Why shoot RED? And the case for a RAW format Digital Cinema Camera
“This is the best looking footage I have ever shot, These are the best images I have ever seen!”
– John Schwartzman ASC, Director of Photography
The Amazing Spider Man
WHY SHOOT RED?
Well, quite simply, the images are stunning.
RED shoots 5K progressive images (5120×2700). For many, 4K resolution has been the benchmark for comparison to 35mm film resolution. You get the quality of shooting 35mm but at a fraction of the cost: No stock costs, no processing, no one-light telecine.
Shooting with RED is like hearing The Beatles for the first time.
Steven Soderbergh, Director,
Solaris, Ocean’s 11, Traffic.
Traditional HD cameras only offer 2.1 mega pixels or less. RED is 14 mega pixels. This resolution is seven times more resolution than HDCAM (1920×1080). This gives you resolution to burn, making it a great choice for many post intensive effects like green screen composites, resizing, creating source original stills as well as outputting to film or event projection. With RED you can take advantage of the world’s best optics too either using its PL lens mount or a specialist Nikon or Canon adaptor.
RED’s workflow is tapeless and streamlined. RED uses fixed media cards and drives for recording and can be edited using Final Cut Pro. RED’s raw footage is a “non-destructive” RAW image similar to a film negative and offers more colour correction flexibility than any HD format on the market. It is similar to working with a RAW file from a digital SLR camera. This footage can then be edited and output to any format– to a film print or down-sampled to 1080p, 720p to standard definition. Whatever format you pick for output your images will have all the attributes of a 35mm image and the immediacy and convenience of a pure digital image.
RED’s image sensor known as the “Mysterium X” is the size of a Super 35 gate in a film camera. This larger image target is what gives the 35mm film format its wonderful depth of field and selective focus, and the RED has this same size cinematic depth of field. No HDCAM video camera is able to achieve this without adaptors and image converters that are an added expense, inconvenient and sacrifice your image quality.
What have famous film-makers been saying about the RED camera?
It looks like film. However, if you finish and screen at 4K, the result is like shooting in 65mm, like the old epics used to do. It’s pretty exciting, and will have a major impact on indie filming – but we could see no reason why you couldn’t use these cameras for any type of movie. I’m seriously considering using RED for The Lovely Bones.
Peter Jackson, Director, Lord Of The Rings, King Kong
I have had the opportunity to test the RED ONE camera over the past few weeks, including a direct comparison to the same film I shoot on 24. All I can say is that I am totally amazed. Revolutionary might not be a strong enough word to describe what RED is doing.
Rodney Charters, Cinematographer, 24
We’re shooting RED side by side film. We scanned the film 4k and took both into the Baselight, compared them and then did a filmout of both. When we screened side by side, we literally could not tell the difference. In fact, most people picked the RED ONE footage as film because of a greater dynamic range in the highlights than in the 5218 [a low grain, high sensitivity Kodak film stock]. It’s not enough to say it is the best digital image out there. The fact is, finally, we can intercut digital with film. It looked remarkably better than the filmed images. I thought I would never be able to say that.
Jon Farhat, VFX Supervisor, Wanted
5K refers to the size of the sensor in the RED Epic camera – it measures 5120 by 2700 pixels (i.e. approximately 5000 pixels from left to right, or 5K ). By way of comparison the sensor in, say, a Sony F900 (HDCAM High Definition video) measures 1920 x 1080 pixels. With a sensor this size the image detail and colour depth are greatly increased. The stunning images produced by a RED Epic/Scarlet/RED ONE MX can only be fully appreciated when seen projected at at least 2K (2048 by 1152 pixels), ideally on a digital projector.
A new codec called Redcode RAW developed by post-production wizard Graeme Nattress. The format uses wavelet compression which provides a much cleaner, clearer image than MPEG 2, for example (the codec used to compress DVD images). RED are calling it “visually lossless” – they claim tests have shown it is impossible to distinguish between compressed and uncompressed footage. 128 gigabytes of SSD space will store approximately 60 minutes of 5K Redcode Raw footage.
RAW is not video and it is not film. RAW is the unprocessed and actual information that is captured by the image sensor. There is no format conversion that “bakes in” a look that cannot be easily changed. HDCAM or DVCPRO both force your footage into their colour space. Think of RAW as a negative that has yet to be put through telecine. Much of the RAW look can be created in post by a cinematographer and a professional colourist. RED calls this raw format REDCODE and RED records this in 16 bit raw files. The raw data RED records is created with a codec that is visually “lossless”. Therefore while colour grading in post, it is possible to adjust exposure, white balance, gain/ASA and more without the loss of the original unprocessed data. Still photographers have been working with RAW files for years and RED works in a very similar fashion. It gives an unprecedented amount of flexibility not seen before in digital motion picture cameras.
