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The Hobbit shooting on RED EPIC - big news?


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#1 James Malamatinas

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 04:11 AM

So, it appears Peter Jackson will be using RED's new EPIC camera for shooting The Hobbit, link below:

http://reduser.net/f...ead.php?t=52300

Just wondering if people consider this just another small evolution for digital cinematography or whether this camera, as well as the Alexa, will have a big impact in moving a lot of direcotrs and productions from Film to Digital? Alternatively, is it simply because the film is due to be shot in 3D that the filmmakers have taken this decision?

After Avatar ushered in a new 3D era I've found it interesting that a lot of filmmakers are having to use digital cameras instead of film to shoot stereoscopic and wonder whether this will have a lasting effect?

At the same time, has anyone had any time testing the EPIC or seeing its capabilities?
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#2 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 05:47 AM

One of the worst mistakes many new cinematographers and some directors make is getting too interested in whatever the newest technology is or will be. This unhealthy trend is nothing more than a distraction to something that is lacking elsewhere.

Big news? Lucas surprised people back in '02 when he used the Sony to shoot Star Wars with, but since then all the "big news" we get to hear about is big marketing without much to back it up with, the red guys being the worst contributors to that with Panasonic and Sony close behind.

Alexa finally broke the DR barrier some months ago; Deakins likes it, Richardson is using them on a Scorsese film, so what could be big news at this point? Resolution has been there for a while, now DR is, maybe now the famous "digital is just another tool" quote will finally sink in and people will stop all the (soon-to-be embarrassing looking) back and forth discussion.

Personally, I generally prefer using film for narrative projects I'm in charge of because I see and feel something that I do not get from any digital capture, 15+ stops of DR or not, and this is a preference just as I prefer In-and-Out to Burger King.
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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 06:50 AM

just as I prefer In-and-Out to Burger King.





One of the biggest downsides - possibly the only downside - of living four thousand miles from California is that I'm also four thousand miles from the nearest In-and-Out.


Mmmm, burger.
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#4 James Malamatinas

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 06:53 AM

It wasn't so much the technology itself I was getting at, as you said I completely agree with the 'digital is just another tool' sentiment - for that reason exactly I think it is worth tracking these developments to see what sort of 'tool' these cameras are i.e. how they can serve a shoot, their benefits/disadvantages etc.

My original post however was more interested in whether or not this is a big or small step towards a time when film becomes a minority format. Obviously that time is quite a way off but with the digital cameras improving all the time I find it fascinating seeing how the landscape changes with these new developments.
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#5 Francesco Bonomo

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 07:01 AM

One of the worst mistakes many new cinematographers and some directors make is getting too interested in whatever the newest technology is or will be.

Vincent, fascination with new technology and new tools is what pushes the boundaries of storytelling forward, it's always been like that. This is nothing new and nothing to worry about. Actually, I think it's great that there are so many different tools filmmakers and cinematographers can choose from these days.
But if you mean that many people choose the tools just because they're the "next big thing", then I totally agree with you. (Disclaimer: I'm definitely NOT a fan of 3D).


Big news? Lucas surprised people back in '02 when he used the Sony to shoot Star Wars with, but since then all the "big news" we get to hear about is big marketing without much to back it up with, the red guys being the worst contributors to that with Panasonic and Sony close behind.

Yes, marketing is bad, especially when it comes first and when no useful "real" information is provided (actually I like what Arri is doing on their website by interviewing cinematographers and assistants regarding the Alexa). I think RedUser and the Red website are the worst marketing tools we've seen in a long time (I mean, they're probably great for marketing, but completely useless for people who want to know more about the cameras and who probably are going to use them in the field). If it wasn't for a dozen "serious" people on RedUser, the real information there would be close to zero. I can understand why red "fans" are excited because of the Hobbit news, but frankly I'd be more interested to read more about what cinematographers, operators and assistants think about the new epic cameras, rather than having to browse through hundreds of way-over-the-top, cult-like messages written by people who sound like they're 12 years old.


"digital is just another tool" quote will finally sink in and people will stop all the (soon-to-be embarrassing looking) back and forth discussion.

That'd be great, but I doubt it's gonna happen.
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#6 georg lamshöft

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 08:22 AM

The size and weight of the RED Epic makes it a very interesting choice for a 3D-rig. I personally would not want to handle an ARRI Alexa 3D-rig...

