Slugline. Simple, elegant screenwriting.

Red Giant Color Suite, with Magic Bullet Looks 2.5 and Colorista II

  • Sony Alpha a7S Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera
    Sony Alpha a7S Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera
  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
    Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
  • TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
  • The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    by Stu Maschwitz

OK guys, if you're serious about this...


During a Panasonic Press event, at which the new Micro Four Thirds system was evaluated and further explained, Panasonic also revealed the development in process of a new Micro FourThirds system camera. Panasonic already claims that it will introduce the world's smallest High Definition system camera in 2009.

Apparently Panasonic is also a believer, touting an SLR-esque camera in which HD video is more than just an afterthought. Nice to see, considering that Panasonic's debut offering in this format has no video mode at all. The compact, mirorless Micro Four Thirds system is probably closer to the eventual collision of digital cinematography and stills systems than traditional DSLR designs are.

So, Panasonic, Nikon, Canon and anyone else who wants to dip their SLR chocolate into the HD peanut butter, here's what you need to do (and what Jim Jannard of RED already knows):

Everything that matters to a photographer matters to a filmmaker/videographer. The exact features that set a DSLR apart from a point-and-shoot put the "pro" in prosumer HD cameras. It basically boils down to quality and control, but here are a few more specifics to bear in mind—if you're serious:

  • Adopt a known video standard that is compatible with current NLE software. A good one. But go big—consider a "visually lossless" codec.
  • Use frame rates that make sense. 24 fps is great, 23.976 fps is better. Same with 30 and 29.97. Filmmakers often shoot funky frame rates for effect, anywhere between 1 and 72 fps. And sometimes much much more.
  • No pixel binning or other dirty tricks for hurrying the data off the sensor—give us the best stuff your sensor is capable of. Capture the full resolution and downsample to video res. Or don't—1080p is not the top of the food chain, just ask RED.
  • DSLRs eat and sleep raw. Consider a lightly-compressed DNG sequence output as an option. At the very least, offer RGB compressed video at a wide-gamut, minimum-processing color space. Let us turn down sharpening and other "enhancements" and record something that gives us room to play in post—just like we do with stills.
  • Somehow we have to focus when shooting video. The screen on that Lumix G looks mighty big, but can I make critical focusing decisions with it? Maybe I could with focus assist features that are commonplace on HD camcorders.
  • Jello-cam is not OK.

But more important than any of that: Give us control of our cameras—that same control that makes the SLR experience what it is. Video is not a "mode" on a dial that you select instead of manual control.When we're shooting video, we'd like to control the camera in the exact way we do when recording stills, not via some arcane menu.

The first one who gets this right changes everything.

UPDATE: Speaking of changing everything, read the comments below. Jim has scrapped the current Scarlet design and is starting fresh. What do you wanna bet it looks a bit more like the above?

Reader Comments (15)

Spot on Stu!
This whole new field opening up is very exciting but the specs for the Nikon (for example) did let me down a bit. I still hope Nikon will get it right next time around... so I don't have to buy a whole new set of lenses. :)

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

Don't forget that half the world uses 25p / 50p / 50i when you're done accommodating stuff for NTSC and it's HD offspring.

HDMI real-time monitoring for focusing.


Option to shoot 4:4:4 RGB for chromascreen work

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJonas Hummelstrand

I must admit that 4/3 system is a very interesting compromise format, with an image diagonal of 22mm (twice the size of 2/3" or super 16 and closer to 35mm movie frame of ~32mm.

It can deliver a nice and manageable DOF, and with adapters, one can use any lens imaginable on the market. Nikon or Canon EOS mounts are limited in accepting movie lenses that in many cases will touch the mirror.

Unfortunately, Panasonic didn't include yet a movie recording function for the G1 model but G system is touted to be a candidate for HD capture.

I don't expect Canon or Sony to be very receptive to the 24 or 25fps demands, as a huge part of their business model contains HD or HDV camera products. One would expect the challenge to come from Nikon or other manufactures with no or little vested interest in high end video capture products.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPix2Pixels

You're damn right. And it looks like Red is again going to show the World what it should look like with their DSMC - Digital Still and Motion Camera announcement.

Till then, it looks like, the others just try to sell us smelly food as fresh and hip...


