Zac Halberd Posted February 27, 2008 Share Posted February 27, 2008 Hello everyone. I'm new to this site, however I thought I would make my first valuable contribution by posting all of my notes that I took during a three day shoot with the new RED cam. We shot a short destined for Cannes in Hertfordshire this past weekend with Cinematographer Simon Dennis. We put the camera through quite alot of situations, however this is only my observations and you're welcome to make up your own mind regarding the following issues: KIT WE USED: RED camera- Build 14 18, 32, 85mm Cooke Ultra Primes 2 RED brick batteries 4 PAG V-lock batteries (yes they're perfectly compatable) 8X 8GB Compact Flash cards (I'll explain why) RED 6" LCD on-board monitor Red Cradle Red Shoulder pad/mount I would rate this camera overall at about a 7 or 8 out of 10. I was very impressed by the camera overall, but I was put off due to the lack of some very simple practicality issues. There are a few things that I think RED overlooked, but can easily be fixed, or perhaps already have been addressed for build 15. We were filming in a warehouse on pre-built sets using various lighting and mostly handheld. We had one or two dolly shots, and a few locked off shots. We had to use 8GB CF cards, because most of our shots were handheld, and the company we hired from mentioned that the RED DRIVE will drop frames during handheld work, as it's being knocked around. I cannot verify this as I have not used the RED DRIVE. They recommend the new solid state hard drive, however it costs a fortune (over £4000.00!!) so that was out of the question. The little CF cards were a bit of a pain, because you only get around 4 minutes, and then you have to do a little procedure to eject them digitally first, then remove them, then insert a new one, format that one, then you're ready to go. It helps keep your takes disciplined like film, as time is precious, but it's still a bit of a pain. Typically, the last sequence of the shoot went to hell as we kept recieving this weird error every ten seconds that would cut the recording. This big red flashing error would come up ' ERROR: REKATIO FAULT' or something or other. We thought perhaps it was overheating so we switched the fan mode to HOT. Nothing. Then we switched to a fresh battery, nothing. Turns out it was something about the recording method was too high a data rate for the CF cards to handle??? We had been recording for three days and never had a fault. ??? The menu system in the camera is kinda cool. The camera is so simple. There are hardly ANY buttons at all on the damn thing. It even has a joystick to navigate. It's almost as if the camera was designed by people who wern't familiar with typical HD camera setups (that's not a dig by the way). You would think this new high tech camera would have some serious menus. It doesn't. It has a sensor menu with exposure, white balance, and a couple of other choices, a system menu with a few choices, and a video menu with even fewer choices. That's it. Very simple to navigate, and even simpler to tweak the camera settings. It's REALLY weird at first, but after a few hours of shooting, you can change anything on the fly within seconds. I was a bit annoyed that you can only select one video output at a time. We had a 26 inch HD monitor on set next to the camera, but if we wanted to see the video on the big screen, I would have to deactivate the little RED LCD witness monitor on the camera. Was a bit difficult to check my sharps during takes. Since we didnt have a viewfinder (out of stock due to availability), Simon and I had to share this little freakin LCD screen. So the camera is on his shoulders with the moose bars, and he's creaking his neck WAY back to look up to the little LCD, and I'm practically cheeck to cheeck with him so I can share the same little screen to check for focus during some crazy handheld takes. VERY impractical. However that's just due to lack of the VF. Though I wonder if that whole 'one video output selection at a time' thing will allow a VF and a witness monitor to run at the same time??? The RED cradle was kinda cool. Helped to keep the weight balanced. However the power cable design is crap because it's a straight coneector instead of a right angle connector, so when you plug it into the back of the camera, it sticks out a couple of inches, therefore preventing you from bringing the cradle any closer to the camera. You can attach the cradle to the top 19mm bars, but then it just gets weird. It's all a matter of preference. By the way, there is no focal plane indicator. Weird huh? I had to run my own tests beforehand just to find out where the hell the focal plane was on this camera. It's actually right on the join between the camera body, and the PL mount adapter, so I think it was a bit of a design flaw. There is also nowhere to hook your fiberglass onto, so focus pullers might find it a bit annoying. I found that you can hook your tape measure onto one of the butterfly nuts that tighten the top 19mm bars, and it's kinda accurate. But c'mon... I would recommend doing your own tests though. There are a couple of buttons on the front end of the camera. Two of them are user preference buttons that you can assign. We assigned one to be the zoom focus assist, which was handy as hell on the wider end. The other was set to white balance, and the third is a big red record button which doesnt actually work??? Perhaps you have to activate it or something. I couldn't find it in the menu system though. Any ideas??? SO it was a pain in the bum to actually run the camera yourself if you have it on your shoulder, because you have to literally reach way back behind your head, and the camera and blindly find the other record button amidst all the other buttons. So, the buttons in the front are really exposed to knocking. Simon kept knocking them by accident and changing the white balance by a couple thousand K just before the take. Very annoying. Perhaps it was a blessing that the front record button was deactivated! People complain about the fan being loud. However we ran in quiet mode and it was great. MUCH quieter than a film camera and even quieter than the fan in the Sony 900. You can switch it over to HOT mode and then of course it sounds like a damn microwave. We were inside a padded