Circus shot with the Sony FR7 PTZ camera

A while back I got the opportunity to shoot a circus with the Sony FR7. The circus is a traditional travelling circus based in the South West of the UK called “Funtasia”. They put on both family shows and adult shows (Cirque du Vulgar) touring during the summer months as well as a Christmas show. 

Filming a traditional circus during a live show is difficult as there is no raised stage as you would find in a theatre. So it is very difficult to use a camera on a tripod without obstructing the audiences view unless you shoot from the back and this isn’t ideal either. The FR7 however allows you to place the camera on the floor, on a stand or to hang it from the the venues structure and then operate it remotely. It is also very small, so won’t obstruct someones view in the same way that a large camera would. 

It can be controlled from a laptop or tablet or with Sony’s RM-IP500 controller (many other PTZ camera controllers can also control it). It can be connected to wirelessly but this adds some latency to the monitoring images that are sent from the camera over the network and for something fast moving like circus this isn’t helpful. So, for this I ran a single ethernet cable from the camera to a basic router and then connected my laptop to the router. I did also have the Sony RM-IP500 remote control panel, but it was easier just to do everything via my laptop.

313521105_845958669754357_6850939375571143587_n-600x400 Circus shot with the Sony FR7 PTZ camera
Operating the FR7 from my laptop

I filmed 4 shows. Two from low down at the front of the performance area and 2 with the FR7 hanging from one of the support trusses of the big top tent. The high shots would not have been possible any other way and they give a unique perspective, especially of some of the aerial acts.

313806757_1197068724545808_2210067909302650202_n-1-600x400 Circus shot with the Sony FR7 PTZ camera
FR7 up on one of the tent supports.

The FR7 is part of Sony’s Cinema Line and is basically a Sony FX6 digital cinema camera in a Pan, Tilt and Zoom housing. It has the same very high image quality as the FX6 as well as all the same recording codecs (plus some extra streaming codecs). And just like the FX6 it can record 4K at up to 120fps. For this shoot I used the Sony 28-135mm power zoom lens with a little bit of Clear Image zoom every now and again to further extend the zoom range.

For more on the FR7 click here.

For more about Circus Funtasia click here:

460x150_xdcam_150dpi Circus shot with the Sony FR7 PTZ camera

9 thoughts on “Circus shot with the Sony FR7 PTZ camera”

    1. It’s a pretty decent lens, sharp enough, minimal distortions. Only f4 but it is a power zoom. It sin’t the greatest lens in the world, but there are very few choices when it comes to full frame power zooms.

  1. So many different light levels and effects and it looks like you nailed it. As a one man band it’s not easy to punch the switcher and watch levels. Nice work.

  2. It’s a great camera, but it has the same limitation as the FX6, you can’t shoot 23.94 or 24p and send 3G SDI or even 60P via HDMI to a switcher for live production in HD, it would have to be either 30, 25 or 60p all the way, it’s why in my opinion the camera is not listed and sold by Sony Pro Group for those reason. I don’t know this for sure, but I do suppect it is the main reason it’s not consider a Pro Cam. It’s a nice tool, but you have to know it’s limits. It’s either 60p or Cimema 4K, not both. Maybe I’m wrong, show me the way…

    1. If the camera is running at 23.98 or 24fps then it is impossible for any camera to output at 30, 25 or 60p at the same time without serious image judder because 30 or 60 cannot be divided by 24 evenly. This is true of all cameras. Where do the extra frames come from to fill the 30 or 60p? And 24p is not a normal HDSDI standard, the standard for 23.98 is 23.98fps over 60i using 2:3 pull up.

  3. We used the FR7’s on a number of outdoor stages at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco in October. Client wanted multicams on 6 stages but didn’t want to pay for all those operators. It was outside and we needed to preset the tripods for 4 days so we mounted them on Junior combo stands on a rig the grips came up with on a piece of 2×4 . Looked odd but it worked and we just took them in every night . Sounds like the same wiring as you. Ethernet to router to switcher to Sony’s RM-IP500 and an ipad all going to recorders for a switch versions in addition to the ISO’s on cards. Getting all the settings right took a while with all those cameras but eventually worked quite well although I could never get the preset framing buttons to work on the Sony’s RM-IP500. I was operating , switching and shading 2 cameras all the time and really could have used those presets. Did they work for you?

    BTW – Another question for you Alister . I just sent my FX9 to Sony to have the internal battery changed and its a $400 repair! (plus another $200 for shipping – yikes!) $13 for the battery but another $380 to replace the “KSW-72 MOUNT Board”- mostly labor . Do you have any idea what that’s about ? I keep waiting for a call back from repair and it hasn’t come yet . 2 other friends just had their batteries go also . All of us bought FX9 immediately on launch.

    Happy Holidays. Stay warm on those aurora nights.

  4. Well on my shoot in San Francisco we used AC provided by a generator. They had the gennies on all night as I recall and we took the cameras in at night to protect them but left the the electronics on in the little tents we used as for camera support because we were terrified that things might reset if they went down . Fortunately it all came on seamlessly in the morning when the cameras were reconnected. We definitely had hiccups particularly where IP addresses and other stuff I don’t know a damn thing about were concerned. Apparently everything was working perfectly when the cams were setup at “Videofax” before we took them out , but my understanding was someone accidentally hit a reset button on location and after that it took 3 teams of techs to get everything right again by showtime , or midway into showtime anyway. – Lenny

    1. I’ve never seen a unit forget the settings put into it. But those settings must be suitable for the router and network environment and what often happens is people try use the controller and cameras on a network with a different setup. The reset function can be locked out but if someone fiddles with the dip switches on the camera this can trigger a reset. The networking is no more difficult to set up than any other network based system and the IP500 can automatically find any cameras on a network if needed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.