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#1 Jesse Frank

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Posted 21 July 2016 - 12:44 PM

So I've been looking at RED cameras.  But I don't plan on getting one anytime soon as I'm a little low on the financial side of things.

 

As far as RED cameras go, I'm specifically looking at the RED Raven.  4K at 120 fps RAW!  What more could I ask for?

 

Despite all the wonderful features of the RED Raven, I still have some doubts.

 

First of all, the dragon sensor has rolling shutter.  Not a lot of rolling shutter, but enough to be very noticeable in fast pans.  Granted nobody would ever pan too quickly, but getting handheld shots like Paul Greengrass is tricky without seeing the wobble.  After getting my Gh4 I never shoot handheld in 4K.  This may not be an issue for most of you, but I love to shoot handheld.

 

Second issue is hard drive space.  I've spoken with a representative at RED about this, and was told about the relatively small RAW files that RED outputs.  I have no problem buying new hard drives, I just would like some kind of bench mark for how big a feature film could get shooting 5:1 RAW on a RED?

 

So far I've looked at Blackmagic as an alternative, but it doesn't seem like all the issues have been fixed with their cameras.  I've heard about the black sun spot and patterned noise, and it scares me a little.

 

I love my Gh4.  But I feel like that if I'm going to spend any money on equipment, its going to go towards a camera that I can shoot with for years to come...or until 4K becomes obsolete.

 

Any thoughts and advice would be much appreciated.


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#2 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 21 July 2016 - 01:01 PM

I'd look to other used RED models as the Raven is retailing at around $7000. You can get a Scarlet for significantly less than that, and the body isn't a monster like the One.


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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 21 July 2016 - 01:24 PM

So a few things... the Red workflow is kinda clunky. You can't just watch the footage at full resolution and frame rate without a super powerful computer. Red has done a good job making their codec more native with software, but it still requires a lot of rendering either pre edit or post edit, in order to convert it to either an editing or delivery codec like Pro Res or DNXHD.

Most people I work with convert Red footage as batches to a much smaller proxy codec like DNX36, which is most likely 1080p and doesn't use up much drive space. This way you never store the Red footage on your editing system, it's only proxy files. When you're done cutting, you would then export an XML/EDL or AAF from whatever editing software you use and conform to the original Red media in a program like DaVinci.

The cheap, cheap, cheap way to work with a lot of media is to buy a double bay SATA drive dock and bare drives. Then copy the Red media to an A/B set of bare drives as your shooting and store them in separate locations. I usually put the drives in a pelican case with padding. This way you're pretty safe during your shoot. Then only use one drive at a time to do the transcode process to your editing bay. At that point, I will auto-sync the audio using Pluraleyes and then import into whatever editing software I'm using.

If you shoot 4k 5:1 compression, you're looking at 56MBps, which is roughly 200GB per hour. So you're not looking at a whole heck of a lot of space. I've been working a lot with Red footage over the last two years and honestly, it's nowhere close to the size of Pro Res, Cinema DNG or ArriRaw. So the Red does have an upper hand with it's ultra efficient codec. Not saying it's the best codec in the world, but it does work well.

The Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6k is the only other Blackmagic camera I'd own outside of the pocket, which is what I shoot with. Black sun spot issues are gone and the Red's have just as much fixed pattern noise as the blackmagic's do. In fact, a recent test of the Red Dragon vs the URSA, showed the dragon to have MORE fixed pattern noise. The great thing about the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6k is that it has all the I/O you need stock. With the complete "accessory" package NEW, it's only around $8500 USD. The Raven with similar accessories is more like 10k.

Both cameras have their issues, the Blackmagic uses CFast cards which are expensive and ALL of the codec's are hogs compared to Red Code. The Red's are completely proprietary, so you kinda have to stick to using their fancy media, which is just SSD based. It's true neither camera has a global shutter stock, but the Ursa Mini will have it eventually, with a software update. The URSA mini is also a pretty darn good looking camera out of the box. The Red cameras always need a lot of tweaking in post, I've never been able to throw them into a sequence without doing some color, even after converting to REC709 and applying the proper LUT. You just don't get those issues with the Blackmagic cameras. Most of the modern software has the decode LUT built in and since there is only one LUT per camera, you can't make any mistakes.

