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Coming Soon: a RED SCARLET Micro-Short

12.24.11 @ 1:27PM Tags : , , , , ,

I shared my first impressions of SCARLET-X #00072 but hadn’t yet had a chance to put the camera through its paces properly. I wanted to do a real-world shoot instead of a simple test, so I sketched out a one-page scenario and got together with DP Timur Civan, co-director Raafi Rivero, and actor Harlan Short to put together a rooftop short. Because of holiday commitments it might take us a bit of time to put together, so in the meantime here are some brief thoughts and images from the shoot:

First of all, DP Timur Civan shared some thoughts — as a Sony F3 owner, he wasn’t 100% sure as to why he was buying a RED SCARLET as well, but for him the test shoot was enough to confirm his order (his SCARLET hadn’t shipped yet). His initial reaction:

This sub 11lbs package gave us top tier optics, 16bit 4k RAW, and it fits in the palm of your hand. I seriously was impressed. Simply being able to handle a camera so small that gives you EVEN in its smallest form, the best image it can, makes you want to work harder for the shot and find the best angle, composition and locations…

We had a tiny lighting package and a great location, a good combo. This basically gave me a chance to see if i like the damn thing i already paid for… the Verdict? I LOVE it. Its liberatingly small. DSLR small… but with no compromises.

Uh-oh. Fire up the “why are you hating on DSLRs?” comments section! Listen, I’m not hating on DSLRs. I wrote the DSLR Cinematography Guide because I love their image quality, sensitivity, size, and price. So can we please take the rest of this post as an honest ongoing evaluation of a camera, regardless of whether it’s more expensive than a DSLR? It’s a storytelling tool, and I’m interested in the ways it can help or hinder a production.

When we first met, I tweeted a pic of us setting up the camera, shortly after we discovered that the SCARLET’s non-standard bottom threads did not match up with Timur’s Zacuto baseplate:

So that little package was our handheld “rig.” My side handle isn’t here yet and I haven’t yet purchased a top handle or other rig components, so Timur was forced to hold this unergonomic chunk of metal in front of his chest. And you know what? It wasn’t ideal, but it worked. The small size really helps with speed — you can reposition the camera very quickly, just as you can with a DSLR. I’ll be getting a fair amount of tester gear going forward and will come up with some SCARLET/EPIC recommendations for shoulder rigs, powering options, viewfinder and monitors, etc. but for now this shoot was about image quality. And Timur’s Cooke Panchro primes have that in spades.


When he first set up the camera on a tripod and pointed it out the window at the surrounding environs in Brooklyn, he showed me the monitor and I thought he had placed an extremely long lens on the SCARLET. But then he hit the 1:1 focus aide button, and the image pulled back. I realized I’d been looking at a zoomed-in crop of the sensor, which at 4K zooms in a lot. We were looking at smokestacks being hit by afternoon sunlight, and even at 1:1 there wasn’t a hint of chromatic aberration.

But since plenty of people don’t need 4K resolution, and since we’ll be releasing the short in 1080p through Vimeo, I thought I’d share a frame downscaled (in Photoshop) to 1920 width. Here’s the frame. Click on it for a full size JPG and note the sharpness on the netting on the right. There isn’t a hint of aliasing or moire (thanks to RED’s sensor) or chromatic aberration (thanks to the Cooke’s optics):

Note: I did this very cold grade in REDCINE-X Pro, but will not be grading the piece myself. So if it looks too blueish to you, that’s fine — you can push the .R3D files in any direction, and I was just getting my feet wet in the program. We’ll share some 4K .R3D files at a later date.

As for any RED stability problems, it’s far too early to report on that. We shot from noon to 5PM in temperatures of roughly 35 degrees with no problems. I’m planning on doing some more in-depth tests of the SCARLET in conjunction with Hello World Communications, but for now, my SCARLET’s runtime meter is at 17 hours and it has yet to hiccup. I hope I can say the same with a zero at the end of that number!

Another still:

The micro-short (we’re calling it that, given I wrote the one-page, dialogue-free script on my phone) and more production thoughts should be coming soon. We wanted to do more than a “test” but didn’t have the time or resources to put together a proper film (given I’m working on my first feature as it is), so hopefully this will be a nice compromise. Stay tuned!

