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Just saw Red Footage in an Optimal Viewing Enviro


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#1 Evan Winter

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 05:17 PM

*sigh*,

I may have to eat some crow. I wasn't truly convinced by all the Red hype and was taking a 'wait and see' approach. Well, I waited and now I've seen.

I'm currently in Toronto and I just visited a friend of mine at his online house in the city. He's a commercial DP who shoots the odd music video on the side.

He recently purchased the Red camera and I begged and pleaded to be shown some footage. I went over to his online facility today and he showed me a commerical, music video, and some test footage.

We watched the footage on Digibeta playing back to industry spec monitors. I was floored.

He showed me footage of the commercial first - they shot Super 35mm (Kodak Vision 2 500T) beside the Red footage (shooting at 320 ASA in 4K) and had both transferred at one of the top color houses in the city. The Red footage looked sharper, cleaner, and held the highlights a bit better.

Most impressively, both my friend and the colorist felt that the Red footage had greater latitude than the filmed footage. My impression of the footage I saw (on Digibeta) was that, IMHO, Red looked better than Super 35mm footage aesthetically.

My primary concern, because I work in music videos is how good the work looks when delivered. The work I do is always delivered on Digibeta (this is what MTV, BET, FUSE, MuchMusic, etc play). So, this little experiment was meant to show which format was superior given the end goal of a Digibeta Master.

The red footage looked better - like I said earlier, it felt like a sharper image (especially noticeable on wides) and it felt virtually indistinguishable from actual film. My one caveat, based on what I saw, was that rapid motion had that slight juttery feel that tends to come with video (think of the chase scenes in Apocalypto).

When I asked my friend what the 'bad' was he told me that the workflow was currently the biggest roadblock. Like I said, he owns an online house and does probably the most business in Toronto in music videos. He has resources out the wazoo but was still having to upgrade this and that or change around something or the other to make the Red footage flow smoothly in and out his doors.

In summary, given what I saw in that office today and knowing that music videos must be delivered as Digibeta masters, I would prefer to shoot music videos on the Red over Super 35mm film.

Evan W.

Edited by Evan Winter, 24 October 2007 - 05:21 PM.

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#2 Tom Lowe

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 05:20 PM

Fantastic news.
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#3 Tim Carroll

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 06:01 PM

Evan,

Glad you had a good experience when viewing some footage shot on the new RED. I had to laugh though at one part of your description, do you realize that when comparing the footage shot with Kodak Film to the footage shot with the RED camera, you said:

The red footage looked better . . . and it felt virtually indistinguishable from actual film.



So the RED footage was more indistinguishable from actual film than the actual film was indistinguishable from actual film? :rolleyes:

Not referring to what Evan wrote above, but I think it's funny when people keep talking about how this new technology or that new technology is going to make film obsolete, and then they keep coming back and comparing the image from the new technology to the same image if it were captured on film. Anyone else see the irony in that?

Would love to see some of this RED footage for myself, any of the good stuff posted online yet?

-Tim
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#4 Bugs Haller

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 06:52 PM

Evan,

Glad you had a good experience when viewing some footage shot on the new RED. I had to laugh though at one part of your description, do you realize that when comparing the footage shot with Kodak Film to the footage shot with the RED camera, you said:



So the RED footage was more indistinguishable from actual film than the actual film was indistinguishable from actual film? :rolleyes:

Not referring to what Evan wrote above, but I think it's funny when people keep talking about how this new technology or that new technology is going to make film obsolete, and then they keep coming back and comparing the image from the new technology to the same image if it were captured on film. Anyone else see the irony in that?

Would love to see some of this RED footage for myself, any of the good stuff posted online yet?

-Tim

I;ve never heard it put like that but I do believe you are right. Very ironic!

In the past decade I can count on one hand how many movies shot on video I thought looked good. "They" said ten years ago that DV was going to be the death of film. No... not quite.

I know filmmakers who say things like "shooting on film is a complete waste of time and money" and it makes me want to jump of a building head first.

I have to hand it to the video companies (sony, panasonic, canon, etc.) they sure did a great job of selling us video tech like it was taking over the world. IMHO HD hasn't even come close yet.