Honestly, I wouldn't buy either camera NEW. I've already seen URSA Mini 4.6k's go on ebay and craigslist for around $2k off retail. They don't hold used value very well and to be put on a waiting list for the Raven, doesn't seem logical. It's just logical to wait until the very last minute and buy when you absolutely need it, rather then buying early and loose a lot of money. I also think at NAB 2017, we'll see some new products, so unless you need a camera tomorrow, you may wish to wait until April next year.
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#4 David Hessel

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Posted 21 July 2016 - 03:40 PM

Just want to post one correction to what Tyler just said. The Ursa Mini will NOT get global shutter via a firmware update. BM stated it wouldn't be available on this camera ever when they announced it was shipping without it. Maybe they will find a way to do it anyway but at this point it is not a guarenteed or even promised by BM so don't count on it.


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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 21 July 2016 - 07:03 PM

Just want to post one correction to what Tyler just said. The Ursa Mini will NOT get global shutter via a firmware update. BM stated it wouldn't be available on this camera ever when they announced it was shipping without it. Maybe they will find a way to do it anyway but at this point it is not a guarenteed or even promised by BM so don't count on it.


True, they did announce the global shutter option is "currently" not an option because they haven't been able to figure out how to compensate for the noise in the imager when it's less sensitive. However, I have a feeling they will allow people to activate the global shutter option under lower ASA's in the future.

Unlike the Red and Alexa cameras, which have stayed away from global shutters stock. It's true that Red has the "motion mount" option for some models, but it's just another expensive add-on.
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#6 David Hessel

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Posted 21 July 2016 - 08:15 PM

Joshua and/or Terry from BM has basically said that has been completely scraped and is no longer going to be implemented. Most are hoping for a MII version that will have it. Be sure to mention when something is your opinion so someone doesn't buy it only to discover it is never going to happen later.
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#7 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 21 July 2016 - 11:53 PM

Joshua and/or Terry from BM has basically said that has been completely scraped and is no longer going to be implemented. Most are hoping for a MII version that will have it. Be sure to mention when something is your opinion so someone doesn't buy it only to discover it is never going to happen later.


Well, it wasn't my opinion.
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#8 David Hessel

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 12:25 AM

However, I have a feeling they will allow people to activate the global shutter option under lower ASA's in the future.


Sounds like an opinion to me and reps for the company have said it isn't going to happen so I am not sure what else to call it, maybe speculation. I agree with you in that if they can do it they will, BM is good about that.

Edited by David Hessel, 22 July 2016 - 12:25 AM.

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#9 Jesse Frank

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 07:50 AM

Thanks to all of you for giving me your advice.  I have been turning a blind eye to Blackmagic for some time now, but I guess my question now is how does everyone like the Blackmagic URSA 4.6k (Not the mini mind you, the big boy)?  It doesn't look like it comes with a viewfinder, but can you attach one?


Edited by Jesse Frank, 22 July 2016 - 08:02 AM.

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#10 Jay Young

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 08:04 AM

So the big URSA 4.6k - if you're going to get it, just get the PL mount.  You can get the EF, but then when you have budget for a big Optimo zoom you'll think 'why didn't I get the PL'.

 

There is a giant monitor on the operator side, it has controls on the edge which you can  use to operate.  There is an EVF if you want, but then it's hard to use the 10" monitor built in.

 

Its upgradable, which is cool.  All the kids are going with the mini, because they have weak arms, I think.  It's really hard to show you a video of the URSA in action because most youtubers went with the mini.

 

It's heavy, but so is Alexa.

 

There is a C-fast to SSD adapter if you don't want to deal with C-fast cards.

