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December 10, 2012

A Guide to Building a RED Camera Package: An Accessory List for Every Budget Level

Despite the recently reduced price of RED cameras, each model still requires a lot of (pricey) accessories. We've pointed this out from the very beginning, but now we've gone further and compiled some realistic shooting packages at three different levels: a "cheapest possible ONE MX" list by Aaron Rich, an "owner/operator SCARLET" package by myself, and a "full professional EPIC" package by Timur Civan. Our overall goal with this post is not just to introduce (potential) RED shooters to some accessory options and needs for the RED ONE MX, SCARLET, and EPIC, but to hopefully create a post wherein users can share what has worked best for them. Let's get started, this is going to be a long one!

First of all, full disclosure: we were supposed to have this post up a month ago, back when RED ONEs were available (refurbished) for the low, low price of $4K (that's over). However, it required contributions from a few different groups --  and, as you'll see, it's a beast of a post -- so it's taken a bit longer than we wanted. I've even left some entries blank for the sake of pushing this story live -- please suggest your own options where our lists are lacking. I park my camera at a rental house, so I don't own a number of appropriate accessories, instead renting them when needed (for example, I own an old Bogen tripod but would not suggest it for the owner/operator level, so I left that particular entry blank). None of these lists are definitive but should be seen simply as a starting/reference point. And when we say "every budget level," what that means is we have tried to cover multiple RED budget levels -- you are not going to be shooting on a RED camera for $50, and conversely you can spend as much as you want.

Please use the comments to add your own insights, experiences, and suggested gear!

We're actually going to start with the middle package, as I go into a bit more depth in an attempt to explain my choices than do the others.

SCARLET: Owner/Operator

At its current price of $8k (brain only), the SCARLET is aimed at owner/operators who don't have the need or ability to buy an EPIC (though EPICs are within range of more budgets with the recent price reduction -- especially relative to the SCARLET, which has stayed at basically the same price point).

One of the reasons I bought a SCARLET was because it is the exact same camera as the EPIC, with less frame rate/resolution/compression options. That means that (almost) any accessories you buy for the SCARLET will work with the EPIC, and everything you learn by shooting with the SCARLET will apply to EPIC shoots. To me this is a nice advantage, as your knowledge and gear applies if, for example, you want to go rent an EPIC for a high-speed or high-budget shoot. Also, if you're an owner/operator with a $10k camera, you are probably not spending $40k on lenses, but the nice thing about the DSMC system is the multitude of interchangeable lens mounts -- so if you get a Canon lens mount and use that for your own shoots, you can slap on a PL mount and rent better glass for bigger shoots (a feature, for example).

This was the photo I had handy, so forgive the awkward setup (I'm using a Lite Panels Ringlite Mini mounted in front, in conjunction with the RED BOMB EVF and a Canon L prime). Some of the other gear is listed below. I'm also going to intersperse some great videos I found from Redefine Rentals, who have outfitted their RED with some of the same gear:

Below is a reasonable SCARLET owner/operator package. I'll have more thoughts on some of these accessories soon, as I've not yet done proper reviews of much of it. Specifically I'll talk more about the gear listed here from Wooden Camera, as I think their gear is a great match for a RED owner/operator setup. They've also recently released some RED packages, which bundle together commonly-paired parts to get you started instead of having to do it piecemeal.

  • Camera: RED SCARLET w/ Side SSD and Lens Mount $10,150 - $11,450
  • RED Accessories: You're going to need a lot more than just these accessories, but the rest of them fit into other categories, so for now let's just add the DSMC Side Handle ($950), RED STATION 1.8" (Mini) ($150) $1100
  • Lenses: This is your first decision and it will have the largest impact on your overall package price. Because the RED can take all sorts of lenses thanks to its interchangeable mounts, you can spend anywhere from a couple hundred bucks to a couple hundred thousand bucks. On the new (as in non-used) market, there are the Samyang/Rokinon low-cost primes ($500/lens), there are the Zeiss CP.2 lenses (roughly $4,000/lens), but there's a decided lack of PL lenses at the, say, $2,000/lens price point, which would be a more reasonable benchmark for a $10k camera. To break down some prominent options, at the cheaper end there are the aforementioned Samyang/Rokinon primes; then you have the Duclos Lenses Cine-Mod packages, which come in a three-lens set ($4,500) and a five lens set ($9,200). The new Zeiss CP.2 Super Speeds can be had (soon) for $4,500 each (a three lens set will run $14,000), or you can put together a larger set (note that B&H has stopped selling their five and seven-lens sets, presumably because Zeiss is releasing these new Super Speeds). Sony and Canon have their own cinema primes as well for $4k-$5k/lens (here's the Canon set for $14k)-- and then, if you're interested in zoom lenses, that's a whole 'nother world that quite frankly I don't know much about. Once you start talking about used options -- which often make sense -- that's an entire article in and of itself, and we did a roundup of a lot more lenses at this level (also see our lenses archives). Personally I bought some rare Canon primes rather than buy anything new. If you've put together your own owner/operator kit, please chime in below and let others know what glass worked for you. $2,000 - $14,000
  • Support: I'm going to list a bunch of Wooden Camera stuff as that's what I have experience with and I think they're a great match for RED DSMCs, but we're just using this as a base reference (more in-depth review of these items and more to come). Dovetail Clamp ($250) (substitute the 15mm Bridgeplate or 19mm Bridgeplate if you want studio rod setups), Easy Top X ($300), Top Handle ($140), Easy Riser ($180), LW 15mm Bracket ($160), 15mm rods ($60 or so), 1/4-20 Hot Shoe ($25), UVF Mount v2 ($450). For handheld shooting, I like the Wooden Shoulder Rig ($1,000), and there are plenty of other options from the likes of Zacuto and Redrock -- I have heard folks like the Recoil rig from the former. For a tripod, take a look at, well, anything other than what I have (add your own suggestions in the comments, please!).  $3,000 - $5,000

