What is the RED camera?

Jon Firestone

Moderator
It's pretty hard to go anywhere in this industry and not hear about the revolutionary new RED camera. But in case you haven't heard of this camera, or don't know really what it is, or why it is revolutionary, here is some info.

The RED ONE camera is a 4K digital cinema camera. It is initially aimed at Cinema syle shooting, meaning that it is in many ways like a traditional film camera. It uses traditional film lenses and other film hardware including matte boxes and follow focus systems. But instead of shooting film it shoots digitally.

It shoots at a resolution several times higher than high definition, making it more suitable for theatrical release. It's larger sensor and ability to use film lenses gives the image a more traditional cinematic look than most HD as well.

It records to hard drives or Compact Flash memory. Footage can be downloaded to a computer from the hard drive, via Firewire 800, Firewire 400 or USB. The Compact Flash memory can be used in any Compact Flash reader. The software required to convert the footage is freely available from www.red.com.

It is a software driven camera. It takes over a minute to boot up, and has some very computer like tendencies, but it is also very flexible. The camera is evolving, and getting better all the time. All the updates are free, and new features are coming out monthly. Since I got the camera, they added a 3K mode at 60 frames per second, 2K at 120 frames per second, and new assisted ways to accurately focus by eye, just to name a few updates.

It is a manual camera. There is no auto anything. No autofocus, no auto iris, no auto white balance. It is much like a traditional film camera in this way.

It is capable of producing great images (I've shot a few of these) It's also capable of producing awful images (I've shot a few of these as well) While the camera has some impressive specs, it can not overcome bad lighting, and user error. It's a tool with great capabilities, and in the right hands, it can shoot great images.
 

HDhead

New member
Any new updates? Are there any feature films out that are shot with Red?
There are. Steven Soderbergh's "Guerilla" and "The Argentine" were shot with RED and he is working on the third film. I just watched some scenes from the two films the other day on a 2k/4k projector and the material looks very good.

I'm working on the post for a documentary project shot with RED. I'm very curious to see tests shot out to film and projected which should happen in several weeks.

The post side of things is more complex than anything we've seen this far but the camera and workflows are constantly evolving.
 
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filmsforever

Guest
What if any advantages are there to the RedOne

What if any advantages are there to the RedOne

What - if any - advantages are there to the RedOne?
 

Jon Firestone

Moderator
There are several advantages to the RED ONE over traditional video cameras. The most significant to me is the abitlity to use 35mm lenses. 35mm glass has a shallower depth of field, which allows for very selective focus. This is one of the most important things to make a cinematic image. The RED ONE also has a tremendous amount of resolution. At 4K it is several times higher resolution than HD. This is great for everything from creating better keys when shooting composite shots, to projection on a large theater screen. The RED ONE is also capable at shooting higher frame rates. At 2K which is still higher resolution than any HD format, it can shoot 120 frames per second. At 3K it can shoot 60 frames per second, and eventually it will be able to shoot at 60 frames per second at 4K. This camera is revolutionary. It is a true cinema camera for a price that is unheard of. This is a camera not only for independent film makers, but is suitable for all levels of production. The movie "Jumper" had 2nd unit footage shot on RED, the movie "Wanted" had it's visual fx footage shot on RED. As listed above Soderbergh's been shooting like crazy with these cameras. Mark Nevaldine and Brian Taylor just shot "Game" on RED cameras. These are all major studio films, not indies.
 
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filmsforever

Guest
How Much

How Much

How much is it? Are there any down sides to it? Is it easy to use?
 

Jon Firestone

Moderator
The RED ONE camera is $17,500 for the base camera body, but it really takes about $25,000 to have any sort of workable system. It can easily be scaled up to $100,000 with lenses and pro film gear, or it can be configured with still camera lenses, and a very basic setup. It's more modular than any camera you're likely to ever have worked with. For those who can't afford to own one, it will still be a great piece of equipment to rent, and in about a year they will be releasing a cool little pocket 3K camera for under $3000 called Scarlet.

