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Sony Cameras Combine for Supernatural Thrills

Director of photography John W. Rutland employed a combination of Sony cameras—PMW-200, NEX-FS700 and a7S—for Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, the sixth installment in the horror film series.

To remain consistent with the franchise’s use of first-person perspective, Rutland wanted to give the actors a camera that was small and simple to use. He chose the PMW-200 as this “home movie” camera. “It was easy enough for the actors to use, it had a good look, and the images held up well when blown up,” Rutland recalls. “[The actors] used it in auto-focus mode and that worked well, but we also hooked up a single-channel follow focus to the camera’s iris. That way I could pull iris from the wireless monitor.”

In the film’s storyline, the characters find an old camera with mysterious footage on it—that camera is played in the film by a Sony FS700 built out to look like a shoulder-mount ENG camera. In addition to being a set piece in the movie, Rutland used the FS700 to shoot several low-light scenes.

The production also called on Sony’s a7S to act as the movie’s “security” camera, used to lend a surveillance feel, which is another recurring element in the Paranormal movie franchise. Rutland positioned seven a7S cameras around the main house set.