As a side note: For filmmakers who are thinking about shooting a feature and going the festival route... originate on film. It will be taken much more seriously and go much further. There are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule... but this is what I have found to be true.
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#5 Evan Winter

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 07:38 PM

Hey again,

When I said indistinguishable from film I meant the meta-film characteristics - depth of field, latitude, etc. Perhaps it would have been better if I had said, "The Red footage looked like pristine Vision 2 50D or low-speed 65mm film".

After all, I specifically stated that I was comparing the Red footage against Vision 2 500T. So saying it looked indistinguishable from film is really just my way of saying, "most viewers and a lot of us in the industry would be unable to tell that the footage was not film" (at least until a really quick pan, some running handheld, or a fight scene that is).

I think this is a fair comparison. Film is the gold standard and so what else am I to compare the look to??? Additionally, I'm not declaring film dead or any such nonsense. What I am saying is that I would prefer to shoot on the Red camera for music videos because the image I will get will look better, in my eyes, than an image obtained on Super 35mm film once the project has been mastered to Digibeta.

I'm not saying that Red looks better than Super 35mm film when projected (analog or digital) because I don't know; I haven't seen it. I have seen a mastered Red music video on a industry spec monitor in a color suite. I've seen about 100 music videos, shot on film, this way and I'm saying that the footage from Red looks better than footage from film under these very specific conditions.

and to Bugs: no one sold me anything - I went and checked it out for myself and made up my own mind.

and to Tim C.: don't bother looking for Red footage online you won't really get a sense of the quality. I'd suggest going into a transfer session or an online house and looking at the footage the way it's meant to be seen. Or even just get a digibeta of a red project and throw that up on a monitor. Once you've had a chance to do that let me know what you think. Remember, I wasn't a 'believer' until I saw it for myself (check my post history).

Evan W.
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#6 Bugs Haller

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 08:35 PM

Evan -

I'm sorry I got a bit carried away. I wasn't saying you got sold... I'm saying we did... the public at large over the last decade. Didn't mean to make it sound like I was pointing you out specifically.

I just find there to be more hype than proof for the most part (as it pertains to video)

The Red does sound like some exciting new technology for the right kind of projects and I'm sure it will become another successful tool in the DP's arsenal.

Thinking out loud: From what I can tell, it would cost a guy or gal about 30k to get invested in a RED system... is it worth it?
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#7 Tim Carroll

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 08:52 PM

Evan,

I knew what you were getting at, I just thought it was funny the way it came out.

And I tried to make it clear that my second statement wasn't referring to you. Which is why I put "Not referring to what Evan wrote above. . . " before the statement. I really do find it ironic, but I wasn't referring to you saying it.

Looking forward to seeing some footage, and I agree, compressed to fit online is really not going to do any good footage justice.

-Tim
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 09:00 PM

My one caveat, based on what I saw, was that rapid motion had that slight juttery feel that tends to come with video (think of the chase scenes in Apocalypto).


I wouldn't describe that as "juttery," but the opposite -- smeary, from a longer than 1/48sec shutterspeed.
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#9 Joe Taylor

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 09:04 PM

What he is saying is that the footage shot with RED looks better than the film transfer he saw. I've seen footage shot and projected in Chicago two weeks ago and what I saw was stunning. What I saw would hold its own with 70mm. And I used to get offended when friends called me a film snob. These new generation of Digital Cinematography cameras are going to change the movie industry in a big way and in a big hurry. Not only because the results are superior, because films costs a hell of a lot of money... even for the studios.
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#10 Wendell_Greene

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 09:06 PM

When I asked my friend what the 'bad' was he told me that the workflow was currently the biggest roadblock. Like I said, he owns an online house and does probably the most business in Toronto in music videos. He has resources out the wazoo but was still having to upgrade this and that or change around something or the other to make the Red footage flow smoothly in and out his doors.


Evan, appreciate your comments on the RED camera.

Could you or perhaps have your friend, go into detail about the specific problems with the RED workflow?

Thanks in advance.
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#11 Sam Wells

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 10:31 PM

I wouldn't describe that as "juttery," but the opposite -- smeary, from a longer than 1/48sec shutterspeed.


I don't know, from Red footage I've seen (Only online) some looks like from a shorter shutter speed than what it was shot at; still frames looking more like stills than film frames. Perhaps rolling shutter phenom, I don't know.

Re better highlight handling: here we really need to know what it (the film by comparison) was transferred on too - I don't think a Spirit "1" is a stellar performer in that regard.

