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Big Red Sensors Theory


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#1 Chris Nuzzaco

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 03:41 AM

Hey Guys. I've read a lot of discussion about the new big sensors from Red, especially that huge 28K monster and the medium format one. Most of the argument centered around lenses, and rightfully so.

Especially focus pulling.

Here's my theory:

They might be laying a sensor groundwork for light field cinematography, a moving version of this stuff:

http://www-graphics....apers/lfcamera/

http://www.notcot.co...e_lightfiel.php

This type of imaging DEMANDS larger sensors (read, higher resolution) to really work at a professional level thats actually useful. What I find so darn ironic about this, assuming it's one of their targets, is that all the focus pulling arguments people are laying out are more or less vaporized!

Another thing I noticed was Adobe's development with the technology, and their newfound chummy devotion to supporting Red's cameras.

Makes you wonder.
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 04:52 AM

That'll annoy all those people in love with shallow DoF shots.
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#3 Chris Nuzzaco

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 10:15 AM

That'll annoy all those people in love with shallow DoF shots.



Actually it won't. The neat thing about this type of technology is actually DOF control. If you read up on it more, you'll find that you can actually stop the camera down when shooting in bright sunlight, then in post, narrow the DOF. Simply amazing stuff.
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#4 Edgar Dubrovskiy

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 05:09 AM

It seems DP's will have less and less control over the image in future.
First, leaving all colours to post. Now, focus as well.
Hm...

Edited by Edgar Dubrovskiy, 03 December 2008 - 05:09 AM.

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#5 matt marek

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 01:09 PM

i haven't read all the 'red' posts out there, so forgive me if i'm sounding repetitive.

experienced 1st's that i've talked with, are of the opinion that 'we will not work with it' - not in a stand off-kind of tone, just one that it's not practical for a lot of the narrative/commercial/music video work out there.

yes, for the guys shooting baraka II, and nat geo, sure there's a market, but there's always been that small niche market of guys that shoot imax or 65mm. larger sensor is like a larger neg size. nothing new here!

will FF35 become the standard format, i wager no.
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#6 Max Jacoby

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 01:20 PM

Sorry, but I think your theory is ridiculous. Bigger sensors do not offer more depth of field, but less!

The reason Red offer bigger sensors is simply because they want to spread out into the stills photography market as well. They might as well try to amortize their development costs by making bigger sizes of the same sensor, such as the ones used in medium format photography and above.
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#7 Emmanuel Decarpentrie

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 03:24 PM

Sorry, but I think your theory is ridiculous. Bigger sensors do not offer more depth of field, but less!


With all due respect Max, did you simply read one of those aforementioned (and very interesting) 2 links? Especially the second one?

While I do agree with you about the fact Red certainly didn't show any interest in those technologies so far, I wouldn't jump to conclusions either (like "Bigger sensor = less DOF")... And the prospective of being able to forget about focus during the shoot and set/change focus during the post-production is certainly one I'd be interested in...
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#8 Max Jacoby

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 03:34 PM

Oh indeed, I didn't read the second link! I was under the impression that the idea was trying to get a shot with everything in focus and then blurring the selected areas afterwards.
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#9 Emanuel A Guedes

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 10:53 AM

Interesting, Chris. Thanks for posting.

E. :-)
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#10 Tom Lowe

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 11:43 AM

The reason Red offer bigger sensors is simply because they want to spread out into the stills photography market as well.


I don't agree. I think a larger FF35, aka Vista Vision, sensor is simply designed to produce better image quality. Certainly that is the case in the stills market, where S35-sized sensors are looked down upon as a "consumer" format, while most (non-sports) "pros" shoot only FF35. It only makes sense. The FF35 sensors do produce better images. Why would motion pictures be any different? There are very few working DPs and directors who have not at least secretly dreamed about shooting on 65mm or Vista Vision or IMAX, etc, IMO.

Jim says these FF35 cameras will compete with DSLRs in the stills category, but I doubt it. These are digital cinema cameras that also happen to be able to take stills, as far as I can tell now.

Getting back to the FF35 sensor.... by offering the option of slapping on a PL mount and windowing the sensor area to roughly S35, they are making the camera more flexible for cinema work and existing cinema lenses. In time, FF35 cine lenses will come along, and they will be put to good use on epic films in the style of Braveheart, Dances With Wolves, etc.

Some of the issues that have kept 65mm and Vista Vision from really working up until now (cost, size, large neg, etc) don't really apply to digital in the same way. Therefore, I think it is wide and forward-thinking to look at all formats with a fresh eye, and to figure out which might be viable in a digital cinema environment.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 06:13 PM

They may have just hit a technological wall in improving sensor performance without going larger than S35, which is too bad. I don't really relish FF35 depth of field problems, but if it makes a better picture...

Trouble is that even if an image is only slight off in focus, your 4K resolution quickly becomes 1K.
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#12 Tom Lowe

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 07:51 PM

Yeah, could be. Even Canon seems to have hit the wall with their 50D (APS-C) sensor. It has 15MP, but the universal conclusion is that they are trying to pack too many photosites onto the APS-C sensor.
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#13 Chris Kenny

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 09:05 PM

Well, remember, a larger sensor means either larger photosites (lower noise), more resolution (also lower noise, once you scale to your deliverable resolution), or some combination of the two. This means you should be able to underexpose (stop down to get deeper focus) and still retrieve a decent image.

Or maybe this will be the impetus for someone to finally build a practical and affordable autofocus system that works for cine-style shooting. Some kind of targetable rangefinder system married to a focus control motor and a lens data system, presumably.
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#14 Tom Lowe

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 09:23 PM

Keep in mind that sensors are getting faster and faster, so presumably you could just increase the ASA/ISO then stop down a bit. Here is an ISO 6400 shot I stumbled across today (I did not take it) from the new Canon 5D2...