 

The images look great.  If I had $8000 to spend on a new camera, I would very seriously look at getting one.


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#11 Oron Cohen

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 08:16 AM

I don't want to start a long discussion here, but from real life experience on sets, BM is not a factor in pro environment, the usual suspects are (at the moment): Arri, RED and Sony F5/F55 and I really think Panasonic Varicam should be used more as it looks amazing! There are reasons why pros prefer those cameras. 

 

As for Raven, Raven is giving you a LOT of what Weapon are giving you, which is a 30-50K camera. Also, r3d is now native for most editing systems and you don't need a super powerful computer to edit it(but it does need to be powerful), as the editing software just drop the quality for playback or you could shoot now prores LT/DNXhd combine with RAW in camera. 

 

On a side note, I see you are a Cinematographer, why do you want to buy a camera? 

 

In any case if you do decide buying, in Raven price range, I'll say, it doesn't have any real competition for cinema use. I do think that if you are on a very tight budget, Scarlet-X is a nice camera for half the price. 

 

Last thing: RENT before you buy! :-) 

 

p.s: you can shoot a feature film on 4K 7:1 or 8:1 on well lit scenes easy. I'd say including backups you'll need around 12TB-16TB per a film. 


Edited by Oron Cohen, 22 July 2016 - 08:18 AM.

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#12 David Hessel

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 08:32 AM

Another thing to consider is right now there is no 4.6k Ursa. While BM promised it would be available to previous Ursa owners first as a reward to their loyalty they backed out of there promise and didn't even mention it at all when they announced the 4.6k mini was shipping.

At this point no one knows when it will be ready speculation is end of year at the earliest and definitely not until after the magenta issues are fixed on the Mini, at least in my opinion.
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#13 Jesse Frank

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 08:58 AM

I could care less about the weight.  The pre-order option is available on B&H, but I will wait until some more reviews come out for the camera.

 

There are crap tons of people online that have the URSA mini 4.6k.  From what I can tell it looks like a good camera, I just am sick of rolling shutter.

 

The idea of owning a RED is amazing.  But I don't feel that the modularity of RED is worth the price.  I have seen tests with the Scarlett and BM Production camera, and BM does a phenomenal job of capturing so much detail without it looking sharpened.

 

Thanks again for all of you guys chiming in.  I have to save money to buy some lights, so the URSA will have to wait...for now 


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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 09:19 AM

BM is not a factor in pro environment

 

This is true, although that doesn't affect its performance or usability. I suspect it may only be a matter of time.

 

As to the Ursa Maxi 4.6 upgrade, my conjecture (and it is only conjecture) would be that the sensors are in short supply as availability of the Mini 4.6 is not all it could be either.

 

I have been told without equivocation that global shutter for the 4.6K sensor is not being pursued. They made the camera very late pursuing it, they tried very hard, then they tried again, and eventually the decision was made that the compromises were too great. That's what they've said. What they'll do, I have no idea.

 

The 4K Ursa Mini is a very respectable camera and - again I'm guessing - I suspect has performance either similar to or better than the 4.6 would have had in global shutter mode.

 

I wholeheartedly agree with Tyler that Red pictures are a bit... well... you know.

 

You can characterise it as baking in a look if you like, but taking an Ursa 4.6 and putting the 709 LUTs on it produces a nicer picture than doing the same with Red. Red needs work. Blackmagic looks nice out of the box, and this seems to be without any serious compromise if you do want to tweak it.

 

P


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#15 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 11:30 AM

It's funny because so far this year I've done three Red shows. I've also done two I-Frame MPEG shows and of course, am constantly shooting with my Blackmagic cameras.

So here I am in post, trying to make all of this material work. I had to invest in a Red Rocket card AND a decent graphics card to get the RED footage to work at all. Even with all of that, it's still not what I'd consider "editable", because the moment you add two or three layers, which is necessary when editing, it basically gums up the works. Red Code is designed for camera original and transcoding for editing.

