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RED Look & Movement


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Hello everyone, thanks to this forum we stopped everything, found a production company with equipment and switched from a DSLR to a Red Weapon 6K.

The camera we're going to use is a RED Weapon 2016 with a modified sensor from 2018. The crew has been working with it for years.

What do I need to do to get a cinematic look with this camera?
How do I make the look & 'movement in the frame' similar to Zodiac (2007) and not like Get Smart (2008)?

Any links to tutorials, articles, videos, etc, are more than welcomed. Time for homework.

Thank you in advance for your helpful answers.


Edited by DorSinai
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Congratulations, sounds like you got a big bump in funding for your project! 

Zodiac was on Thompson Viper cameras - At the time very difficult systems to use, and much smaller 2/3" sensors than what you're easily able to get today.  The cadence of motion was likely due to the CCD chips - global shutter.  Aside from the Komodo I'm not sure which RED's have global shutters?  There are a lot of characteristics of the "viper look" that the cinematographer and director leaned-into on that picture, partly because the monitoring was much more rudimentary and on-set viewing was very green/flat, so people who used them at the time often spent so much time looking at the flat picture it became a "style."

The cinematographer and director on Zodiac were both legends, so putting gear aside - what you're seeing on screen is mostly their talent and very little of it has anything to do with the camera system.  That they were able to make such a good looking movie with that camera is a testament to their talent - where most DP's at the time would thumb their noses at "video" cameras like the viper.

Whether you're using a DSLR or a RED, getting a "cinematic look" is doable - just test test test.  Play with the tools, try to find the limits.  Understand as much about your project's finish as you possibly can and budget realistically not aspirationally.  RED has been incredibly good at marketing to people outside the industry so it's often the only camera brand anyone knows about when they know nothing about cinema cameras.  Even within the RED product line, some cameras make great pictures and others are absolute trash - and with no other brand have I personally found it so difficult to find objective information.  Owners tend to be religious about the brand as a whole and non-owners tend to want nothing to do with RED, telling nothing but horror stories.  With RED the experience is often entirely dependent on how much support you have by techs.  It's a limitation most other systems (aside from Phantom) do not have.  Hopefully the crew you've found is super well-versed in every possible detail about their camera and hopefully they have spares - both keys to success.

In this day and age, almost ALL cameras are incredibly good.  You can easily buy a system outright for about $1500 that would outperform the Viper camera from 2007 with more latitude and reliability.  Some DSLRs could easily outperform the viper.  So the key isn't the camera - it's using it the way YOU choose to use it.  In that same era, Miami Vice also shot on Viper, Crank 2 shot on prosumer Handicams - and used the medium in non-traditional ways - but made visual choices.  Both those projects were theatrical releases and both got knocked for looking "uncinematic" - so what does that word even mean?  Take some time to play with whatever system you're going to use for your project and understand exactly what it can and cannot do - find where the image breaks and don't listen to hype or marketing because those situations are not your specific situation.  Create the language of your film.  There are SO many traps in the online filmmaking community of what you SHOULD be doing - shooting specific cameras, specific lenses, specific mounts (all of them usually expensive), as if there is a RIGHT way to do things.  Find what works for you - by testing and playing.  Seriously - schedule a fun test shoot and build repoire with your crew while learning hands-on.  You may see things that the online community never mentioned or thought about.



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Thank you for the reply, good to know I have better equipment and a bigger sensor at hand. My question is mostly technical, on what specific preferences I need to put into the RED Weapon to get the Zodiac look, especially when there's rapid movement in the frame. Get Smart and Miami Voice both looked like 48fps rubbery, hence not cinematic, they didn't feel like 24fps but movements seemed stretched and bothered the eye. 

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