UPDATED 2/26/10: Red ONE RAW R3D Footage now ready for download at the bottom of the page.
I have been talking about buying a camera for months. I am selling a house to buy it. A $65,000 investment.
I have been looking at the Sony PDW-F800 and was nearly certain that would be the right choice for me. It is a broadcast camera and I work in broadcast television. So it is an easy decision? Right??
But then I shot with the RED. Everything changed. The RED camera is unlike anything I have ever used. Two of the most amazing things I learned about the RED is that the sensor is 5000 degrees kelvin and the ISO is 320. To adjust the ISO and COLOR TEMP you are simply changing metadata. These corrections can be done on location, for proper looking visuals or done in post with enormous freedom. The only thing you must be aware of is clipping the whites. Once you clip a white, no metadata adjustment in the world will save your detail in post. In fact, the RED camera laughs at you because the white clip is a ghostly green in the blown out area!
I rented a Nikon RED mount for this camera so i could use my old Nikon manual glass. The mount was very tight and worked very well, but if I do this right, I will buy RED lenses with PL mounts. I will not use any old Nikons.
I also learned that you must set the viewfinder to REDSPACE so that you can see the ISO change on the screen. I was shooting in RAW viewfinder mode very confused for the entire first day. Nothing changed in my screen when I added ISO! But, thanks to Twitter, I got the help I needed.
The color is amazing. I love color grading and you could spend months just grading a single shot. Plus, this camera works very well in low light with great detail.
Then there is high speed shooting. I was so excited to shoot “overcrank” 60p on my PMW-EX1 when I first got it. But the resolution was just 720p and 60 FPS was not enough frames for me. A phantom is too expensive, but the RED ONE shoots 2k at 120 FPS, still not enough for me but much better.
Over the last few days, I have figured out this camera to be comfortable with it. I had to return it to my friend two days ago. I already miss it. I shot non-stop for three days without stopping to eat and with minimal sleep. Since using it, I have already landed a paid gig with a major production company shooting stuff at 120 frames per second 2k! I have clients asking me to run the RED before I even own it. So, second week of March, I will rent a RED for the gig because I am not quite ready to be a RED user (isn’t that a website?).
I am very lucky to be in a position to be able to afford a camera and a very expensive kit of cine lenses at this stage of my life. I knew it would happen eventually, because television is my life, but I never thought I would buy into digital cinema. But as we all know, with the explosion of shallow depth of field HD SLRs converging into broadcast television, there is a place for this type of camera system in my craft.
I am buying a RED because it will put me on a path to creative television. No more shooting sports from a fixed location, with limited responsibilities. Commercials, promos, live events, documentaries, natural history, experimental work are all possible with a RED camera.
This RED can lead to the MX sensor, allowing me to shoot up to 250 FPS. Then the RED path will take me to EPIC and all of its offspring (scarlet).
The only problem is getting the RED to fit my ergonomic obsession for perfection. The thing is a pig. Plus, I only see a few more solid years with a strong back, so it is now or never. It may be a pain shooting with the rig, but when you sit down in post and work with the raw R3D files, it all makes sense.
Take a look at this video blog I shot on the first day really using the camera. I have no idea how to operate the camera properly, but the more hours I put into it, the more easy it becomes. The key is to take notes on settings and look at them in post with a keen eye for improvement.
This video was de-saturated because I was shooting in RAW viewing mode and unaware that I was clipping video information. I hated the “green clip” on the white snow. I was not using a matte box and will do so in the future to help control this. Plus now I look at the histogram! Oh, and I need a follow focus and an AC.
I am currently working on a skateboarding short titled, “Boston Skate” to be edited shortly. This past weekend, I used the RED, Sony PMW-EX1/Letus Ultimate and Canon 5dmk2 to shoot a quick documentary about five Boston Skaters. Stay tuned for that.
Here are a few shots from REDCINE-X (free download click here) to show you how much you can grade RED ONE RAW R3D files. Again, I am stunned that ISO and color temperature are metadata and can be manipulated freely in post.
These files are straight off the RED hard drive as recorded by the RED ONE camera. All I did was change the name of the file. These are native RAW files at RC36.
Wide panning shot of frozen lake at sunset (8 seconds each, 16mm f2.8 fisheye Nikon Nikkor manual film lens used in all clips):
Wide Lake – 2k 2:1 (2048×1024) 29.97fps (97.2 MiB, 934 hits)
Wide Lake – 2k 16:9 (2048×1152) 29.97fps (125.0 MiB, 404 hits)
Wide Lake – 2k ANA (1408×1152) 29.97fps (83.2 MiB, 260 hits)
Wide Lake – 3k 2:1 (3072×1536) 29.97fps (199.4 MiB, 264 hits)
Wide Lake – 3k 16:9 (3072×1728) 29.97fps (271.5 MiB, 306 hits)
Wide Lake – 3k ANA (2112×1728) 29.97fps (187.7 MiB, 248 hits)
Wide Lake – 4k 2:1 (4096×2048) 29.97fps (87.0 MiB, 601 hits)
Wide Lake – 4k HD (3840×2160) 29.97fps (463.7 MiB, 789 hits)
Wide Lake – 4k ANA (2816×2304) 29.97fps (277.5 MiB, 291 hits)
Wide Lake – 4.5k WS (4480×1920) 29.97fps (363.6 MiB, 15,508 hits)
I was unable to get the camera to record 4k 16:9 29.97fps for some unknown reason. When I tried, the camera showed “media too slow” errors on the viewfinder. All other RED ONE camera recording resolutions at 29.97 fps are covered above. Sorry this stuff is not very exciting, but explore the amazing color, image size and sharpness of RED RAW video files. Please download REDCINE-X (early beta) from the RED website to view these files and change the metadata grade.
Wide panning shot at Boston University’s Agganis Arena (5 seconds each, 16mm f2.8 Nikon manual fisheye lens used for all clips):
Hockey – 2k 2:1 (2048×1024) 120fps (231.0 MiB, 659 hits)
Hockey – 2k 2:1 (2048×1024) 29.97fps (65.1 MiB, 412 hits)
Hockey – 2k 16:9 (2048×1152) 29.97fps (79.2 MiB, 269 hits)
Hockey – 3k 2:1 (3072×1536) 29.97fps (166.9 MiB, 229 hits)
Hockey – 3k 16:9 (3072×1728) 29.97fps (164.7 MiB, 242 hits)
Hockey – 4k 2:1 (4096×2048) 29.97fps (279.3 MiB, 391 hits)
720p download of video blog for better viewing…
Icy Brook RED ONE Video Blog (246.6 MiB, 425 hits)