February 8, 2013

RED Dragon Indeed: First 6K 2000 ISO Images from New Sensor Unveiled

[UPDATE]: We now have the first footage from the new sensor, check it out here.

Jannard and Co. have been quiet for a while now except for the occasional firmware update. When the guys at RED aren't talking with users on their forum into the wee hours of the morning, there is a sure bet that something is brewing. We got our first image of the spectacular dynamic range of the sensor (which looks to be well over 14 stops), and now Jarred Land has posted some of the first still images taken from 6K (6000 x 3000 pixels) 86fps footage.

First, here is a little bit of what CEO Jim Jannard has been saying:

1. 6K (new Dragon sensor) is 2.2x 4K in number of pixels. 2. 6K has 45% more pixels than 5K. 3. 6K has over 10x the number of pixels than 1080P. 4. 6k (6144 x 3160) has more resolution than a Canon 5D MK III. 5. Pixels are good. Down-rezzing is good. Dynamic range is good. 6. The cleaner the sensor the more you can compress in REDCODE RAW. Dragon has less than half the noise of Mysterium-X. 7. Obsolescence Obsolete is good. Just a few facts to chew on.

And this:

Everything gets better, including color science. OLPF gets better. Color gets better. Resolution is up. Dynamic range is off the chart. Obsolescence obsolete. RED. And we still have no idea what we are doing.... just wait until we figure it out.

I have tremendous guilt because we are late. That is the main reason for going silent. Having said that... we are finally about to unleashed a bevy of stuff to blow away everyone's expectations.

Here are the first two Dragon images RED has made public. These were shot on a Canon 100mm Macro at f/11, 86fps, 6000 x 3000 (2:1), at 2000 ISO, 180 degree shutter. Dead pixel calibration had not yet been done on this prototype Dragon (click for the full 6K image):

Now to put all of this into perspective for a moment., here is a 1080p outline on the 6K image:

6K is no joke. That much is clear. Shooting the full height and width of the RED Dragon, which is 6144 x 3160, is equivalent to taking a 19.4 megapixel still image at full motion continuously. The Dragon can do this at 86fps at 6000 x 3000. While this camera and sensor combination will certainly be over $30,000 for a full package, Dragon is really living up to the Digital Stills and Motion Camera (DSMC) designation. 5K on the EPIC right now can give you amazing still images, but 6K is just that much bigger, and will allow for even more manipulation.

Combine that ridiculous resolution with the fact that the sensor could potentially deliver more dynamic range than any current digital cinema camera (Alexa and Sony F65 top out around 14 stops), and you're really looking at the cutting edge. Let's also not forget that this was shot at 2000 ISO. That means boosting a stop to 4000 ISO will likely still be pretty clean, and this is all at 6K! Downscaling to 4K will remove a decent amount of that noise, so you could be shooting some tremendously high-resolution images in practically no light.

Something that has been talked about a lot, is the fact that 4K isn't really 4K. While it's true that a Bayer pattern has to interpolate pixels, 4K material looks pretty good to my eyes on a huge screen (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). While the sensor is physically a little bigger than Super 35mm -- 5K on Dragon is actually closer to 4K compared to the MX sensor -- shooting at 6K will mean an even more highly resolved 4K image. Whether it's a "real 4K" yet will probably still be up for debate, but it should resolve a 4K image as well as, if not better, than the 20 megapixel Sony F65 (note: even though Sony claims the sensor in that camera is 8K, it has a non-standard aspect ratio as well as a rotated pixel array, so the real final resolution at a correct aspect ratio is actually somewhere around 5K-6K -- which Sony says you'll be able to record in a future firmware update).

Dragon Footage Playing in 4K on a Sony 84" screen with the REDRAY Player

With all of that out of the way, let's come down to earth for a moment. Color science is extremely important. All of the resolution and dynamic range in the world won't make up for things that just don't quite look right, and right now we're only looking at images of a reptile, not of a human being (get it, RED Dragon?). The Arri Alexa has dominated the industry for two reasons: it shoots easily digestible ProRes to 2K or 1080p, and it looks fantastic without any manipulation in post. Is that a big deal when RAW gives you the most flexibility? To many productions, the answer is yes. RED has come a long way with their color science, but Dragon is now a completely different sensor. I don't know how much code they will be able to carry over from the MX sensor, but getting the image to look "pleasing" with one click should be a priority (at least in my mind).

If you're worried about the ND filter situation, Jannard has said that the Dragon should operate comfortably between 400 and 2000 ISO, so it shouldn't actually be any more difficult than MX when shooting in daylight. The available light possibilities with this camera, though, could be pretty remarkable. While these advancements aren't making better movies, they do push us forward and introduce more possibilities for all sorts of applications.

We'll keep you posted on more developments with the sensor, but in the meantime, you can head on over to REDUser to join the conversation.

