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My opinion after playing with RED


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#1 Scott Lynch

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 11:52 PM

I had the chance to play with the RED when it was in Chicago this week and this is what I think so far:

Pros:

1. The footage is very impressive, although I didn't actually measure the camera, it seemed to handle around 11 stops of latitude just fine.

2. The LCD monitor that they are making is very nice, very sharp, even if it is a strange resolution.

Cons:
1. The body needs more work for it to be field ready. The lens mount was a bit loose with a Master Prime on it. It really needs to be beefed up a lot more to handle the weight of large glass elements.

2. The mini-bnc connectors need to be standard size. I think they made them mini's because they wanted to keep the small footprint of the body, but the chance that someone trips over a cable and breaks one of those is an almost certainty and I wouldn't want to lose my HD-SDI monitor capability on a shoot.

3. Small rubber covers need to be placed over all the connectors. As of now they are all open to dust and corrosion, and the CF Slot should have a cover to protect it from the elements when a card is removed.

Other Opinions:
1. Focus Puller comfortable in 35mm is an absolute must.

2. Having a Data Wrangler who understands the Red RAW format and understands how the post house will need the footage in order to work with it, and can back up the footage on a RAID 5 server and a tape backup.

3. A great post house. If you want to use this camera to the best of it's abilities, you need technicians who truly understand the data you've captured, and that have the hardware capable of backing up, storing, and processing your footage.

In short;
This is not a 4k HVX200, this is a 35mm Digital Motion Picture camera. You need to really understand the entire process from encoding to finish or hire people who do. If you tend to shoot ENG or with minimal crew, this is probably not your camera. And because it is so new and very few people really understand this camera, it's seems to be like shooting 35mm film except with out the comfort level of being to have people who know what they are doing. I'll be excited to use this camera in a few years, but as for now it has a lot of work still to be done on it.

Edited by Scott Lynch, 28 September 2007 - 11:57 PM.

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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 03:37 AM

I had the chance to play with the RED when it was in Chicago this week and this is what I think so far:

Pros:

1. The footage is very impressive, although I didn't actually measure the camera, it seemed to handle around 11 stops of latitude just fine.

2. The LCD monitor that they are making is very nice, very sharp, even if it is a strange resolution.

Cons:
1. The body needs more work for it to be field ready. The lens mount was a bit loose with a Master Prime on it. It really needs to be beefed up a lot more to handle the weight of large glass elements.

2. The mini-bnc connectors need to be standard size. I think they made them mini's because they wanted to keep the small footprint of the body, but the chance that someone trips over a cable and breaks one of those is an almost certainty and I wouldn't want to lose my HD-SDI monitor capability on a shoot.

3. Small rubber covers need to be placed over all the connectors. As of now they are all open to dust and corrosion, and the CF Slot should have a cover to protect it from the elements when a card is removed.

Other Opinions:
1. Focus Puller comfortable in 35mm is an absolute must.

2. Having a Data Wrangler who understands the Red RAW format and understands how the post house will need the footage in order to work with it, and can back up the footage on a RAID 5 server and a tape backup.

3. A great post house. If you want to use this camera to the best of it's abilities, you need technicians who truly understand the data you've captured, and that have the hardware capable of backing up, storing, and processing your footage.

In short;
This is not a 4k HVX200, this is a 35mm Digital Motion Picture camera. You need to really understand the entire process from encoding to finish or hire people who do. If you tend to shoot ENG or with minimal crew, this is probably not your camera. And because it is so new and very few people really understand this camera, it's seems to be like shooting 35mm film except with out the comfort level of being to have people who know what they are doing. I'll be excited to use this camera in a few years, but as for now it has a lot of work still to be done on it.


Hi Scott,

I am interested how you came to an 11 stop conclusion without any measurement.

The loose lens mount is a worry, do you know if the owner had been swapping mounts?

Interestingly I had issues with the PL mount on a Phantom HD.

Many thanks,

Stephen
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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 05:08 AM

2. The mini-bnc connectors need to be standard size. I think they made them mini's because they wanted to keep the small footprint of the body, but the chance that someone trips over a cable and breaks one of those is an almost certainty and I wouldn't want to lose my HD-SDI monitor capability on a shoot.

3. Small rubber covers need to be placed over all the connectors. As of now they are all open to dust and corrosion, and the CF Slot should have a cover to protect it from the elements when a card is removed.



I can't really see the point of non standard BNC connectors, you're going to need adapters in order to use the industry standard cables and standard BNCs can be stiff to remove on occasions. The standard BNCs aren't that big. They should be robustly fitted onto the camera - the ones in the DSR 500 are terrible in this regard.

