July 26, 2013

Hollywood Cinematographers Now Testing RED DRAGON, Footage Could Be Just Days Away

With news of Blackmagic's slight delays, it only makes sense to visit the other company that is notorious for being late to the party. RED unveiled their new DRAGON sensor "officially" back at NAB 2012, and while the sensor is "done," we've only seen one sample showing the dynamic range, and another with a decidedly stiff "dragon." We've got word from the higher-ups that the gears are in motion, and some high-profile individuals are shooting with the new sensor, which may even include a shoot with Lady Gaga.

Here is Jarred Land in the forum on the Gaga shoot with Inez and Vinoodh, followed by some footage from said shoot, which may or may not have originated on DRAGON:

Originally Posted by Mike P. 

Whoa, whoa whoa; Jarred, you didn't deny that the Gaga shot is an inez/dragon/vinoodh love-sandwich... does that mean it is?

I don't think I am allowed to say what they shot , but I can say that Inez and Vinoodh definitely were the first photographers to shoot Dragon.

As for when we should see at least some frame grabs, Jim mentioned that they would need a few days. He also said this in the forum:

The Dragon is out of the lab and in the hands of trained professionals. So far, the feedback is everything we had hoped to hear.

One major league production was going to shoot EPIC MX for everything except the "wide vistas"... and use 6K Dragon on those. After viewing his tests... the project will go 100% Dragon. It is a 20 camera shoot.

And Jarred Land:

Darius Wolski, Inez and Vinoodh, Chris Probst, Peter Jackson + Andrew Lesnie, , Michael Bay and Amir and Peter Collister all have wielded the Dragon. Toia is up to bat next. 

Most of these guys priority with the Dragon isn't to take "marketing" images.. they are shooting tests or footage for their current or next films.

Peter Jackson posted this on Facebook (thanks Jake), and while they aren't going to have time to use the camera for any Hobbit footage, the camera team is testing alongside the EPIC MX:

The DRAGON has also found its way out into the desert for some Kowa Anamorphic shooting. Christopher Probst was taking the new sensor for a spin, and Phil Holland snapped a few pics (the latter of which Christopher only just posted with permission from Jim):

Christopher also mentioned this:

Here I was trying to make it dark but the Dragon is so sensitive you really need to rethink your ideas about lighting! The governing factor on this shot was the intensity of the flashlight... At ISO 1500 and 1600, I would have had to futz with NDing the flashlight... We wanted the environment to feel like there was a power outage... As a DP, I wanted enough on my neg to have detail and options without unwanted noise...

If you look closely, it's shooting 6K anamorphic at ISO 1280, and there is a ton of information looking at the histogram. How is DRAGON capable of such insanity while still shooting 6K? Jarred explains:

Dragon is a completely new pixel design developed internally at RED for RED and only for RED. Dragon does not use any dual readout, analogue gain offsets, binning or combining tricks... it is natively just one badass mofo with more native latitude on top and more native latitude on bottom.

But... we kept HDRX in there as an option, just in case you wanted to go ahead and get crazy.

To me, that's the most interesting statement in all of this, especially if RED has kept this design in-house. We'll hopefully only have to wait a bit longer to get our hands on some of the first footage and see what the sensor can really do. As of right now, the current version of REDCINE-X will not open up DRAGON .R3D files, so presumably that is one of the main things holding back RAW footage from being released to the world (as no one else would be able to do anything with them). Once that happens, we will likely see a flood of new stuff from major shooters.

Either way, we shouldn't have too long to wait.

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Your Comment

93 Comments

ooooooh :D

July 26, 2013

-1
Reply

Blah blah blah, show me the goods already, Jim.

July 26, 2013

-2
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Natt

RED and Blackmagic must share the same Public Relations Group.

July 26, 2013

0
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Razor

We already have enough stops.

July 26, 2013

1
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sammy

What's the cutoff?

