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My Take on RED...

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Leo Ticheli
My Take on RED...
on Sep 5, 2007 at 4:36:04 pm

First, here's the disclaimer:

1. My RED camera is due in December.

2. I've actually held one in my hands.

3. I've seen actual footage.

4. I've got years, too many maybe, of experience shooting film and HD and I don't drink Kool Aid.

These are my thoughts:

Pros:

1. Stunning motion pictures. Fully the equal of 35MM. Big fat Super 35MM sized sensor; same depth of field as 35MM film.

2. Records to relatively inexpensive solid state media and inexpensive hard drives. I don't think it takes rocket science to realize that the price of solid state memory is falling like a stone. By the time RED is as ubiquitous as I believe it will be, the cost of archive media will below current tape costs. That my friends, is the end of tape. Solid state replacements for large capacity hard drives are already coming on line. The days of spinning discs are numbered.

3. A very well thought out system approach, modular and upgradable.

Cons:

1. Not field proven. Certainly, the early users have good reports, however.

2. A complete system is not nearly as cheap as is assumed. To replace my VariCams, not with stills camera lenses which have grave problems with insufficient focus mounts, but proper cine lenses, our package will damage 60k. Still a bargain, but not a "Christmas morning" camera. The glass easily costs more than the camera, although RED is selling glass at barrier-breaking prices.

3. Without a built-in filter wheel, this camera requires manually changing filters in the Matte Box. This alone makes it a poor choice for small crew run-and-gun shooting. I believe the production work flow is much more like that of shooting 35MM. I'm not advocating a filter wheel! The sensor is too large to make this very practical. Just stopping down is a poor way to control exposure; you lose your ability to determine depth of field.

4. The 35MM sensor means that this camera has 2.5 times less depth of field than 2/3" chip cameras. Focus is going to be critical and a good Follow Focus rig and operator will be required for tracking moving subjects.

In summary:

1. RED will not change everything, but it's going to change a lot. Film is not dead, but it can't be feeling well. Tape is not far behind. We'll shoot solid state, archive solid state, and distribute electronically. I remember when I was one of our parcel service's biggest customers; now it's all internet delivery. The pipe keep getting fatter, faster, and cheaper.

2. For the work I do, RED is ideal. I believe the same is true of feature motion picture production. For other types of work, perhaps not.

3. Several years from now we'll all go to the restored art deco period motion picture theater to screen a new blockbuster movie "actually shot on film!" Perhaps Kodak will make a special run to manufacture the stock and they'll pull some old guys out of retirement to show them how to work the cameras and restore the projectors to working order.

Of course there's much more, but this is a start.

Good shooting and best regards to all,

Leo










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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 5, 2007 at 9:33:34 pm

[Leo Ticheli] "2. For the work I do, RED is ideal. I believe the same is true of feature motion picture production. For other types of work, perhaps not."

I think Leo has fairly hit the nail on the head.

I think the RED will be GREAT for the right users. What is bewildering is that the wrong users (in my humble opinion) seem to be lining up in droves.

I think RED will be GREAT for those of us who are lucky enough to see our work up on the big screen. But how many of us is that? Those really dealing in "digital cinema"...one percent, maybe? Maybe it's a lot more, but I'm willing to bet a HUGE portion of the RED zealots do work, like me, that only winds up on the boob tube. Sure, I'd love to be shooting movies... but I'm not. I'm shooting television.

And sure, I'd love to have a RED. More importantly, I'd love to have the NEED for a RED. But I don't need it for the work I do. What the heck would I do with 4K? I don't need that resolution, and can get the 35mm DoF with my great glass and my P+S Technik converter (and have been doing so since long before the first $1000 was plunked down).

I've ran into more than one shooter soooo anxious to get his hands on the RED, yet his reel (and ability) consists of little more than dance recital videos. I was directing a location shoot a year or so ago and a shooter here in town happened to approach me and asked if I'd heard of the RED (he'd just read about it in "Videography is Almost a Real Word Monthly," or something). He said something like "It's only $17,000, but I don't think that comes with a lens." Sheesh.

I'm predicting that two camps will emerge:

1) REAL Cinematographers who use (and probably like) the system, who are used to popping filters in and out of a matte box at will, who are used to changing primes 50 times a day, who are used to recording double-system sound when needed, who are used to nailing a 2" deep DoF with a moving subject, and who realize that the RED is just a tool, just a few pounds of metal and plastic that can help them do their job better, if they are already good at it in the first place.

and...

2) Those who have no business trying it in the first place, who put it up for sale within six months because they can't find the "autofocus" button.