I-Frame MPEG (Sony/Canon) is a worthless codec that makes Red Code seem like a genius stroke. It's even harder to playback multiple streams then Red code! Even with faster graphics cards, there is no easy decode solution. Plus again, it's really a camera original only format. It's designed to be transcoded to an editing format.

Then you have Pro Res... which is an editing codec. My same system that struggles through Red and I-Frame MPEG, can playback 4 streams of Pro Res XQ 4k no problem. That's because Pro Res doesn't rely on the speed of your computers bus or graphics card. It relies on how many threads your processors have and it gobbles up processor time. So whilst your editing software is hanging out on the GPU, the decoding of Pro Res is using your CPU. It's an extremely clever format that flat-out works for camera original and post production. Plus, Pro Res XQ does not follow any of the Rec 709 or 2020 standards, the codec lies outside of those standards. So you get far more dynamic range then you would in most other formats.

Yes, Red Code has some unique benefits because it's RAW. But so does Cinema DNG, the "RAW" codec in the Blackmagic cameras. It doesn't require a fast graphics card to decode either. No, you can't work with Cinema DNG in real time outside of DaVinci, which sucks. However, it transcodes MUCH quicker then Red Code or even I-Frame MPEG for that matter. So you aren't wasting too much time with Cinema DNG.

Also, having colored Red, Alexa, Blackmagic, Sony and Canon material, I can say without a doubt, the Blackmagic cameras are the easiest to color in DaVinci. You don't need to be some genius colorist, spending hours on each shot to make the Blackmagic cameras look nice. You simply edit your show with the native codec, drop the sequence into DaVinci and the moment you apply the built-in LUT for the camera, the shot comes to life. None of the other cameras work that way, it's like the camera has such a limited LUT setting range that if you step out of it, even a tiny bit, the shot requires more work to color. For instance, if you underexpose to get a certain look, when you try to bring it up in post, you get serious color shifts. That's a very common issue with all cameras, including blackmagic. It's just, with the thousands of hours I've had shooting with my blackmagic cameras, I can only count a few times where I've over and under exposed so much, it was hard to color. Where almost every shot I get from a Red, seems to have this issue and I spend hours on each shot matting out corners, bringing up some stuff, bringing down other stuff, fixing the color of faces and clothing, it's a real nightmare. Matching with other shots that are done correctly, can be even more difficult with the Red.

Anyway, I'm not saying for a second the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6k is ready for primetime. It's a new camera and it really needs to be shaken down more before someone was to start shooting a feature or something. However, I think it's worth the risk... I think a day of testing would help and I think understanding how simple the post production workflow is, could be a game changer for some people who shoot and edit their own stuff. Obviously, if you're only a cinematographer, then the point of owning a camera is for your own projects most likely, so being able to have effective/efficient post, is nice.
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#16 Jesse Frank

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Posted 23 July 2016 - 08:55 AM

So let me clear something up real quick.  I'm not a cinematographer, but that is what I would like to be after I get my associates degree.  Technically I'm just a kid who loves to make movies.

 

Thank you all for your feedback.


Edited by Jesse Frank, 23 July 2016 - 08:55 AM.

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#17 Rakesh Malik

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Posted 23 July 2016 - 01:39 PM

Thanks to all of you for giving me your advice.  I have been turning a blind eye to Blackmagic for some time now, but I guess my question now is how does everyone like the Blackmagic URSA 4.6k (Not the mini mind you, the big boy)?  It doesn't look like it comes with a viewfinder, but can you attach one?

 

You can, yes. 

 

Raven's probably not worth it right now; order today and you will be in a rather long line; you probably wouldn't be getting your camera until early spring, if you're lucky. The images will look great provided that you know what you're doing, but if you're willing to wait that long, you might as well just get a Pocket cinema camera and solid light kit, then go out and shoot and learn while you save up for an upgrade.

 

You might also want to check out the Kinefinity cameras. Geoff Boyle of the CML tested them last year and was pretty impressed with the images.


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