[UPDATE]: We have the very first footage from the DRAGON sensor, check it out here.

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126 Comments

6k (6144 x 3160) has more resolution than a Canon 5D MK III, wow that's a bold statement...I'll need independent verification on that statement....LOL!!

February 8, 2013

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He means the still images at the same aspect ratio. RED Dragon is 19.4 megapixels at a 1.94 aspect ratio. The Mark III is 22 megapixels (5760 x 3840) at full resolution (3:2 or 1.5 aspect ratio), so if you cropped to get the same 1.94 aspect ratio, you would have 5760 x 2969, which is 17 megapixels.

February 8, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Bit misleading though... Amazing nonetheless.

February 8, 2013

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Ska

5D Mk III has 22.1 MP. 6k is somwhere around 19 MP. So technically is not true.

February 8, 2013

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Ska

I think they mean the stills from the Canon...

February 8, 2013

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cows

Wow, double ninja'd.

February 8, 2013

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cows

I think RED are going to start working on new eyes for us all so we can appreciate 6k

February 8, 2013

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Fresno Bob

6K on its own is really more for post and still images. Shooting 6K for a 4K finish is really what Dragon is for. It’s a much better 4K image because you’re making up for pixel information lost to debayering.

February 8, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

The fact that this is well overdue, and well over the original 6000.00 dollars has certainly cooled any passion I had towards upgrading. The fact that JJ's language has been laying the groundwork for a redefinition of the original "6K for 6K" which brought so many of us originally to the epic, seems to indicate this thing could be 10K. Yes, cheaper than an Alexa? Sure.

But an upgrade that's almost 50 percent of the cost of the Epic Brain is still a tough pill.

February 8, 2013

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Isaac

Very beautiful picture but something's wrong here. First of all this is not a live 'dragon' it's a taxidermic specimen (check out the mouth in general, the transition from teeth to gums and the fake plastic ground it's standing on). Second, the front left foot's claws are bent sideways, as they would be when standing on a solid flat surface such as a tabletop even though they are actually in mid air. At the same time, the back right foot's claws are in a more natural position. However, the quality of the specimen in general makes me think that it was created by a very good taxidermic, who wouldn't arrange the claws in such an odd way. Taken all together I am wondering if the 'dragon' was photoshopped into the background, and if this is the case: why???

February 8, 2013

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Michael

srsly dude

u rly thnk phtoshp

T_T

February 8, 2013

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Tyler

.....Or maybe they TOOK A PICTURE OF A TAXIDERMIC SPECIMEN?

Seriously, you have all that knowledge, yet you think it was photoshopped....

February 8, 2013

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TehRandax

Chlamydosaurus kingii.

February 8, 2013

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Razor

Very interested in the color science of this thing. If it's as good as they say, I want to see some people!!!

Also excited to see the inevitable shootouts between RED/Alexa/Sony in the coming months.

February 8, 2013

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Derik

I'm dying to see how Zacuto will fook up the footage this time. Only this time the sensor isn't as shy of highlight overexposure as before.

February 8, 2013

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Natt

It's Zacuto..... don't worry it will happen.

February 9, 2013

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So its not real, nothing on any posts stated this was a full motion shot.
Did you want to use a color chart instead?

February 8, 2013

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Eric

colour chart =/= something in real life

February 8, 2013

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Tyler

Suppose you shoot an interview with a dragon... wait.... How in the world could this camera ever be practical in the next few years besides in scenarios where you have a ton of time or a lot of money to get this stuff transcoded?

Red's whole line is bad enough as it is in this regard (not to mention reliability and ease-of-use for AC's), and if I want to shoot a lower resolution so my data rates aren't ridiculous, I have to crop the sensor. Red has a lot of fundamental flaws that it hopes to cover up solely with the power of a sensor.

February 8, 2013

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Jordan

RED will be introducing a 2K/1080p proxy module at some point, besides the one already in the Meizler Module (capable of 2K and 1080p in ProRes and DNxHD).

Also, since Jannard is so stubborn about always shooting RAW and 4K or higher, RED very rarely mentions that the HD-SDI/HDMI can send out a clean 1080p image that's as good as, if not better, than pretty much any 1080p camera out there. This will likely be no different once Dragon gets inside the cameras.

Plenty of interviews have been shot with RED cameras, and if RAW is too much for your workflow, then shooting 1080p to an external recorder is going to be better quality than any 8-bit 4:2:0 camera. They can also reliably shoot for long periods (hours) without fan noise becoming a problem.

February 8, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Are you saying RED's fan noise is not a problem? Because we sent our back partly because the fan noise was like a hairdryer in between takes, which bothered me and the actors, and because sometimes after a time kicks in like a freakin' hairdryer during long takes. RED's a great camera, but it's probably the world's WORST interview camera.

