The Cinema utilises the same technology that made Lytro known in the tech world, with the ability to capture ‘light field’ data through the rays of light in a frame. This information yields extreme details that will allow professionals to modify the depth of field and focus of a video after it has been shot.
In the previous Lytro cameras the company focused on your average photography geek interested in stills for their clientele. With the Cinema, Lytro want the big studios—they are targeting Hollywood.
More specifically, they are looking towards a CGI-filled future, which may be a wise move. Films nowadays are featuring more and more CGI, and Lytro are claiming that their new camera makes it easier for directors to add green-screen elements without the need for a physical green screen.
The Lytro Cinema will save time and effort, translating to potentially less reshoots since CGI artists can work with directors to add in missing details, rather than physically adding them in again. The ability to change focus and depth of field then also gives the director an infinite number of ways to look at a scene again.
Lytro claims the Cinema will allow easier integration of live footage and CGI. / Lytro
You’d imagine any cinema camera would have to be astoundingly powerful in order to capture all this information, and the Cinema is certainly a machine that defies the imagination.
It can shoot 755 RAW megapixel 40K video at 300fps with up 16 stops of dynamic range, although at max settings the camera will be taking up to 400 gigabytes per second of data.
Even though this will make life hell for video editors who will now need 30 impossibly large external hard drives instead of just 5, the Lytro footage will give filmmakers an extraordinary amount of creative freedom in post-production.
As we mentioned in our previous article on Lytro’s move to the professional market, their CEO believes that this gamble will pay off.
And while I’ll most likely never be able to use one myself, I think the strategy makes a lot of sense. Much of the public’s reluctance to buy into Lytro originally was due to the high price of their cameras, a relatively weak performance for the cost, and also how Lytro in a way went beyond photography.
Many people refused on principle to buy a camera that took away the whole challenge of photography, and while certain directors might feel the same way (analog fanatics Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, and J.J. Abrams famously come to mind), producers of Hollywood’s summer blockbusters might embrace the Lytro Cinema with open arms.
Still interested? If so, you better work for Michael Bay, Peter Jackson, or James Cameron. It’s unlikely that Lytro will make the price of renting or buying the camera public, but on a survey on the bottom of their website they ask for your company’s filming budget…from under $10 million to over $50 million.
Like Lytro’s other cameras, the Cinema is also boxy and minimalist. / Lytro