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First RED EPIC Footage is... Unspectacular. Though It Might Not Be the Camera's Fault.

03.1.11 @ 9:34AM Tags : , ,

After writing the above headline, I realized it might seem as if I’m suggesting that the depicted model is less than comely. That’s not at all what I mean: what I’m saying is, the RED’s RAW workflow really needs a full color grade to shine, and the following video looks like… well, what you’d expect it to look like. It’s certainly not pushing the camera’s capabilities in any way. It’s also NSFW, unless your place of work is cool with you watching fullscreen HD videos of scantily clad ladies prancing about:

Though it’s only web video, a cursory evaluation reveals it’s noise free, the highlights are handled well, the blacks seem clean, the slow motion looks great… but, I’ll just come out and say it: the majority of RED footage I’ve seen since the RED ONE debuted a few years back has looked overly brownish to my eye. Presumably this is because colorists are focusing on maintaining natural skin tones, and the rest of the footage ends up in a similar color space. I haven’t shot on RED, so I don’t know for sure (due to the music and the come-hither looks, the above video does remind me of shooting models on a green screen, however). I have found movies shot with the newer color science to look better, and I’ve been keeping close tabs on EPIC. But with the RAW workflow, so much depends on post-processing that it’s impossible to look at something shot on RED and say, “I don’t like RED.” DSLRs thrill so many users because the footage looks pretty damn good out of the box (but doesn’t hold up as well to post-processing); a DSLR the EPIC is not.

The above video was actually not the first RED EPIC footage released. The following clip came out two weeks ago from the same crew, but was so anti-climactic that I refrained from posting it. Considering RED is being selective about who gets the first limited-run, hand-machined EPIC-Ms, I’m surprised they didn’t ensure that the first videos to hit the web were a bit more spectacular and newsworthy. Neither of these videos says much about what the EPIC is capable of:

A camera is far less important than the person operating it and the circumstances of the shoot. It’s hard to look at this skiing video and identify the camera as having the same sensor that shot Winter’s Bone and El Secreto de Sus Ojos — those were the first two RED-shot features that fooled me into thinking they were shot on film. So while the jury is most definitely still out — in fact, with these clips I would say we haven’t gotten past the jury selection process — one thing is certain: RED is not a toy. You don’t hit the power switch and get a pretty image, as you do with many DSLRs. Which makes me wonder if the 2/3″ chip, auto-focus SCARLET will offer some dumbed-down baked-in “looks” considering the market it’s going after — if you boot up the SCARLET and everything looks brown and gray, I have a feeling many users will be (rightly or wrongly) disappointed.

[via FreshDV]


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Description image 46 COMMENTS

  • First of all, that’s what I love about my job. There’s no problem with watching scantily clad women prance around.

    Second of all, I really wish someone would take the time to shoot something descent with these things. Nobody cares about seeing someone ski down a hill, or even women looking at a camera. Shoot a scene from something for God’s sake. Take the time to actually put a movie together (not saying it has to be a feature) or something so we can see an example of how the camera performs within a narrative space.

    And yes…doing some correction on it. Show it’s full potential.

    And third, I agree with your last statement, as I have also been saying that all along. RED is a 35mm replacement. It allows young filmmakers, without the money for film, to shoot 35 quality footage. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to light, or can just turn it on and start shooting.

    Regardless of how amazing the camera is, in the hands of untalented people, it will always look terrible.

  • nasty looking models don’t help the EPIC any

  • Don’t forget that RAW footage should be watched like a film negative: it’s NOT supposed to look like a pretty picture. It’s supposed to be rich in possibilities.

  • Underwhelmed on 03.1.11 @ 3:16PM

    I’m generally underwhelmed with a lot of red footage that I’ve seen come out of people’s cameras. A lot of the time the footage tends to look really flat.

    I also generally underwhelmed by Red’s lack of savvy marketing behind the release of footage selects for promotional purposes. All I can remember:

    1. A small few second clip of HDR footage in Las Vegas.
    2. Some few second clip of an iguana
    3. Some guy going in and out of a barn (another HDR example)
    4. DiCaprio lighting up a cigar
    5. Schilowitz running around like an idiot demoing stuff, but not really transferring excitement about anything.
    6. a motion extracted still image of Jannard’s wife.

    People need to seriously color-correct footage heavily to make Red stuff look great.

