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Making Red cameras more like Alexa


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#1 Charles Kingston

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 10:27 PM

I’ve spend quite a lot of time reading over the last 7 years or so of discussions about the RED cameras, I found a lot of it more entertaining reading than useful. Actually, the two entries at the start of this RED folder probably contain more useful information that the other several hundreds of posts :)
 
I’ve never used anything but 2/3” format cameras (HDCAM and so forth), so my only experience with high-end digital cameras like Genesis, Red and Arri is limited to what I see on TV and movie screens. From all the hype, and the sheer number of Red cameras out there you would think there would be a lot more productions using them, but they seem to be restricted to lower-end stuff. (There are exceptions, but not so many as you would expect from such an advanced but relatively cheap camera).
 
I don’t have an particular ax to grind, but I've noticed that people keep saying that the Alexa has better color quality than the RED cameras, but I have to say I’venot really noticed that much of a difference, at least in the films and TV shows I’ve seen. A lot of people say the RED Code method of storing recordings is really hard to work with, others turn purple and scream it’s the easiest thing in the world, but it sounds like it really depends on what Post house you are working with.
 
(The people I deal with will only take RED code that has been converted to other Industry formats first, but they say there are other places that can accept it directly)
 
I would be interested to hear some opinions as to why for example, the newer Arri series cameras with apparently lower orders of performance seems to be cornering the market for digital film production.
 
And also, what do you think Red should (or could) do to improve the situation.

Edited by Charles Kingston, 01 April 2013 - 10:31 PM.

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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 11:29 PM

Primarily the ability to shoot right to ProRes in camera. They're much much much more realiable-- reds break down pretty often sadly. They're more ergonomic and user friendly which saves time and money on set. They also have a much better highlight handling capability -v- the reds with a gentler more "filmic" roll off on the shoulder. They require (in pro res) less work in post to get an acceptable image out of, however, they also offer full Raw capabilities. Some of them even have an Optical finder! Which, I can tell you, is a blessing.

I believe they use less power than the Reds. Their fans don't kick into overdrive between takes cause distractions. They record to a less proprietary media format (in pro res) being SxS cards, and accept 3rd party recorders off of their SDI with ease.

Also Arri is a lot less of a hype machine than red is.

Personally I find the colors the Alexa renders much nicer than that of the Reds, but that's just me. And, perhaps most importantly, people TRUST them. Arri has a long long history making cameras. They know what works and what doesn't and they didn't release a camera still in beta for the users to work the bugs out of (arri kind of prototyped the Alexa through the D20 and D21 to a high degree) and that trust carries a lot of weight. Plus, they interface with all the arri accessories most post houses already carry and people are familiar with.

 

 

my 2 cents.


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#3 peter roehsler

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 12:46 PM

I have been a RED user for 5 years, I never had a problem with the camera which could not be solved within minutes. Maybe I am just lucky.

People liked to bash RED because of it's workflow. They  neither understood the advantage of shooting (albeit visually lossless compressed) RAW nor the advantage of shooting 4K. 5 years later everbody is `inventing' 4K as the next best thing + codecs galore. Had it not been for RED, digital cinema cameras would still cost in excess of 150k and HD would suffice for TV work, thus keeping 35mm alive as the `quality' medium for the big screen. ARRI has been very successful in trying to catch up - whether their new 4K or 6K cam will be a match for RED remains to be seen ...
 
ps: `color' does not come from the sensor only, there are DPs, gaffers, lenses, filters, lights (and gels) and colorists along the way to a finished product. 

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#4 Freya Black

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 07:46 AM

. Had it not been for RED, digital cinema cameras would still cost in excess of 150k and HD would suffice for TV work, thus keeping 35mm alive as the `quality' medium for the big screen. ARRI has been very successful in trying to catch up - whether their new 4K or 6K cam will be a match for RED remains to be seen ...

 
Actually the DVX100 and HVX200 were much cheaper than the Red One. Theres probably less in the way of cheaper digital cinema cameras now than there was back then.
 
 

ps: `color' does not come from the sensor only, there are DPs, gaffers, lenses, filters, lights (and gels) and colorists along the way to a finished product. 

 

The sensor is first in line tho. It's somewhat like the filmstock in a camera. For instance, if you shoot with a monochrome sensor it's going to be a difficult affair putting the colour back in further down the chain.

