Sony Pictures Television Will Shoot at Least 3 Pilots in 4K

Lending a Hand
David Strick

Timothy Olyphant adjusts the positioning of a prosthetic arm with the help of visual effects coordinator David Fogg on the set of Justified.

How to create 4K content for new Ultra HD TVs was addressed Tuesday at the Hollywood Post Alliance Tech Retreat.

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Sony Pictures Television plans to shoot between three and five pilots in 4K this season.

Since the 4K TV push at last month’s CES, where an estimated 50 “Ultra HD” TVs were unveiled, discussion has quickened about the content-creation and delivery sides of the 4K equation. Sony has been bullish about starting content creation in the format, which represents four times the amount of data as today’s HD.

“My guess is we’ll be doing half a dozen shows in 4K if they are picked up,” SPT senior vp technical operations Phil Squyres said Tuesday at the Hollywood Post Alliance Tech Retreat at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells. He reported that directors of photography on the programs -- a mix of half-hour comedies and one-hour dramas -- had either selected or were exploring the use of various 4K cameras, including Sony’s F65 and new F55.

SPT series that have already used 4K photography are the canceled CBS drama Made in Jersey, which was shot with the F65, and FX’s drama Justified, which is shot with the Red Epic camera.

The F65 is also used on the half-hour comedy Save Me for NBC and one-hour drama Masters of Sex for Showtime, as well as Michael J. Fox’s half-hour comedy pilot for NBC. All three are also posted in 4K at Sony Pictures’ post facility Colorworks, which is based on its Culver City lot.

In late January, Colorworks launched a 4K TV post division, which was equipped with a technical pipeline that Bob Bailey, Colorworks' senior vp sales, said would enable 4K episodes to be made on the same schedule as HD episodes.

There is, of course, more data involved. Bailey told The Hollywood Reporter that Colorworks intends to “share” that added cost with clients. Colorworks intends to provide the additional production storage and ask clients to pay for the 4K archival storage, which would be LTO tapes.

To grow its 4K library, Sony has additionally started to remaster Breaking Bad, a film-based series, in the higher-resolution format. Plans are for additional titles to follow.

Squyres noted that a reason to consider 4K post for new projects is that “remastering costs twice as much, because you are doing the work twice.”