The camera should be relatively weather proof, it's very easy to be caught in in an unexpected rain shower. In sudden heavy rain the camera can get wet very quickly, even if the camera people are on the ball throwing on a cover. This is even more likely to happen on documentary shoots where the rain covers tend to get in the way and are kept off until the last moment.
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#4 David Namir

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 12:04 PM

Hello Scott
Thanks for the true impression. Reading posts and threads at the Reduser.net giving me a feeling that everyone is Red-blind there and no matter what they will praise the camera and reply to every little post with "wow" and so alike. I am not saying the camera is not good however I am convinced it is far from perfect and surely has some practical faults that can and need to be fixed. Thanks again for the true opinion
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#5 Scott Lynch

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 09:40 PM

Hi Scott,

I am interested how you came to an 11 stop conclusion without any measurement.



This was simply a rough observation based on a chip chart, and should not be taken as a real definable measurement. I didn't have the chance to accurately measure it.
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#6 Mitch Gross

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 11:30 AM

Hi Scott,

I am interested how you came to an 11 stop conclusion without any measurement.

The loose lens mount is a worry, do you know if the owner had been swapping mounts?

Interestingly I had issues with the PL mount on a Phantom HD.

Many thanks,

Stephen

The PL mount on the Phantom has been fixed.
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#7 John Sprung

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 02:08 PM

The camera should be relatively weather proof, it's very easy to be caught in in an unexpected rain shower. In sudden heavy rain the camera can get wet very quickly, even if the camera people are on the ball throwing on a cover.

What I used to do about that is bundle up a plastic garbage bag in camera tape, with pull tabs -- sort of like packing a parachute. It was a package maybe a little larger than a hotdog. These I would tape to the tops of the Panaflex mags. As the first drops fell, either I or the operator or whoever was closest knew to just pull the tape tabs and urfurl the garbage bag.




-- J.S.
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#8 John Sprung

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 02:19 PM

2. Having a Data Wrangler who understands the Red RAW format and understands how the post house will need the footage in order to work with it, and can back up the footage on a RAID 5 server and a tape backup.

Do you mean a DIT, or could this be someone more in the video assist/2nd AC range?





-- J.S.
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#9 G A Kokes

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 03:54 PM

Scott,

Thank you for your post. Did you also have the chance to use the RED zoom lens? If so, what are your thoughts on it.

Cheers,
G
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#10 Scott Lynch

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 08:40 PM

Sorry for the duplicate post... Disregard the previous post. I've added a few things to this version:
-Scott

Do you mean a DIT, or could this be someone more in the video assist/2nd AC range?
-- J.S.

If I were to use the camera there would be a three man crew that would be in charge of nothing but data management. I think with these types of cameras a new department is needed to cover the gaps. Your data has to be treated correctly, if you lose that data it's like loosing rolls of exposed film. It's protection needs to be handled by professionals who understand the process and not some PA with a laptop (like I've seen on a few shoots with the HVX series). You wouldn't let an amateur develop and process your film, the same thought process should apply here.

In this structure you would have a Data Wrangler who is in charge of backing up the footage and who is the head of the department. They need to be more then just a DIT. As the camera records in RAW, you need someone who has a good understanding of editing and post prod techniques and who is a computer network administrator. This person's job would be to either take the Compact Flash cards and back them up or be in charge of running a SAN server that is connected to the camera via the "RAW Port" (aka 10gb Fibre) they would be responsible to store the footage on two separate RAID servers and back up the data to tape for long term preservation. They would also do the work of your traditional film lab and make dailies on DVD for production to view, and also convert the RAW Data into the DPX format for the post house to work on.

Because this is a lot of work for one person, I would also replace the 3rd AC and put that person in this department. This Data Wrangler Assistant (and there could be more then one depending on how many camera's were on a shoot) would be in charge of taking the cards from the set and and making sure that cards were backed up and tracked throughout the gig.

The third person would help the Data Wrangler with the conversion of the files and creating the dailies, syncing up the audio and video in the traditional film way (as of now the RED camera does not record sound) and could also create a rough cut of the film as it was being shot for the director.

Scott,

Thank you for your post. Did you also have the chance to use the RED zoom lens? If so, what are your thoughts on it.

Cheers,
G


Nope I haven't seen any RED lenses yet.
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#11 Craig Schober

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 08:34 AM

It's protection needs to be handled by professionals who understand the process and not some PA with a laptop (like I've seen on a few shoots with the HVX series). You wouldn't let an amateur develop and process your film, the same thought process should apply here.


if you have the budget, sure, hire 20 people to wrangle your data but you're creating new crew positions just for your piece of mind and nothing else. amateurs always will be processing your film and you have no choice over it. they use interns and low-wage employees because it's an unskilled labor. the same as the guy who moves the compact flash card to an on-set raid, pushes a button and when it "beeps", he brings the card back to the cam or throws it in a box with other used cards. it's not creative and barely technical. anyone can do it but not everyone can afford to pay for a position like this. people that can afford a camera like red won't throw away money on positions like this. they can't afford to.
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#12 Simon Miya

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 01:33 PM

people that can afford a camera like red won't throw away money on positions like this. they can't afford to.