July 26, 2013

0
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Brian

Razor's comment made me realize mine wasn't reading as sarcastically as I intended. I'll rephrase:

What? We're poo-pooing dynamic range now? At what point did we reach the cutoff, in your opinion?

July 26, 2013

1
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Brian

There must be situational ethics when it comes to caring about DR.....

July 27, 2013

-1
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Gene

July 26, 2013

0
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Razor

You must have missed the part that said ...

"If we were to instead consider our eye's instantaneous dynamic range (where our pupil opening is unchanged), then cameras fare much better. This would be similar to looking at one region within a scene, letting our eyes adjust, and not looking anywhere else. In that case, most estimate that our eyes can see anywhere from 10-14 f-stops of dynamic range, which definitely surpasses most compact cameras (5-7 stops), but is surprisingly similar to that of digital SLR cameras (8-11 stops)."

July 26, 2013

-1
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Peter

Instantaneous 10-14 stops, in a single pupil dilation 17 stops, and full adjustment can be as high as 30 stops of dynamic range. http://wiki.panotools.org/Dynamic_range

July 26, 2013

0
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Razor

When I look around I never have blown out windows or blown out skies when I'm looking at someone's face with the sun behind them.

July 27, 2013

0
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Gabe

That's because you squint and close your eyes before it has a chance to register as "blown out".

July 27, 2013

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Kris

@Kris I don't have to squint. And again...the foreground is still visible, it isn't completely black. The fact is human eye sight works differently than electronic sensors. It's not just that the iris changes automatically, the way photons are detected involves some weird chemistry and a mix of monochromatic sensitive receptors as well as chroma sensitive receptors. I don't think any study has been able to nail down the precise dynamic range, but they all seem to estimate it as pretty high.

This one gives a number that comes out to about 26.5 stops: http://www.psy.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/blake/214_F2011/Chapters/blakeSeku...

This one gives a number that comes out to about 33 stops: http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/lightandcolor/humanvisionintro.html

July 28, 2013

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Gabe

Well, the human brain does a lot of magic tricks when interpreting the pictures you see. It's a lot like HDRX, you don't need to see 30 stops DR at once, but your eyes quickly switch between different areas with different "settings" and the brain combines it all to a magic 30 stops DR 3D picture!

August 3, 2013

1
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Heiko

"sammy on 07.26.13 @ 4:57PM

We already have enough stops."

I was on a bus like that once.

July 27, 2013

-2
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Gene

Yeah, there's always people saying "we don't need better technology from now on. It's all perfect like it is now"
And those people have always been and will always be wrong! There will always be better technology in the future, and it will always be useful!

August 3, 2013

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Heiko

That last shot from the monitor has me tingling with anticipation. To think what we have on offer from the F5, F55 and now the 6k dragon - not to mention the 'lower' end products from BM...its just mind blowing!

July 26, 2013

0
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Paul

And, just in time, a new (German built) 2-Axis stabilizer that claims to handle Red.

http://www.pyro.de/products/motionlock/

July 26, 2013

1
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DLD

Fantastic news ..
Fantastic camera ..
I can not wait to see a few shots, if you actually post Dragon to be precise and perfect as we say we will see a camera without compromises, I would say the absolute best.

July 26, 2013

-1
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Alexis

Well, the F65 will do 8k, 16 bit raw.. The dragon may only win on dynamic range, let's wait for the official numbers.

July 26, 2013

-1
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FA

8K? More like 6K. Sony is full of it.

July 26, 2013

-1
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Natt

It's not actually 8k. Supersampling doesn't count

July 26, 2013

1
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john jeffries

Side by side against the Epic with Mysterium-X the F65 is just a "nicer" out of the gate. However, once working with the material and properly finishing it post it's pretty damn close.

And yes. The F65 is not a true 8K camera. That right there is marketing spin, and horrible spin at that.