 

love

 

Freya


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#5 peter roehsler

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 10:54 AM

"Actually the DVX100 and HVX200 were much cheaper than the Red One. Theres probably less in the way of cheaper digital cinema cameras now than there was back then."

 

 
If you want to count DVX and HVX as digital cinema cameras, you may certainly have a point. OTOH these were costing about twice what a decent prosumer video camera with a non-avchd codec costs these days.
 

"The sensor is first in line tho. It's somewhat like the filmstock in a camera. For instance, if you shoot with a monochrome sensor it's going to be a difficult affair putting the colour back in further down the chain."

 

Ok - I do not want to sound like `beggars can't  be choosers', but for low-budget indie productions the option of renting from Panavision, Arri etc never existed, whereas there are plenty of RED owner/operators out there, who will meet budget restrictions if they like your projects (I happen to be one of them ;-) - just like back in the days when we used AGFA stock, beause that's what we could afford. But that is only one side of RED. If mega-budget productions, where choice of cameras is not driven by cost, opt for RED, it certainly should be good enough for me. I do not worry which sensor has which look, as I would not be able to rent anything else anyway. I always hear people saying good things about Alexa colours, but it could very well be that these people spend somebody else's money when they rent.

 

For me owning a RED camera means the freedom to start shooting anything, anytime - it's like owning you own studio.


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#6 Keith Walters

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 11:02 PM

I would be interested to hear some opinions as to why for example, the newer Arri series cameras with apparently lower orders of performance seems to be cornering the market for digital film production.
 
And also, what do you think Red should (or could) do to improve the situation.

As Adrian says, most producers prefer the simplicity of recording directly view-able footage. The blanket assertion that 4K raw is always going to give better results has not been demonstrated to their satisfaction.

The correct solution would be to do what Arri do and offer Pro Res etc as the standard, with Raw as an option.

 

The trust problem is a much bigger issue than Red seem to appreciate.

On one hand you have an near-century old company with a  impressive film track record, getting into bed with the Fraunhofer Institute to produce a convincing replacement for 35mm. The Fraunhofer Institute is a technological powerhouse which typically is granted around 500 "serious" patents a year.  Every time you watch a DVD, listen to MP3, watch Digital TV  or use just about any digital compressed format, somewhere you will (theoretically :) ) be paying royalties to the Fraunhofer institute.

On the other hand you have an upstart Californian company with no track record, proudly boasting that "they don't know what they're doing" and have gone on to prove just that numerous times. 

 

As for the color fidelity, no amount of "Color Science" or any other post-capture fiddling is going to make up for inferior performance of the sensor dye filters. I know that in the past, with single-tube color cameras, manufacturers used enormously complicated test setups that allowed them to insert separate color filters (or even filter "tanks" containing dye mixtures in liquid form), so they could fiddle around with the filters more or less at will. Generally single-tube color cameras used yellow and cyan stripes rather than a Bayer mask, but I would imagine that CCD sensor manufacturers  would have used similar techniques when designing their Bayer Masks.

 

Certainly the Fraunhofer institute would have the technological resources to carry out such research, and it appears to have paid off.

 

I have no idea how (or even if) Red's sensor manufacturer  does any similar research into dye "fine tuning", but you would think that if they did, Red wouldn't be slow to tell us all about it!

 

With film, dye formulations are a closely guarded trade secret, the result of countless man-hours of R&D, which explains why there were so few colour film  manufacturers in the world. Much the same principle would apply to Bayer Mask formulations.


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#7 Paul Bartok

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 04:28 AM

This may sound stupid, but I love RAW for the flexibility in post production is great, but I hate it because it's too much freedom, I mean I may have had a idea of a 4:1 ratio lighting then some one can just come in and lift the shadows in post or take the contrast out of the scene and on lower end films this may be the case more often then on big budget films. At least with Film stocks you get what you shoot, after that it's more harder to mess with the image or at least without the DP knowing about it.

 

I think there both great camera's and they shouldn't necessarily have to match each other, I like how there's difference's between the cameras.

Tho the one thing I dislike about RED is there over priced accessories, like $2000 for a lens adapter which is nothing but a piece of metal which comes bulk of the factory line no more then $50. And $100 for a couple of screws really...


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