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David Fincher and Justin Timberlake Team Up for 'Suit & Tie' Music Video Shot on RED EPIC Monochrome

02.16.13 @ 8:06PM Tags : , , , , ,

I mentioned we might be seeing a comeback for real black and white, and it looks like we’ve got one of our first examples on a big scale. We knew David Fincher was working with RED’s new black and white camera the EPIC Monochrome, but it wasn’t clear exactly what that production was. His new Netflix series House of Cards was shot on regular RED EPICs, but now it’s been confirmed on REDUser that Justin Timberlake’s new music video for Suit & Tie featuring Jay-Z was shot with the Monochrome. Click through to check it out.

The video was shot by frequent Darren Aronofsky collaborator Matthew Libatique, on 5 RED EPIC Monochromes at an ISO of 3200. Yes, 3200 ISO! That’s one of the huge benefits of the monochrome camera. Many were still unclear about why anyone would want to shoot black and white when they could just convert the footage in post even after my explanation. It’s probably worth stating again, however, that the color filters over every sensor are what give us colors, and the information is incomplete with Bayer pattern single sensor designs, and must be debayered in post-production to recreate what the camera would have seen had there been a color for every pixel.

With EPIC Monochrome, that color filter is removed and every pixel is now accounted for, giving you perfect resolution (up to 5K with the current EPIC), and better sensitivity. In this case, RED claims the sensor can now be rated at 2000 ISO as compared to around 800 normally. On this video, however, the team decided to push the camera almost another stop to 3200. That is another advantage of capturing in black and white with this camera: noise is finer and less noticeable.

What I’ve noticed with this camera is that highlights roll off in such a beautiful and organic way. It’s the kind of effect that you get with real black and white film (not to mention film in general), and it’s just another reason why I think this camera is so special.

It’s certainly not useful for every shoot, but the gradations from light to dark and the noise/sensitivity benefits deliver a spectacular image.

Link: Justin Timberlake by David Fincher via Monochrome Epics — REDUser


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  • The moment I saw the video, I knew it had to be RED Epic. Such amazing visuals!

  • I’ve seen it on a grading screen. That Monochrome is amazing. And cheap!

  • Where did you get the info about using 5 RED Epics?

  • 3200 ISO is seriously incredible, such a clean image. Crazy to think Dragon might achieve something like this in color.

    • Right, and they are planning on a Dragon Monochrome. If Dragon is better than Epic by a factor of 2.5, Dragon Monochrome could be native around 5000 ISO. That would be just ridiculous. That camera would be able to literally see in the dark at 6K without much noise.

  • A 4K download would be awesome, even of just a short clip. YT compression doesn’t seem to be doing this justice

  • Awesome visuals and style. Black and white always looks so authentic.

  • but the video is really boring, sorry…

  • and the song too

  • nothing special to see…david fincher turned totally meaningless…and this is the guy who did “vogue”…

  • Leaves me with mixed feelings. This is what comes out when two my favorite hollywood filmmakers get a play with the “best” b&w camera? Aside from the “story” I really don’t like the tonality in this. You probably have to work oldschool with color filters when shooting on the Red mono (or does it save any color information?) while you can do this digitally on any other camera. That’s rather a downside. Personally I think the b&w modes on a GH2 beat the look of this – straight out of camera.

  • Yep, the highlight rolloff and tone sold me on this one. Now quick do that in color, Red.

  • I do believe Fincher was trying to capture this look and feel, most notably in the studio shots. Also, I think there are no sweeping camera movements or trickery because those things weren’t popular back in the era this video pays homage to.

    I hope these pics show up:

    • I meant to write those camera moves weren’t *as* popular in that era. Of course, there were exceptions. I think he did a pretty good job. I immediately saw those studio shots and thought of old LP album jackets my parents had from the ’60s. I instantly knew what he was referencing. Freeze the video on any one of those scenes and you’ll see the strong resemblance to the pics in the links.

    • I think they would have shot on film if they had wanted to mimic this?!

      • David J. Fulde on 02.17.13 @ 11:24AM

        Fincher really likes digital though, ha ha

      • Really? I guess I don’t understand your comment. The video is a throwback to a different era. In that case, you could say the same about the whole thing, could you not? Since they also channel the Rat Pack in the performance shots, a central theme seems to be “old meets new” – that also goes for the digital aspect, I suppose. Plus, those studio shots are pretty evident, at least to my eyes. I don’t know. I see it. Here’s another example:

        • Some of my response got cut off, probably due to the URL.

          Really? I guess I don’t understand your comment. The video is a throwback to a different era. In that case, you could say the same about the whole thing, could you not? Since they also channel the Rat Pack in the performance shots, a central theme seems to be “old meets new” – that also goes for the digital aspect, I suppose. Plus, those studio shots are pretty evident, at least to my eyes. I don’t know. I see it.

          • I was referring to your assumption he wanted to mimic the ‘look and feel’. You abviously didn’t just mean the look and feel of the image itself but everything else as well – I just misunderstood you.

  • Great picture quality. It looks gorgeous.

