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Future of the RED Camera?

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#1 Paul Korver

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 11:18 AM

Over the past few years I've read countless posts by leaders and promoters of the RED camera questioning the Future of Film, saying Film is Dead, and the Red Camera being the Film killer, it's with a twinge irony that I bring up the following chain of events as food for thought:

A few weeks ago Jim announces he's "taking a back seat" and handing the reigns to Jared Land:

http://www.engadget....ard-steps-down/

A week or so after that Ted Schilowitz resigns:

http://www.ocbj.com/...e-no-1-departs/

Today Cioni and LightIron distance themselves from the camera that put them on the map and touts their work with the Canon C500 and Alexa :

http://lightiron.com...-red-post-house

I'll be honest, I really respect what the Jim, Ted, Michael Cioni and the rest of the RED Camera Team did to push our industry forward. But am I crazy or it does seems like those responsible for creating and championing the technology are backing away en masse and in a time span of about 30 days?

In that same 30-day time span Kodak announces it's emerged from bankruptcy and it's motion picture film commitment to producing motion picture film:

http://motion.kodak....71822/index.htm

Five days ago 12-Years A Slave, shot on 35mm, wins the Toronto Film Festival:

http://www.deadline....s-choice-award/

And yesterday the Canon "Project Imagination" Film Contest with 99.9% of submissions shot on digital is won by a film shot on Super 16mm:

http://variety.com/2...est-1200616869/

Maybe the RED camera will just be an 8-year blip on the the history of cinematography? A fire-starter that finally got the "big boys" to reach for better dynamic range and resolution? Maybe the Alexa is the RED Killer? Maybe Jared Land will shoulder the weight of this company by himself and release the Dragon to critical acclaim? And maybe film is still a relevant, and beautiful medium that will remain a creative choice for filmmakers for decades to come?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Best,

Paul Korver
President
http://cinelicious.tv
#dontbelievethehype
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#2 Randy J Tomlinson

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 03:06 PM

A few Years back i went to Filmschool. We had classes in Cinematography - Directing as well as Cameratechnics. The Cameraclasses were 50% / 50% Digital and Film.

I loved that, because it really gave me a neutral view on both, so i could decide without influence and pressure in which direction i want to go.

And it was easy. I am walking the path of film for several reasons. The biggest one is probably the econonic one. A Videographer is quasi forced to "upgrade" his gear every couple years due to obsolete technics such as mediums as well as cameras.

 

If we have a look how many different mediums we had in the past 5 years to store digital data, it really confuses me. Every year a new Camera. And every Camera or maybe every second one has a new storage thing built in. For the Videographer maybe not a big deal but the Guys in the Post will hate you if you bring a medium which was used 5 years ago.

 

OK, now lets talk Camera. Uuuhh where to begin? Shall we talk the many different Formats? DV, XD...RAW... or other technical terms such as 4:2:2, 4k etc... what is all that? Do i need to know? No i dont! Know why? Because i am a Filmmaker. I am interested in terms like "exposure", "shutterspeed". I dont want to waste my time with all the digital terms. I'd rather use that time to shot some nice footage. On FILM. A medium that still holds the most "Data" and is not limmited to "full HD" or 4k whatsoever.

 

I know i maybe sound rude and some professional videographers now start to be offended. I totally agree, when it comes to digital i am an Idiot. I do not know anything about Digital, RED Cameras, Alexas etc. But i dont need to. Simply because my World is Film.

 

Another reason why i have choosen Film over Digital is the distinctive Look of Film. Film is just beautiful and relaxes me when i watch it. Digital doesn't necessarily look like crap but after 10 minutes of intense consumption, my eyes start to hurt or at least i feel not so relaxed like when i watch Film.

 

Of course i respect every Cinematographer who works Digital. By no means this was meant offensive! It's just what I personally feel about Digital vs. Film

 

With the upmost Respect

 

Randy


Edited by Randy J Tomlinson, 20 September 2013 - 03:09 PM.