Why isn't there a 35mm-3D-rig in use? Two Aaton Penelope are not so huge at all. I mean besides the extreme cost for twice the film stock in such a humble, small project...

The RED Epic uses the current generation RED-sensor just in a different size. So it will propably look like "the social network" - I couldn't stand it a second time on the big screen...

But I'm not a big fan of the Tolkien-stuff anyway, I liked most the first LotR and it went downhill from there and I'll wait for "Batman rises" on 15perf 70mm - THAT's 21st century image-quality!
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#7 K Borowski

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 12:54 PM

Alternatively, is it simply because the film is due to be shot in 3D that the filmmakers have taken this decision?


Bingo. It's amazing, at least to me, that productions that could shoot on a 4-perf. budget can't put a pair of 2-perf. 35s together and spend the exact same amount on stock.


I don't know. Maybe directs are more comfortable with the resolution of 3D being so abysmally low too. . .
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#8 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 05:18 PM

Well Phil the downside, in the opposite way, is that I can't order mushy peas or find any decent fish & chips around here. No matter where you go...

Are you coming to Vegas again this year?
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#9 Richard Boddington

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 05:45 PM

Well Phil the downside, in the opposite way, is that I can't order mushy peas or find any decent fish & chips around here. No matter where you go...


You can't find any decent fish and chips in the UK either, it's all cod. Yuck. I only eat halibut.

R,
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#10 K Borowski

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 05:58 PM

Why isn't there a 35mm-3D-rig in use? Two Aaton Penelope are not so huge at all. I mean besides the extreme cost for twice the film stock in such a humble, small project...


Television shows can afford to shoot 3-perf. A movie can't afford to shoot 4? Yes this is 25% more expensive, but, so what? The money can probably be made up just in terms of a lower-resolution scan. 1.4K is practically an SD finish.


The only sensible reason I can see that there isn't a single film 3D system out there is that it is a conscious, deliberate attempt by the butts in this industry that are greedy to ram technology down our throats at two year intervals.

Hey, but what do I know? I'm just some dumb film loader who is pro-union to boot. I must have dropped out of high school to work in this field and have an Italian mob boss in the family to get me in :ph34r:
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#11 Tony Brown

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 02:57 PM

You can't find any decent fish and chips in the UK either, it's all cod. Yuck. I only eat halibut.

R,


I love Halibut.... if many more of our east Europeans cousins come here it'll be all Carp and Cabbage shops in my manor
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#12 Keith Walters

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 11:32 PM

So, it appears Peter Jackson will be using RED's new EPIC camera for shooting The Hobbit, link below:

http://reduser.net/f...ead.php?t=52300

Just wondering if people consider this just another small evolution for digital cinematography or whether this camera, as well as the Alexa, will have a big impact in moving a lot of direcotrs and productions from Film to Digital? Alternatively, is it simply because the film is due to be shot in 3D that the filmmakers have taken this decision?

After Avatar ushered in a new 3D era I've found it interesting that a lot of filmmakers are having to use digital cameras instead of film to shoot stereoscopic and wonder whether this will have a lasting effect?

At the same time, has anyone had any time testing the EPIC or seeing its capabilities?

I think Digital cameras are more appropriate for 3-D at this stage of the game anyway; you need the realtime HD monitoring capability because nobody is too sure what any particular 3-D effect is going to come out like. Maybe as DOPs get more experience with 3-D they will get a better handle on estimating what shooting conditions are needed to get what effects and so on.

Peter Jackson is a bit of a worry though.
First he went totally gaa-gaa over the original Red One, you know, the first of the 100 that had to be recalled and has had over 20 versions of its operating software, and for a long time had sonme serious operational difficulties.
While they'e eventually managed to massage the RED One into a workable camera, I've never seen anything from it that I would describe as more than "ordinary", in fact I haven't seen much footage from it at all in the wild.

So now early next year PJ is launching into two more very expensive episodes of an Iconic franchise, to be entirely shot on an entirely new model camera that has been plagued by production delays, and many of the 30 cameras apparently aren't even built yet!