  • Power: Regular V-mount or Anton Bauer batteries will work with RED cameras if you get something like the Switronix Plate (V-mount, $320) or Anton Bauer version ($400) combined with the Quick Back ($200) which attaches directly to the rear of the DSMC. With the A-lock ($100) or Battery Slide ($200) you can attach the plate elsewhere as well. However, if you're buying new batteries you'll want to buy RED-compatible batteries that display percentage in the display, and two good options are those from Switronix -- note that Switronix also makes a Jetpack (V-mount, AB version) that also attaches to the Quick Back and offers additional power outputs). Switronix's RED batteries (95 W/h, 190 W/h) are of higher build quality than those from Global Media Pro, which are what I have. I've had no problems with the GMP batteries other than the P-tap plugs falling out and some of the LED indicators burning out, but one thing to be aware of with the GMP batteries is you have to pay via wire transfer (instead of credit card) and there are additional customs charges (I got an extra bill from DHL a week later). So the batteries themselves, while offered at very attractive prices compared to the competition, carry with them some additional charges. However, once you get into V-mount and Anton Bauer batteries, the thing to be aware of with cost is the price of the chargers. And that's where GMP is hard to beat -- their chargers, while made of lightweight plastic, are much less expensive than other chargers that cost thousands. Rental houses will certainly want more robust charging stations, but GMP's 2-channel charger is $165, the 4-channel is $358, and that is hard to beat for an owner/operator charging their own batteries. In figuring out how many batteries you need, the RED DSMCs run roughly 1 minute per W/h on these batteries, which makes for a simple rule of thumb -- the 30W/h REDVOLTS run for about 30 minutes, the 95 W/h batteries run for roughly an hour and a half. I bought four 160 W/h batteries (10-12 hours total of runtime) and actually found myself wishing I'd bought smaller batteries as the 95 W/h batteries give plenty of runtime and weigh slightly less. Oh, and if you're going to be shooting in a handheld, smallest-possible configuration, you'll want some REDVOLTS for occasional use (they are also handy in that they can power the camera while you change batteries). Let's say you go minimalist and just get the DSMC Power Pack ($515) -- you might want four or eight but I don't see REDVOLTS as a real-world powering solution for film shoots (they're more applicable for specialty shots with a ultra compact/mobile camera or for shooting stills). $2,000 - $5,000
  • Media: This section will be mercifully short as there aren't any alternatives to RED's own REDMAGs (unless you go to an external recorder... but that defeats much of the purpose of shooting on RED's REDCODE RAW format). I shared some thoughts on RED's new cheaper 48GB SSDs and feel like their slower speeds make them less future-proof, so instead of buying a 4-pack of 48GB SSDs for $1,840, I might be inclined to buy 3 64GB SSDs for $2,175 which is slightly more expensive per GB but will work better on EPIC shoots (not to mention the increased data needs of the forthcoming Dragon sensor), or one 128GB card and one 64GB card for $2,000. Personally I bought two 128GB SSDs (currently $2,500 total). $1,000 - $3,000

  • Monitoring: The RED 5" Touch LCD ($1600) is kind of the default monitoring solution for RED cameras, and for good reason -- the touchscreen interface allows you to access every function and it's a nice size for the compact DSMCs. Because the RED DSMC is so small, there are not a lot of buttons on the body, and because the camera can be reliant on touchscreen input, you're probably going to want this monitor (for other monitoring needs everyone loves SmallHD, who now has some even lower-cost options, although ikan has a bunch of appealing new models as well). The key thing to consider for RED monitoring is there is only one RED monitor output on the DSMC body -- but there are also HDMI and HD-SDI outputs as well (all of which work simultaneously), which means the main consideration is: what do you want to use the RED port for? The RED BOMB EVF is a nice viewfinder ($2,000 BT - $3,900 new OLED), but it's priced more for an EPIC than the SCARLET; worth looking at as an EVF to use alongside the RED touch monitor is the Zacuto EVF (~$1,000) and Alphatron EVF ($1,400). $1,600 - $6,000

  • Other: Wooden Camera A-box A must for audio. With the DSMC audio jacks, standard 3.5mm mini cables won’t work, because they are tip-ring-sleeve balanced inputs. I highly recommend the A-box, but you can also use this cable (note not all XLR-1/8″ adapters are compatible, I've tried a few others that didn't work at all). However at $80 for two, I recommend getting the more robust and attachable A-box. $200

Total Cost: $21,000 - $45,000

At this point you're still missing a follow focus, matte box, filters, and plenty of other stuff, but... you don't always need those things and I'm still doing some testing myself in those areas. You also might need a steadicam, wireless follow focus, wireless monitor, etc. etc. but only you know what you need as an owner/operator for the kind of work you do. You're probably tacking on another few thousand depending on your needs -- but I hope this list was useful.

EPIC: Full Professional

We didn't know what to title this section, because who is to say what is or isn't "professional?" And the truth is that there are no limits to how high you can go, given the best lens sets run well into six figures themselves. But at this level we're talking about equipment that's robust enough to rent out regularly -- the kind of gear made to take the wear and tear of constant shooting in all sorts of conditions, by yourself and by others. When strangers are using your gear, there's not a lot of room for quirks and workarounds; if you're spending this kind of money you're putting it to work to the point where it should not cost you, but rather make you money in the long-term. Then again that goes for all of these packages.