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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 05:43 PM

If Red was the "film killer" then so was the SAG-AFTRA conflict that forced new TV series to shoot digitally in order to work under an AFTRA contract, and so was the 3D craze that pushed native 3D productions to use digital cameras.  And so were all the other digital cameras on the market, starting with the F900, going through the Genesis, and onto Red, Alexa, F55, etc.  There have been a lot of factors involved in marginalizing film, including the switch to digital projectors in cinemas to handle 3D releases.

 

Red can hardly take the blame or the credit, they are just part of a trend that most people predicted by the early 2000's.

 

Doesn't really matter if the tide has slightly turned back towards film when the ship has already sailed.  This isn't a movie that you can run backwards in the projector -- digital is here to stay.

 

I last shot film three years ago; for all I know, that may have been the last time I will have used film.  Or maybe I'll get to use it next week, who knows?  But the odds are not in film's favor.

 

I wouldn't read too much into Jim Jannard's stepping down from being the visible head of Red, or people leaving a company after eight years.  But certainly, should Red ever disappear as a company someday, no one is going to claim that film killed it.  Sony, maybe, but not film. ;)

 

Red is a small company, and to some degree, so is Arri when it comes to the number of cameras sold -- neither probably approaches what Sony or Canon sells overall.  They are all in competition but on the other hand, they don't all necessarily have to sell the most units in order to be the most successful, some companies may have a lower profitability threshold.


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#4 Randy J Tomlinson

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 05:59 PM

I last shot film three years ago; for all I know, that may have been the last time I will have used film.  Or maybe I'll get to use it next week, who knows? 

 

 

If i win in the lottery next week, i will do a full feature and of course i will then ask you to do it with me. On Film ^^ :-)


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#5 Keith Walters

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 06:19 PM

Over the past few years I've read countless posts by leaders and promoters of the RED camera questioning the Future of Film, saying Film is Dead, and the Red Camera being the Film killer, it's with a twinge irony that I bring up the following chain of events as food for thought:

A few weeks ago Jim announces he's "taking a back seat" and handing the reigns to Jared Land:

http://www.engadget....ard-steps-down/

A week or so after that Ted Schilowitz resigns:

http://www.ocbj.com/...e-no-1-departs/

Today Cioni and LightIron distance themselves from the camera that put them on the map and touts their work with the Canon C500 and Alexa :

http://lightiron.com...-red-post-house

I'll be honest, I really respect what the Jim, Ted, Michael Cioni and the rest of the RED Camera Team did to push our industry forward. But am I crazy or it does seems like those responsible for creating and championing the technology are backing away en masse and in a time span of about 30 days?

In that same 30-day time span Kodak announces it's emerged from bankruptcy and it's motion picture film commitment to producing motion picture film:

http://motion.kodak....71822/index.htm

Five days ago 12-Years A Slave, shot on 35mm, wins the Toronto Film Festival:

http://www.deadline....s-choice-award/

And yesterday the Canon "Project Imagination" Film Contest with 99.9% of submissions shot on digital is won by a film shot on Super 16mm:

http://variety.com/2...est-1200616869/

Maybe the RED camera will just be an 8-year blip on the the history of cinematography? A fire-starter that finally got the "big boys" to reach for better dynamic range and resolution? Maybe the Alexa is the RED Killer? Maybe Jared Land will shoulder the weight of this company by himself and release the Dragon to critical acclaim? And maybe film is still a relevant, and beautiful medium that will remain a creative choice for filmmakers for decades to come?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Best,

Paul Korver
President
http://cinelicious.tv
#dontbelievethehype
#vivacelluloid

 

Funny you should mention that. Just yesterday somebody asked me if I can still transfer super-8 to video.

The last time I did this was about 15 years ago using a borrowed high-end Bauer projector and a BVP3 Tube Betacam, which gave a lot better results than most neighborhood TV repair shops offering the same service.