  • Killed it… reminds us we don’t need excessive camera movements to deliver a good quality project. Really well shot, and love the use of the lights on the reflectI’ve dance floor.

    • couldn’t agree with you more on the topic of excessive camera movement. just great light.

      and how good was that roughish matchish cut at the end where timberlake is falling in black, and then white–way more impressive than using cgi to produce a flawless transition.

    • “reminds us we don’t need excessive camera movements to deliver a good quality project”

      I just re-watched again ” The Game” yesterday, and you are right about the no need of excessive movements… Mr.Fincher is economical with camera moves in that film. Sober movements when really needed to enhance the story or the psychological side of characters.

  • I think it looks great and I enjoyed the way it was filmed and edited. I even liked the song..

  • For all Germans, you can watch the video here, without the GEMA (German performance and copyrights organization) prohibiting YouTube to show it:

    Question: Is there a chance that B&W is just purely and simply more forgiving regarding image quality, especially when it comes to color science (“Duh!”, I know) and noise? When I turn my 5DMII to B&W mode, noise seems to be less of an issue, too. I mean, what’s the selling point of this, if it forces you to shoot in b&w while every other RAW-shooting camera (not specifically the ALEXA as an example, but probably the best there is) can easily produce images like that (given the same amount of professionalism from the DOP’s side)? I would ALWAYS shoot in color and later convert to b&w if RAW recording was possible.
    Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the cinematography and direction on this one, also loved Fincher’s “Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” (not only) from an aesthetic POV, but this whole thing being a vehicle for something as nerdy as a black and white digital cinema camera – where is the point?


    • It’s not a vehicle for a new camera. It’s a music video where one of the best DP’s in the world decided with his director to use this tool to help achieve the look they were going after.

      • Yeah, and they were pretty sure they would get something to rely on with a RED, I see that. But the whole thing seems to be an extreme niche (geek?) product. B&W sure isn’t dead but is it living so large that it can afford it’s own camera again – or that said camera’s producer will sell a lot of these when High Quality B&W can be achieved with any other horse in the barn?

    • As a little addition: I know an Alexa would be significantly(!) more expensive, therefore probably NOT the best example, but a BMCC comes cheaper and can easily be converted into non-noisy B&W. My basic argument is that when you are shoting RAW in color on any given cinema camera, i.e. cheaper ones, you can get the same result with the same amount of expertise behind the camera.

      Matt out ;)

      • Remember when shooting in color, you are seeing color contrasts that will get lost after changing it to B&W. Some kind of red subject might be well seperated from a blueish background, but when you turn it B&W, the seperation might get lost and your image turns two dimensional and weak.
        So when intending to shoot color but output B&W it’s always good to at least monitor in B&W

        • Goes (almost :) ) without saying. But that B&W mode is implemented on most cameras, right?

      • what is the on going situation do they think that we the ppoele are not going crazy here trying to figure out ways on how to keep our houses (home owners) insurance ,, cars and keep kids healthy ,,,, what about our medical are we going to get that I live today because of my medical . im on ssi i have housing i dont want to lose that. as im sure alot of use dont. cant afford to lose it. president obama sure lost credibility from alot of us who voted for him.if he shuts us down ha he wont get paid whats he going to do then. how about him dishing out some of his earned money put in the pot as they say so we can keep going. i am on a nebuelizer i need the medication am i still going to get that ? also what about thousands of others who need oxygen. like come on does he want all of us just to roll over and die ? lots will get really worried . what are they going to do how fast is this yay going to take . can you please let me know i certainly dont want to lose my housing. i just got into. lovely little place for myself please obama. get us all through to the fiscal yr so that everyone can come up with a simple solution with out headaches. ty.

  • Someone on the team needs to look into the Nikon d5200. I’ve just seen a piece on it where they say it has no moire or aliasing – something that no super 35 sensor camera has been able to do so far for less than 3000$. If that is true, that camera is an atomic bomb.

    I’ve always found Nikon’s color (using the Tassingflat profile and LUT) to be superior to the Canon as well, along with the greater dynamic range it gives a much more filmic look to the footage. So please, look into the 5200 and tell us what you guys think.

  • It’s a beautiful video, and while it’s certainly an exciting time for camera technology innovation, it should be remembered that a camera that can “see in the dark” and “lighting contrast” are very different things. A poorly lit scene will still look bad regardless of the camera’s ability to expose for it. What makes this video beautiful isn’t the ISO (though the fine grain helps), but rather the gorgeous and precise lighting. The lighting is especially important in this video because – as many viewers remarked – there aren’t many camera movements. Using less light and simply increasing the ISO doesn’t make for an attractive image, though it’s certainly better than a dark shot. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of camera innovation and find all the latest equipment thrilling, but the lighting, framing, and set design are what makes this video so beautiful, not the camera.

  • Looking at the highlight roll off and considering they were using some pretty contrasts lighting styles, I’m pretty sure they used some form of filtration over the rear elements of their lenses to soften up the highlights in this video. You can tell when looking at the practicals the way their glow rolls smoothly off the source and isn’t defined so sharply…

    I believe you guys posted an article about this technique last year, and I think it ties in nicely with this throw back piece Fincher shot. Once again just lovely.

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