Since here at NFS we are not full-time DPs but rather multi-hyphenates, we're not going to try to tackle this section ourselves. Instead, we're going to turn it over to talented Brooklyn-based DP Timur Civan, who shot this RED SCARLET test but has since moved up to an EPIC package himself (with which he's been shooting a lot of other stuff). Enter Timur:

The RED DSMC system was derived as an alternate, yet fully capable camera imaging system to replace 35mm film as an acquisition format. With replacing film as a goal, this says to me that the RED camera, despite its flexibility and ease of use, was designed to be used by top tier professionals and function to the standards they expect. I am going to talk about what that actually means.

On any high end set (union or non), whether it be commerical, narrative, music video or industrial, the atmosphere is a bit different than the independent film set. Often, each job has a dedicated crew member. Double dipping jobs is not allowed, simply for the fact that, when a production is spending upwards of $10,000 - $20,000 per hour to operate, every second counts and you cannot wait for anyone to finish one job, to do the next. Overtime is not an option. This standard of efficiency is expected of the camera as well. Simple operation, quick offloads, quick transcodes, and fast build time is expected. The RED DSMC system rises to the challenge well. Let's create a scenario, and I will walk through what you might need.

Lets take for example a $300,000, two day pharmaceutical commercial. This means a Location day, Studio day, and Sync Sound. Half of the time there will be high speed and 5K HD. Chances are two cameras as well.

UDPDATE: we've added a spot Timur shot on EPIC recently -- it is not the example shoot he's talking about, but helps for reference:

For the Location day its critical to have compact and mobile cameras. The Epic actually has an advantage and disadvantage here... It is already small and light, however it's SO small and light that often you run out of real estate to attach the necessary components. At this level, top PL cine glass is a must: Master Primes, Cooke S4s, Cooke i5s, Angenieux Optimo Zooms or Leica Summilux C. In the commercial world, these are the only lenses that exist. These lenses need full support and space to breathe, as lots of accessories will come into play. They are large and heavy. Seeing as it's a pharmaceutical commercial, smooth dolly work is usually the game of the day. So lets break down a professional EPIC build. I will leave out plenty of things that might  be a rental item, even if you're a DP who owns a ton of gear. Some of these items not included below, for example, are: Cine tape, a ultra sonic range finder that displays the distance to the closest object in front of the sensor; iris controller for DIT/DP; lockit Box for timecode and genlock/Comtex for scratch track; and a simply terrifying amount of short BNC and Power cables.

  • RED Digital Cinema EPIC-X w/ SSD, PL mount $22,500
  • Lenses. Oh boy... There are a lot of options in addition to the aforementioned high-end glass, but let's go with, just to keep things reasonable, a "cheap" 6-lens set of Cooke miniS4/is. $46,000
  • RED Side Handle $950
  • RED REDMAG SSD Magazines 4X128GB $4,650
  • RED BOMB EVF $3900
  • RED 5” Touch LCD $1600
  • Various RED Accesories (cables, Media Reader, Adapter plates etc.) $2750
  • RED REDROCKET Video Card W/ Adapter $4200
  • RED REDMOTE $650
  • ARRI FF4 Follow Focus $3,385
  • Element Technica Hybrid Bridgeplate/Dovetail $1,356
  • VFGadgets 19mm Rail Adapter $225
  • ARRI MB-28 Matte Box $5,960
  • ARRI LBS Handgrip Set and ARRI 19mm bridge plate $2,700
  • RED Carbon Fiber 19mm Rods 18” $300
  • SmallHD DP7 Monitor $1600-$2700
  • Flanders Scientific 1760w 17” Monitor $2000
  • Camera Top Plate, Side Cheese. Absolutely a must. You need places to attach all the components $1100
  • RED Pro I/O module; on big jobs the Wooden Camera A box is not quite enough simply because its less about the audio in camera, but more about having the extra SDI out ports to spread the signal to the necessary parties (1st AC, DIT, and Director) $3750
  • High capacity high power batteries to power not only the camera and its accesories, but the Cinetape, Lockitbox, comtex,Focus monitor, wireless Iris control and receiver. With chargers, say $5,000
  • Support: a Sachtler Cine 30HD 3006 Fluid Head $8,031, Sachtler 6250 Cine 150 (Medium) Aluminum Tripod $1,853, Sachtler 6290 Cine 150 (Long) Aluminum Tripod $2,350, Sachtler 7023 Tripod Spreader, Aluminum $745

Total Cost: $128,655

The camera winds up looking something like this (image from The Social Network via The Black and Blue):

It's an insane amount of gear to fit on an Epic (underneath it all in this photo is a ONE -- somewhere). However, these are basics to get you though a day, at a speed which will help you make your day in 10 hours.

Yet this is only the beginning of the production chain. From here the camera system feeds the signal to the DIT, who paints an approved look from the DP in a program like Live Grade, then is run by the director and once approved, is distributed to the rest of set. Lately I've been keeping the camera in REDLOGFILM, and using an Alexa-like workflow. This enables me to get the lighting very precise, and see exactly where and how the noise and clipping are affecting the image. For more information about the onset Looks process I use please read this article, A Video Workflow for RED (a detailed account from my DIT Thomas Wong on our new onset workflow with RED).

ONE MX: Cheapest Possible

And now for the flip side! None of us at NFS have a RED ONE, so we turned to Twitter to seek out suggested "cheap" packages. Aaron Rich sent the following list in. Note the lack of tripod -- BYOT!

