If you’ve dropped in to the Las Vegas Strip in recent years, you may have noticed the humongous spherical building that’s under construction a stone’s throw from the Venetian Resort. Scheduled to open in September 2023 (with rock band U2 as its first performer), the Sphere features a 16K resolution wraparound LED screen covering an area of 160,000 square feet, which will become the biggest and highest-resolution screen of its kind on the planet.
Now, owner and operator Sphere Entertainment has unveiled the insane tech that will capture the content displayed on this one-of-a-kind screen. This “groundbreaking ultra-high-resolution camera system and custom content creation tool” is called, appropriately, Big Sky. Developed in-house at the research and development labs on the Burbank campus of the newly launched Sphere Studios, the Big Sky system boasts the “world’s sharpest cinematic lenses capable of delivering the unparalleled edge-to-edge optical requirements for Sphere’s 16K x 16K immersive display plane.”
The camera features a 316-megapixel custom image sensor measuring about three inches square (almost seven times the area of a full-frame sensor) that produces video with a 40x resolution increase over that created by existing 4K cameras. Impressively, the camera is apparently capable of capturing full-resolution 10-bit footage at up to 120fps. As you might expect, Sphere Studios have also had to create special image-processing software to handle the massive files produced.
Intriguingly, Sphere Studios has said there are “underwater and other lenses currently in development,” and Sphere Entertainment has released computer renderings of the Sphere venue with underwater scenes displayed on the giant LED screen (see below). It would seem that there’s at least one lucky underwater cinematographer who has been fortunate enough to play with this groundbreaking camera.
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