The world's most powerful camera sensor is used for only one thing — feeding the Las Vegas Sphere with 316 million pixels at 120 frames per second

 The Sphere at Las Vegas showing a pumkin.
The Sphere at Las Vegas showing a pumkin.

The Sphere is a brand new, $2.3 billion, spherical entertainment venue in Las Vegas that hosts shows, concerts and other events.

The 580,000 square foot exterior is coated in 1.2 million fully-programmable LED pucks spaced eight inches apart. Each of the pucks contains 48 individual LED diodes, with each diode capable of displaying 256 million different colors that can create stunning, dynamic 360-degree image displays. The inside is just as impressive however, and boasts the world's largest high-resolution LED screen which wraps up, over, and around the audience to create a fully immersive visual environment. It spans 160,000 sq. ft and boasts a resolution of 16K x 16K.

Sphere Studios, the immersive content studio dedicated to “creating multi-sensory live entertainment experiences” for the venue, joined forces with semiconductor giant STMicroelectronics to develop the Big Sky,  an ultra-high resolution camera system with the largest image sensor ever made.

Big Sky Camera
Big Sky Camera

18K sensor

This 18K sensor is the largest found in any commercial cinema camera and used in tandem with the sharpest cinematic lenses allows Sphere Studios filmmakers to capture incredibly detailed, large-format images from a single camera, without having to stitch content together from multiple sources. This avoids issues common to stitching including near distance limitations and seams between images.

Big Sky's 316-megapixel sensor is almost 7x larger and 40x higher resolution than the full-frame sensors found in high-end commercial cameras. The die, which measures 9.92cm x 8.31cm (82.4 cm2), is twice as large as a wallet-sized photograph, and only four full die fit on a 300mm wafer.

The system is also capable of capturing images at 120 frames per second and transferring data at 60 gigabytes per second.

"Big Sky significantly advances cinematic camera technology, with each element representing a leap in design and manufacturing innovation," said Deanan DaSilva, lead architect of Big Sky at Sphere Studios.

"The sensor on any camera is critical to image quality, but given the size and resolution of Sphere's display, Big Sky's sensor had to go beyond any existing capability. ST, working closely with Sphere Studios, leveraged their extensive expertise to manufacture a groundbreaking sensor that not only expands the possibilities for immersive content at Sphere, but also across the entertainment industry."

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