  • Battle-Tested RED ONE MX: $4,000
  • I wanted a light weight handheld kit so I opted for the Element Technica LW 15mm adapter - $240
  • I previously owned 15mm zacuto rods from a 5D rig, RedRock front grips, and a Petroff follow focus.
  • I bought a 19mm Universal Mount off of a fellow Reduser for $100, (normal going rate, no longer available). Upon arrival, I realized he sent me 4 universal mounts for $100. He had it listed as (4) x Mounts - $100. He assured me it was $100 for all 4. Caught a break, so I kept one, and sold 3 for $260. $160 profit!! He sent the 4 mounts on some chincy little 4" 19mm rods. Those are the rods you see holding the battery plate. (+1 resourcefulness) : ) $100
  • I bought a used RED cradle for $160. I took the battery plate off the cradle, drilled holes in the top part of the plate and attached it to the bracket to create a light weight battery option!  At any time, I can attach the plate back to the cradle if I decide to buy a RED drive. $160
  • I have (4) Switronix RED batteries (2) New and (2) off eBay. New = $377.95 each (B&H) and two almost brand new off eBay = $280 each. TOTAL - $1,315, which works out to around $328 each, not bad!
  • BONUS!! Switronix batteries have a d-tap option. I bought a switronix "power base" d-tap charger off B&H, $45 each, does the trick! Not sure on the efficiency, I don't have a red charger to compare the two. But, $550 (red dual charger) vs 2 Switronix D-tap chargers ($90) It works efficiently enough and I keep over $400 in my pocket.
  • I bought a 5.6 inch RED monitor off a fellow reduser for $410 (I thought I was catching a break here. I was just going to use my SmallHD DP6 via HDMI. However, I learned you don't get any of your read outs through the hdmi like you do when you plug into the RED specific monitor port. Minor setback…
  • I bought a Birger Canon Mount + Impero off a fellow Reduser for $811 (I think this was my best deal of all)
  • Remember the point about accessories not being in high demand…I took advantage of that and bought (4) 16GB RED CF Cards off a fellow Reduser for $208. Now, after the "Battle Tested" phenomenon, people want $75 - $100 per card. I'll just wait to buy more when the demand dies out.
  • I previously owned the lens, a Canon 24-105 4.0 IS. Lens selection varies, based on personal preference and what an individual has access to. Canon, PL Mount RED Lenses, Sigma, Rokinon, Leica R, the possibilities are endless, you're on your own on this one.
  • I  take pride in being patient, and finding good deals. Had I been able to predict the weather about RED offering an MX body for $4,000, I would have really outdone myself!

This great little handheld shooting kit cost me a total of $11,075, and if you bought a ONE for $4,000 (I bought mine used for $8K) that would translate into a total of $7,075. However that is assuming you have a barebones accessory kit (follow focus, lens, rods) already, not to mention a tripod. It it not unrealistic for shooters to already have some items in their kit, but obviously your own particular situation and existing gear will affect this number!

Total Cost: $7,000 - $15,000

So there you have it -- three different production levels, ranging from $7,000 to $128,000 worth of investment. And now for the more valuable part of this post -- your own contributions! Finding out what gear you need to shoot can be a pretty complicated process -- thus the DSLR Cinematography Guide -- so by all means, please share your own experiences, accessory choices, and feedback below.

[RED ONE photo by Wheelson]

Your Comment

80 Comments

This is what I need a month ago!!!

Despite the late release of this guidelines, I still love NFS for its determination and resourcefulness.

Thanks guys!!

December 10, 2012

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This is a great article.... I gain idea about RED Camera, Thank you

December 10, 2012

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Great post. I keep going over these details again and again. Guess it never ends . . .

Thanks.

December 10, 2012

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Thank you for this post. This isn't a 'sneaking online while at work for 30 seconds' read. I'm going to save this for home so I can ingest every word. Appreciated.

December 10, 2012

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Eric S.

Great writeup and info. After long considerations, it just seems more feasible to go with either CANON 1 DC for 4k, yes it is compressed, but the image is still amazing and the compact form factor of basically a DSLR does not require heavy RIGS. Also it doubles as probably one of the top 5 stills cameras on the market, It will have amazing battery life also. The only downside would be the equivalent media cost as red, lack of frame rates, and compression but still an amazing camera.

The next opiton would be either the C300/C100 not raw 4k but image is still usable on the big screen and this is not even mentioning the low iso, which will cut down on heavy lighting equipment, amazing battery life and CF cards that are small and will last all day. Add an ATOMOS for HDMI and only thing you would be missing is SLOW MO and its options for that.

Great write up but this just made me realize one important thing, that an epic/scarlett rig costs are more than meets the eyes.

December 10, 2012

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JAY CHASE

Oh OK since I wasn't the first to mention it here's my suggested ready-to-shoot owner/operator C100 setup:

C100 $6500. Atomos Ninja 2 $1000. Zacuto EVF $1000. 2x 500GB Intel SSDs $900. 2x 64GB class 10 SDHCs (as safeties ONLY) $80. 4x Wasabi BP-970 batteries $120. 2x extra Sony-type batteries for Ninja $50. Manfrotto 504HDV + 536 legs $1000. 2x Noga Arms to mount Ninja and EVF to sides of 504HDV $250. Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro $300. HDMI Swivel Cables and XLR cables $100.

Total $11,300. In Cinelock recording 12 stops of DR to 220Mbps ProRes 422 HQ with automatic inverse telecine pulldown to 23.98p. Completely usable ISO6400 and ISO20000 with NR in post. Terrific ergonomics, build, and reliability. Four-channel audio with Timecode recorded directly into the ProRes file at 16/48 LPCM. This setup at that price records at that quality for an entire 10 hour day of continuous shooting if needed, without any offload or recharge, and with redundant safeties. Add the Rok primes or whatever EF is handy. The low-light capability pays off further in reducing lighting budgets (2 stops of low light makes 250W lights into 1K's). Yes no slo-mo...rent an FS700 those days. But it's a terrific clean high-DR 1080p image with the Ninja and to me is the obvious package to own, as I do. Why pay more to struggle? Heroism? Braggadocio? Because Jannard insisted it was cool?

