Sony Brings the Best Image Quality to the Vatican

  • 17 October, 2023


Sony has continued its longstanding partnership with Vatican Media, renewing its broadcast system
to provide the best quality images with the smallest possible impact on their surroundings.

UK: Sony has continued its relationship with Vatican Media, the official institution within the Vatican responsible for broadcasting the Pope and the Vatican’s activity for decades, by upgrading its broadcast system. The institution, previously called Centro Televisivo Vaticano, aims to make the look and feel of the Vatican accessible worldwide, and to provide high-quality footage for the historical archive through its broadcasts. Sony has created a bespoke package providing the best quality footage with the smallest possible impact on the beautiful and historic surroundings of the home of the Catholic church.

Installing a light-footprint, modern broadcast infrastructure
In a large project which began in 2020, the entire broadcast system of the Vatican has been updated
to a more streamlined fibre network, connecting cameras to the production control rooms efficiently.
By using Sony’s HDCE-100 adaptor, all 4K cameras can be connected.

Through single mode fibre interconnection, it is possible to interconnect multiple sites within Vatican City creating a true baseband network to dynamically convey camera signals to the control room.

The fibre optic infrastructure inside the Vatican is designed by engineering of Technical Direction of the Dicastery for Communication to be able to carry on audio video signals and controls either baseband and IP networks for SDVN applications.

The system also leaves a smaller footprint on the historical buildings, as the HDCE-100 unit used is small, silent, easily hidden and thin optical fiber cables can used on long distances.

New 4K HDC-5500 Cameras
All cameras across The Vatican have been progressively upgraded to produce high quality images, essential for preserving and reflecting the events happening around the most important sites in the Vatican complex. Sony’s HDC-5500s have replaced previous generation cameras, providing superior image quality and creative flexibility. The devices can shoot in 4K, HD, and HDR which allows them to capture 4K images with exceptionally low noise, perfect for the impactful, low light (and therefore difficult to capture) atmosphere of The Vatican. The upgrade includes the use of a new and efficient technique, where two camera heads are connected to a single camera cable. Operations are monitored on the Sony PVM-X
series monitors which allows side by side comparison in the production suite.

PTZ cameras fitted inside St Peter’s Basilica for the first time
In another update, Sony BRC-H800 PTZ cameras have been installed inside the iconic St Peter’s Basilica. The cameras small size made them perfect for installing discretely around the building, so as not to impact on the historic surroundings. The PTZs can also be controlled remotely meaning there’s no need for camera operators, reducing the footprint of production while allowing for more creative production as filming can take place from new angles not accessible by people.

FX9 camera installed to film St Peters’ Square 24/7
In November 2022 this was upgraded to a Sony FX9 to improve image quality, and to provide a more cinematic feel which better captures the feeling of such a unique and spiritual place whilst remaining completely reliable all day, every day. This is a continuation of a longstanding relationship between Sony and Vatican Media, under which Sony provides a camera for the square, highlighting the robustness and reliability of Sony’s technology.

“Thanks to Sony’s innovative solutions, we’ve built a high quality and future-proof system which will transport viewers to The Vatican and help spread our message worldwide better than ever before,” says Francesco Masci, Director of the Technology Department, Vatican. “Building such a complex system while in-keeping with the historic location was never going to be an easy task, but by using the expertise of our long-term partners Sony we were able to find the perfect solution.”

"Our long-standing partnership with Vatican Media has enabled us to offer a scalable and reliable system that meets the need for shooting, producing and broadcasting around the world with a low impact on historical environments,” comments Norbert Paquet, Head of Live Production Solutions, Sony Professional Europe. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with Vatican Media as a technology partner and helping them to expand in crescendo the potential of broadcasting from this historic place with such a valuable heritage to always reach every corner of the world."

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Sony Brings the Best Image Quality to the Vatican