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A Few Things Every RED SCARLET/EPIC Owner -- or Renter -- Should Know

01.25.12 @ 10:57AM Tags : , , , ,

James Drake from Denver-based RED rental house 5K Insight gave Dave Dugdale of Learning DSLR Video a hands-on with the RED EPIC camera, and the two videos are an excellent introduction to the RED DSMC system. They’re included below, but first, two things every RED EPIC/SCARLET owner should be aware of:

One, RED has quietly released a revised Optical Low-Pass Filter drop-in anti-flare guard that sits in front of the OLPF (pictured) for anyone experiencing “sensor flare,” which I have not encountered but which can rear its head in specific backlit conditions. It’s free for existing owners (either to install yourself, which takes 5 minutes, or to have RED do it) and will be integrated into future cameras. Second, there’s a new and improved gamma curve on the way, REDgamma3, which I’ll be curious to test (note that because the RED shoots RAW, you can apply the new gamma curve not only to future shoots, but to footage that’s already sitting on your hard drive).

Because of ongoing issues like sensor flare — which is fairly isolated as far as I can tell — many have taken to denigrating RED cameras as a “scam” or “always in beta.” And reliability issues are definitely something to be aware of — they can affect a shoot more than any spec on a sheet. But it’s also worth noting that, in the real world, RED cameras are used on thousands of productions every day — and brought to life several Oscar nominees this year, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, In Darkness, The Muppets, Margin Call, and Beginners (the last of which I found to be one of the most beautiful films of the year — and not just in a cinematographic sense). 99% of audience members don’t care which camera a movie was shot on, so regardless of “which camera is best” arguments, kudos go to whichever tools help you make your movie… and the RED helped a lot of great movies get made this year. With that in mind, here are the aforementioned videos, which should be useful for anyone interested in renting or buying a RED camera — you know, to make movies.

You can also see the value of having the Side Handle (which I’m still waiting on) — with only two customizable buttons on the LCD and two buttons on the body, it’s not as easy to set up your focus assist, false color, and other monitoring presets. The side handle not only allows you to use REDVOLT batteries, it also gives you a number of preset buttons — as well as a way of navigating the menu system without “missing” the touch buttons. The REDMOTE will allow you to do this wirelessly, though there are reports of the REDMOTE having reliability issues (when it is connected to the rear of the camera, it uses a more reliable wired connection).

Now, no one’s saying you should go out and buy a SCARLET or EPIC. These are cameras that most people will rent, but it’s helpful to know as much as possible about a camera when you walk into a rental house. Here, James answers some questions for Dave about rental-specific issues (and note that Dave actually added to the flare in the shot, which looks to me like simple lens flare and not a sensor issue — but I may be wrong):

Along with Sebastian from Cinema5D’s hands-on review and short, as well as how to edit .R3D files natively in Adobe CS5.5, this makes for a solid introduction to the DSMC system from RED. Thanks James and Dave!

[Via Learning DSLR Video (Part 2)]


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  • To clarify:
    It’s not a revised OLPF as mentioned above. It’s a drop-in anti-flare guard that sits in front of the OLPF, covering the OLPF holder. It’s a very quick job to fit it as mentioned. The integrated manufacturing solution mentioned is not a drop-in replacement but an entirely new OLPF holder that replaces the current one.

  • Friend of a friend worked on Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. As an aside to this article, the production shot on the One and switched to the Epic mid way through… they used proprietary noise reduction from, don’t quote me on this, Reliance MediaWorks to match footage.

    • Another sidenote: According to the American Cinematographer Fincher preferred the look of the Red One MX.

  • Hey Ryan thanks for posting my videos of James!

    I had a lot of fun trying out such an expensive camera, especially since I’m just an amateur. I was like a kid in a candy store. :)

    I hope my light rays didn’t ruin the shoot, I just figured that most people might have mistaken the natural rays for a washed out image, that is why I wanted to make them a little more prominent.


  • Very nice overview of the Epic features and settings. Of course the menus go much deeper than demonstrated – but this is a very well explained overview.

  • John Jeffreys on 01.25.12 @ 4:06PM

    Why does eveyrbody hate flare? It looks really beautiful

  • Clayton Arnall on 01.25.12 @ 6:47PM

    I’ve never had the opportunity to use a RED, so that video was great. The thought of white balance and ISO not being baked into the image makes me want it for that alone. A lot of cool features on that camera. That wireless remote is super cool if the camera is stuck on a crane or something.