I just think RED was and is marketed to the wrong audience (maybe wisely so, if the makers were just wanting the biggest fastest buck). I bet if you stopped 100 people at the mall going into, say, Wolf Camera and polled them (and isn't that painful?), that few if any of them would know what the words Genesis, Cinealta, Viper, or Dalsa mean.... but I bet 20 of them would have heard of RED. Marketing.

Maybe potential RED buyers should have to pass a test... and prove they have successfully shot at least 100,000 feet of 35mm, or 100 hours of HD in full manual mode with primes. Bare minimum.

Oh, I'm just dreamin'....




T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Don Greening
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 6, 2007 at 2:43:04 am

[Todd at Fantastic Plastic] "Maybe potential RED buyers should have to pass a test... "

Sort of like some well known European automobile manufacturers. They won't sell their Lambos and Ferraries to just anyone, regardless of how much money they have. One has to be.....worthy.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Moore, but we at RED don't believe you would use our camera in the spirit in which it was intended".

- Don



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donatello
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 7, 2007 at 4:08:32 am

Leo very good post...

in general i have found that persons that put out their hard earned cash tend to learn how to use the equipment they buy ..
some might find the camera more technical then they thought BUT i think most of them will take steps to learn whatever it takes to use the camera ..

bottom line - you got the cash ( or whatever means) buy what ever you choose ... also the RED will do more then just 4k .. 2k , HD , 720p & 4.5k .. what ever camera you own or use on any given day is the BEST camera for that project..

next month Red 103 will be sitting next to my HV20 ..
i just don't know which one i'll use on the grand children ..



















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Steve Wargo
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 7, 2007 at 5:19:04 am

Coming soon to a birthday near you, the Uncle Donnetello cam.

Because of price and hopefully, availability, this camera could surpass the Panasonic AG-450, which they sold 1 billion of and the DVX100, which they sold 2 billion of.

I say shoot the grandkids with the Red.


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JeremyG
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 8, 2007 at 5:18:06 pm

[Todd at Fantastic Plastic] "Maybe potential RED buyers should have to pass a test... and prove they have successfully shot at least 100,000 feet of 35mm, or 100 hours of HD in full manual mode with primes. Bare minimum.
"


That's sort of a limited view don't you think? I know all you see is marketing behind Red, but why don't you look at it a little more positively? What if the truly want to put professional capability in the hands of more people? I remember when the advent of cheap computer NLE hardware/software came out, everyone was saying "oh boy, there goes the neighborhood" because everyone was now an editor. In reality, it allows people who have talent to practice their craft without being someone's little gopher just to get a chance to turn on Avid on in the morning, let alone edit with it. I see the same for Red. What's wrong with putting a new tool in someone's hands that might not know how to use it exactly? It's a camera not a buzz saw, it's not going to kill anyone. I agree that just because you get a Red doesn't make you an experienced shooter, but it sure allows you to get hands on experience a lot faster than working your way up through that 1% you mentioned.

Also, so what if you shoot for the Boob Tube? I don't see the harm in capturing 4k, and transcoding to whatever flavor of video you want. Before HD, many shows were shot on film, it's the same idea. Capture large with the most range, then edit smaller. Sounds pretty ideal to me, but maybe it's not for you.

Jeremy



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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 8, 2007 at 9:34:06 pm

This will all probably make me sound like a pompous jerk, but...

[JeremyG] "That's sort of a limited view don't you think?"

Yep, purposely. I'm just saying that it is overkill for many of the people who want to buy it.

[JeremyG] "I remember when the advent of cheap computer NLE hardware/software came out..."

And you're absolutely right about cheaper NLEs. It's much the same thing that happened in desktop publishing a bit earlier. Suddenly every corporation in town was self-publishing their own collateral instead of leaving it to the pros. So now Marge in accounting is "designing" a company brochure or flyer because, after all, she has PhotoshopLE on her computer. The results were a little bit of saved money and a LOT of bad bad work. Fortunately that industry turned around, and the pros are doing the bulk of the work again.

Same thing when video production got very cheap. There were a lot of people who could do it, including many that should not do it. I'm not trying to be elitest, just honest... our work is an art and not everyone is an artist. Heck just go through and look at all the reels that you can find of all the posters here on the COW sometime. Some of them are incredibly incredibly good, and make me green with envy. However, for every really great one you find, you are going to find one that is equally bad... some embarassingly so. The kind of reels that sometimes make us wish we were honest enough to say "You know, you might want to think of doing something else for a living." And I firmly believe that while that may sound a bit mean, there are many people that saying that to would actually be a kindness.