-Sam
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#12 Michael Nash

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 11:19 PM

I meant the Apocalypto example was smeary. I've seen Red footage look both ways, I assume a result of chosen shutterspeed.
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#13 Evan Winter

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 12:05 PM

Hola,

Tim/Bugs: no harm no foul - your input is valuable and I'm thankful for it.

Michael N: I think your description may be more apt than mine - it is more smeary than juttery (it's the same kind of feel in the show 'Dexter' whenever one character chases another character or the camera moves quickly through space, etc).

Wendell G: I'll try and get more info out of my friend but his workflow is somewhat proprietary (he goes all the way from Raw footage -> Color/Transfer -> Proxies for editing -> Online work and efx -> Delivery) and he may be loathe to go into too much detail. From what he told me though the big issue was dealing with 4K files. Computers just aren't powerful enough to do this effectively/efficiently yet I guess. I asked why he didn't just shoot windowed 2K since he delivers all his work (TV shows, Commercials, Music Videos) on D-Beta. He said that windowed 2K would have the depth of field of 16mm and that the images were so pristine at 4K that he didn't want to lose any of that. Especially since he is in the process of trying to convince commercial agencies in the area that Red is a viable alternative to 35mm.

Bugs: Is it worth the 30K (I have a feeling it'd be closer to 50K to get truly suited up) to own the Red? I think that if you want to get into the rental business or if you're a ridiculously busy director/shooter then maybe. Personally, I'm a renter. I wouldn't want to drop 50 or 30 or even 20k now only to see Red or Sony or Panavision come out with a camera that's 2x as good in 5 years. Whereas, by renting one can always use the very best. Again, it all depends on your business model but given what I do renting is the way to go.

At the end of the day I wanted to report back to the forum on what I had seen because I was so impressed. I've been following the Red saga on this forum and in the last month or two over on the Reduser.net forum as well. I've seen almost all the Red footage that can be found online and while some stuff looked good other stuff looked quite bad.

Yesterday I got a chance to view Red footage created for a professional purpose under the perfect conditions (for D-Beta delivery) shot by a DP I respect and I got a chance to view this work side by side with 35mm film (shot at the same shoot under the same conditions). The Red footage looked better and I'm certain that if any of you were in that room with me most, if not all, would agree.

This doesn't necessarily mean much for theatrical presentation but it means a lot for Television (incl. D-Beta, HD, HD-DVD) delivery. Now, there are only two big questions left in my mind - 1. How much does the image fall apart when there is a lot of motion (camera motion & onscreen motion)?, 2. How do I implement an efficient and cost effective workflow so that I can get from shooting on Red to D-Beta delivery?

Question: What are the roadblocks preventing transfer houses from taking Red 4k, coloring it and dumping down to D-Beta? Cause once the stuff is colored and on D-Beta it's the same old workflow.

Evan W.
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#14 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 12:34 PM

I think I would still come away from that demonstration with a healthy dose of skepticism. I've seen the RED footage at NAB and it looked great.

But I'm still waiting for even more rigorous tests. Put the images through situations of extreme over exposure and underexposure to a degree where color correction cannot save the image.

In a finished product anything can be color corrected to look any number of ways. Years ago I saw a demonstration that tried to show mini DV shot with a 35mm adaptor will appear indistinguishable from 35mm film. The video shot from the 35mm adaptor did indeed look good in relation to the 35mm film. But if you were to put both through full and rigourous testing we all know the mini DV would come up quite short.

The DP is also a recent RED owner. I would imagine he plans to hire himself with the camera and is motivated to make it look and sound as great as possible. I'm not saying he is not telling the truth, but I am saying he is not a balanced and unbiased source.
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#15 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 12:40 PM

Not only because the results are superior, because films costs a hell of a lot of money... even for the studios.


This argument is getting a bit tired. First, the results are NOT superior to everyone. Second, the workflow is virtually untested, so studios aren't going to risk all for good ole JJ. Third, the cost of celluloid acquisition on major productions is only a fraction of the cost of the budget. Wanna do something to TRULY reduce the overhead of studios? Get Will Ferrell or Johnny Depp to take far less money per picture.