BTW I felt Timur's pharma commercial scenario would more likely be shot with Alexa/Phantom than Epic. I figure RED's main target is big screen, because resolution is the primary thing they have going for them. But maybe Epic is common in for-TV work now...are there statistics on these things?

December 10, 2012

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Peter

To quote our head of engineering: "can you tell everyone to shoot Alexa please? We hate dealing with RED files". So yes, you are correct that it would be highly likely that the spot would be shot Alexa, unless the director was adamant for RED (and the agency would probably overrule him/her). Also, its about 99-1 in TV production.

Definitely thinking of the 1DC for personal use. The video out of the 1DX is fantastic (and I speak as a D800 owner), and while I appreciate RAW, having access to pro grading (not just a mate using Resolve on his Imac) even 4 year old 7D can look amazing if handled correctly on set. Commercials are still shot with that camera folks.

Finally, this is a very good piece. Did anyone else read the RED ONE part and shudder?

December 10, 2012

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marklondon

Peter Good stuff/info c100 is definitely my next camera and like you said fs700 with clean 108op out for slow motion 10 bit no banding would work just fine for slo mo shots.

One question though about how much time or video would a 500gb ssd hold.

December 10, 2012

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JAY CHASE

A commodity 500GB SSD (available through any computer retailer for $400-500) holds about 6 hours of 220Mbps ProRes 422 HQ at 1080p23.98 when recorded on the Ninja 2.

Further workflow enhancements include the ability to name the files with scene, shot, and auto-incrementing take numbers, and even set favorites and edit in/out points directly on the Ninja touchscreen. The files come out directly ready to edit and grade including the aligned audio, no transcoding required, and a fine and even noise floor free of visible banding from the C100/300/500 sensor. The Ninja touchscreen can also provide a peaking monitor for the focus puller while the operator uses the Zacuto EVF or the built-in articulated screen. The Ninja batteries hot-swap to allow extended recording. It's small and fairly light, can be mounted right atop the camera and handheld, and far preferable to the Hyperdeck Shuttle. I love mine, gorgeous workflow. I may get another when the 5D3 gets clean HDMI to serve as a B-cam.

December 10, 2012

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Peter

Wow thats lot of media time on ATOMOS, Yeah those benefits alone of the atomos ninja coupled with c100 make it the more than feasible to create an amazing film or production. I agree the hyper decks i was considering, but they do not accept spinning disks and have no way of telling you when you are almost out. The atomos ninja is affordable and also has great benefits.

YOU could basically get an entire production company 3 c100's for major movie production for under the price of an epic. This is not even talking Television, which you could substitute 5d's as b or c cameras ,especially when clean hdmi out comes out in june

December 10, 2012

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JAY CHASE

The hyperdeck does tell you when the disk is almost full, and if the atomos didn't require a converter for hdsdi then I would have got it. I like the fact that I can use the shuttle for the c100 or Scarlet offline proxies. For the c100, you'll be run and gunning most likely and spinning disks are not preferable that way. Also the shuttle is like 700 in savings.

Do know that you need a power option, I already have a vmount solution so it works fine.

December 10, 2012

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ryan

I've recently tested out the c100 in prores and compared to RED I must say that RED has higher image fidelity, there is more information and depth, for the big screen it is a better option. None the less the c100, I feel has more natural skin tones out of the camera and makes more practical sense for web and some forms of tv productions. Though RED skin tones might not be as pleasant out of the camera, you can get there in secondaries color correction. The c100 has a great deal of dynamic range, definitely more than the fs700, but after applying lut to canon log exposed correctly a sizable amount of noise enters the image on the c100, more noise than on the scarlet. Neat video cleans it, but it becomes part of the workflow usually if you're aiming for highlight retention. The Scarlet is sharper, I don't believe the c100 is a true 4k subsample like the scarlet, it is not as crisp at 1080, when you encode for the web though they look the same. Though the c100 iso freedom is fantastic, usually it isn't even necessary because its a stop more sensitive than the scarlet in cinema lock. To be honest, I'll probably use the c100 9/10 times over the scarlet because the c100 quality is great and the ease of operation is cake, though the scarlet has fantastic quality, it requires time or multiple people to operate. C100 with recorder can work out of a backpack for one dp/operator.

I went the hyperdeck shuttle route, cheaper and you get the hdsdi output, which is crucial for me.

December 10, 2012

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ryan

Ryan agree the detail that the RED captures is amazing, I found a tip on how to detect how something is shot on 4k or higher and that is by looking at loose hair folicles and skin wrinkles on a person. Again the RED does amazing with these features and details, but honestly most people who watch a film are not paying detail to skin wrinkles and details. As far as skin tones, the images from c100 and c300 are amazing. Also you have to consider what lens were used on the cameras, Glass makes a great deal of improvement in some instances.

A c100 with NIKON AI-S primes WILL provide nice sharp warm tones almost the equivalent of ZEISS and then you can always get DULCOS zeiss lens with canon mounts that are not extremely expensive when considering price for cinema lens.

December 10, 2012

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JAY CHASE

I shot on scarlet and c100 with the duclos 35mm 1.4 zeiss ze prime. Razor sharp on the scarlet, sharp on the c100. I don't think zeiss are right for the c100 though. The zeiss are contrasty and the camera struggles a little with darks when exposing for log gamma. I'm moving over to the canon cn-e's when I get a chance. They are less contrasty and will map darks higher, which will help clean darks in a log workflow.

December 10, 2012

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ryan

I shot 9 commercials on epic this year. The example stated above is based on an emblem health spot I did a couple months ago. Post houses are not afraid of the RED system anymore. Mainly because we deliver prores/dpx from the DIT. The post house has little to complain about.

