EXPOSING THE RED MX -- AN UPGRADED AND AN UPDATE OF BEST EXPOSURE PRACTICES
It's been a while since this initial article was written. Indeed, this article covered strategies when RED had released Build 16, then a breakthrough build for the startup camera company that burst onto the scene, and have now delivered over 7000 cameras to customers worldwide.
We've seen, build 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, and most recently a new breakthrough with build 30, which works on the original RED One and an "upgraded" version with the new Mysterium-X sensor -- which demonstrates a lower noise floor and more dynamic range.
As I read through this article, I realized that it was due for a much needed update, so I wanted to share some new strategies for exposing the RED camera
. First, you have to understand a bit about the RED philosophy. This is a company that continuously works to improve its products and has offered these upgrades to its customers through a series of free software upgrades.
The other thing to understand is the nature of capturing RAW data, the core of the RED system. RED has chosen to store its sensor data in a compressed file format known as .R3D. By storing data this way, it means that footage you shoot today can benefit from future tools. This means that footage captured on RED can -- and does -- look better a year, or two, or five down the road.
I caught up with Ted Schilowitz, (RED's leader of the rebellion) who probably racks up more air miles than George Clooney's "Up in the Air" character. Ted took the time to walk me through some exposure strategies after the recent improvements to RED's software decoding tools and the new sensor hardware hit the marketplace.
The first thing to understand is that RED is doing a pretty interesting thing that we really have not seen with camera companies before -- they are upgrading the imager in the existing camera body. While other companies, such as Panansonic gave us the DVX-100, 100a, 100b and many flavours of Varicam, RED has chosen to allow its owners to "upgrade hardware within the camera, rather than buy an entire new camera.
The hardware upgrade is allowing users to put the next generation sensor into their existing camera for about a third of the original price of the camera body. This extends the life of your investment and also gives you the same sensor as the newly announced EPIC camera (working prototypes were shown at NAB this year).
Much of the previous article dealt strategies on how to handle blue channel noise that is inherent with all silicon based sensors. The silicon generally makes all of the cameras see light in the blue spectrum, in RED's case, the sensor's native balance is about 5000K.
The first thing you notice with am MX sensor in a RED one camera is that there is far less noise when "pushing" the image in low light scenes. In RED's first generation M sensor there was a lot of visible noise in low light situations and you could not rate the camera past about 500ASA without seeing some very unpleasant artifacts under tungsten lighting. RED's RAW philosophy also means they do not do any kind of "autocorrection" in the camera, including sharpening and noise reduction, so when you push things you get what the sensor is seeing and you take care of it in post production.
These kinds of images are virtually eliminated with the M-X sensor. Not only are the images virtually noise free, but there is a far wider dynamic range. The new sensor (which will record 5K images to REDCODE RAW in the EPIC camera) has been measured at 13.5 stops of dynamic range. This is the kind of range which starts to rival what we are used to seeing in 35mm film stocks.
|Related Articles / Tutorials:|
House of Cards
Netflix is distributing all 13 episodes of its first season House of Cards at once, on streaming platforms. That's not all that makes this new political drama series unique. With David Fincher as an executive producer and director of the first two episodes, you'd expect a digitally-savvy pipeline and you'd be correct. In this story, Fincher's post production supervisor Peter Mavromates and assistant editor Tyler Nelson talk about how FotoKem's newly evolved nextLAB system played a role in streamlining the post pipeline.
Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Reproducing Rainbows: Color in the Digital Environment
As digital photography and cinematography reach further into the digital media landscape, and your captured images can be viewed on a vast range of media, the need for standardizing color has become more invaluable than ever. Imagine trying to get a consistent hue of green or blue or teal across multiple platforms.
So, it becomes easy to understand why it's important to have a color reference chart for each new scenes' lighting conditions. All of the formats carry specific gamma and color spaces to reproduce color. The chart is the point of agreement. In this review, David Battistella reviews the RED Cambook from DSC Labs, which readily addresses these concerns. Read on for David's findings...
Exposing the RED: Perfect Exposure, Every Time
Director DP, REDtrepreneur, early adopter and obsessed student of the RED camera system David Battistella takes a closer look at how to hit the sweet spot on the RED sensor. David shows how understanding REDs inner workings will help you expose your scene just right, every time.
Under the Gun with RED One
Dylan Reeve and a small team of New Zealand filmmakers had 48 hours to get their assignment, write a script, direct, shoot and post their film, then hand in the finished show...oh yeah, and refine their RED shooting and editing skills under the gun while trying to beat out 230 other teams! Sound wild? You have no idea....
Shooting with RED: Testing, testing...
CreativeCOW leader Gary Adcock's experience shooting both film and HD gives him a unique perspective as he takes you along for thorough testing with the new RED camera. In part 1 of this series, he focuses on the camera's benefits and shortcomings of the camera itself, as well as some of the challenges shooting with it.
RED: Early Workflow Findings
In this real world video production RED Camera review from The Creative COW Magazine, Aaron Zander discusses how The Brooks Institute students put RED ONE through the paces of a student production. Here are their findings.
Dress for Success with RED
Not all production with the RED camera is Hollywood-scale. Craig Meadows is in a smaller market, doing mostly local and regional spots. Even though he's only had his RED for a short time, he tells you here about how it works, its workflow, and how it's already making a big difference for his clients.
Seeing RED in Montreal: A Creative COW Real Time Report
None of the RED cameras have yet made their way into an owner's hands in Montreal, so Mathieu Marano helped arrange an introduction for the Final Cut Montreal user group. In this Creative COW Real Time Report, he shares the details of that meeting, as well as his first experiences with RED post-production workflow. Since this is a real time report, stay tuned for updates as Mathieu and the producers of Montreal learn more.
|Recent Articles / Tutorials:|
“Before I forget: don’t wear any underwear.”
Before coming to Creative COW, before his lives in product marketing and product management at Avid and Boris FX, Creative COW Editor-in-Chief Tim Wilson ran a video production company. As we also observe the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the US Parks Service, Tim recalls one one especially memorable adventure to Everglades National Park, wherein he found himself quite literally up to his armpits in alligators. He had no idea that this was going to happen when the day began. At the time, he was focused on a brand new fear: getting sliced in half by burning underwear.
Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Art of the Edit
The Science of Editing
Sven Pape, aka @ThisGuyEdits, joins Dr. Karen Pearlman -- former President of the Australian Screen Editors Guild and a three-time nominee for Best Editing at the Australian Screen Editors Guild Annual Awards -- for a provocative look at "Editor's Thinking," a cognitive skill set that you can use to improve your screenplay before you start principal photography of your film.