    Red needs to take a cue from Apple. Sell your product well, and the masses will want one. Right now, beyond specs alone, it’s difficult to SHOW someone why I NEED to buy the Red or Red Scarlet (vaporware) when it comes out.

    There should be a cohesive, simple to surf & browse Red gallery of amazing footage. Yes, they have a couple of reels up there and a “shot on red” page, but we want a gallery of great footage. Selects of different scenarios that have been shot. Stuff that really convinces us that in every conceivable situation, Red can outshine and outperform every single competitor out there. Right now, Vimeo give red a run for their money with all the amazing DSLR footage that’s been shot; and that’s a shame.

    There should be sample R3D files for people to play with and grade.

  • Waste of time on 03.1.11 @ 3:25PM

    This footage is crap. God bless Ketch Rossi (whatever the hell he does) if he can afford an Epic filming stuff like this and then selling it as if it’s something worth watching. Can I get my time back please?

    I was casually watching the X games snowboard jumping event other day; I have no idea what they shot it on. It was at night with the athletes being shot against a myriad of floodlights. Lord knows there were a few lens flares and such to contend with. However, the footage looked way more interesting and and the subject matter was way more dynamic than the stuff Rossi just put out on the interwebs.

    Let’s go driving through an uninteresting tunnel with a jittery mount and release it on the web! Yay!

    • I felt the tunnel thing was trying to tell me: “look, you can go from dark places o bright places and the image will hold up”

      the fact that I also was bored probably means I’m not the target audience for that message

  • I personally think that people shouldn’t be too concerned with skintones. There’s a lot of really cool things you can do with color.

    Also, I used to be really big on the whole “flat picture style” concept, but now I think we should be setting or look in camera and only making minor adjustments in post. Not only does it save time and money in post, but it makes your cinematographer work a little more for a good image.

    • “flat picture style” is meant only to apply to the cameras internal image compression settings that is applied by the camera AFTER the picture/video is taken (though seen in the viewfinder preview during). I think the idea is more that you shoot flat because the camera is not a post-processing tool and is not optimized to do that work, so why would you let it? Your cinematographer should be working harder to get the look you are after in front of the camera via lighting/lenses etc while working within that “Flat” picture look. Then if you want to add extra sharpness, contrast or saturation you do it in post on a program that’s designed to actually perform that function well. Of course you can shoot with processing applied to possibly save time as you say but then you have less leeway with any changes that might come down the line. But if you actually have a great DP then you shouldn’t have to touch the flat image either save for maybe broadcast safe corrections.

      • “you shoot flat because the camera is not a post-processing tool and is not optimized to do that work, so why would you let it?”

        because it can access better data than I can use in post: it changes contrast and saturation over the 14bit uncompressed stream, then packs with an 8bit, 4:2:0 codec, which won’t allow me to make great changes before showing some problems

        • playing with pictures styles is just like shooting RAW… except you have to define your settings BEFORE you even see the footage; if you guess it right, it’s great; if you get it wrong, you may be screwed; to avoid that, many people shoot flat

          • ahh true, I didn’t think about it affecting the uncompressed image. I mostly work with ex-3 to nanoflash footage and we found the DSP is applied in camera before going out the HDSDI so shooting flat has always seemed the way to go when you are getting high bitrate 4:2:2 I-frame stuff that can handle the post-processing.

  • James Benet on 03.1.11 @ 9:30PM

    Ive played with some RAWs from EPIC and I can tell you the camera is capable of a lot more but I actually like the footage shown here. The detail is there, the gradations are outstanding and the shadow noise is fantastically film like. Its just a matter of applying a curve to make it punchier but this test was to show the footage with minimum adjustments I believe.

    I rather have this kind of flat look than the baked stuff from my SLRs. There is no SLR even the GH2 that can approach this quality. I am worried about the Scarlet fixed tho, the sensor is way smaller so the DR will suffer I’m afraid.

    I own the 7D and GH2 BTW.

  • Alec Moore on 03.2.11 @ 1:46PM

    Mr. Rossi, that is the most boring unimaginative short piece I’ve watched in a long time. Regardless of what it was shot on, I wouldn’t watch that again.

    The footage looked completely noise free which is great.
    But to be honest, If I was testing an EPIC. It would be a hell of a lot better than that…

  • sniklefritzz on 03.2.11 @ 7:07PM

    People are getting carried away, I think it looks very good, they didn’t shoot anything extraodinary, and that’s probably because it’s just test footage.