    • Yeah the power of metadata shifting in post makes this system so juicy. I’m going to build my hackintosh very soon off of the guide on this site and use it to work with these bad boys on our next productions. I’ve been waiting to see if a Thunderbolt PCI slot comes out soon…

  • How does you pull aperture electronically? Is there a remote box that the 1st AC can use?

    I find the ability to pull aperture very helpful for low budget lack of lighting situations, i.e. bringing someone through the door from outside into a building during a dolly shot.

    • C.D.,

      There are radio controlled motor systems that mount on your iris rods, usually called remote focus or FIZ (focus-iris-zoom) systems. There are only a few available:Preston, BarTech, and View Factor. Preston is the defacto, with BarTech being for low budget. View Factor sits at about $6k for a three motor set, but unlike Preston and BarTech, the controller and signaling is fully digital.

      • Angelo, that’s what I’ve used since the mid 1970s. On a real Motion Picture lens the 1st AC can wrap their hand around the aperture ring to Pull Iris, NBD. My question relates to the Canon EF lenses, they don’t have an aperture ring on the lens. The video mentioned that the aperture was controlled by the RED Epic. I thought that the word “electronically” would point to the EF lens, but I guess not 8-) Sorry I wasn’t more clear.

        To quote Phillip Bloom: “Actually the Canon C300 is the best camera I have used for using Canon EF and EFS glass as it lets you change exposure in “fine” mode which is around 1/8 of a stop give or take…This is “just” about smooth enough to get away with during a shot when you need to change exposure. The superb RED Epic Canon mount for example only lets you change the iris in 1/3 stop increments again (that may change in firmware).”

        Seeing that Mr Bloom is out of the RED loop. I thought that maybe a current RED Epic/Scarlet owner/user would have up-to-date info. For someone like myself, being able to Pull Iris is a BFD. YMMV

    • With red just shoot hdrx an you can do iris pull fx in post

      • Will RED Raw handle going from outside at f/16 to inside at f/2.8, with no loss of quality???

        • With hdrx you don’t do a manual iris pull, you’re filming two 24p signals, one thats under exposed and one thats over exposed. You transition from one to the other in post.

  • One of the best tutorials on how to get started with the Red Epic in few minutes. Though I’m a newbie to Red, but the tutorial has added a lot to my knowledge. The analogy he made with DSLRs is never short of brilliance.

  • Looks like the epic is much more of a camera than the red one – which feels kind of like a linux computer with a lens attached. I never shot with the red myself but I have seen it in action and even after watching closely I could not tell for sure how to adjust the audio levels or eject the cards.

    Usually with most cameras I can basically shoot without a tutorial – with the red one not so much, I’d rather have someone tell me exactly how to handle that thing.

    With what I’ve seen in this video, I am pretty sure I could handle the epic in a 2-3 hours by just fiddling around with it, without any further advice/tutorials. Nice!

    • You could probably handle it in 10 minutes of playing around. It’s very easy if you’re using it via the touchscreen. As it’s always shooting RAW, you basically start by setting the frame size you’re recording (5k 2:1 for example), the REDCode compression setting (6:1 is typical), project frame rate (24fps is typical) and shutter (1/48 is usually a good place to start) and ISO (800) and hit record. Media formatting, white balance etc. are all easy to get to from the main menus, and in pretty logical places. The only thing that might catch you is some menus (like white balance) give more options if you press and hold on them. That’s pretty much it for basic shooting.

      • I agree — the touchscreen, despite bringing with it the occasional “missed” button press, makes the whole setup much more intuitive to use. Big deal for rentals!

  • Carlos Ebert on 01.27.12 @ 6:26AM

    Personaly I prefer Sony PMW F3. More scalable, better sensor, better ergonomics.

  • Koo,

    I am deploying to Afghanistan as a Combat Cameraman. I want to go above and beyond the Army standard, and considering making a documentary.

    I was thinking about doing a kick starter, and possibly trying to get a RED. Do you suggest this, or do you think it will be overhaul.

    I am issued a 5Dmk2.

  • I’ve said in the past that I don’t think the RED is designed primarily for documentary, and due to storage space, battery life, and several other issues, I think I’d look into a Canon C300 if I were you. That said, ‘Hell and Back Again’ was beautifully shot on a 5DII… but the solid image, extra connectivity, low-light ability, and faster shutter (see the helicopter blades in that film) of the C300 should make it a heck of a doc cam.

    Break a leg Jason!

  • thanks …… great information
    how to recover the r3d file ?