Even if you intend delivering for television – whether it’s High Definition or Standard Definition – shooting 5K has the following benefits:
• Oversampling: The more detail you start with, the better the finished image. You get a crisper, richer picture when the image is resized downwards. 35mm film looks better on a TV screen than 16mm – even when they are both displayed at standard TV resolution (720 x 576 pixels).
• Room to move: additional resolution means you can zoom in, stabilize and reframe with no discernible loss of quality.
• Future Proof: have the highest quality original footage to preserve the longevity of your work. You can enter a film festival on HDCAM… and deliver a 4K to 35mm print when the Sales Agent pays for it.
• The perfect key: The higher detail also makes it the best choice for green screen compositing.
The RED Epic has been rated at 800 ASA (measurements of film sensitivity). This is good enough to shoot in most all interior situations with a very minimal lighting set up. Relative to other digital cameras the RED Epic has a very low signal to noise ratio (66 decibels). In practice this means the camera can be easily “pushed” to rate at around 1600 ASA with very little noise visible in the shadows. You should have no problems shooting in candlelight, for example. The Red Epic has an improved dynamic range of 13.5 stops and up to 18 stops with HDRx.
12 and 16-bit RAW : Compression choices of 18:1 to 3:1
1-120 fps 5K, 4.5K
1-150 fps 4K
1-200 fps 3K
1-300 fps 2K
RED comes with a PL, “positive lock”, lens mount. This is the same lens mount used on motion picture film cameras used in big budget feature films. This mount allows for the use of the world’s best optics and lens systems. Lens like Cooke S4, Zeiss Master Primes, Zeiss Super Speeds, Optimo zooms and more can be used, as well as snorkel lenses, macro lenses, swing shift lens and more. Anything with a PL mount can be used. If you like the look of old optics like Baltars you can use them. An important note though is that not all PL mount lenses will cover the image area of the sensor when shooting Super 35 or 5K. Though they can be used, some older 35mm lenses only cover what is known as Normal 35. 16mm lenses will only cover the image area used when shooting 2K. In addition to the PL mount the camera can be adapted to a Nikon, Canon or B4 mount for use of still or HDCAM style lenses.
Does the Epic/Scarlet have AutoFocus?
YES, with the TI Canon Mount and the soon to be released Nikon Mount.
Yes. The RED Epic records four uncompressed channels of CD quality audio, synched to picture. It also supports common timecode formats for synching with external recorders such as DAT.
Is the Camera modular/update-able?
The answer is a big YES! One of the major benefits of the new Epic/Scarlet camera’s is the ability to update the sensor technology without having to purchase an entirely new camera model. If you were to purchase a camera from any other company when a significant update comes out you must purchase the new model which can sometimes come months after you purchase the so called “new model.” (Such was the case with the Canon c300 and 2 months later the new c500). With RED their moto is “obsolescence obsolete.” The next sensor to be released by RED is the new 6K Dragon sensor with 15+ stops of Dynamic Range and frame rates up to 85fps in full 6K. For this upgrade the cost is $6,000 including installation by RED. So once you have purchased the camera all you will need to invest in is future upgrades if you plan on keeping up to date. This eliminates the waste of purchasing a new camera for every update.
RED is also always realeasing new color science tweaks as free upgrades as well as adding newer better features via firmware free of charge. Being that you shoot RAW these new updates can be applied to all your footage ever shot with a RED RAW camera. You could literally pull out footage shot on the RED ONE 5 years ago and apply the new color settings and see new life breathed into your work. That’s another great benefit of RAW.
Shots can be reviewed instantly from the in camera SSD Drive. While viewing you are seeing a 1080P out at REC709 colour space. (Not RED Code 5K.) The footage also can be downloaded to a MacBook Pro where it can be viewed using RedCine or Final Cut Pro with the Red generated Quicktime reference movies.
RED RAW R3D Processing/ Transcoding
For simplicity of workflow, Premiere Pro incorporates intake of RAW R3D files natively with complete control of the RAW metadata. Create a new project, import your RAW R3D files, and begin editing. No transcoding is needed.