December 10, 2012

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Timur Civan

Timur - my quote is from the engineering head of a very large international post house that does 75/25 commercials- studio features. We do get work shot on EPICs all the time. Several of us own them in-house. I'm just saying that even in the production meeting I was in this morning the agency (!!) asked us to pressure the prodco to shift to Alexa. Personally I think the EPIC is awesome, and have shot with it many times (although not on commercials). In your case, if you and the director pushed for it, sure. You were probably able to do them a great package price as well. I'm just pointing out that of the thousands of hours of commercial production that goes through this facility annually, barely 15% of it would be shot on RED, down from the pre-Alexa days of almost 50-50 with film. Right ow, we almost get more material shot on 35mm than EPIC.

December 10, 2012

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marklondon

Oh I believe you. :)

I shoot Alexa quite often. I love that thing.

December 10, 2012

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Timur Civan

Re: Alexa, anytime we write about one camera we're not saying it's better or worse than another -- in fact, I wrote this a while back:

http://nofilmschool.com/2012/04/arri-alexa-quietly-continues-takeover-film/

It's not "one vs. another," it's "if this is the right tool for you, here's some useful info for what you might need to shoot." Even Timur's EPIC package is an owner/operator thing; very few people are buying Alexas as it's all rental. The EPIC is a $19,000 body and the Alexa is $75k+, I would expect the latter to be a more popular rental item!

December 10, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

PS - love your work. Which is the main thing really.

December 10, 2012

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marklondon

We just added your recent Playstation commercial for reference. Thanks Timur!

December 10, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Just what I've been looking for! Thanks! great job

December 10, 2012

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Nailed it- so helpful. This will quickly ascend to being one of the top articles on NFS

December 10, 2012

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Austin Mace

Ok we need more posts like this. Could you do a BMCC packaging post? How should i set up a production company with $5,000, $10,000, $20,000? Do one for lighting kits, camera gear packages, editing set ups... Like your extremely helpful Hackintosh guide. I cant tell you how many people are looking at what to buy when they are just getting started ready to invest a few grand but not sure what to splurge on and what to save on.

December 10, 2012

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James

The BMCC is an amazing camera, but it actually has to come out first before even considering building a production company around it. Lets just say you finally get 3 BMCC cameras on 3rd shipment batch but then 2 go bad, then what are you going to do?. They will be so backed up on pre orders that it will probably take over a month or two to get replacements. Can your production company handle that, remeber that basically all new RED cameras at some point were technically BETA CAMS, which is reason for enourmous amount of discounted red one MX.

Im not saying do not buy a BMCC but think logic first and this is not even considering post production problems that may arrive in first year of production.

Trust im far from a canon FANBOY, i actually hate their optics, they are overated but the more and more i thought about it, The c300, 1dc, and c100 are the best options for anybody without big studio support or access

PROS of c100/c300

lightweight
less rigging
lowlight wonders
long battery life, you can basically carry batterys in your pocket for all day use
affordable media under 1000 that can last all day long
no offloading
easy edit friendly formats
ready to shoot out the box

The alexa is considered the perfect camera for most and many and many DP's have said that they would often consider the c300 over an alexa, not the best camera but definitely one of best tools for getting your film produced without an army AND technically that is all a camer is anyways, its just a tool, people spend entirely too much time on technical aspects more than the art of actually shooting a film.

December 10, 2012

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JAY CHASE

What was their reasoning for choosing a c300 over and Alexa?

December 12, 2012

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Hi folks,

I recently put in my order for a 'cheap' scarlet kit. Now keep in mind that I've had a couple of DSLR camera kits and already had many components at my disposal. I.E. lenses (nikon manual 50, 85, 17-35, 35-105,75-300 and a Tokina 11-16). I also have assorted Anton Bauer bricks and a small HD DP6. I ended up getting the nikon AL scarlet with ssd ($10,250) + one 128 GB SSD ($1250)+ a redmote ($550) to control the camera and a red mag reader mini ($195). I also purchased a small hd DP 7 OLED ($2,000). Wooden Camera accessories (Easy Top X($300), Cheese handle($140), A-Box($200), & Anton Bauer mount($400) w/ Battery slide ($200). So all in all my basic set up costs about $15,500. It's basically like getting a nice Harley ;)

December 10, 2012

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Great article. But I didn't see any mention of audio. How are Scarlet users getting some type of scratch audio into the video to sync with the external audio recorded? Do you have a cheap shotgun mic attached? How do you mount your mic?

Thanks.

December 10, 2012

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Casey

hey Casey there's a ton of audio info over at reduser.net (http://www.reduser.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?32-Audio). You just need an A-Box from Wooden Camera to use mics with XLR outputs. You can also get a hot shoe to mount the mic that attaches to the top of your Scarlet for $25 or look on Amazon and you can get 'em for $6. It's also fairly simple to use a mic with 3.5mm output like Rode's VideoMic Pro

December 10, 2012

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Standard 3.5mm mini jacks won't work, I highly recommend the A-box, but you can also use this cable (note not all XLR-1/8" adapters will work, you need a tip-ring-sleeve balanced cable):

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/483163-REG/Mogami_GOLD_XLRF_MINI_0...

I'll update the post with this alternative.

December 10, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Yeah, I meant fairly simple, with additional accessories. Besides this site, I really have found a ton of useful info on reduser, though you do have to spend a fair amount of time searching through the forums. Happy to see more extremely useful info here. Thanks Koo, Aaron and Timur!

December 10, 2012

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The one thing that held me back from jumping on the C100 c300 band wagon was RESOLVING detail that could hold up on the Big Screen and most people say that the cameras hold up just fine without any pixels showing or flaws. Also consider that many films were shot on 1080p but probably were upscaled in post.