[JeremyG] "What's wrong with putting a new tool in someone's hands that might not know how to use it exactly?"

What's wrong is that I think it's going to give more than a few people (I'm not talking about the real cinematographers on this forum now) false expectations... and in the end I bet we see a few people having spent a GREAT deal of money on a tool that was just not right for them. Blowing $17K (or probably more accurately $25K, or $50-100K) on something that is not just what the doctor ordered is no big deal for a big company... but for a mom and pop business or a single freelancer it can be devastating. I don't blame the buyers, and I don't blame the tool itself (I have said several times that I'd love to have a RED), I blame the marketing. If a Genesis body was only $17K (and if you could actually buy one), do you think Panavision would be marketing it to the masses? I doubt it.

[JeremyG] "Also, so what if you shoot for the Boob Tube? I don't see the harm in capturing 4k"

There's no harm in it per se (except for the cost of storage), it's just unnecessary, at least in my case. There's no harm in buying a Hummer (well, except to the earth and my wallet), but if I only really need a Hyundai why bother?

[JeremyG] "I agree that just because you get a Red doesn't make you an experienced shooter, but it sure allows you to get hands on experience a lot faster than working your way up through that 1% you mentioned."

If experience is what one wants, there are many better/cheaper ways of going about it. If someone wanted to learn to shoot film, but his experience was limited to videotaping family reunions, no one would suggest that he go out and rent a Panastar II and buy 100,000 feet of 35mm stock to play with. I think the RED is going to be a fantastic tool for real cinematographers... but it's not a toy, and it's not going to be something to "learn on."

Harley Davidson will sell a motorcycle to anyone, but they don't market them to novices, they market them to bikers...guys who already know what to do with them. I just think the RED suffers from a little bit of the opposite marketing mentality... I know I've just personally had waaaay too many people asking me about the RED (as if I would know), what it will do, whether it's right for them... and in the vast majority of the cases it most definitely was not the right camera for them, for their particular usages and level of skill. Those are the guys who are just gonna end up frustrated and wasting a lot of money.

Ok... I'm off my high horse now, surrendering the soap box here. I'm back to packing gear for a shoot across country... we'll be flying to San Francisco on 09/11 so you can bet the airports will be just a breeze. Grrrr.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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donatello
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 8, 2007 at 11:04:56 pm

i'm a bit confused by e35mm ??
and what is being marketed ?

if i may quote from
http://www.fantasticplastic.com/frame.html

"The e35mm system captures true 35mm-sized images, just like a conventional film camera.

These pictures are much larger than those captured by video camera chips and preserve all the characteristics of conventional motion picture images.

The e35mm camera utilizes the same exact top-of-the-line Leitz lenses that are used on million-dollar Panavision cameras. It looks like a 35mm film image because it is a 35mm image."






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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 9, 2007 at 3:02:41 am

[donatello] "i'm a bit confused by e35mm ??"

It's just advertising mumbo jumbo... our particular method/workflow of shooting with cine primes, a P+S Technik converter that we modified, and using an HDV head but snagging the full HD signal via HD-SDI and recording to external RAID.

We used to primarily shoot 35mm film, but started doing this a while back espcially for television commercial clients whose budgets wouldn't quite support Mother Kodak. It got kinda tiresome explaining this to agency types, so we slapped the e35mm name on it.

The website copy is purely geared to our typical clients, who are usually completely non-technical advertising folks. It probably makes more technically-savvy people smile (or alternately go "Huhhh?"), but it seems to satisfy those to whom it is targeted.

[donatello] "...preserve all the characteristics of conventional motion picture images."

That copy is really speaking to depth of field and focal lengths only... not to resolution. Being 1080 it of course doesn't hold a candle to real film or RED... but it doesn't need to, it's largely just a television production tool. Although the one time I did see its output on the big screen (via the Christie projectors at a local theater) the images just blew me away. It looks so good it has made me reluctant to pick up the film cameras again... if I ever get my hands on a RED I'll probably sell the 35mm gear altogether.

There's much more about this setup in an upcoming article in the COW magazine.

Sorry to highjack the post, but wanted to answer... now back to your regularly-scheduled RED programming.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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JeremyG
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 10, 2007 at 2:04:43 pm

Thanks for the response, Todd.

I see your point, I really do, I just happen to look at it in a totally different degrees Kelvin.

Since the Red is brand new, everyone is going to learn on it in one way or another. Everyone. Even the developers. It's a new chip, new capture devices, new menus and technology all the while applying past experience to all this new stuff.

I tend to think this will allow people to expand their creative horizons in ways that they couldn't before.