July 26, 2013

-1
Reply

Almost no one is really creaming about 6K resolution. We're all excited about said dynamic range. The resolution debate becomes a bit moot when you realize that post houses are still locked into a 2K pipeline for visual effects, and may be that way for a while. However crazy dynamic range is a huge factor in great images. Really stoked for this.

July 26, 2013

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Thom

You nailed it! 2K pipeline.

August 1, 2013

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Sergei

16.5 stops of DR
6K i
New color science
Higher sensitivity
No penalty for shooting low ISOs

6K is definitely towards the bottom of most people's lists. But being able to pull 6K stills from a 120 FPS r3d is fucking nuts.

July 26, 2013

0
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carlos

Those stills would probably look awesome!

July 27, 2013

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Gene

And what would an 8K still look like?

I've seen stills from the 50 Megapixel, $45,000.00, Hasselblad H4D-200MS stills camera. How many K is that anyway?

two samples, click on the photos to enlarge: http://info.xitek.com/sampleimage/201206/04-90645.html

July 27, 2013

-2
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Gene

Hasselblad H4D 50 Megapixels:

6132×8176 pixels

Sensor size 36.7×49.1 mm

So it's 6K?

July 28, 2013

-2
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Gene

Nope! That would be just over 8k.

1080p is 1080x1920, which is just below 2k.

When talking about the "k's," one refers to horizontal resolution. Numbers like 1080p and 720p refer to the horizontal lines of progressive scan vertical resolution (weird, I know).

July 29, 2013

0
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Wes

The thing is I think the 8176 is the vertical number.

They say it's actually 200 Megapixels since the camera can take 4 pictures 1/2 a pixel apart and make it into 1 photo. I think I didn't get what they meant. It started looking like an equation from Lubos Motl. ;^)

Maybe you will understand if you read it:

pdf at the link:

http://www.hasselbladusa.com/media/2658914/uk_h4d_200ms_v3.pdf

Did you see the 2 sample photos from the camera? If you enlarge the photo of the library you can read the title on some of the books:

http://info.xitek.com/sampleimage/201206/04-90645.html

July 29, 2013

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Gene

6k played on 4k projection in theaters will look better than 4k played on 4k projectors. Man, I want to see it!!

These professional guys being excited about this sensor tells me it must look clearly better than 4k. And 4k has already been kicking every other resolutions ass---in a nice way. :-)

July 27, 2013

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Gene

Recently, I watched a low-budget Australian feature. From the opening scene, I assumed it was shot on a cheap video camera. I was quite shocked to learn they used Red Epic and that the cinematographer has been nominated for BAFTAs and the like.

Then I watched a Hollywood thriller, budget of around $35 million, starring two well known stars. At first, thought it was shot on film. After a few minutes, began to think the cinematography was really poor. After a while, realised they had used a video camera. In the nighttime scenes, the image really fell apart. Again, shot on Red Epic.

Can anyone recommend a feature shot on Red that they think looks good? This is a genuine question, as I haven't seen one yet.

July 27, 2013

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John

(Btw, I watched both of these on Blu-ray.)

July 27, 2013

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John

I think you have to consider that not all video is lit correctly and edited well in post. When I saw the Red footage in the documentary 'Zacuto, Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout' I thought the Red didn't look any better than lesser cameras. Then, when I watch Red Epic 4K footage shot and edited by Jacob Schwarz (and his wife) I feel like I'm watching the most glorious footage I've ever seen. Just using a Red, or any other expensive camera, doesn't guarantee great looking video, even from people making movies that end up in theaters or on DVD.

Even inexpensive cameras can look good. Here's footage from the $560.00 Sony RX100, a camera that doesn't even have microphone or headphone jacks:

http://vimeo.com/66605319#

http://vimeo.com/45682834

July 27, 2013

1
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Gene

Mark Toia on RedUser gets some impressive footage with his Red cameras.