cell (mental insitution type set) with loads of lights and several crew and cast and it was hot and sweaty. The quiet mode seemed fine. Actually the loudest part of the camera believe it or not, was the RED LCD monitor!!! It has this humming buzz type thing going on, and was loud as hell. Sound kept complaining. Don't know what that was about. There was a slight knock on the LCD screen when we recieved it, so perhaps it was dropped by the previous crew (BBC Waking the Dead) damaged it and it was making the humming sound due to this. Tyr ofr yourself. Noisy monitor though... There is no black balance. There is some sort of Black Shading test that you can run that takes like 5 minutes (it even has this really cool matrix thing going on in the background with numbers raining down like a cartoon... I think they were having too much fun designing this thing). I usually do a black balance every time I switch lenses. ??? Perhaps you dont need it for this camera. Couldn't find anything in the 60 page manual. I also prefer to power down when changing lenses. However this camera takes FOREVER to power up. I mean like FOREVER. They say 60 seconds, but I know it's at least a minute and a half because I timed it. Now, imaging having to do that all the time, when you change lenses, or want to save battery on set. No 1st Cam Assistant in their right mind would want to make the DoP wait that long every time you change lenses or reboot. It boots up the software, and firmware, and calibrates... I don't know. It was just a pain in the ass. The shoulder pad is built into the dovetail mount that slides into bottom of the camera. It tapers down to a small square that is about the size of a snap plate. That's all the camera rests on. I found it a bit wobbly. Would have like for there to have been at least one more screw to secure the thing from spinning on one axis. This is just a personal thing. The shoulder pad is not comfy, and is a bit small and awkward. There are screw holes ALL over this thing. You can attach just about anything anywere which is cool. The extra 19mm bars on top are a cool feature as well. The camera is not light. It was much larger and heavier than I thought. You see the website, and the photos and think 'that's pretty small' but its about the size and weight of an arri 235. I suppose that is light and small, however relatively speaking with the photos and what people expect, it's different. I was a bit annoyed that it didnt display battery and media info on the 6" LCD screen. I had to manualy check my battery life on the battery itself, and look on the little LCD screen on the back of the camera to see how much media was left. The media display wasn't very accurate either. It needs a few percent for metadata, so you actually roll out at around 2-4%. Plus whilst recording, it counts down in chunks rather than in accurate small increments. Like two or three percent chunks that aren't very synchronous. There is a little window on the on-board LCD on the back of the camera that is supposed to give you the remaining battery life, but it just says 'AC' the whole time like it thinks youre using mains. Don't know what that's about. Build 15 fix I'm guessing. The little screen does display everything else you need though, which is expected. Right, the image. What can I say. It's pretty damn impressive. You can see EVERYTHING. Very clean image. The tweaking options in the camera are limited. Like master pedestal and black levels. We looked everywhere in the menus and no joy. Wasn't happy with the tweakability. However with that much image data, you can do alot in post. But I hate that phrase. The depth was shallow as expected, and the colours were fantastic. The manual says you can get 11 stops in latitude at 320 ASA. NO WAY. I don't know who said that, but it aint so. We could barely get 5 or 6. The blacks are a bit noisy. Low lighting is not this camera's forte. Perhaps this is an issue that will be addressed in build 15. There is no GAIN (just colour gain) in this camera. Only ASA. Just thought I would let you know. I know that there is only so much bandwidth that you can put into a camera, but when we tried to switch to slow motion (50-75fps) we were VERY limited with our choices. We were shooting in 4k mode the entire time, and were dissapointed to find that you have to switch to either 2k or 3k mode to get the higher frame rates. Understandable. Shooting 50-75fps in 4k mode would be a technologivcal feat for any system. However the DIT we had on set told us that there is a compatability issue between 2k and 4k in post. So how were we to mix the two if we wanted to overcrank? 3k mode mixed better (dunno why???) however, we could only take it to 50fps. We also shot in REDCODE 28. REDCODE 32 is limited again for frame rates and resolutions. I don't know much about this issue, but this is something you might want to address with your post guys. You can set slate numbers in camera. Every time you reload a 'mag' it will roll up to the next number for you UNLESS you restart the camera. Then you're screwed. lol. It was SUCH a pain in the bum having to reset this damn number all the time. I know we went out of sinc a coupld of times with our post guys, so if any of you are reading this, good luck with the slates! lol Workflow was great. Very smooth setup. DIT was on set and loading each mag into his computer every reload. He would back it up several times, then bring the fresh card to me which I would reformat and place into a little case for future reload. If any of you guys have any workflow issues or questions, I can give you our guys' contact details and he can help you out. Overall I enjoyed the camera. But it has a few issues that need to be sorted before I would shoot a feature on it. I hear it's difficult to insure solid state at the moment anyway. (unless you're hollywood and have gazillions to spend) The RED team definately did a great job designing and building this camera. My hat is off to them. As you would expect, there are always issues that need to be addressed when a camera is in it's infancy. I just hope that feedback like this helps in the long run to improve the camera for future shooters. Hope you enjoyed this post. Z Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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