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Needables
  • 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)
    Panasonic
  • TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM
  • 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

Entries in RED (52)

Thursday
Nov032011

Scarlet X

The Canon lens makes me think of those “Who wore it better?” celebrity fashion pieces.

As promised, Jim and Red revealed a new incarnation of Scarlet tonight, Scarlet X. Gone (for good it seems) is the fixed-lens, 2/3” sensor configuration. Instead, Scarlet X is basically an Epic, but with innards that didn’t quite pass muster for Epic’s heavy data throughput. The result? A camera that looks like an Epic, feels like an Epic, and shoots like an Epic—but with reduced resolution and frame rate capabilities. Specifically:

  • 1–25 fps at 4K
  • 30 fps at 4K “quad HD” (presumably 3840x2160?)
  • 48 fps at 3K
  • 60 fps at 2K
  • 120 fps at 1K

Those are windowed resolutions, so they change your lens’s Angle of View as well as your pixel count.

Here’s how it’s priced. (Al means an aluminum Canon mount, as Epic X was slated to use; Ti means a titanium mount, which Epic M shipped with and now Epic X as well.) And you can order it now—if you can get through over at red.com.

There’s an FAQ post here with many details.

By all indications, Scarlet X does more than Canon’s C300, for less money. But things are rarely that simple.

Thursday
Nov032011

Live Unicorn Coverage

Today promises to be a big day. At 3pm PST, Canon will make a product announcement at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. And although the slogan above is theirs, presumed to indicate a digital cinema offering of the kind we’ve been begging them to create, it could equally describe the state of the insular community of future-camera fanatics following Canon’s invitation. Jim Jannard of Red responded by declaring an event of his own later that same evening. At 6pm tonight, the details of Red’s long-awaited (and NAB-demoed) Scarlet will be revealed, possibly having been tweaked to better battle Canon’s offering, but not so much as to prevent Red from taking orders.

Then came the speculation. And the expectations. There’s a great summary of the Sturm und Drang over at FreshDV.

The venerable Mike Seymour will be covering both events and live-blogging them at fxguide. That’s where I’ll be watching.

Friday
Apr012011

FXPHD April Term, NAB 2011

FXPHD have announced their April term, which includes a course called Epic On Location, where Mike Seymour and I learn you up some Epic. FXPHD courses are always amazing. I have a friend who mastered an entire RED One feature on a single Mac Pro using the guidance of past RED courses. In this case, Mike literally got on a plane from LA, where he had just picked up his Epic, and flew straight back to the other side of the planet to start using the camera to shoot for the class. I landed in New Zealand a few days later and within an hour of stepping off the plane, I was hanging upside-down from cables with a camera. We had a blast shooting some amazing footage, from cars, ziplines, and helicpoters, on rigs designed for much larger cameras and rigs designed for lightweight DSLRs.

I can’t recommend FXPHD enough, but in this case, this course truly is the only game in town when it comes to learning about this revolutionary new camera.

I will be at NAB for one day only (I’m slowly learning how not to go), Tuesday, April 12th, joining Mike on stage at the Post Pit (Booth SL12205) to talk more about the camera. Come by and say hi and then push right past me when you realize that the Epic is also there. I’ll understand.

I will also mention a few cool new things from Red Giant Software. Stuff you’ll like.

HD Magazine has an article about our New Zealand shoot, featuring some photos of and by me. More photos can be found at my Flickr site.

Thursday
Mar172011

Red Epic HDRx in Action

Image from fxguide.com

RED came out of the gate strong with a message of the importance of spatial resolution. We werre told that the RED One was an important camera because it “shot 4K,” and 4K is better. A more-is-more argument that I agree with only in part.

In the stills world, the obsession with resolution became the “megapixel race,” and only in the last couple of years has some sanity been brought to that conversation. Canon’s 14.7 megapixel PowerShot G10 was assailed for being a victim of too much superfluous resolution at the expense of the kind of performance that really matters, and Canon backpedaled, succeeding it with the G11 at 10 megapixels.

Why is more not always more? First, there’s the simple matter that there is such a thing as “enough” resolution, although folks are happy to debate just how much that is. But there’s also an issue of physics. Only so much light hits a sensor. If you dice up the surface into smaller receptors, each one gets less light. Higher-resolution sensors have to work harder to make an image because each pixel gets less light. This is why mega megapixels is a particularly disastrous conceit in tiny cameras, and why the original Canon 5D, with it’s full-frame sensor at a modest 12.8 megapixels, made such sumptuous images.

All things being equal, resolution comes at the expense of light sensitivity. Light sensitivity is crucial for achieving the thing most lacking in digital imaging: latitude.

What we lament most about shooting on digital formats is how quickly and harshly they blow out. Film, glorious film, will keep trying to accumulate more and more negative density the more photons you pound into it. This creates a gradual, soft rolloff into highlights that film people call the shoulder. It’s the top of that famous s-curve. You know, the one that film has, and digital don’t.

You know how sometimes you drag a story out when you know you have a good punchline?

When RED started talking about successors to their first camera, it was all about resolution. Who ever said 4K was good enough? We need 5K and beyond! Of course the Epic would be have more resolution. But would it have more latitude?

As the stills world’s megapixel race became the high-ISO race (now that’s something worth fighting for!), so too did the digital cinema world get a dose of sanity in the form of cameras celebrating increased latitude. Arri’s Alexa championed its highlight handling. And RED started swapping its new MX sensor into RED One bodies, touting its improved low-light performance and commensurate highlight handling.

Life was good.

And then Jim Jannard started hinting at some kind of HDR mode for the Epic. HDR, as in High Dynamic Range, as in more latitude.

The first footage they posted seemed to hint at a segmented exposure technique. It looked like the Epic was using two frames two build each final frame, and Jim later corroborated this. The hero exposure, or A Track, would be exposed as normal (let’s just say 1/48 second for 24p at 180º shutter). The X Track would be exposed immediately afterward beforehand (see update below) at a shorter shutter interval. Just how much shorter would determine how many stops of additional latitude you’d gain. So if you want four additional stops, the X track interval would be four stops shorter than 1/48, or 1/768 (11.25º).

The A Track and the X Track are recorded as individual, complete media files (.R3D), so you burn through media twice as fast, and cut your overcrank ability in half. Reasonable enough.

But could this actually work? You’d be merging two different shutter intervals. Two different moments in time (again, see comments). Would there be motion artifacting? Would your eye accept highlights with weird motion blur, or vise versa? Would the cumulative shutter interval (say, 180º plus 11.25º) add up to the dreaded “long shutter look” that strips digital cinema of all cinematicality?

RED’s examples looked amazing. But when the guys at fxguide and fxphd got their hands on an Epic, they decided to put it to the real test. The messy test. The spinning helicopter blades, bumpy roads, hanging upside down by wires test. In New Zealand. For some reason.

Thankfully, they invited me along to help.

But before I’d even landed in Middle Earth, Mike Seymour had teamed up with Jason Wingrove and Tom Gleeson to shoot a little test of HDRx. They called it, just for laughs, The Impossible Shot.

This is not what HDRx was designed to do. It was designed to make highlights nicer. To take one last “curse” off digital cinema acquisition. This is not that. This is “stunt HDRx.”

And it works. Perfectly.

Sure, dig in, get picky. Notice the sharper shutter on the latter half of the shot. Notice the dip in contrast during the transition. The lit signs flickering.

Then notice that there’s not another camera on the planet today that could make this shot.

I guess Mike should really have called it “The Formerly Impossible Shot.”

Read more at fxguide, and stay tuned to fxphd for details on their new courses, coming April 1.