The RED camera is not an easy to use camera. It's definitely a pro camera with roots in traditional 35mm film, and roots in HD, along with being much like a modern computer. But when you rent it most cameras will come with an operator, or Digital Imaging technician, who will know the camera system and post workflow very well. I've rented my system out on a couple Student films recently, and things went great. It's definitley for those who are really into cinematography, or have some experience under their belts. It's a lot more like shooting film. It looks great, but it generally will take a larger support crew, when shooting with film lenses.

This is the camera you will want to consider if you want your images to look like they are from a major film, however the camera won't do it on it's own. You'll need proper lighting and support gear and crew to pull that off, but the camera won't be the limiting factor.

This probably isn't the camera that you first learn on. It has a steep learning curve. I suggest shooting with an easier to use camera, and learn storytelling there, and then move into a camera like this when you've got some experience, and have a frame of reference and will be ready to take advantage of the capabilities of a camera of this caliber.
 
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filmsforever

Guest
Steep Learning Curve?

Steep Learning Curve?

This seems to be a hot thread in regards to people reading it. What do you mean by Steep Learnign Curve. Can you give some examples of what you mean? We all want to learn.
 

HDhead

New member
The steep learning curve has to do with the fact that RED is a bit harder to use then a typical HD video camera. The benefits are many, as described above.

If you think of it as a film camera and you crew the camera department the same way (there is no loader but you have a data wrangler or a DIT) and get an operator who has worked digital cameras before you are fine. It's not brain surgery but training is required. Film cameras are mostly self explanatory and simple. A good operator can figure one out in half an hour. RED is a whole different thing bearing only a vague resemblance to other digital cinema camera systems.

The post production side is more complicated than let's say HDCAM post. This is from a perspective of a post facility. If you're working from home you can do it just fine up to the point of picture and sound finishing. Depending on whether you're planning to do a film out or master to HD tape you'd need to take the project to a post facility.

So let me state this clearly, while the post is more complicated overall, offline edit is no big deal. You can load QT proxy movies straight from the drive into Final Cut Pro and start editing.

Avid Media Composer and Symphony are lagging a bit behind on support for RED due to an exclusive contract between RED Digital Cinema and Apple but this will probably change very soon. Still, there are ways to edit RED in Avid and you can do high end DI finishing in Avid right now. In fact, I'm working on a show that's being finished in Avid DS.

I'd encourage anyone interested in finding out more about RED and getting their hands on a camera to attend RED Los Angeles User Group meeting on May 10th. Go back up one level and you'll see a thread about this user group.
 

Jon Firestone

Moderator
The learning curve is going to be different depending on your background. those who come from a background of using fixed lens cameras will have a bit to learn about film lenses and shallow focus. There will be times when they could have operated alone in the past but now they need an AC to help with focus and lenses. There are no built in ND filters, and no autofocus or auto iris. This is a manual camera and you'll probably be working with a traditional mattebox for filters, when in the past you could get away with not having one. For individuals who come from a 35mm background, the lens stuff will be what they are used to, but the camera is much more like a video camera....well more of a video camera/computer hybrid. It takes time to boot up. It has regular firmware updates that increase it's functionality. The menus are GUI based. It's more like a computer with a camera attached, than a camera with a computer attached. It also shoots in a RAW format making it a little different than any video camera out there, and more like a high end digital SLR. Settings that would normally permanently affect the image in a traditional camera can be maniplated in post with the raw format. Things like ISO and white balance for instance. Don't get me wrong, while there is more to know about the camera, it is not too difficult to use, and the benefits to this sort of flexibilty are huge.
 

sidharthsid

New member
The Red Digital Cinema Camera Company is an American company that manufactures professional-grade digital cinematography and photography tools. Red cameras support raw recording of stills and video, in the case of the RED Epic-M up to 6K resolution
 
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