If you want to process dailies for on set viewing or for offline editing, a fcp edit, or avid, RedcineX Pro is RED’s free RAW processing application. In Redcine you have control over every bit of sensor information. You can do a basic color correction, change ISO values, adjust contrast, then export the footage in any necessary format in pretty much any resolution imaginable. Any system can work with these files as they are a compressed version of the original R3D’s. Once you complete your edit you can create an XML and bring that into any color correction program to relink to the original R3D files so you can color with the full RAW capabilities. This is a great and simple workflow that won’t put strain on your computer for editing. Here is a look at RedcineX Pro and its controls:
Straight from the camera and opened in RedcineX Pro (RED’s free app):
With a few tweaks in RedcineX Pro to give the image the “look” I am going for:
Export formats: Each format has multiple compression settings, resolutions, and quality.
Full screen view:
You can even create a look in RedcineX Pro, export it to your Epic/Scarlet, so your able to view the look in camera and on set. This won’t effect your image since you are shooting RAW and any “look” can be reset:
Remember that one of the greatest benefits to shooting RED is that it is a RAW format. Any changes to settings in camera while shooting or in post can be reset, and tweaked as many times as you want. There are no more baked in looks. You can go back to footage you shot a year ago and reset the look and recolor to your liking. The possibilities are endless. Give it a try for yourself and I guarantee you won’t ever want to shoot with a baked in format again.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of RED and it’s RAW workflow. If there’s any specific questions you have feel free to leave a comment and I will address those questions.
Epic Tech Specs:
|SENSOR||14 MEGAPIXEL MYSTERIUM-X™|
|PIXEL ARRAY||5120 (h) x 2700 (v)|
|DYNAMIC RANGE||13.5 stops, up to 18 stops with HDRx™|
|MAX IMAGE AREA||5120 (h) x 2700 (v)|
|LENS COVERAGE||27.7mm (h) x 14.6mm (v) x 31.4 mm (d)|
|DEPTH OF FIELD||Equivalent to S35mm (Motion) / APS-H (Still) lenses
Equivalent to 16mm (Motion) lens in 2K RAW
|ACQUISITION FORMATS||5K RAW (Full Frame, 2:1, 2.4:1 and Anamorphic 2:1)
4.5K RAW (2.4:1)
4K RAW (16:9, HD, 2:1 and Anamorphic 2:1)
3K RAW (16:9, 2:1 and Anamorphic 2:1)
2K RAW (16:9, 2:1 and Anamorphic 2:1)
1080p RGB (16:9)
720p RGB (16:9)
|PROJECT FRAME RATES||23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 47.96, 48, 50, 59.94 fps, all resolutions|
|DELIVERY FORMATS*||4K : DPX, TIFF, OpenEXR (RED RAY via optional encoder)
2K : DPX, TIFF, OpenEXR (RED RAY via optional encoder)
1080p RGB or 4:2:2, 720p 4:2:2 : Quicktime, JPEG
Avid AAF, MXF. 1080p 4.2.0, 720p 4:2:0 : H.264, .MP4
|PROGRAM OUTPUT||HD-SDI Clean Feed
2K RGB, 1080p RGB or 4:2:2, 720p 4:2:2
SMPTE Timecode, HANC Metadata, 24-bit 48Khz Audio
|MONITOR OUTPUT||HD-SDI and HDMI with Frame Guides and Look Around
2K RGB, 1080p RGB or 4:2:2, 720p RGB or 4:2:2
SMPTE Timecode, HANC Metadata, 24-bit 48Khz Audio
|DIGITAL MEDIA||REDMAG (SSD) Module : (64, 128, 256GB Media)|
|REDCODE™||12 and 16-bit RAW : Compression choices of 18:1 to 3:1
1-120 fps 5K, 4.5K
1-150 fps 4K
1-200 fps 3K
1-300 fps 2K
|AUDIO||2 channel, uncompressed, 24 bit, 48KHz.
Optional 4 channel, and AES / EBU digital audio.
|MONITORING OPTIONS||RED LCD 5″ Touchscreen Display
BOMB EVF™ High Definition Viewfinder
|REMOTE CONTROL||Wireless, Ethernet, RS232, GPI Trigger|
|WEIGHT||5lbs. Body only|
|TEMPERATURE RANGES||Operating Range: 0˚C to +40˚C (32˚F to 104˚F)
Storage Range: -20˚C to +50˚C (-4˚F to 122˚F)
**All info and photo’s are property of the original owners. Information has been collected from various references such as RED.com, Reduser, and various Reduser members. This post is for information purposes only and all content is property of its respective owner.