The first cameras we bought for Alucinor Productions were two JVC HD111E 720p ENG style camcorders back in 2008 ($7,250 each). We were fresh out of Uni and at the time, they were amazing to us. We’ve since sold one and the other is an antique that jumps from my desk to Shanes. A harsh lesson that electronics depreciate in value quickly and are just as quickly superseded by new technology.
Me shooting with a JVC HD111e camera
A shot from Adolescents and Alcohol (2008)
Before the HDSLR boom 35mm converters were all the rage. We jumped on board with Cinevate’s Brevis 35mm adaptor. And while this gave us control over depth of field and some nice organic looking grain, it was big and heavy and couldn’t make up for the poor low light ability of that camera, or the very thin codec.
Shane and I working with the Brevis on the JVC
A shot from the Brevis/JVC shot Think Pink music video (2010)
Shot with a JVC HD111E with Brevis 35mm adaptor
DP Shane Piggott on location for When Separating with a rigged up Canon 5D Mark II
A 5D Mark II screen grab from the Wildcats game time video
Shot with a Canon 5D Mark II
The decision to buy a red was a slow process and the pressure certainly didn’t come from our clients, but from our own desire for better and more cinematic image quality. The 5D Mark II is an amazing camera, revolutionary for its time. However we craved a sharper image, not necessarily 4k, but sharper. And we didn’t want to be on the constant lookout for moire and aliasing all the time (Well documented issues with the 5D mark II).
I started taking RAW stills on the 5D instead of jpegs and was amazed at how much I could manipulate the image in post compared to a jpeg. We wanted that power in video. It’s not needed for all jobs where the 5D or a Sony FS100 or FS700 is more than sufficient. In fact shooting raw can be a cumbersome pain in the ass for many jobs where it just isn’t needed. For example corporate shoots and long form documentaries that require lots of shooting. But we felt shooting raw would be ideal for short or feature films, music videos and some TVC’s.
So there were a few raw cameras we had our eye on. The Blackmagic cinema camera (BMCC), The Digital Bolex (not released yet), The Kineraw, the Red Scarlet and the Sony f5. We pre-ordered a BMCC (at $3000 with resolve thrown in why wouldn’t you?) but due to the wait we cancelled the order. We wanted a camera now, not in 6 months (or longer). So we bought a red scarlet.
Out of those cameras the only other camera that I think is truly in the same ‘league’ (at least in terms of resolution and compressed raw capability) is the Sony F5. However that camera is substantially more expensive with the optional raw recorder (and we primarily want raw). That said, I think the Sony F5 may end up being a superb all-rounder as you have the option for raw as well as very robust 10-bit internal codec’s at Full HD and 2k. Plus, faster frame rates (slow motion) without cropping the sensor like the Red Scarlet does. Jealous much? No I’m stoked with the red image, but I am brand agnostic so very interested in seeing Sony F5 films emerge.
Black Magic Cinema Camera
What does the Red Scarlet give us?
• Image quality that CAN hold a candle to major releases at the cinema. (The Hobbit, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Amazing Spiderman and Prometheus we’re all shot with the red scarlet‘s big brother the Red Epic)
• Incredible colour grading power and freedom of a RAW workflow
• Minimal moire and aliasing (compared to a 5D Mark II)
• Less rolling shutter
• Wider dynamic range
• “Future proof” 4K resolution(4096 x 2160 instead of 1920×1080. You can now upload 4K to YouTube!)
• We can easily shoot on PL mount, Canon or Nikon glass
• The camera has been out for a year so there’s plenty of information online to learn from and a lot of issues have been ironed out
• An upgrade path to the epic with the new Dragon sensor with increased dynamic range, resolution and frame rates
One of the great things about the red scarlet is that all the components you buy – side handle, memory, batteries etc are all compatible with the red epic. We aren’t huge slow motion fiends and we certainly don’t need 5K at this point in time so we are quite content with Red Scarlet (as opposed to the Red Epic) at the moment. We are very aware that we will be delivering 1080p and 2K (2048×1080) for some time to come. However we do plan on upgrading to or investing in the new Red Epic with the dragon sensor when they become available. Not in any rush though.
Most importantly we are putting our focus back on film making (when we are not doing what we need to do to earn a living through corporate work). I’m in script development on a short I’ve already cast (I need to head hunt a producer, production designer, make up and costume designer.. so still a lot to do!) and Shane has started planning out a short of his own. We both wanted a camera that could truly hold up on the big screen. A camera that has proven (in capable hands) to produce stunning, sharp and quality imagery. I just watched The Social Network shot on the Red One. Amazing! I’m yet to check out The Hobbit but have been impressed just by the YouTube trailers. We’ve only had time to have a little play with the Red Scarlet because we’ve been so busy in other capacities on other projects, but we can’t wait to put it to work as artists. Making films.
Stay tuned for our progress and future work with the Red Scarlet. I’ll be writing a series of blogs about our journey from a Canon 5D/FS700 Cineform workflow to a red raw workflow. Going through the initial lessons/complications, computer workflow, upgrades, ergonomics and learning to get the most out of the camera.
Till next time,