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edit
Re: My Take on RED...
by
on Sep 5, 2007 at 9:38:15 pm

Yummy, Yummy Leo. I have been following this camera every bit of the way. Your post reads like the Red Camera is all about the image,,, period.. Which is great. Even at 60k with a little glass this is not tooo far out of reach.

Being based in Columbus, where small crews are the norm, I am more interested in watching the Reds influence on the other manufactures. How soon and what will be the first indicators that Sony, Panasonic, Thompson or even GrassValley start to brag about their "Red" attributes in their new cameras. NAB 2008 could be very interesting.

Keep us posted on your Xmas present.


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Jiri Vrozina
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 7, 2007 at 9:06:31 pm

Leo,
have actually shot something with RED??


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Leo Ticheli
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 8, 2007 at 2:56:49 am

Hi Jiri,

Did you actually read my post? I thought it was unambiguous.

Nothing in it even suggests I've shot with the RED camera.

When the camera arrives in December, I'll report how it performs for me, if I'm still hanging around the Cow.

Good shooting and best regards,

Leo




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Jiri Vrozina
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 8, 2007 at 8:44:21 am

Well,
why would you pay for something before testing it??
Did you purchase your Varicam without testing it??


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Leo Ticheli
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 8, 2007 at 12:41:09 pm

Hi Jiri,

Maybe I've order RED because I'm wiser than you! ;-)

I'm not given to leaps of faith in any venue; so, why RED? Because enough evidence is in to make it a very good bet indeed.

1. The images shot by people I respect are stunning; the best I've ever seen and by a significant margin.

2. The post work flow is fully supported by Apple; my entire post operation is all Apple. It's been dead-solid reliable.

3. The 35MM-sized sensor for shallow depth of field, cine lenses for optical quality, and film camera style of operation which suits the way I like to work.

Could it all go wrong? Certainly. The camera could prove unreliable in the field, service and tech support could be inadequate, the company could evaporate, fire could fall from the sky, plague, pestilence, dogs and cats living together... I'm betting against these possibilities.

Could other vendors join the fray? Sure. Quite likely. Could they be better than RED? Possibly. If so, the camera body, which is cheap, could be simply replaced. The big money is in glass, which works on any future camera with a big sensor and PL mount.

As I've said many times, the RED is not all things to all men, but it's just right for me.

Good shooting and best regards,

Leo














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Jiri Vrozina
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 8, 2007 at 8:40:20 pm

Well all the best.


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Tim Kolb
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 9, 2007 at 11:34:36 am

[Leo Ticheli] "2. The post work flow is fully supported by Apple; my entire post operation is all Apple. It's been dead-solid reliable."

Depending on exactly what "support" means...

Hopefully you have a machine that will dual boot and run Scratch on Windows because that's the only way you can output the full res images from a DI workflow from what I've seen thus far. Final Cut functionality seems to be offline currently (though I suspect that many RED users will only need to output HD for many applications anyway...)

I would think that Apple will have a way to support the RAW images on the timeline at some point...

TimK,
Director,
Kolb Productions,

Creative Cow Host,
Author/Trainer
http://www.focalpress.com
http://www.classondemand.net


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Jim Harvey
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 9, 2007 at 11:05:33 pm

I've followed the RED saga from the beginning and I agree that it's been an incredible marketing program. When you have people lining up years before the product actually exists to plunk down their 1000.00 to reserve a spot on the list, well, the PR people have certainly done their jobs well.

That said, I think that Leo has probably done enough homework to know that if the camera performs as described (and there is no real reason to question that), then it will integrate perfectly into his workflow and serve his needs. When he bought a Varicam or CineAlta, he didn't need to "try it out" before hand because he had the experience and intelligence to know that this camera would work for him and address his needs.

Todd brings up an interesting and I would venture to say accurate take on the subject as well. While it may sound "elitist" to flat out say that some folks have no business owning a RED, the fact of the matter is that he's completely correct. I'd take it a step or two farther and state that there are an awful lot of people out there in the "industry" who have no business owning a camera of ANY type.

Fortunatly or un-fortunately, we live in a wonderful country where even the least talented or creative people can join the show if they have the price of admission. Will they produce better product if they own a RED? Most likely the answer is no. Will RED's flood the market when the posers and dilettante's find out that it's a real pain in the arse to operate? Perhaps, and then others will step up to fill in the void and take advantage of the wreckage of those broken dreams.