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  • Nice work Koo. It’s funny I actually work the same way, I can’t seem to get off my ass and make something unless I have new tech to experiment with. I’m getting Cinegrain very soon so I’ll make something new to test that! Thx for sharing.

    • Well, it’s not so much that I need new tech to make something — I’ve spent the past two years trying to get things made…. in Final Draft. But going out and shooting a 1-page script as opposed to a feature is something that I can do much more quickly (and cheaply), and it’s also good practice for the feature…

  • Looking forward to it!

  • Nice on Koo. What lenses where used here? Anyway I would really like to see some footage at night, or with almost no light BUT, here’s the thing. I want that you make the most and the best out of the shot. Just like David Fincher did at the time with the Red One and Leonardo DiCaprio. But not a scene with a cigar, some other scene maybe. Would really like to see that. Hehe!

    • Tim,

      We shot on Cooke Panchros (which I say in the post).

      FYI, there’s a C300 vs. Scarlet low light test here, but it was shot on two different nights so I would take it with a grain of salt. That said, I’ve said several times that I wouldn’t expect the SCARLET to match the C300 or F3 when it comes to low-light performance. It’s plenty sensitive for most narrative work, but not as much (compared to those cameras) for documentary or lights-free shooting. My $0.02.

      • Koo,

        I’m not asking for a side by side comparison between several different camera’s. I’m asking for a lowlight, with the Red Camera only. What most people do, is to shoot and share. Just post footage of what it can do under iso of 800, 1000. And that’s that. I want to see footage that’s the best you can get out of the camera. Just like DF did.

        • Gotcha. Keep in mind ISO is metadata on the RED — it’s RAW, so you can change ISO in post.

          I can’t post much at this point, though — I have a PL mount camera and Canon lenses. I’m waiting on my Canon mount (I should’ve ordered a Canon mount Scarlet and added the PL later, instead of vice versa. Oops.).

    • Tim, we did shoot some shots under almost no-light conditions to test the camera out in an extremely dark setting. It looked decent in the onboard monitor, but we’ll have to put it through its paces in color grading to see what’s really in the capture.

      • Raafl,

        I really appreciate that. But what I meant is not just footage that comes straight out of the camera. I would like to see some footage that is actually edited in post, thats looks beyond great and shows the strenghts of RAW footage, being edited in Redcine or any other program for that matter. So everyone can see what people did with the footage. :)

        • Oh sorry, was to enthusiastic here! Haha nevermind this post I post above! Can’t wait for the footage :)

      • Oh, good point Raaf – I could post those shots.

  • Well this is what’s special about RED…

    There is “no ISO”. There is only ISO 800. Everything else is an extrapolation of the RAW from the chip conformed to “1600″ “3200″ etc….. essentially, if you shoot a red, pretend there is only ISO800.

    In theory, let’s say you shoot a scene, that’s 2 stops under exposed @ 800 iso, going into RCX and boosting it to 3200 ISO is the same thing as setting it in camera. That’s the point of RAW.

  • oooo panchros, my dream actually ownable lens set. Timur how did you go about purchasing them: financing, bank loan, savings? If you don’t mind me asking.

    Still waiting for an email for red with shipping info for my scarlet, but I think the short you guys are putting together in the meantime will help with the patience.

    And Koo, a write up of tripods, rigs, batteries, etc for the scarlet would be amazing. As one of the guys moving up to a scarlet from a 5d, I would definitely like to see that.

  • Hey Koo!

    What have you heard about the battery situation with Scarlet? Aftermarket options? Thoughts on the RedVolt?

    Happy Holidays!

    Rob

  • Will Gilbey on 12.25.11 @ 3:05AM

    Can’t wait to see it. Images remind a little of the opening scene of Narc. Can only be a good thing. Also, this blog must be pretty good – I’m posting on Christmas Day. Hope everyone has a great day.

  • Guys, thanks for the heads up, I too was hoping to use my Zacuto baseplate too so really interested in your experience with the Scarlet’s non-standard bottom threads. Can you see a way to mate the two or is it going to have to be a Red rail accessory like the Dovetail? Thanks! Kevin

  • hye koo, i ordered my red scarlet jus two days bak, Scarlet-X Al EF package. but i want to know what third party batteries you were you using?

    thanx
    No Budget Filmz.

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