100% agree. There is no way a new department will be created for this purpose - I think you will be lucky to have even a "PA with a laptop" who is on the task full time - the responsibility will fall on the ACs, guaranteed.
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#13 John Sprung

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 02:42 PM

If I were to use the camera there would be a three man crew that would be in charge of nothing but data management.

That might be feasible on a student film, where you have a lot of enthusiastic intelligent people working for free. But paying union rates, we could probably go to film or Genesis for the price of three more people. (And save some money, too.)

What I'm hoping for from the Red is that we could record the full RAW dynamic range on the set -- basically just like with film -- and thereby eliminate the on-set DIT. The DIT is -- or should be -- a temporary transitional job. They're needed for now because you have to cram the dynamic range of the chip into what you can fit on tape. Ultimately, like with film, that color timing task should be moved into post production, where it can be done using far fewer person-hours (and in more comfortable surroundings).

The other place where some of our shows are already getting some savings is in syncing dailies. Actors talk in sync almost all the time. By recording picture and sound on the same device, we can simply preserve that sync, rather than having to re-establish it by hand for each take.




-- J.S.
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#14 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 04:53 PM

people that can afford a camera like red won't throw away money on positions like this. they can't afford to.


Its not throwing money away, because the information does not reside on a physical medium this is a very important job. At the very least you need someone who clearly understands what they are doing. It would cost a lot more to loose a days work, or come to editing and the files are misnamed and in disarray.
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#15 John Sprung

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 05:19 PM

Its not throwing money away, because the information does not reside on a physical medium this is a very important job. At the very least you need someone who clearly understands what they are doing. It would cost a lot more to loose a days work, or come to editing and the files are misnamed and in disarray.

How about interfacing Red to an established digital recording system, such as S.two? That's been used on features successfully with other cameras, and doesn't require more crew. A second AC can learn to use it.




-- J.S.
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#16 Sam Wells

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 10:31 AM

Are you talking about uncompressed or Redcode ?

If Redcode, is there any reason to think Red's CF cards are not or will not be an "established digital recording system" ?

-Sam
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#17 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 10:41 AM

The three major concerns I would have with HDD recording.

- Confirmation that the data has been recorded and safely stored

- Proper organization and labeling of files

- Back up

My point is I don't know of any system that will do all of this by itself without someone managing it. Data management would still be a dedicated job no matter what title you give the position.
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#18 John Sprung

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 12:37 PM

Are you talking about uncompressed or Redcode ?

If Redcode, is there any reason to think Red's CF cards are not or will not be an "established digital recording system" ?

-Sam

Uncompressed vs. Redcode is something we'd have to test. Until we're satisfied with Redcode, uncompressed would be the safe way to go.

If I'm correctly informed on this, the big issue with CF is that they don't record sound. That's a killer, because we'd be back to syncing in post again. The CF cards certainly don't have a track record yet. They may turn out to be fine, but at this point, we don't know. Perhaps they could be used with a modified S.two, so you leave the set with dual LTO's. That's an even more robust route than a single SR tape from a conventional camcorder.

The wild card in this is the amount of material we have to deal with. In the film days, we'd see 40 minutes to an hour of circled takes per day. Now, directors like the idea of running both cameras whether the B camera has anything or not, and letting them roll through resets. Sometimes we get 8 hours of stuff in a day. So, we need a cost effective mass storage medium such as LTO.




-- J.S.
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#19 Matthew Rogers

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 01:00 PM

If I'm correctly informed on this, the big issue with CF is that they don't record sound. That's a killer, because we'd be back to syncing in post again. The CF cards certainly don't have a track record yet. They may turn out to be fine, but at this point, we don't know. Perhaps they could be used with a modified S.two, so you leave the set with dual LTO's. That's an even more robust route than a single SR tape from a conventional camcorder.


Not to be mean, but I would go to a good source like Jim at Reduser for your information. Sound is CURRENTLY not being recorded on CF. But of course, it's not being recorded on anything because it is not enabled. (supposed to be enabled by the end of Oct. I believe.) The CF's may not have a track record with the RED, but they certainly have a good track record with digital photographers. I don't know anyone (and my wife's a photographer) who's had a CF card fail. Now, I'm sure they have, but I don't know anyone personally. But then again, what medium doesn't fail? (Film certainly does)

Matthew

Edited by Matthew Rogers, 05 October 2007 - 01:02 PM.

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#20 Fran Kuhn

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 08:26 AM

. . .I don't know anyone (and my wife's a photographer) who's had a CF card fail. Now, I'm sure they have, but I don't know anyone personally. But then again, what medium doesn't fail? (Film certainly does)

Matthew


Hi Matthew,

You're right. . .CF cards can fail! There was a problem last year when Lexar 80x CF cards when used with some Canon 1Ds MKII cameras. Once the images were viewed on camera's screen, they would simply vanish from the card. It happened to me and I had to replace all four of my cards.

-Fran
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