The fact is that the RED is only the tip of the iceberg. More and better technology will come at us hot and heavy in the next 10 years. What we perceive as cutting edge today will be akin to what the VX-1000 is regarded as today. Storage will become cheaper and cheaper, edit systems will become faster and more capable and a small percentage of users will produce fascinating, exciting content while a majority of people will produce crap or nothing at all. In other words, nothing will change, only the resolution and speed at which people can produce junk.

If you want to see the best of the best, a good place to start is right here at CREATIVECOW. Check out the list of people who contribute to this site and you'll find some of the best and most creative and SHARING people in the industry.

I'm waiting for someone to find out that the RED isn't good for wedding videos so I can relieve them of their burden.


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gary adcock
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 10, 2007 at 4:13:42 am

[Jim Harvey] "While it may sound "elitist" to flat out say that some folks have no business owning a RED, the fact of the matter is that he's completely correct. I'd take it a step or two farther and state that there are an awful lot of people out there in the "industry" who have no business owning a camera of ANY type. "

here here,

gary



gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows


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Jiri Vrozina
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 10, 2007 at 5:27:18 am

[Jim Harvey] "When he bought a Varicam or CineAlta, he didn't need to "try it out" before hand because he had the experience and intelligence to know that this camera would work for him and address his needs"

In past 26 years I bought 8 broadcast cameras,I tested them all but the last one-big mistake.
Buying anything without testing-in my oppinion-is not the way to go.


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Steve Wargo
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 10, 2007 at 5:44:05 am

[Jiri Vrozina] "Buying anything without testing-in my oppinion-is not the way to go"

I would tend to agree but as technology moves ahead as it has in the last few years, I'm not so sure that we really need to test a camera rather than just see if it feels right.

I'm sure that most of us a pretty good idea of what Red is all about. It's a camera head with a big, whopping 4x3 sensor inside. We've seen the images so what else is there to know? I guess There are more than 4 switches and it has inputs for 4 audio feeds.

I would like to see the instruction manual, which I heard, at this time, is small but to the point. The most important thing here is that it was written in English from the beginning.

However, I will make one bold statement: "No camera will ever exist that fits the needs of every person and every situation." Also, if Red does it's job and the company does their job, there will be several models to fit different areas of the market.


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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Jiri Vrozina
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 10, 2007 at 6:12:41 am

Well-may i have one for one day??
Steve,one thing some RED buyers do not understand:
It is Cine' Camera which needs real crew behind it.It is NOT camera for Single Rambo Operator.
Enough said here...next few months will be interesting......


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Barend Onneweer
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 11, 2007 at 7:43:39 am

[Jiri Vrozina] "It is Cine' Camera which needs real crew behind it.It is NOT camera for Single Rambo Operator."

True - if you're shooting the full S35 image plane with long lenses you're going to need an experienced focus puller for starters.

But why wouldn't you be able to mount an S16 zoom and shoot solo-documentary style just like you would with an Aaton?

And I'm sure we'll see people add a B4 mount and shoot ENG.

Bar3nd

Raamw3rk - digital storytelling and visual effects


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jiri vrozina
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 11, 2007 at 9:50:28 pm

[Barend Onneweer] "But why wouldn't you be able to mount an S16 zoom and shoot solo-documentary style just like you would with an Aaton?"

Well I owned Bolex and Eclair about 27 years ago.
I also had zoom and 5 prime lenses,I had batteries(very heavy),Miller wooden Tripod(heavy),filters..etc and rolls of Film.I certainly would not travel with ALL that gear on my own(even if I was about 21 at the time).Especially with Nagra around my neck.


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Barend Onneweer
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 11, 2007 at 7:39:05 am

I'll do a bit of nitpicking :-)

[Steve Wargo] "It's a camera head with a big, whopping 4x3 sensor inside."

The sensor is actually 16x9. So it covers the width of the S35 image plane, but not the height.

Bar3nd

Raamw3rk - digital storytelling and visual effects


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Steve Wargo
Thanks Barend
on Sep 11, 2007 at 2:23:56 pm

Thanks Barend,

That's what I get for listening to others without looking it up myself.


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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G.A. Kokes
Re: My Take on RED...
on Sep 17, 2007 at 2:07:35 pm

[Jim Harvey] "While it may sound "elitist" to flat out say that some folks have no business owning a RED, the fact of the matter is that he's completely correct. I'd take it a step or two farther and state that there are an awful lot of people out there in the "industry" who have no business owning a camera of ANY type."

Yes, and YouTube is making a fortune on them.

Cheers,
G

Aurora Coast Productions -
HD Video Productions Services & 35mm Cinematography
Drama, Documentary, Commercials and Events NJ & NYC Tri-State Area
http://www.AuroraCoast.com


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