 

I did the entire family's collection in one session, recording onto Betacam tape and then dubbing to VHS.

Ironically, 15 years on, many of the  VHS tapes are no longer playable, and many of the recipients no longer have a VHS player anyway. I also have no way of playing the old Betacam Tapes, assuming they're any good either. I'm about to start transferring the workable VHS tapes to DVD, but that's hardly an ideal solution.

 

But I can tell you one thing, the films are still in perfect working order, some of them after spending over 20 years in a sometimes stifling hot garage!

 

There are even some Standard-8 colour films from nearly 50 years ago. Ironically their lower contrast makes them a much better candidate for video transfer.

 

So basically, the family's Super-8 movies have seen numerous videotape formats come and go. If future archaeologists found some super-8 movies preserved in the Antarctic and they were still operable, it would be obvious what they were, and it wouldn't be too hard for them to produce a device that could reproduce the images. Try doing that with an SD card.

 

Actually, that's another irony; all modern flash memory is based on 1960s silicon EPROM technology (Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory). Although it first appeared about 8 years after the first videotapes, it's gone on to become the dominant image storage medium of the 21st century. I still have a piece of video test equipment I built in 1985 that uses an EPROM (with a whopping 4 kilobytes capacity!) and the data is still intact after 28 years. (At the time they guaranteed 10 years...)

 

Meanwhile the writing is clearly on the wall for optical storage. Sales of CDs and DVDs are steadily being eroded by downloads (legal and otherwise) and, though this may be regarded as Blasphemy by some here, I don't think Blu-Ray is ever going to be the Great Blue Hope that people expected.


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#6 Matt Stevens

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 06:18 PM

A heck of a LOT of suckers had their 8mm films transferred to VHS and then threw the film out! I know people that are now regretting it. 8mm xfers to HD are amazing. 

 

As far as shooting film... I am finally seeing my first feature (maybe) coming into fruition and film is not in the cards. As much as I wanted to shoot on 16mm, RED is the only option. It fits the budget, pure and simple. It's the only choice (Alexa is too costly). 


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#7 Pavan Deep

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 04:42 AM

Digital is here to stay, but so is film - a shock to many. But then why shouldn’t the two co-exist for many years? Many still prefer to shoot on film and edit digitally, there’s nothing wrong with that – it is the best of both worlds. If we look at statistics we can easily see that the digital trend in Hollywood features increased rapidly and was probably intensified when Kodak was seen to be in major trouble in 2011, since the beginning of this year we have seen Kodak re-emerging as a different company, one that is committed to film. This has brought a new air of confidence that film is a viable option for image creation and we can see that film is becoming a popular choice, ironically for low budget features.

 

Digital has always been seen as easy, portable and cheap. If we look at digital productions we realize that the digital workflow isn’t always easy and can be full of headaches. Many filmmakers talk of how digital has liberated them freeing them from using huge equipment that’s associated with 35mm, but looking at today’s digital shoots where there seems to be a colossal amount of cables and a myriad of attachments making the cameras increasingly cumbersome and bulky that portability has gone. The cost of hiring film equipment and shooting film isn’t as much as digital. If we look at television productions that switched from film to digital, one of their main reasons for the switch is this belief that digital will be cheap, but for many this is not happening as many report no significant changes in costs.

 

 

Pav

 

 


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#8 AndreaAltgayer

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 12:55 PM

Hi Randy

 

Most DOPs that I know over here still use film to shoot feature films and ads.Digital for documentaries, music videos and the like.


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#9 Philip Kral

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 06:15 PM

I for one found the news from RED really surprising. There is still a community of die hard film users sticking with their medium even in the face of possibility of chapter 11 ending their film supply. Meanwhile, the people involved with RED who still have a large die-hard community are backing down from a little insecurity? I've never been a RED fan, but I still think they're a powerhouse in the industry and should be confident of their companies future.  