I really don't get this. When the rubber meets the road, it's unlikely the Epic is going to look as good as film, so nobody but Reduser fanboys are going to be impressed by the image quality, but shooting on film (or even one of the more established video alternatives) is pretty much 100% going to guarantee a satisfactory result, on time and within budget.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for taking risks, but only when there is an at least reasonable chance of a worthwhile outcome from doing so. If all goes well, PJ will at best come out with a farily ordinary-looking movie. If all doesn't go well, he's just going to wind up looking silly. Like Linux, this is a typical "No-Win" situation :)
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#13 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 11:36 PM

Keith, I get shivers sometimes when you make sense.....


On the other side, a bit, if you're PJ, you kinda have enough clout to "work out," those "mistakes/errors/problems." says me.
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#14 Keith Walters

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 01:19 AM

Well Phil the downside, in the opposite way, is that I can't order mushy peas or find any decent fish & chips around here. No matter where you go...

You could always make your own. I have an inexpensive Deep Fryer set up in my garage, filled with a mixture of Sunflower Oil and Beef Dripping. If I want chips, all I have to do is switch it on, then while it's heating up, go and peel and slice one or two fresh potatoes. They only take 7-8 minutes to cook, and where are you going to get better chips than that?

Fortunately I live near an upmarket seafood store, so I can get good fish too.

Up in the state of Queensland (north of here) they must have some sort of strict labelling regulations regarding the source of seafood. Once I went to this little beachside cafe for some fish and chips. You could order any type of fish they had in their counter display to go with your chips, but the only type of fish that was labelled "Product of Australia" was so-called "Flake" which is a local euphemism for shark!

Everything else was imported. Barramundi is a highly esteemed freshwater fish native to Australia, but all the Barramundi they had was "Farmed in Taiwan"!

The stupid thing was, the week before, I'd been out fishing in the same bay and caught quite a few good-sized bream and flathead.
We catch an enormous amount of high quality fish around Australia, but most of it gets exported and substituted with frozen imported crap. At least with our high dollar at the moment, local fish is pretty affordable.

As for mushy peas, I can't remember the last time I had any of those form a fast food joint that were even vaguely edible. But as with the chips, at least I can buy the dried peas in my local supermarket and make my own.
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#15 Donald Wong

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 01:15 AM

There exists a 35mm, VistaVision, 3D camera system. It's the GEMINI 3D camera and there's info on it at the websites below:

http://gemini3dcamera.com/Home.html

http://thirdmagazine...3d-film-camera/

http://machinedesign...chnologies-0807

http://blog.bigmoviezone.com/?p=3551
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#16 Michel Hafner

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 04:02 AM

Speaking of VistaVision. John Schwartzman thinks Epic looks like VistaVision: http://reduser.net/f...08&postcount=26
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#17 Francesco Bonomo

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 09:44 AM

Speaking of VistaVision. John Schwartzman thinks Epic looks like VistaVision: http://reduser.net/f...08&postcount=26


looks like this time they're at least giving the camera to established cinematographers to test (there's also a reference about Andrew Lesnie in the post you linked), and that's a good thing. In the same thread they say there's going to be an article on American Cinematographer about it (I think a comparison between different digital camera systems and anamorphic film), I look forward to reading it. As I wrote elsewhere, I'd love to hear more from assistants and camera operators who've tested/used the camera, but I'm sure that's going to change once the cameras hit the rental houses sometimes next year.
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#18 Thomas James

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 12:39 PM

Jim Jannard is boasting that the Epic can shoot at 120 frames per second. With 3D higher frame rates are a must. Of course film cameras can shoot at higher frame rates but at what cost?
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#19 K Borowski

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 12:59 PM

Hey man, right back at you on this one:


COST sub 35mm = frame rate used / 24 frames

COST sub 35mm sub lighting compensation = frame rate used / 24 frames * union gaffer wage + light department wage / 60 per light to avoid HMI flicker.
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#20 Thomas James

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 04:15 PM

The cost of lighting will just be a cost of doing business. More and more Directors will start to realize that in order to do 3D right the rules of the game will have to change. This does not mean that film will be dead overnight because a Director can choose to use 2 perf 35 mm film or even 16 mm stock with the suprising result that the higher frame rate 16mm footage will appear sharper. In fact the NFL Films production company has been shooting 16mm film at 120 frames per second for years and nobody complains about the picture quality.
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