Sphere Launches Burbank Studio, Immersive Camera System

Sphere Entertainment, James Dolan’s MSG Entertainment spin-off, has opened Sphere Studios in Burbank. The 68,000-square-foot compound will output immersive entertainment for Sphere venues. The flagship Sphere in Las Vegas opens in September with a series of U2 concerts designed to show-off the 580,000 square-foot display that Sphere says is “the world’s highest-resolution LED screen.” The company has filed eight patents, including for the ultra-high resolution Big Sky camera, unveiled this week. Sphere says Big Sky has “the world’s sharpest cinematic lenses,” capable of delivering edge-to-edge images for the 16K x 16K immersive display at Sphere Vegas.

The camera’s 316-megapixel HDR image sensor measures 3×3 inches and can capture 18K x 18K images at up to 120 frames per second, “a 40X resolution increase over 4K cameras,” writes Y.M.Cinema, calling the Big Sky “IMAX on steroids.”

Big Sky debuts with two lenses offering fields of view of 150- and 165-degrees. The company indicates that there are more lenses in development. PetaPixel got a hands-on look at the Big Sky tech and calls it “insane.”

“Sphere Studios is not only creating content, but also technology that is truly transformative,” David Dibble, CEO of MSG Ventures, said in an announcement. “Sphere in Las Vegas is an experiential medium featuring an LED display, sound system and 4D technologies that require a completely new and innovative approach to filmmaking.”

The Burbank campus includes Big Dome, a 28,000-square-foot, 100-foot high custom geodesic dome with a quarter-sized version of the Sphere Vegas screen. Big Dome serves as a specialized screening room, production facility and lab, and includes Sphere Immersive Sound and haptic seats.

“For anyone curious to see the full scope of what can be done as a unique cinematic experience within the walls of Sphere, the opportunity will come when ‘Postcard from Earth’ opens in the Vegas venue on October 6,” writes Variety. “Darren Aronofsky has been reported to be involved with the production.”

“The media captured by the Big Sky camera is massive” and requires significant processing power and storage, reports PetaPixel. “According to the engineering team at Sphere, ‘the Big Sky camera creates a 500 gigabit per second pipe off the camera with 400 gigabit of fiber between the camera head and the media recorder. The media recorder itself is currently capable of recording 30 gigabytes of data per second (sustained).’”

The media recorder has network connectivity of up to 600 gigabits per second and “built-in media duplication, to accelerate and simplify on-set and post-production workflows,” PetaPixel notes. “This allows their creative team to swap out drives and continue shooting for as long as they need.”

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