  

Saying that, If RED is on the down trend I don't believe it's because of film as much as I think it's their own fault. From the beginning they've been pushing the end the film and the idea that they're camera is the last that you would have to buy. But it's as Mr Tomlinson said: You have to keep updating your gear and RED makes you do just that. It wasn't enough to have the RED one.. but then you had to upgrade to the MX chip... then the EPIC.. and now the Dragon. Maybe people wouldn't switch to an ALEXA if they didn't add fuel to the constant "upgrade" ideology. Suddenly they aren't the next best upgrade.

      On a personal level, I always felt the ALEXA was designed for filmmakers and the RED for engineers. My first experience with the RED was that it was an awkward brick with a lens and the thing kept overheating (RED ONE mind you), reminded me when i was in the Army when you tested out a new device that had all the bells and whistles but the engineer never figured you needed it to not break when you dove for cover or got sand on it.   

 

I totally agree with Pav Deep, film and digital shouldn't be trying to replace each other. They're 2 different mediums. I've been focusing on allot of film related projects at the moment (It's funny- I also shot some 16mm film used in a Project Imagination short). Not only is it my format of choice, but I also want to enjoy it in case it does disappear in the future. But otherwise, I hope it stays on this uptrend, it is indeed a relevant medium.


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#10 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 02:02 PM

Red will be dead if it doesn't sort out its reliability issues. It got away with it when it was the only kid on the block, but now there are so many other options; find a bit more money in the budget you get an Alexa, haven't got any more money take a small compromise in resolution and get a C300/C500 - all of which are very solid and reliable machines. One is shocked when you hear of an Alexa fail - no one is shocked when a Red breaks down.

 

Productions are getting faster and more ambitious, they need cameras that won't fail or lose us time.

 

I just wish Red would stop manufacturing loads of new cameras, and just take its time to make a solid, kick-ass camera!


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#11 Paul Korver

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 10:39 AM

 

 

Doesn't really matter if the tide has slightly turned back towards film when the ship has already sailed.  This isn't a movie that you can run backwards in the projector -- digital is here to stay.

 

I last shot film three years ago; for all I know, that may have been the last time I will have used film.  Or maybe I'll get to use it next week, who knows?  But the odds are not in film's favor.

 

 

 

I enjoyed everyone's comments.  David - I was never suggesting that the "tide would turn" back to film in terms of sheer volume (btw it's never left in terms of awards and festival wins).  Yes indeed the volume ship has sailed... I was simply pointing out the some observations about seeming instabilities in the RED camera company... which I felt compelled to do because felt they mounted a fairly aggressive anti-film PR campaign.  I also thought it was ironic considering what was going on in the film world (Kodak emerging from bankruptcy etc). 

 

It will be interesting to see what unfolds over the next few years.  One thing is certain, if I were an investor in the company I'd be pretty concerned that the top 3 evangelists for the camera are hedging, leaving, or stepping away from the microphone.

 

-Paul


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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 11:30 AM

What evidence is there of an anti-film campaign by Red? Can you cite a printed advertisement? A banner at NAB saying "FILM IS DEAD"? Certainly some members of RedUser are vocally against film, but Jim Jannard has publicly stated many times that he loves film.  His beef, the main reason he started Red, was that he saw the industry embracing 1080P HD video as a substitute for film in the early 2000's.  Red has never spent that much on actual marketing; their ads in American Cinematographer are fairly recent, like starting last year.  Red is not anti-film.  They are anti-Sony maybe, but not anti-Kodak (what's the point?)  All the "film is dead" stuff comes from certain members of RedUser.

 

Companies are not static, people come and go.  Considering what a high-pressure environment it has been at Red (and I'm sure they are well-compensated for it), I'm more surprised that there isn't a higher turnover of key people.  As for Jannard himself, he may have personal reasons for stepping back from the spotlight, we don't know.

 

The enthusiasm that Red has inspired in some independent filmmakers should not be construed as being part of an anti-film campaign by Red.