Posted Image
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#15 Fran Kuhn

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 11:37 PM

Well, remember, a larger sensor means either larger photosites (lower noise), more resolution (also lower noise, once you scale to your deliverable resolution), or some combination of the two. This means you should be able to underexpose (stop down to get deeper focus) and still retrieve a decent image.


Hi Chris (and Tom, if you're reading this),

Any thoughts as to why RED wouldn't simply stick with a Super 35-sized sensor? Since you have to dial up the ASA/ISO (or quadruple your lighting package to stay at a lower ASA/ISO) and stop down to get a workable DOF with the bigger chip, isn't that just a self-defeating methodology? Seems like you'd end up with the same image quality as Super 35 if you have to take the higher ASA route with the larger chip.

Thanks,

-Fran
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#16 Tom Lowe

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 12:05 AM

Fran, you can get an S35 Epic. There are S35 and FF35 models. I think what David wants is a Super 35 Epic with a Monstro (higher dynamic range) sensor that has at least 5K. I can understand why he wants this. It makes perfect sense to me. Jim should definitely pay attention to his request, if it is at all technologically feasible. As of right now, S35 has a "lesser" sensor... the "Mysterium X," which has less DR than Monstro.

With the FF35 Epic, I don't think you can get a full 5K when it is windowed to S35. I'm not sure about that, though. It might be like 4.5K, which would fall short of "True 4K." Most people think "True 4K" will require a 5- or 6K Bayer-pattern camera to produce.

But IMHO, FF35 might really catch on, once good FF35 cine lenses become available. People who are saying, "I only need S35" right now might change their tune down the road.
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#17 Fran Kuhn

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 12:53 AM

Fran, you can get an S35 Epic. There are S35 and FF35 models. I think what David wants is a Super 35 Epic with a Monstro (higher dynamic range) sensor that has at least 5K. I can understand why he wants this. It makes perfect sense to me. Jim should definitely pay attention to his request, if it is at all technologically feasible. As of right now, S35 has a "lesser" sensor... the "Mysterium X," which has less DR than Monstro.

With the FF35 Epic, I don't think you can get a full 5K when it is windowed to S35. I'm not sure about that, though. It might be like 4.5K, which would fall short of "True 4K." Most people think "True 4K" will require a 5- or 6K Bayer-pattern camera to produce.

But IMHO, FF35 might really catch on, once good FF35 cine lenses become available. People who are saying, "I only need S35" right now might change their tune down the road.



Thanks, Tom.

The part David mentions about wanting the higher DR chip in Super 35 makes sense, but, again, I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around this whole FF35 (and 645) thing.
It's in part because of my experience with stills, having tried for years to shoot action with medium format. In the end, those bigger cameras weren't worth the effort because I'd have to use a higher ASA/ISO with medium-format to get the needed DOF. So, while I'd be shooting grainy 400 ASA with medium format at f8, the same setup could easily be shot with super fine-grained 50 ASA at f 2.8 on 35mm. In the end, the image quality wasn't all that different, but the DOF on the medium format camera made for a lot of un-useable frames.

Has anyone from RED explained how they expect this is going to work? The commentary I've seen is always about better DR, less noise, etc, but I haven't heard anything that leads me to believe this whole DOF issue won't be a big problem with the bigger chips (and nothing takes you out of the moment faster than a buzzed shot). I'm getting sick of hearing myself raise this question, but I would think by now someone from RED would have jumped in to say, "Hey. . .here's how we plan on dealing with that issue." Maybe they have and I've just missed it, but I sometimes wonder if anyone there is even thinking about it.

A while back I posted something about how, for these formats to be practical, it seems they would have to be introduced concurrently with some kind of military-grade auto focus system the likes of which the private sector has never seen before. Maybe that's what RED has in the bag.

-Fran
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#18 Max Jacoby

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 03:35 AM

I don't agree. I think a larger FF35, aka Vista Vision, sensor is simply designed to produce better image quality.

Fair enough for FF35 size sensors, but I don't think people are going to take that 168x56mm sensor and start shooting movies with it ;)
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#19 Chris Kenny

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 09:57 AM

Any thoughts as to why RED wouldn't simply stick with a Super 35-sized sensor? Since you have to dial up the ASA/ISO (or quadruple your lighting package to stay at a lower ASA/ISO) and stop down to get a workable DOF with the bigger chip, isn't that just a self-defeating methodology? Seems like you'd end up with the same image quality as Super 35 if you have to take the higher ASA route with the larger chip.


Presumably because it gives you more options. With the larger sensor, if it's a shot where pulling focus isn't that challenging, or where there's plenty of light (so you can stop down without underexposing), you expose normally and get a better image than you could with the smaller sensor. If it's a shot where you haven't got enough light and there's going to be a tricky focus pull, you stop down and put up with a more noisy image -- but an image that probably holds up fine relative to what a smaller format camera would deliver when exposed normally. So you get a camera that produces better images under ideal conditions, and similar images under more challenging conditions.

If the numbers from the original Nov. 13th announcement are still accurate, Monstro (the FF35 sensor) will deliver about two more stops of dynamic range than Mysterium-X (the S35 sensor). This presumably comes down to its larger photosites. Given the constraint that you need at least 5K+ photosites to deliver 4K+ debayered resolution (which is clearly one of Red's goals), you obviously have no choice but to make the sensor physically larger if you want to make the photosites larger.
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#20 Tom Lowe

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 11:02 AM

One of the real questions is: Can Epic FF35 provide a windowed S35 capability at 5K resolution?

I really think that "True 4K" finishes will become the gold standard for Epic. Not to mention that companies like Sony and Arri are likely to get on board with 4K at some point in the not-to-distant future.
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