  • It’s also very hard to tell a difference between RED ONE, RED MX and RED EPIC. If you hadn’t told me this was RED EPIC footage, I never would have known. Would you?

    That said, it’s clearly better than “some dude in his backyard.” My issue is these test always fail to impress because it’s hard to see how what they shot can be applied to what I do.

    What we, as smaller, independent filmmakers, are looking for is something comparable to what you see when you got to the cineplex and see the latest movie. That’s really it. In fact, it’s almost getting to the point where the tools don’t even matter.

    I directed a short last November and we shot on two RED MXs. However, there was an issue with the rental house however, and we couldn’t get one RED MX (the other came from an owner) so we had to shoot on the RED ONE for one day before the MX came in.

    I’ve been editing the film for the past month and if you asked me to tell you which shots were the MX and which were the RED ONE from that first day, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I was there!

    It’s honestly reaching the point where it doesn’t matter anymore. 2k vs. 4k vs. 5k. iPad 1 vs. iPad 2. Which is quite a feat, that in literally 3 years we’ve gone from the point of the only viable alternative for low-budget filmmaking to be an HVX w/ a Mini-35 adapter to us complaining about the lack of imagination used to film a test on a new 5k camera. Ha!

    • Well said! I remember ten years ago when someone released some sort of blur screen that you could hold up behind your actor’s head in a closeup in order to simulate a shallow depth-of-field. Small-chip cameras just couldn’t do it unless you were at maximum zoom. And now DSLRs aren’t good enough? Funny.

  • were the a,b,c,d list models booked that day? couple of butter gals

  • My first thought on the models was “I’d never hire that hair stylist and that make up artist again!”
    The shots were nice for a test, but the make-up just wasn’t nearly good enough for HD, let alone 5K. I wouldn’t wanna see that footage in its real resolution, and I guess the models would neither…

    The skiing shots were, well, as boring as they could be, sorry. They just looked like a really lazy cameracrew set up the Epic at the slope nearest to their car, no matter it was nearly flat and featured a boring dark-green background.
    Then they wouldn’t even once move the tripod or god forbid take the camera off the tripod. Who needs different perspectives when they can just add a dissolve in the editing room?
    Also what’s this shooting everything with the largest telephoto lens you were able to find? It really takes out the last bit of action from the shots. As Robert Capa said: “if your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”

    I understand this is just test footage, and it doesn’t need to be a feature film, but with these shots I wouldn’t post a making-of video on vimeo that teases this like it was the next blockbuster action movie. The making of by the way contained all the action and emotion the real video was missing… ;)

  • I have seen gopro skiing footage that looks more stable and interesting than this ski video.

  • He he, I don’t get affected form what others say, I am playing with EPIC M they are not ;)

    All title say clearly Epic Test footage, we were testing under different conditions for the camera not for the footage, when I am ready to shoot
    something then I will and then that will no longer have the Test Footage title ;)

    Till then any one can say what they wish, they have no clue what we were testing for.

  • However, our first real shoot coming shortly, then you can pick it apart, and talk about what EPIC can and can not do, even so it will not surely be a Half a Billion Dollar shoot like the HOBBITS, there you could really see what EPIC can do ;)

  • If you want to play go DSLR. If you want to go Pro, epic and even scarlett. If you want to know about cinema and film making rather than making showreels go to reduser. If you want to remain ignorant keep reading articles here.

    • He he, nice theory Sinclair, but I do believe in every one having the right to voice their opinion, and I love it, and fortunately I never have never be afraid to let others speck their mind of me and or what I do, by my self, and or with others ;) This, were tests to allow us to play with the camera, and learn the menus and what and how we can work with it. I never read Manuals, and with EPIC M we just tucked the camera out and play, no funds or company sponsoring our shoots, with tens of thousands of dollars of crew fees and gear, and or Post facilities at our disposal.

      We donate our time to shoot tests and post them to share our joy of working with this new Amazing camera, when we are ready to shoot real material we will and post it as well, there will still be people that will like them and those that won’t, no problem there, you can not ever please every one.