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#13 John Holland

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 01:20 PM

David just out of interest .If the budget of "Big Sur" would have allowed you shot on Alexa rather than Epic , what would you  have chosen . Sorry to put 

you in a bit of a spot . John .


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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 02:08 PM

If the budget had allowed, I would have shot "Big Sur" in 35mm anamorphic and VistaVision. The Epic had just come out when we did the movie and barring shooting in VistaVision for the landscapes, or 35mm anamorphic, 5K on the Epic seemed like the next best thing.  

 

Now ultimately the budget never allowed a 4K finish, and being a 2K finish, I could have shot it on the Alexa... but my intent when I started was to capture the landscapes of Big Sur at a high resolution.

 

Remember that 2 1/2 years ago when we made the movie, the Alexa wasn't that common for features and I wasn't sure back then if I could afford to deal with recording Arriraw and they didn't have a 2K ProRes option back then, just 1080P.  And working up a logging trail and getting to set by putting the cameras on our laps and taking a four-wheel-drive truck up to the cabin for a week straight, the small size of the Epics were an advantage compared to an Alexa with Codex recorders (of course, if we had shot 35mm film, we would have dealt with getting the heavier cameras up that road anyway).

 

Even recently I was starting prep on a small feature that may be on hold now, and basically we couldn't afford to shoot Arriraw to Codex recorders, so it was down to either 2K ProRes on Alexas versus 5K raw on the Epic, and Epics are cheaper to rent as well.  But given a 2K finish, it was sort of 50/50 which camera route made more sense for our budget.


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#15 Giray Izcan

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 02:05 PM

I'm glad you said you would have liked to shoot it on 35. I'm kind of surprised, I thought you were more pro digital person.
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 04:55 PM

I don't see being pro-digital as being anti-film.


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#17 Giray Izcan

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 07:00 PM

I agree with you. What I meant was I thought you'd like to shoot on digital before film.
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#18 Keith Walters

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 07:58 PM

What evidence is there of an anti-film campaign by Red? Can you cite a printed advertisement? A banner at NAB saying "FILM IS DEAD"? Certainly some members of RedUser are vocally against film, but Jim Jannard has publicly stated many times that he loves film.  His beef, the main reason he started Red, was that he saw the industry embracing 1080P HD video as a substitute for film in the early 2000's.  Red has never spent that much on actual marketing; their ads in American Cinematographer are fairly recent, like starting last year.  Red is not anti-film.  They are anti-Sony maybe, but not anti-Kodak (what's the point?)  All the "film is dead" stuff comes from certain members of RedUser.

 

Companies are not static, people come and go.  Considering what a high-pressure environment it has been at Red (and I'm sure they are well-compensated for it), I'm more surprised that there isn't a higher turnover of key people.  As for Jannard himself, he may have personal reasons for stepping back from the spotlight, we don't know.

 

The enthusiasm that Red has inspired in some independent filmmakers should not be construed as being part of an anti-film campaign by Red.

The strange irony of all this is that long after other studios had started using Digital cameras made by Sony, virtually all Columbia features were still originated on film, even though Columbia are owned by Sony. But now that Columbia have finally decide to climb on the Digital bandwagon, most of their digital features seem to be shot on Red cameras.  All this while Red and Sony are busily suing each other…

Meanwhile Warner Bros, keen and early adopters of the (Sony made) Genesis, now seem to be making a concerted effort to return to film origination.

And of course, Disney have just announced that the new Star Wars films will actually be shot on film, 14 years after a certain small but perfectly formed producer declared that 1440 x 800 origination is all that is required for cinema release, and that henceforth celluloid is going the way of the 78 RPM record…

It’s also somewhat ironic that Jim Jannard’s third-to-last post on Reduser, was to announce that “Disney” had just phoned him to tell him how delighted they were with Red’s digital cameras…

If you can make something coherent from all that, please let me know :rolleyes:


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