Look at it for a second...if you're paying (insert overpaid star here) $20,000,000 for a flick, and you shoot 35mm that cost you about $5.00/sec (I know it can be had cheaper, but even more proving my point). You shoot a whopping 20:1 ratio for a 90 minute movie. (90 * 20 = 1800 minutes * 60 secs/min = 108,000 secs * $5.00/sec) = $540,000 stock cost.

Does anyone think that saving the better part of $540,000 is going to help major Hollywood productions? Ok, sure you can add in the processing, DI, etc, but it STILL doesn't compare to what the Elite stars in Hollywood are making.

Get over the cost issue, Hollywood isn't worried about the stock cost.
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#16 John Sprung

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 07:04 PM

I meant the Apocalypto example was smeary. I've seen Red footage look both ways, I assume a result of chosen shutterspeed.

Exactly -- That's why we need side by side tests using the same shutter angle. That'll smoke out whatever difference there may be due to the rolling shutter.



-- J.S.
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#17 Lars Zemskih

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 08:01 PM

Look at it for a second...if you're paying (insert overpaid star here) $20,000,000 for a flick, and you shoot 35mm that cost you about $5.00/sec (I know it can be had cheaper, but even more proving my point). You shoot a whopping 20:1 ratio for a 90 minute movie. (90 * 20 = 1800 minutes * 60 secs/min = 108,000 secs * $5.00/sec) = $540,000 stock cost.


This is a really good point. The other pro and con here I see is that in any given long established market or a business model (such as film industry in countries like US and UK) usually when you find a way to get something cheaper or use less money on it, these original resources don't go anywhere, they are simply relocated. So a bad situation would be that the money saved on a production using camera such as Red and the money simply goes to overpaid actors. A good situation in this would be that the money goes to other things that make the film better, such as sets, insane cgi and maybe maybe to the very underpaid PA's.

Superman returns was shot on HD, it's budget is 270,000,000 $. I mean, where did the money go on saving all the film? Did Singer put it in his pocket? It was also edited on Adobe Premiere from what I heard (still can't get my head around why). So the question comes to mind is, how much really will it change the industry? Relocate the money spending? I am of course talking about big budgets here. What it can do for indies is to just make them easier to make and more of them to make, which means more job opportunities for us, so some of you, stop freaking out. I was freaking out too, but this is my opinion today and I believe in it.

As long as the film can make more than quadruple earnings though, there will always be tons of money invested.
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#18 Evan Winter

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 11:32 AM

This is a little unrelated. :)

But I have to ask, Emile why can't you get your head around why Superman Returns would be edited on Adobe Premiere Pro?

I know, I'm just being troublesome :) but a part of me really is curious because I cut on Premiere Pro and while it may be easier because of industry compatibility to work on FCP a cut is a cut and a dissolve is a dissolve (moreover, on Superman Returns the post-flow will cater to the primary editor's needs so compatibility shouldn't be a problem).

It's so strange, the reactions I get, whenever someone finds out that I do my post work on a PC. They always act like I just told them I majored in Klingon in college.

Of course I recognize that Apple have great UIs and working with their software/hardware is usually a pleasure. Indeed, if I had to do it all again I may have gone Apple.

However, once I'm actually in Premiere Pro and I'm doing a cut it's just as easy, functional, and 'artistic' as making an equivalent cut in FCP. What's more, 90% of the online efx I've seen are performed on After Effects; an Adobe product that speaks and plays far more easily (through Adobe Bridge) with Premiere Pro than with FCP.

Evan W.

Edited by Evan Winter, 27 October 2007 - 11:35 AM.

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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 11:39 AM

But I have to ask, Emile why can't you get your head around why Superman Returns would be edited on Adobe Premiere Pro?

I know, I'm just being troublesome :) but a part of me really is curious because I cut on Premiere Pro and while it may be easier because of industry compatibility to work on FCP a cut is a cut and a dissolve is a dissolve (moreover, on Superman Returns the post-flow will cater to the primary editor's needs so compatibility shouldn't be a problem).

It's so strange, the reactions I get, whenever someone finds out that I do my post work on a PC. They always act like I just told them I majored in Klingon in college.


Evan, why can't you get your head around someone majoring in Klingon in college? ;)
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#20 Nathan Milford

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 12:02 PM

Evan, why can't you get your head around someone majoring in Klingon in college? ;)



My German professor in college was a good friend of the linguist who created/adapted Klingon. He said it was a variation of Sanskrit with harder fricatives.
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