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The righteous path, or, maybe I'm not a Red head

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The righteous path, or, maybe I'm not a Red head
on Sep 25, 2007 at 3:41:15 pm

After seeing a few clips and stills from this camera over the past two weeks I thought I would ask to see if you all see what I see.

The characteristics I see in some ways are good and other ways problematic. It seems that almost all the footage has been tweaked after shooting. Contrast has changed as well as sharpening etc. It is, of course, impossible to make anything but a cursory evaluation based on watching things over the Internet on a computer LCD but, thats what is out there. The sample is also limited so who knows for sure.

This camera seems to have an interesting characteristic which all of the film and video camera companies have had to address, Red has has taken the righteous path.

This characteristic might be described as the choice between a neutral look with respect to contrast and color treatment and sharpness vs an artificial or overly saturated contrast y sharpened image. This is an argument that has been going on for decades, it originated in the film world and has migrated to video. The more pure of heart always want a neutral look with the greatest effort given to representing the real world as accurately as possible. Then there is the side that won that war, make it pop, just a little, give me just a little tweak in the color and sharpness etc. For decades Dps were telling Kodak, make it softer make the colors less saturated etc.

Kodak and Sony listened and essentially did what they had to do to sell their products, they tweaked the colors up etc. They did not make things crazy hot just a little kick to make the image sparkle. Once again the purists fought this, so, Kodak came out with 5293/4(?) lower contrast lower color level etc. Once the Producers and Directors as well as studios and ad agencies got a look at this stuff they never used it again. This is one of those instances where you say you want one thing and when you get it you go back to what you had, and maybe learn a thing or two along the way. I did a project last year which was shot on HD Cam and while the big Sony glass monitor was grayish (low sat low con) like an Ikagami. the final product was still a little on the snappy side for me (without color correction). Thats Sony trying to do us all a favor. Thanks man.

Red seems to have chosen the other path. The contrast is low the colors are low etc. Much of the footage has been tweaked on the contrast side and I think on the color side. I think the tweaks probably make the footage look better then the original. You could say Red is giving the DP/Producer more options with their approach, if you want it hot you can do it if not you can make things super murky from the same footage and lose nothing from a more neutral master file. You can do the same right now with film and DI or video but I think this choice is one regarding the integrity of the original material. Dps are not going to like the greater freedom people will have in post to change their vision. Some times even I get with the program, but you have to know what the program is to get with it, do I smell a new program on the horizon, ya, the Dp gave us his visual vision, but now its in post and the master footage is ready to swing any way I want it to go, what about my vision of how the visuals should play out? Red is asking us to get with a new program on the creative side, wont the Dps be surprised!

There was a time when Red was being sold as the camera for the independent and lower budget crowed. I think we all know that argument is over. This look I am seeing will require that every shot be color corrected. This has become more common with films but there was a time, four years ago, when a DP shot the film exactly like he wanted it to look and ALL color correction was about matching colors not changing them to something new. Match the greens because its part of the color scheme or match the blues and yellows for the same reason. What ever the post work flow ends up being for Red the costs are going to go up for anyone who thought they were going to do something on the cheap.

One other characteristic I noticed is a lack of sensitive. There are many shots where the blacks a crazy black. A shot of a car coming out of a garage is 2 stops under in the garage, which looks good, like a Fincher movie, lets say Fight Club, but the car exits the garage and you cant even see the outline of the car against the background everything is so black. Theres another shot of someone lighting a match and then putting it to a pipe (light goes on). The match is bright but the face is 4 stops under(my Apple LCD has the brightness up almost all the way and its less then a year old). In 1974 Stanley Kubrick did Berry Lyndon and a few scenes were only lite with candles. With 1974 film stock he rendered a great image (the lenses opened to f.9, thats point 9). Today 2007 a bright match should kick 1974 film by a few stops. I sense that things were exposed so the match did not burn out and not exposed for the face, I would like to see it otherwise.