Ask any sound professional what they think of RED's "awesome" idea of not making the bodies big enough to act as decent heatsinks, and about their engineering dept. thinking it's OK to put a fan facing the talent, and a fan facing the operator, too.

Again, love RED. Use 'em all the time. But never, ever, ever for interviews or when I need a semi-quiet set.

February 8, 2013

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Yeah fan placement is certainly not ideal, and my idea of perfect camera design is the Aaton Penelope Delta or Arri Alexa. It definitely sounds like a loud desktop computer in standby or when it is starting up, but I was just referring to the fact that it's possible to record for long periods without the fan going insane. Errol Morris has been using RED for docs:

http://reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?59357-Epic-Noise-and-heat-Epic-M...

February 8, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Indeed, I just put my hand up against the Aaton Penelope Delta's fan while it was on and, as a RED owner, got jealous at the low RPM/low noise/low heat of it. Then again there is also a huge price difference... the Aaton is a rental camera though.

February 8, 2013

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Instead of developing Dragons I think RED should fpcus on having a reliable 2K camera for a change...I simply can´t trust a RED since RED One...
P.S. - I would rather travel on a Aston Martin than on a fast F1 prototype....hey...but this is just me... ;-)

February 14, 2013

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Augusto Alves d...

You can transcode on a 325 recorder instantly while recording or realtime from playback. Not a ton of time or money.

February 8, 2013

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ryan

Would you complain about what you'd have to do to shoot interviews on film?

February 8, 2013

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Gabe

But i'm sure you're happy with your T2i :)

February 8, 2013

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^^

"I cant afford it so I'mma whine like I could buy it then rip it to shreds because I'm 'rich' and I think I'll stay with my T2i thanks very much red you have really ruined yourself this time"

February 8, 2013

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Tyler

Just a quick note, 86fps at 180 degree shutter is 1/172 shutter speed...hence the need for 2000 ISO.

February 8, 2013

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Gabe

How much more clear can we get an image? Where does this road take us? 23k 4857k? At what point does all this tech plateau and we just perform with what we've got?

February 8, 2013

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J

It will never end and it shouldn't. IQ is going to keep getting better but that doesn't mean what you shoot is. Thats up to us.

February 8, 2013

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Film fanboys still scream that 35mm is 8K, no less and by that logic IMAX 70mm is what, 30K? Bwahahaha.

February 8, 2013

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Natt

Nah, there's no way average S35 resolves that much. Because film is more variable, I've heard figures ranging between 2 and 4K. Keep in mind, most digital cameras that shoot 4K don't resolve an equal level of detail, so 4K resolution is still impressive.
As large as IMAX is, I have trouble imagining it resolving more than 8K.

February 9, 2013

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Blah

February 9, 2013

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Yeah, I've heard conflicting numbers from different sources, so it's quite possible it's less than 4K. I've heard most say that S35 is around 4K when treated optimally, but I distinctly remember reading somewhere (I've been trying to find the article recently, but to no avail) that it was much less -- around 2K -- and that IMAX was just about 4K optimally.
Just thinking about this now, perhaps with the pervasiveness of digital scanning of film, the scanning process could take the place universally of generational prints made off of the original negatives, thus preserving more of the original resolving power of the film's image. So, the irony could be that the digital process could improve consumer image quality from film.

February 9, 2013

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Blah

Allow me to speculate, if you will:
I see 8K as a sort of plateau in terms of a finishing/distribution resolution. At 8K resolution, in order to discern individual pixels you'd a screen the size of a theater's, and would need to sit so close to that screen as to no longer be able to see the entire image. At some point, it'll just become unreasonable for any normal consumer to need any higher resolution on their televisions (or equivalent media display). In terms of the consumer space, I see 8K televisions as the stopping point, if the market even gets beyond 4K.

If 8K becomes the standard maximum (oxymoron?) consumer video resolution, then digital cinema cameras will need at least that much in terms of recording resolution. Now, as an example, the Sony F35 uses a 12.4 MP 5760 x 2160 image sensor to resolve a virtually perfect 1920 x 1080 image in terms of measured resolving power. (This is because of standard Bayer pattern resolution issues.) Assuming a similar sensor resolution-to-output resolution would apply to an 8K image, I'd put the needed sensor resolution at around the equivalent of 19.5K (though some might just jump to 20K at that point...) or over 226 MP at a 16:9 aspect ratio. So, if one were to record RAW out of the camera, they'd most likely receive an image of that pixel resolution. Though compression and down-sampling of the image, they'd get about a perfect 8K of measured resolution. Of course, people shooting at 4K resolutions and higher right now aren't getting a perfect 4K image, so I doubt the same for 8K would be a necessity either. I just figured I'd look at what might be the maximum one could reasonably attain.

