a look at the big sky 18k camera 1

How Darren Aronofsky Shot His 18K Sphere Film With a 12-Person Camera Crew

Capturing a film in 18K resolution at 60 frames per second is undeniably a remarkable feat, and here’s the story of how Aronofsky, along with his skilled 12-person camera crew, achieved this technological wonder.

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Capturing a film in 18K resolution at 60 frames per second is undeniably a remarkable feat, and here’s the story of how Aronofsky, along with his skilled 12-person camera crew, achieved this technological wonder.


For anyone who has visited Las Vegas recently or perused images and videos on social media, it’s evident that the new Sphere arena is a breathtaking spectacle. Appropriately dubbed one of the world’s newest wonders, this colossal state-of-the-art LED screen boasts an expansive 160,000 square-foot display with a resolution more than 80 times that of a typical high-definition TV.

However, as recently experienced by Darren Aronofsky during the creation of his latest film, “Postcard From Earth,” which is currently showing at the Sphere, shooting footage for this immense format presented formidable challenges.

Let’s delve into how Aronofsky managed to employ an 18K camera, a contraption that reportedly requires a crew of up to 12 people to operate, to capture his film on this grand scale. Shooting “Postcard From Earth.”

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Aronofsky’s “Postcard From Earth” is a seemingly unconventional 50-minute film that explores the history of life on Earth. It is poised to be just as ambitious as the technical hurdles it surmounted. Charting the rise of human civilizations and celebrating the world’s diverse marvels, Aronofsky’s film even dares to peek into the future when humanity departs Earth to settle on other worlds.

Yet, amidst the futuristic narrative, creating content for this mammoth screen format poses numerous technical challenges. Not only does the screen reach an astonishing height of 366 feet (equivalent to 30 to 35 stories depending on the measurement), but it is also a sweeping 270-degree curved display covering an area roughly the size of four football fields.

Furthermore, Aronofsky had to capture footage with an 18K resolution, operating at a rapid 60 frames per second, to ensure an immersive experience for Sphere audiences. To accomplish this, Aronofsky needed an exceptionally sophisticated camera.

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Introducing the “Big Sky” 18K Camera

Dubbed the “Big Sky,” the camera selected by Aronofsky boasts an impressive 3160-megapixel HDR image sensor measuring three by three inches. When compared to a typical 4K camera, this represents a remarkable 40-fold increase in resolution. The Big Sky is also reputedly capable of recording 10-bit video at speeds of up to 120 frames per second in the 18K square format or 60p at 12-bit.

The Big Sky camera is equipped with an “18K x 18K” custom image sensor, which, when combined with the Big Sky’s single-lens system, fulfills the optical requirements for aligning with the Sphere’s edge-to-edge immersive display plane of 16K x 16K.

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For this particular project, PetaPixel reports the use of two primary lenses: one with a 150-degree field of view lens to authentically capture the Sphere’s perspective, and another with a 165-degree field of view lens for filming during high-speed motion, such as when mounted on a helicopter.

Running the Big Sky Camera

What’s particularly intriguing about the Big Sky camera and its 18K resolution recording is the formidable task of operating it. During a recent interview on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Aronofsky revealed that it necessitated a team of up to twelve crew members merely to manage the camera. They grappled with a multitude of challenges related to its mobility and preventing overheating. Hopefully, these technical hurdles won’t deter others, and the Big Sky might find applications in the future. Whether Aronofsky opts to create another film for the Sphere remains to be seen, but it’s thrilling to witness technology advancing in such audacious and captivating ways.

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