      There are many cameras and they are many lenses, and many type of Breads, each chooses the right camera and or lens to shoot with and eats the bread that He/She prefers and like the most, such is life full of Fantastic choices ;)

      Don’t you love it? I do ;) Happy shooting and happy reading ;)

  • Stephen Gentle on 03.10.11 @ 12:28AM

    I stopped reading when I realised you were judging footage from heavily compressed 720p web video.

    Watch some Epic footage projected in 4K – that’s spectacular… Even at 2K (with decent quality compression) you should be able to pretty easily tell the difference between RED ONE, RED ONE MX and EPIC.

    Tungsten lighting is one of the biggest differences – although the MX sensor is more sensitive overall, it’s the far lower noise floor (especially in the blue channel) that makes a massive difference.

    • You can tell a lot from heavily compressed web video — if it’s well shot, well lit, and has good color rendition, those things will translate to a 720p web video no problem. People grew up watching crappy VHS movies with a resolution equivalent to 320p and now everyone likes to say in response to these HD videos “it’s just a web video, don’t judge it?” Are those the same people that say “looks great!” in reaction to a different 720p web video? If you can tell when something looks good, you can tell when something looks bad just the same. No one’s questioning how SHARP the cameras are. But there’s a lot more to it than resolution.

  • I believe that no matter the compression one can form an opinion about the qualities of the content, so in this I must agree with Koo, however, one must first know what the intent was of those that produced, before going about it, this was a test nothing less nothing more, it was not colored even so there is a credit for it, I uploaded as it was right off the quick Edit on Set while the rest were rapping things up, Lu edited on the spot, this is the power of EPIC and R3D, we were testing RedCineX 416 together with a new test version for the RR, all worked beautifully.

    We tucked the camera for a SPin with my friend Sergio and got some fun out of a day which could have ben otherwise boring if we were to shoot static materials.

    We wanted to test low light capabilities and how we could achieve some Filmic look pushing the Blacks and get the ISO a bit higher illuminating with only one lIght source coming form an Older Briese Parabolic that worked great for us.

    If others did not like it, I am not sorry, we had fun, and we got what we wanted out of it,

    • Ketch — appreciate the comments. And thanks for clarifying that there was no grading done — that makes a huge difference with RED footage. I’m sure you guys are going to shoot some great stuff in the months and years to come! I was just kind of surprised that RED didn’t make sure that, after years of working on their EPIC, they made a bigger splash with the first footage to hit the web. Something that went through a full grade.

      Enjoy the camera — I’m sure you will!

  • I can´t believe how people waste so much time in bad cinematography and boring content with such a great camera. After watching this I had to throw up. Sorry.

  • Jim Jannard on 03.11.11 @ 6:36PM

    Jeez, the second video is retarded bad. Everything about it, the filming (focus!!!), the editing (pretty sure it was straight from the cam onto a timeline), the coloring, the music and of course, the fucking skiing!!!

    Each one of these dudes think he’s a god over on red-loser… er… I mean reduser. They need to spend less time on these forums and get out and shoot. Seriously guys, crediting yourself for each one of the measly jobs that you did is embarrassing. I’ve seen better from film students… blind ones!

    • unfortunately, jim is right…

      there a better one :

      and what he did :

      way better

    • Funny trick with the name there.

    • That’s freaking funny Jim!

      I guess people are expecting to be… entertained… by, uh… test footage?

      To those who doubt, all I can say is… just wait… you’ll get your entertainment. Trust me on this one.

    • Sad that we don´t have the opportunity to shoot on Epic. Sad that I didn´t have enough money back in 2007 to buy a Red One to be now one of the chosen few to get an Epic…and very good, that I don´t publish my real email-address…
      Jim, if you like I will send you my showreel, haha.

      The so called “Pedro”

  • (Not) Jim Jannard on 03.11.11 @ 9:44PM

    Sorry guys, couldn’t help it. Epic is rad and so is the F3. So will the Scarlet, but then so is my 7D.

    New technology is a good thing, but we can’t change how people use it. Bad filming is bad filming. It’s a combination of things and in my opinion Ketch shouldn’t being putting up videos like the second one. It just doesn’t help anyone. If someone told me that that was filming on an EX1, I would have believed it… maybe apart from the fact he couldn’t keep focus.

    From my private island, I bid you all farewell,


  • ✝ or the artist formerly known as Jim Jannard on 03.13.11 @ 6:05PM

    corrected it just for you