It's a Wild West Camera Shootout: Jim Jannard and RED vs. the World on June 4th
Pay-Per-View...Or not. It seems that Mr. Jannard has a bone to pick with the people at Zacuto, and he wants the world to see in 4K. He's unhappy with the tests (I couldn't see the newest test at NAB thanks to technical difficulties) since the final output for all of the camera shootouts thus far has been 2K, and it levels the playing field for those cameras that can't shoot above 1080p. With more and more theaters moving to 4K projectors, it is important to at least consider if 4K should start to be included in the near future. Unsatisfied with anyone else who does camera testing, Jim has decided to do his own camera test in 2K and 4K and is inviting other camera manufacturers to RED Studios in Hollywood on June 4th.
Update: Steve Weiss from Zacuto has responded to Jim Jannard's comments. Check out what he said at the bottom of this post.
It looks like he's already got all the equipment he'll need for the test. Here's what he's been saying about the situation:
Each company can bring their own cameras and techs to supervise the testing. Each camera company can take their resulting footage and process the best way they know possible. Results will be posted in 2K and 4K. Results will be shown on a 10', 20' and 40' screen. Comparisons will be made regarding resolution, dynamic range, color and frame rates. Footage may be captured in RAW or RGB codec. Display will be DCP.
It will be interesting to see once the tests are completed if they will be projected using RED's own projector pictured above? Would that give an unfair advantage to RED? Possibly - so I think they would be wise to use something standard like Christie or Barco when they are showing in 4K. I have said that their projector looked fantastic, and that's after seeing many other things at the show projected on all sorts of 4K projectors. But as usual with RED, it wasn't completely working yet - and there's really no timeline for when we might be seeing them in the wild.
As for Zacuto, Jim had some strong words:
Do your 1080P or 2K finish. But also do a 4K finish. 4K is the future... and the future is now. Why not test what is... not what was. Up-rez where necessary. People need to know what to expect when 4K delivery options happen (like now). Down-rez the higher resolution cameras to 4K. Look forward. Studios are preparing to re-release old movies shot on film with 4K scans. Show what an image will look like on a 60' screen. Everyone needs to know what their original is capable of... starting with tests like these. Pick your (Zacuto chosen) team to do the post. But also give each manufacturer their own footage to get processed under their control.
The big beef that Jim seems to have is that each manufacturer isn't choosing how their footage is handled in post. With RED, this can be a problem since their workflow is very non-standard, requiring that everything be kept as an R3D file all the way through for best results. Workflows are not getting simpler, but I think he does have a point. It would make a lot of sense to finish the footage in the workflow that best suits each camera. This is not to say that the Zacuto tests are unfair, in fact, the very opposite is true, and they've been run by talented ASC shooters who know a thing or two about cameras.
We've already discussed that 4K isn't really here yet, only for major motion pictures. Theaters are adopting 4K at a relatively high rate, and in a few years it is not unlikely Hollywood will stop sending 35mm prints to theaters - and just stick to DCP. But the real issue here is that for many purposes, 4K just isn't as important. Many folks, especially us indie people, would much rather have a camera that can do RAW 1080p (slightly oversampled like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera) rather than a monstrous RAW 6K file. Data rates are only climbing, but because of events in Asia, media costs have actually risen.
It will be interesting to see if any manufacturers actually take up the offer and go to RED Studios. It feels a little bit like a schoolyard fight, but there is some value to the idea that the digital cinema cameras are being handicapped by being forced down to 2K. Even if no other manufacturers show up, it seems that RED might go ahead with the test anyway since they already have a rental house on-board to provide equipment.
Wouldn't that be as "biased" as the camera shootouts from Zacuto? Let us know what you think below.
We stayed with the original R3D files until the last render which is what the DCP was made from.
I really don't want to embarrass anyone but I did invite every manufacturer, including you and Ted, I sent the email to you several times, I can publish it on the site here if you want, although I would never do that without your permission. In it, I told you that you may pick your own team to operate your camera. I told you that you could take the footage and post processes it anyway you want, anywhere you want. I sent the email to you several times with no reply. Where art thou Jim? Further, I sent you the same letter for the 2011 shootout, as well with no response. I "begged" you for the EPIC in 2011 which you started delivering 2 weeks after the shoot, so there were obviously cameras available. I caught a lot of flack about that from your fans/users as well because the EPIC was not included.
In regards to 4K, this was his response:
My only issue is that 4K theaters are not here. Statistics prove it and at NAB I believe only Canon had 4K projection and it cost them a $250K rental for 2 projectors from what I heard. Sure I might be able to find a 4K theater to screen in LA but no way can I find one in all of the countries I'm screening in, probably not one. Again my issue is that I don't want to misrepresent the public on what they will be seeing. In 2012 they will for the most part be watching 2K. In the history of cinema for all practical purposes there has really only been one 4K movie released. So the theaters that do have 4K are only playing 2K in them because 4K films are very scarce in 2012.
RED was contacted by Zacuto well before the test was conducted, but it seems there was no direct response at the time from Jim Jannard or Jarred Land. The RED Epic was then shot and managed by the best DP suggested by the REDUser forum, Ryan Walters. Bruce Logan, ASC, conducted the test, and these are his words on the process used for the shootout:
All raw footage from the cameras was imported into the Baselight as the only color corrector which could accept all codecs natively. The conform, color correction, online editing, titling, scaling and rendering were done in one step in P3 colorspace in native resolution. As the majority of digital cinemas in the world run 2K Jpeg 2000 DCP, we decided to make this the standard for exhibition for this years test, meaning that the HD cameras were scaled up to 2K and the 5K, 4K and 3K cameras were oversampled down to 2K. The scaling engine in the Baselight has multiple algorithms and the best setting for each format was picked for resolution, contrast, noise, and lack of compression artifacts. All cameras were then output at 16bit Tiff image sequences in xyz colorspace and converted directly to DCP.
So as with any story (especially those with RED and Jim Jannard), there is always more going on than meets the eye.