September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P.Schnyder

Great analysis Stu! it's simply amazing how the people in the big companies are so disconnected from the real world, coomon users. I would like to add some points which seem important to me:
1. Selective DOF: please don't skimp on sensor size and pixel pitch. What makes DSLRs so filmic in video use is their small DOF. Super35 is great, 35mm still is even better.
2. Cropped modes- let us use the cameras at higher frame rates/lower rez modes, and also use APS-C lenses.
3. Play well with others- no proprietary formats, no exclusive alliances with hardware/software manufacturers (hear that Red? we're still waiting for red QT-refs which play on PC. Don't force us into buying a Mac).
4. Don't use fixed lens. Give us lens choice (even old/funky ones).
5. Good Audio- Don't force an auto gain/wind filter/etc. on us. Let us have an audio output which is mux'ed with the video file (Canon came close, but...).
6. Good ergonomics- Let us hold the camera in several ways- a position which is good for still isn't necessarily good for video.
Make it small, convenient, and efficient. No need for show here.
7. Good dynamic range, low noise- very important. No clipped highlights here, please.
Quite simple, isn't it? Not really rocket science . Still, exciting times to live in...

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTomer

Amazing how many of these bullet points the Casio EX-F1 gets RIGHT--a separate set of video controls that respect the availability of the lens and shutter-specific settings--but all rendered somewhat superfluous by the overly-compressed single-pass h264 video. It's great that it can do full-frame 1080i or 720p (at 24fps), but it would be AWESOME if it could shoot to something like ProRes. Also it can shoot full frames at 60fps--but not HD video, for some reason... the high-speed video formats are limited to YouTube-sized clips; fun, but not ultimately usable in a pro setting.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBMaffitt

And a raw HDMI feed.

I'd rather they didn't waste effort trying to force crappy codecs into their cameras. Let us worry about storage and HD speeds, you just get the lens and sensor working.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermatt

Jim of RED just announced that the current scarlet design and details have been scrapped. New details will be announced again later. weeeird.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdcloud

Why not bin the pixels? What is the particular artifact induced by pixel binning?

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterfake

Looks like Red is paying attention to the DSLR revolution... Apparently "Scarlett" is going back to the drawing board...

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Very interesting. I anticipated (hoped) that Jannard would tweak the plans for the Scarlet a bit given the new climate.

The core idea of the Scarlet is still compelling. It gives you RAW instead of H.264 or MJPEG, a slightly larger frame size, and obviously more framerate options.

However, given that the Panasonic G will likely be $1500 or less, Red will have to do a lot of work to convince people to pay twice that for the fixed-lens Scarlet. It'll come down to some hard-core evangelizing for 3k and RAW.

Personally, I think they should just ditch the fixed lens and just give us a Micro 4/3 mount. Two weeks ago I was fine with the idea of a fixed lens, but suddenly it's an absolute dealbreaker for me. A Micro 4/3 compatible camera that records RAW would sell like hotcakes to Red's audience. They wouldn't be able to make enough.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbensyverson

I went on the same roller-coaster ride Ben, and I agree with you 100%.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterStu

They should make her (Scarlet) 35mm with a fixed lens. That would really kick ass. 4/3" would be cool, but 35...

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P.Schnyder

I have been watching the Scarlet developments closely (and reading your great blog Stu). I think Red has to be careful not to make the Scarlet 2.0 too close to the Red One and yet still deliver a state of the art, kick arse camera.

Micro 4/3 lens might be the answer, they could still deliver a 35mm sensor with inter changeable lens but not make the Red One redundant.

Whatever form Scarlet 2.0 takes I hope that it has a new form factor, the 'pistol' style of the camera does nothing for me.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRocket Boy

When you say make it 24 fps or better still 23.976 because that makes sense in an NTSC world. You say in EU they'd like 25p.

But you know what, even in a PAL world we'd still like 24 not 23.976 which we cannot use. We shoot our films at 24fps like everywhere else and post them at 'true 24fps' not 23.976. An Avid or FCP run at 24fps in PAL. Yes they do.

So if Canon does 23.976, they should also do 24. 25 is useless. No one's going to use this camera to shoot video.

October 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Sadwelkar
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