I love this post because its helpful, but logically if you want a ready to shoot camera , c100 may be cam and most color graders that i spoke with say that 4:2:0 is not that bad to color grade /correct as far as color space,

Like the guy said above me, his scarlett rig when finished cost about the equivalent of a NICE HARLEY, not bashing it but just not ideal for most everyday folk film makers out there.

December 10, 2012

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JAY CHASE

I'm not sure about the 4:2:0 color space. If you use a "finished style" gamma in the c100 then grading will be minimal anyway so its ok. But if you're going threw a full flat capture workflow, then you'll need a 422 capture. 422 proress hq starts to degrade a little bit just when a lut is applied even before any real grading.

Plus the real benefit of external recording is the better compression artifacts, with the internal avchd you get the green magenta macro blocking mess that comes with dslrs. When you record through the hdmi you get organic grain similar to the c300, however once the prores codec starts to break you get red and blue snow noise, you can remove that though.

December 10, 2012

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ryan

Ryan appreciate the insight and great information that you have provided, good stuff.

One question though, you mentioned that once lut is applied to lets say c100 footage captured through hdmi PRORESS HQ that it would fall apart. You said that it would fall apart but could be corrected , in your opinion do you think the c100 it would be too much of a hassle for a professional color grader, once and if red and blue snow noise appears from degrading of prores codec. Asking because i really want these cameras for production but this is first of hearing about PRORES breaking down

December 10, 2012

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JAY CHASE

I have no similar experience to report. ProRes 422 HQ recorded on the Ninja with pulldown from the C100 in 24p Cinema Lock doesn't fall apart even on the most intense signals, and the noise floor renders to perfectly fine multicolored snow in FCPX from the native ISO 850 up. I am not running it through LUTs I'm just loading it directly into FCPX and grading it there...no problem. Flawless renders. The previews are fast though not as hifi as the renders. I am not seeing noise come up in the shadows even when avoiding the highlights going over 100 on a contrasty source. Zeiss and Canon and Rokinon all look good to me, looks like those lenses, and I question whether the Zeiss would be a whole stop more contrasty than the Canon enough to create a noise issue.

It's early days with this camera and people are going to blame it or the codec or the recorder or the lens or some other innocent part of the chain when it's a software issue or configuration issue or operator error. I think the C100/Ninja/Cinelock is about as set and forget as filmmaking gets. You don't need RAW or 14 stops with so detailed a codec if you do proper custom white balance and exposure. Since there is so little hassle with the C100 you have plenty of time to do those properly, as opposed to scurrying around offloading, recharging, negotiating with DITs and debugging the damn thing. Then you would need RAW because you're too distracted to nail the essentials. =)

December 10, 2012

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Peter

I was wondering if I should have put "little" in capitals to emphasize it. The codec does not break when you put a lut on it. I said that degradation or grain is introduced when a lut is applied. I was not saying that the codec breaks from the lut. Only when you really stress the codec during the actual grade does the colored grain appear. The effects and artifacts that I was referring to are minimal but present, they are in no shape or fashion a deal breaker. I would say that if your have up to 8k the c100 is the best complete package to buy right now. Even if the BMC is better once its available, if you want to shoot now, the results are good enough from the c100 not to care.

Also, zeiss is not a full stop more contrasty than canon, but the difference is noticeable. I feel though that canon glass may more beneficial for this sensor since it has a slight hard time with rendering detail deep darks. This camera can stand up to a serious grade, noise reduction might be necessary though.

Peter what IRE are you exposing your middle grey point at while in cinema lock mode? I think that might be the source of our different results.

December 10, 2012

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ryan

My middle gray tends around IRE 30ish. I just go off the tiny waveform monitor in the corner. With View Assist on (I have it assigned to button 8) I can more or less expose to taste, and if I don't have much highlights the middle gray might creep up a bit in the ETTR sense. Not that I believe in ETTR btw...I try to keep ISO nearest to native.

If you are worried about noise and don't want the NR and don't need the DR you can always crush it out by setting ISO below the native 850. Things get very clean in a hurry there, just a little green channel seepage. But I don't mind NR if needed (and as I said, I don't think I do below 6400 or so) and I'd rather use the internal NDs than go below 850.

The BMCC's window is more or less shut. It's a minor cost savings in practice once adequately kitted, but a lot more hassle than the C100. Canon knows what it can charge for stuff and I don't mind that it does so given the total cost of ownership is so low. C100 + Ninja ergonomics and IQ is better than C300 internal (unless you need the specialist features) so I think the C100 + Ninja is the best ready-to-shoot value south of $25K or so for the F3/F5 etc. Everything at that level and up is a rental for me and most projects, but the C100 is now my steady. I can't imagine being this happy with a BMCC or a DSLR.

December 10, 2012

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Peter

I see where we agree and diverge a tad. I would rather a c100 kit than a bmc kit as well, the image is really very impressive for the price point, I don't really need anything better at the moment. On the other hand I am so accustomed to RED shadow detail that getting used to the contrast on the c100 will take time. I need detail in my darks as a personal preference, so I probably have my darks not as crushed hence the noise.

December 10, 2012

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ryan

If you want that extreme low-contrast look that has become trendy...seen in the Playstation ad above...then yes you will want something with more DR. But I wonder if that look is being put forward for artistic merit or simply to justify spending so much to get the camera that can do it. Anyone who spends that much money will adamantly insist it's for artistic merit purely... Canon log can do that look but not as well in 8 bit.

I personally think that look is a fad, just like the HDR photography was a few years ago. I'm not against low-contrast always, but as with anything weird, it should be applied with a purpose and conceptual integrity to the story.