But I'm mainly talking about features. Where are the movies that are so awesome, with images that are so mind blowing, that justify all of the hype since 2006?

In fact, where are all the movies which even look as good as plain old 35mm?

July 27, 2013

0
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John

I don't think RED is that concerned with it looking like 35mm. Having said that, some features shot on RED that personally impressed me are Pacific Rim, Prometheus (strictly talking about visuals on that one, lol), and Dredd (I know some people didn't like how it was graded but I personally thought it was gorgeous). Being honest I think way too many people are putting stock into the arguments for or against RED.

July 27, 2013

1
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Coty

beginners

the hobbit

the social network

July 27, 2013

0
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john jeffries

Haven't seen "The Hobbit" but didn't like what footage I've seen. It doesn't look better than film in my opinion. They had to go through a lot on set to get reasonable footage, including painting some of the sets in bright colours.

I thought "The Social Network" looked very unimpressive. It begins with a scene set in a bar at night. It fades up from black. The first time I watched it, as it was fading up from black, my exact thoughts "keep going, keep going... You've got to be kidding me.". I actually bought "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" on Blu-ray to see if there was something I was missing (despite not liking Fincher's version of the film) but again, I just don't see it. I prefer the look of the original, which had a budget almost a tenth of Fincher's version and was shot on plain old film.

July 27, 2013

0
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John

Gatsby

The movie blows but if you don't like the final red epic output your blind.

July 27, 2013

-1
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Greg egan

It looks okay but not better than film (or even as good as). Like a lot of Red footage, It has an artificial look. The wide shots look to have a ton of CGI, so it's hard to judge them (like 'Prometheus').

July 27, 2013

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John

A lot of these directors and DPs who switched to digital did it because they prefer the look of digital over film, so this really comes down to aesthetic preference. You don't have to like the look over film, but by the same token just because you think it looks worse doesn't actually make it worse.

July 27, 2013

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Gabe

Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson and others may have used Red because it's the most convenient for 3D. The trailer for Ridley Scott's new movie has that same flat, bland look I'm complaining about. No doubt they'll grade it within a inch of its life to try and get something decent out of the image.

From what I've read, Fincher likes the flexibility and small size of the Red.

The same probably goes for Soderberg, too, as he doesn't like to use lighting. You don't really think Soderberg's recent movies look good, do you?

July 27, 2013

1
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John

Preferring digital over film (which could be anything-Alexa, etc.) does not mean preferring RED over film.

July 27, 2013

0
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Bry

John

Do you also think the Canon 5Diii is over-hyped?

July 27, 2013

0
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Gene

@John

The Counselor isn't a 3d film, so clearly that isn't why Ridley Scott chose Epic. And Peter Jackson has been raving about Red before he started shooting in 3d, so again...not because of 3d.

Although if we're going to talk about 3d...3d was the reason for the over saturated on set colors for the Hobbit. Beam splitters introduce opposite color casts in the image, and they wanted as much chroma information as possible to correct it in post.

And speaking of post...The Counselor is a heavily color graded movie...what about its look do you attribute to Red that's different from a similarly heavily graded movie shot on film?

July 28, 2013

2
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Gabe

7 minute video of Peter Jackson talking about his interest in Red cameras. He used two of the first prototype cameras, "Boris" and "Natasha", to make a short film, "Crossing the Line". The film was shot on March 30 and 31, 2007. That was before Peter Jackson did anything in 3-D. He used Red next to shoot "District 9", a movie he produced. It also was not 3-D.

7 minute YouTube vid:

[ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-VeXLZTm24 ]

He did buy forty eight Red Epics fitted with 3-D to make "The Hobbit" series.

July 28, 2013

0
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Gene

Skin tones were unnatural and orange looking. And yes, the movie sucks balls.

July 27, 2013

0
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Rick

'Elysium' or 'Rust and Bone' are two very good examples.

July 27, 2013

0
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28 Hotel Rooms

July 27, 2013

0
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