I also notice the virtual total absence of the color red from the samples on offer. We all know red is the hardest color for film and video to render because of its long wave length. New camera, lets see how red looks. I did see the funny car shots but they are stills, and the funny car video it is postage stamp size.

My points are, 1) Red has chosen a neutral path for color and contrast
1.Is this the right path?


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: The righteous path, or, maybe I'm not a Red head
on Sep 25, 2007 at 6:01:02 pm

[Blub06] "there was a time, four years ago, when a DP shot the film exactly like he wanted it to look and ALL color correction was about matching colors not changing them to something new"

Well those days are gone. Look at most any movie, stylistically filmed television program, and most commercials... you just gotta know the end result doesn't look too much like the neg that the DP created, color-wise.

I think a pure DP's job has changed. I'm not sure that many of them are required (or perhaps even asked) to follow the "look" of an image all the way through post anymore. Based on what I'm hearing from the cinematographers I know (guys that only DP, and don't direct or produce or edit or anything else), their opinions are valued highly while on set or location... but once the film is in the can their job is done.

Well, unless you are Roger Deakins, Tak Fujimoto, Haskell Wexler, or somone of that ilk.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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jiri vrozina
Re: The righteous path, or, maybe I'm not a Red head
on Sep 25, 2007 at 8:58:28 pm

Great post.

[Blub06] "My points are, 1) Red has chosen a neutral path for color and contrast
1.Is this the right path?"

You will have to borrow one test it yourself :-)

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Bill Crawford
Re: The righteous path, or, maybe I'm not a Red head
on Sep 26, 2007 at 12:05:38 am

Hi Chris,

Something to consider is that this camera presents a much higher dynamic range than you can get with the current crop of video cameras we use today. It's much more like a digital still camera in its image presentation.

An image with a high dynamic range - Red says 11 stops - will look notoriously flat on a computer screen without any grading.

I enjoy shooting digital stills as a change to working in HD video. As part of the RAW workflow in digital stills you have great control over how the sensor data is manipulated. Much better than any of the Sony in-camera menu adjustments. However it takes time and a willingness to dig into the nuances of color correction.

This is the part that I think that 90% of the fanboys of Red just don't get. This camera will be good choice, but it will take a lot more time and technical experience than most have. To do the good stuff with it will be a steep learning curve and take time that a lot of projects just won't allow for.

RAW is a comfortable workflow in digital stills - but foreign in video. As the rest of the approx. 2000 reserved cameras make into the hands of the reservation holders we'll see how popular it turns out to be.

My guess is that as the beta period winds down, many of the reservation holders will bail once they find out it's not a super version of a simple to use DV camera.

I confident it will be a great tool. It just needs some more time and a little less evangelism in it's fans. On my part, I'll take a good long look in the spring.



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Re: The righteous path, or, maybe I'm not a Red head
on Sep 26, 2007 at 7:22:49 pm

i agree that most will find it more technical then they thought when they put down their deposit ...
however i think most will do whatever it takes to learn it ..
not everybody is going to be great at LUT's & taking advantage of what the camera can do but they'll do whatever to be able to use the camera ... as with any camera you don't need to know EVERYTHING about it to get a good picture ... for many here "good" isn't good enough and that is what why some make hundreds a day and others thousands a day ...
i'm nearing 60 and most of the reservationist i've meant are less then 1/2 my age and i have to say they tend to be go getters -not the type to sit on their butts if they don't know how to do something ...
IMO this is where most under estimate the fanboys - for some reason many tend to think somebody spending 25K + are just going to throw up their hands and walk away if they have to do anymore then a DV type camera requires - some will walk away but i think MOST will not ...

i do have to say this all reminds me of the stock market in the 90's - where your cashier at local market , gas attendent, guy that changes oil and even your taxi cab driver would give you tips on stocks ... now when my oil guy tells me he has a RED reservation then i might consider it's time to sell ...

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Uli Plank
Re: The righteous path, or, maybe I'm not a Red head
on Sep 28, 2007 at 6:22:54 am

I think it's the way to go:

1. With digital cameras, the first step is to grab as much information with as little artefacting as you can

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Steve Wargo
on Sep 26, 2007 at 4:45:59 am

Common sense and experience instead of hoopla.

