res & fps 1920x1080 (2.1MP)
1-50fps
Shutter mechanism
Shutter speeds 0.8 - 360 degrees
Luma sampling freq.
Chroma subsampling 4:4:4
Colour model RGB
Colour depth 10 bit log
Low light performance
Available sensitivities 400 - 1600 ISO
Lens spherical 35mm inc. Primos
In-built filters
Adjustable gamma
Viewfinder electronic
LCD size none
Dynamic Range 12 stops?
Signal to Noise Ratio
Video outputs
Video inputs
Audio inputs
Audio Compression
# audio channels
audio sample rate
audio quantisation
Digital IO dual HD SDI
Weight
Notes dockable to Sony SRW-1 VTR


A full bandwidth (4:4:4) HD SDI camera with improved colorimetry and sensitometry-related specs and a Super 35-sized recording area, thus making it compatible with regular Cine Primo lenses and 35 mm depth of field. Unlike the 2/3" 3-CCD RGB imaging system used in the CineAlta, the Genesis uses a single 12 megapixel CCD chip with the same width (but not the same height) as a standard 35mm film frame. The main imaging module of the Genesis is made by Sony, but the exact relationship between the two companies is unclear, since the abovementioned joint partnership was dissolved in 2004 with Panavision's re-purchase of the 8% shareholding Sony bought in 2000.

The Genesis is Panavision's high-end digital movie camera, which uses a proprietary, full frame 35mm-width, 1.78 (16:9) aspect ratio, 12.4-megapixel RGB CCD. It is being used for the first time to shoot Bryan Singer's Superman Returns and was shortly followed up by the British WWI film Flyboys. However, the CGI-heavy nature of these two movies meant that ultimately the comedy Scary Movie 4 was the first theatrically released feature sourced primarily from the Genesis camera. Genesis has since been used by cinematographer Dean Semler for shooting Click and Apocalypto.


Unlike the 2/3" 3-CCD RGB imaging system used in the CineAlta HD-900F (used in Attack of the Clones), the Genesis uses a single 12.4 megapixel CCD chip with the same width (but not the same height) as a standard 35mm film frame. The CineAlta presented a number of unwelcome compromises, as the holy grail had always been to produce an electronic camera that could utilize Panavision's existing film-type lenses that their customers were already familiar with, producing similar on-screen images with an equivalent depth-of-field characteristic.

Unfortunately, most lenses designed for film cameras cannot be adapted to work on 3-chip (or 3-tube) video cameras, because of the need to allow room for a dichroic color separation prism. On a typical 2/3" 3-CCD video camera the clearance between the rear lens element and the focal plane needs to be at least 50mm (2"). Most cine lenses have far less clearance than this, as they have only ever needed to allow room for the shutter, so on a video camera, the image will want to focus somewhere in the middle of the prism block. Panavision originally tried to overcome this problem with optical adaptors that fitted between the cine lens and the video camera but these have all produced an unacceptable drop in image quality.

Apart from this, there were a number of operational problems with both the lenses and cameras used for Attack of the Clones, and so for Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas severed his long-standing relationship with Panavision in 2003, obtaining newer-model Sony HD cameras and lenses from Plus8Digital instead, highlighting the perennial problem of rapid obsolescence of video formats.

In an attempt to address these problems, Panavision followed this up in 2004 with the Genesis HD camera, a full bandwidth (4:4:4) HD SDI camera with improved colorimetry and sensitometry-related specs and a Super 35-sized recording area, thus making it focally compatible with regular Cine Primo lenses and giving a true 35 mm depth of field.

Unlike the 2/3" 3-CCD RGB imaging system used in the CineAlta, the Genesis uses a single 12 megapixel CCD chip (although it only actually outputs 6 Megapixels - 2M each of red, green and blue) with the same width (but not the same height) as a standard 35mm film frame. This is a significant breakthrough in that it allows just about any Panavision spherical 35mm cine lens to be used. However there are as yet unanswered questions about the resultant color quality, since single-chip NTSC and PAL color cameras using the exact same color-stripe sampling technique have always performed poorly compared to equivalent 3-chip models. The main imaging module of the Genesis is made by Sony, but the exact relationship between the two companies is unclear, since their joint partnership was dissolved in 2004 with Panavision's re-purchase of the 8% shareholding Sony bought in 2000.

In any event, there is still considerable skepticism in the film industry about the real value of digital cinematography for mainstream movie production, and as of yet, only a very small percentage of cinema-release projects have been shot digitally since Sony/Panavision introduced the CineAlta in 1999. Only two true "blockbuster" movies have been shot digitally (as of October 2005): Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Other notable but lesser-stature digitally captured features include: Collateral and Miami Vice (both by 'Michael Mann'), Sin City, Once Upon a Time in Mexico and the Spykids series. Significantly, none of the Columbia Pictures CGI-heavy Marvel Comics films (Spiderman, X-Men, Fantastic Four, The Hulk) were shot digitally, even though Columbia is owned by Sony.

There have also been numerous complaints about the small black and white viewfinders normally supplied with digital cameras, which are virtually useless for critical focus. The D-20, Arri's answer to the Genesis, incorporates a reflex optical viewfinder to address this concern. The Genesis uses Sony's HDVF-C30W TFT color LCD viewfinder, which has a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels.

Films made with the Genesis[edit]

  • Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns", Warner Bros, Sydney
  • British independent production "Flyboys"
  • "Scary Movie 4"
  • "Click" with Adam Sandler
  • Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto"
  • Robert Rodriguez's "Grind House"
  • "La Maison Du Bonheur"
  • "Empty City"
  • "A Tiger's Tale"
  • "Deja Vu"
  • "Next"
  • "The Lookout"
  • "The Ferryman"
  • "Asterix"
  • "Balls Of Fury"
  • "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead"
  • "Condemned"
  • "His Majesty Minor"
  • "Slipstream"
  • "Revenge Of The Nerds"
  • "The Comebacks"
  • "The Other Boleyn Girl"
  • "Cloverfield"

Television series made with the Genesis[edit]

  • "Night Stalker"
  • "Conviction"
  • "What ABout Brian"
  • "Justice"
  • "3 Lbs."

External links[edit]