As for the virtues of 4K, one thing I was rudely awakened to was just how awful the Epic is when you try to crop one of the 4 1080p's out of its 4K. I mean, gross and unusable piffle. Looked barely 720p. So I try to get the framing correct optically anyway. And I think HDRx is ugly and unnatural with the ghosting. I would rent the high-end Sony's for big screen work right now I think. Though it will probably be some time before I'm hired to do such capture, if ever.

December 10, 2012

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Peter

Jay, I have the feeling that you are trying to justify the c100 over the other more professional gear. I mean if you want to shoot a feature for the Cinema, I don't thing that the c100 or c300 will look "professional" on the big screen. Just look at footage online, they look "videoish" = low budget feel. You have a much lower dynamic range on those cameras, no matter what they say. Canon is trying to say to you that 1080p is enough. It is not. Cinema is projected on 2K mostly, but a lot of theatres are already changing to 4K. Okay the 1d-c for 12000 dollars without the cards is 4k, but it is 4k MJPEG, if you have been working with still photography try grading a JPEG vs a RAW and see what I mean, and it's only 24fps. Good luck with the flicker if you live in Europe and Asia. Canon is intentionally crippling it's products, red is not. It's almost 2013 and Canon made a c100, crippled it to its big brother c300 instead of just lowering the price on the c300, as red did on their epic. Come on 1080p, 8bit 25mbs for for over 6k (c100) vs. BMCC 2.5K Raw 12 bit for 3k ??? The one who buys a Canon camera for other than wedding shoots is seriously making a bad decision.

December 10, 2012

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mike

Specs dont matter, look at the image. If you have seen well shot c100 or c300 not on the web but the original files on a calibrated monitor you would know that movies can be shot on these cameras. I don't think huge budget films will adopt, but these cameras are indie dreams.

Heres why people use C series cameras:
COLOR!!!!!!

When they say its the right 8 bits, its not a marketing gimmick.

Canon cameras are so revolutionary in such a paradoxical way that they get no recognition, Don't dwell on the bits, dwell on the color science. I was ignorant myself until I tried the camera out. I recommend the same to you, do not judge on other peoples online footage when comparing cameras only judge on your own. Thinking a c100 is only for weddings is a mistake.

December 10, 2012

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ryan

Mike dont know what you mean because technically the c100 image is the damnnn near the same as c300 when captured with external recorder , the only difference is the MBPS. Also there have been many films shot on HD that have graced the big screen with no problems. Technically there have also been some films shot with 5D that have graced big screen and it is not even full hd, so you i dont see how you are saying that c100 wouldnt hold up on big screen.

As far as your mentions of c100 web videos, you cant possibly compare a compressed web video one that would be projected on a big screen. Also the c100 is far from video'ish. If a video has that look, it is probably because of post color correcting, the c100 has one of the most beautiful looks out the box on skin tones, again some people call it the cousin of an ALEXA.

Third as far as RED goes, again i think it produces some amazing pictures that can be pushed , but again after reading some of the prices on some of these set ups, even the lower ball prices are just not logical for 70 percent of everyday film making folks. Also it is not even about money, even if you have the money for reds, you have to offload. You have to constantly change batteries, there have been overheating issues with some, Again IMO unless you had backing of mid size production company , the RED is just too much of a hassle for most.

December 10, 2012

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JAY CHASE

Yes, okay I also want to justify a c100 because I have been saving up for a new camera but somehow I cannot find any footage online that has the film, cinematic feel. Could you link any feature film shot on the c300 that looks good, a trailer or so? You say not to look at internet compressed files, but why then does the BMCC footage look filmic online? Why do trailers of theatrical movies look good online on youtube?

December 10, 2012

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mike

The BMC promo videos look cinematic because it was shot using $20,000 dollar glass, a beautiful model, and solid lighting. Those three factors have more to do with cinematic than the camera. You can't compare footage from a TV cinematographer and joe smo shooting flowers in his back yard. Most c100 videos I have seen have been useless comparisons of the gamma curves, that does not demonstrate what the camera can do. I'll see if I can shoot some stuff this weekend and post a link here to at least demonstrate how the camera handles, if you'll still be on this thread then.

December 11, 2012

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ryan

Ryan, sure. I will definitely appreciate your footage.
By the way what BMCC footage do you refer to that is shot with 20 000 dollar glass?
Pretty much all BMCC footage out there even the ones from the avg. joes shooting their kids in the backyard looks amazing....

December 11, 2012

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mike

You are confusing people with those prices. A cheap working red scarlet-x package is the following.

Red Scarlet-x, w. side ssd and canon ef mount. 10150 dollars.
Red touch 5.0". 1600 dollars.
Battery Belt Clip. 325 dollars.
Any V-mount battery, with charger: approx. 300 dollars. (there are cheaper out there).
Redmag 64gb. 725 dollars.
Redstation mini. 195 dollars.

Total: 13295 dollars.

Now go out and shoot, handheld or put it on a cheap monopod. (you can addmore redmags if you need to and you can use any Canon EF lenses and any mattebox of choice or tripod, rigs, you decide, but the above is a ready to shoot package.)

December 10, 2012

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mike

You're gonna go out and shoot with one 64GB card?

December 10, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

No but 2 is fine :)

December 10, 2012

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mike

I just wanted to say, that if you are on a really tight budget and you want to shoot on the scarlet. You can do so cheaper than the stated prices above. Of course one would prefer other accessories but you could start out cheap :)

December 10, 2012

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mike

Of course you can, we've got a ridiculously cheap $7k package based around the ONE. But I think $20k is a realistic SCARLET package price, if you're spending less than that initially you're probably going to be spending more over the next few months to fill in the blanks.

December 10, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Ryan. Do you thin the Scarlet-X is better than the Red One. Or is it the opposite? I have heard that some people actually prefer the image out of the Red One compared to the Scarlet-X. They say it looks more organic. Any opinion on this?

December 10, 2012

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mike

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