Obviously, the rest of the world of technology will not stand still to let this happen. New sensor and recording innovations will most likely lead to some form of advancement that may completely change display and recording standards (like this: http://www.eoshd.com/content/9585 ); my prediction only makes sense with current camera systems and announced plans for broadcasting.

Nonetheless, you have an answer, albeit one from a random internet commenter.

February 9, 2013

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Blah

"Assuming a similar sensor resolution-to-output resolution would apply to an 8K image." It's generally accepted that debayering loses about 20% of "real" resolution, so your numbers are way high. For example RED's 4K image yields 3.2K of measurable resolution, 5K equals 4K, and so on. So I'm not sure where 19K is coming from!

February 9, 2013

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Yeah, I know I went a way above what would probably be necessary or practical, but that was the point: to try to give a number to the approximate maximum ceiling of needed sensor resolution. If Red gets 3.2K from their 4K sensor, then, using that as a metric, one would definitely need less than 19K to resolve an 8K image (probably just under 9K).

I got to 19.5K by basing my scale off of the Sony F35 which uses roughly six times as many photosites (5760 x 2160) as its output resolution of 1080p. I chose the F35 specifically because it stood out to me as a camera that oversampled more than I had ever heard of before. It was one of only three cameras in the 2011 Zacuto Shootout that resolved more line pairs per sensor height than the camera actually output in physical resolution, and the only camera to do so with a difference of over one hundred (140, actually). Since I was pushing to find the highest resolution sensor that would ever feasibly be made to resolve an 8K image (without just throwing in a random high number, at least), I it made sense to base my photosite-to-output-resolution ratio off of the largest ratio from an actual existing camera.

February 12, 2013

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Blah

It was also mentioned elsewhere that the Zacuto results are kind of an anomaly for resolved detail over the final output. You can't resolve more detail than your recording output, which is still only 1080 on the F35.

February 12, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Bayer sensors have different resolution for different colors (photosites at 2:1:1 ratio). Black targets on test charts are best case scenario for Bayer sensors. If the targets were red, green or blue, resolution would vary and be lower than black target reolution. So in real world Bayer sensor resolution varies depending on the subjects, but it will usually be lower than recorded on black test targets.

February 15, 2013

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PeterK

ARRI did the smart thing by going after color first rather than resolution.

February 8, 2013

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Razor

And now ARRI will be going for resolution while RED works on color science. Head is spinning!

February 8, 2013

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J: You're right. Like when we went from U-Matic 3/4" to Beta - I mean how much resolution do you really NEED? Whose eyes are that good anyway?

February 8, 2013

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ronn

BTW I've been watching Downton Abbey - shot on Alexa seasons 2 & 3 - and it really is gorgeous.

February 8, 2013

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ronn

This whole 'k' race is ridiculous. Firstly, there are hardly any theatres and systems, that are equipped to play 4k, right now, and, then, there is the issue of the handling of the workload.
In another 20 years, RED would want us to move to 20k Cameras, which will store so much detail. that, you would hate to look at the world, naturally. Meaning, that, all humans would wear glasses, which will up-res nature,as it looks, to the human eye.
Its a nightmare. Hopefully, this whole shit should end, quickly.
We need better films, and cheaper, and more affordable film equipment., whose sole purpose, is to end the monopoly, of studios. Period. Everything else, is just nonsense.

February 8, 2013

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zack

And we only will ever need 512kb of RAM, too, right? Sorry, but the market will march on. Look at how much camera you can buy for $3k today. Two years ago, you would have paid $20k+. It's good for all of us who love this game.

February 8, 2013

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Ben Prater

It's not a race. S35 film is roughly 4K. IMAX is even bigger. No one has ever complained that the resolution of film is too high. Film, however, is being phased out. So, why would you want its replacement to be any less than what we started with? Why wouldn't you want your ACQUISITION FORMAT to be as high a quality as possible?

February 8, 2013

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Brian

However all theatres could show S35, but very few can show 4K.

That's the one discrepancy with all of this is the massive upgrade that theatres can get because of the price. Hollywood is forcing this onto them and still asking for a fair amount of their profit from films. It's rather hypocritical because small theatres (more than you would think that there is) are going to go bankrupt and Hollywood will wonder why.

Change is good, but you need change only when it works which it isn't. It's like the whole 4K TV thing but backwards. Instead of not being able to supply 4K content to a 4K screen, they can't supply a 4K screen for the 4K content.

February 8, 2013

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Tyler

You do know that film can scan to like 8-12k, right?

February 8, 2013

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john jeffreys

You can scan film at any resolution you want. But the point of diminishing returns dictates certain resolutions for a reason. 4-5k is about the MAXIMUM amount of detail you'll get w/ 35mm and around 12k for 65mm/IMAX (or a bit more).

February 9, 2013

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