The Red is finding it's place in the world.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut Pro systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck

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Barend Onneweer
Re: The righteous path, or, maybe I'm not a Red head
on Sep 29, 2007 at 6:37:07 pm

[Blub06] "1) Red has chosen a neutral path for color and contrast"

Well, what you're describing in your post is the typical RAW workflow. It's not specific or exclusive to RED. If you shoot RAW with your DSLR you're expected to make adjustments to contrast and color levels when you take it through demosaic tools (Adobe Camera RAW or any other RAW conversion tool)

When shooting RAW the whole point is to take every bit of data from the CMOS and store it without touching it, without interpretation. Nothing new there - so I don't see your point.

[Blub06] "1.Is this the right path?"

Future firmware revisions will (says RED) allow shooting RGB instead of RAW, with the color transforms such as whitebalance, gamma etc. baked into the image. So you'd have the choice to tweak your 'look' and record it directly.

So although RED has focussed on RAW workflow thus far, in the end they will probably take both paths...


Raamw3rk - digital storytelling and visual effects

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Craig Meadows
Re: The righteous path, or, maybe I'm not a Red head
on Oct 8, 2007 at 8:54:28 pm

Barend and a few others hit it on the head. Shooting raw is new territory for many video guys. However once you understand the power of shooting raw and developing a specific creative look in post the potential is enormous.

As mentioned, everything the sensor takes in is there for manipulation. It hasn't and should not be pre-treated on location with warm white balance cards, graduated filters, or cine look camera software affecting saturation, contrast, color, etc.

Any stylized look you desire you do in post instead of in the field, leaving your raw image untouched. It's a lot easier to add these things in post then to try to fix or remove a look created in the field.

This isn't a eng/efp camera one pulls quickly out of the bag, fires up, white balances and begins to shoot with. It is very much a film style work-flow - both on location and back in post.

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Tim Kolb
Re: The righteous path, or, maybe I'm not a Red head
on Oct 15, 2007 at 2:21:07 pm

The RAW` workflow happens to be an area where users will be forced to become competent with LUTs. On set monitoring of a RAW camera is notoriously disorienting to the director and other creative but not technical members of the crew. The ARRI D20 is the only camera that actually white balances in RAW mode (which I question as to whether calling the resulting images "RAW" really applies...), the Silicon Imaging 2K camera, the RED and even the Viper in Filmstream mode tend to be unsaturated and highly favor green on an unaltered on set monitor.

LUTs will be important in motion RAW workflows for calibration, aesthetic, and post-particularly if the final output is designed to be a film recorder.

Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,

Creative Cow Host,

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Workflow Wizard
Re: The righteous path, or, maybe I'm not a Red head
on Oct 19, 2007 at 5:33:52 pm

Well that statement about White Balance is a bit misleading when applied to the RED ONE.

Here's why -

The camera has two paths - the RAW path that passes through the encoding chipset and delivers compressed REDCODE RAW data to the SATA bus, and from there to the digital media.

Then there is the RGB/monitor path. This de-bayers the RAW and scales it to 1280 x 720 pixels and applies color processing to create a nominal REC709 signal. As part of that process White Balance is applied (either manual or auto) and you can adjust a variety of parameters which currently includes saturation, brightness, contrast and R G B gains.

The monitor path feeds a monitor framestore and from there we feed out to the monitor outputs - EVF, LCD, HD-SDI and HDMI.

The values you put into the color processor in the RGB monitor path are stored as metadata in the REDCODE RAW recording, so when you open these REDCODE RAW files in post apps, then the same color modifications are instantly made. That's at least a true statement for QuickTime Player, RED ALERT, REDCINE. If you don't like them, change them. These have not be burned into the image as it is a true RAW data set recorded.

Hence, RED ONE users won't be seeing green tinted images on set (unless they want to create that look). As we move forward these RGB color "looks" will be saved / read from SD Cards.

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