Description image

Here's Some Brand New RED DRAGON Footage to Like/Hate/Discuss

MetroGirlsFirst DRAGON clip down, many more to come. Before the DRAGON sensor updates start rolling out in big numbers this fall, we should be getting a lot more footage. DP Evin Grant got a little fire-breathing monster to play around with, and he’s posted his results online, along with some stills. Tom Lowe, who you might remember from Timescapes, has also received a DRAGON to test, and he’s posted a 6K still so far, with likely much more to come. Check it out below, and be sure to head on over to the comments for what is always a fun time.

Some info on Evin’s test, followed by the video. Be sure to head on over to Vimeo to download it in higher quality (emphasis added):

This camera’s color science is beta, in fact the version of RCX I used is still using RG3 & RC3 so they are not yet matched to the immense DR and color info of these files.

This camera also had a brand new IR filter installed and no adjustments had been made to the CS or RCX for any impact that might have on color rendering.

All of the above meant I felt in order to be fair to the camera and sensor I needed to do some color correction beyond RCX, to that end I did a single primary pass in Resolve on the Prores 444 output.

The kelvin and tint settings noted in the video are my approximation of the ambient lighting according to the eye-dropper in RCX, I developed at different settings when I though it looked best. I also pushed the color saturation as far as I felt I could before looking garish, this is not actually my preferred taste but I felt it was important for the test.

Last off I am not a colorist, I’m a DP and I’m sure a professional who works in Resolve every day could do an even better job given how much color info is in there.

Here are some of his thoughts:

My feeling is there is more DR visible here than the stated spec, but it’s hard to quantify. You’ll also notice I was very good about avoiding any hard clips. Even the fire ball shots hold color. Another thing is I’m really in love with the grain-like noise when the sensor is pushed to ISO 3200+ it’s really organic and gives the truly high ISO material a beautiful pushed film quality. It also handles mixed and discontinuous lighting like nothing I’ve seen. The shot of the girl dancing at 6400 ISO is shot under just an LED street lamp and plays much brighter than my eyes were seeing.

As far as skin tone the sensor picks up all the subtle colors and variances in the flesh and make-up, this is the trade off for so much info and detail and if you really want smooth skin rendering you’ll need to have a great make-up artist and really understand filtration. The only diffusion filter I used on some shots was a Schneider 1/16 HD classic soft just to take the edge off.

Check out some selected stills (click for larger):







The elevator shot has some atrocious looking light in the elevator, but the amount of detail being held is impressive. I think it’s also important to realize that while there is noise at 4000 ISO, neither the camera nor the post software is doing any noise reduction, but cameras like the Canon C300 (and many others) are doing all kinds of noise processing internally to reach such crazy high ISOs. This is also similar to JPEGs coming out of a DSLR, which have gone through a number of steps before finally reaching the CF/SD card.

Here is a 6K 4000 ISO still from Tom Lowe’s shoot (click for larger):

RED EPIC DRAGON 6K Still Image ISO 4000

Again, there is noise but when you consider that it’s coming from a 6K motion file, it’s mind-blowing. We’re spoiled, let’s face it. We’ll never be happy, even with noiseless 16K images at ISOs over 100,000. It still has a distinctly RED look, but from everything we’ve seen, and everything that has been said from those who have used it, there is a ton of information to work with. If you’re lighting a project, it’s rare that you need ISOs this high, but for stuff that’s more unpredictable, having this capability is fantastic.

It’s unfortunate that it’s using old color science. Clearly this sensor is better than MX, but by how much is the big question many are currently asking. Is the current color science holding back the performance? Probably enough to notice a difference, which is why it is surprising they are releasing footage so early. I think if RED really wanted to knock the socks off potential buyers, a Peter Jackson-style short like Crossing the Line would have done it. They are taking the real-world approach where a number of people get the camera for a little while and post whatever they want without any input from RED. That’s fine if you know what you’re looking for, but they need to impress many more people than that. With how much vitriol has been thrown at the company thanks to an inability not to hype its products, it’s a little surprising we didn’t get an amazing short film to show off what it can do on a controlled set with proper grading (maybe one is coming).

There should be a lot more soon enough, and Tom has also mentioned he’ll be shooting a side-by-side test with MX. I’m sure that’s the kind of test many of you have been waiting to see. Feel free to discuss in the comments, though staying on topic is appreciated.



We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 87 COMMENTS

  • Alexa fanboys here to defend their pride and joy in 3….2….1….

  • I can’t be the only one thinking this looks a little muddy, right?

  • Alexa fanboys here to defend their pride and joy in 3….2….1….

    And for what its worth this wasn’t my favorite test, but each test shows strengths and weaknesses that come with using RED’s with the Dragon.

    To this point i’m convinced it’d be a worthwhile investment, well before this video. At the same time i’d love to see someone do a compression test from say 6:1 all the way to 18:1.

    • Even at 1/3rd the cost of an Alexa, it’s still crazy we’re getting cinema cameras with these features. Crazy times.

      Not the best test in terms of material, but if we’re seeing solid results with the old color science I think it’d be really interesting to see the same results re-processed with Red Color 4 when that makes it’s debut.

  • I’ve shot in that elevator before but had to iris pull when going into darkness and still couldn’t see much. Pretty crazy how much it can see in the dark.

    • That’s the one that impressed me the most, pretty cool that you’ve actually shot there as well.

    • have also shot in that elevator. Do we win a prize?
      Have now seen footage on a 4K monitor. It looks very good.
      You’re starting to see a number of EPIC MXs for sale here in LA.
      The EPIC has a strong niche. I don’t think this is a game changer – its just really bloody nice.

  • Horrible sensor, godawful color science and ugly models. My trusty Rebel, Rebel Jersey Represent T3i is sooooo much better. Fuk Hollywood hueeeeee.

  • Henry Ceiro on 08.18.13 @ 6:30PM

    I own an Epic, and the Dragon footage coming out isn’t really blowing my mind. Besides the low light stuff, nothing else interests me enough to fork out $9500 for the upgrade. I think RED needs to market this a little bit different than just having random filmmakers get their hands on it and release test videos.

  • I don’t understand the people who feel the need to argue about camera brands…

    • Agreed, it can get absurd. I think that the people who argue most strongly and emotionally about cameras on these forums have never stepped on to a film set. As filmmakers, we use these wonderful tools to fit the project and budget. in the wrong hands any camera will produce an awful image!

      • It seems most Red footage has been in the wrong hands. I began to wonder if green tint was a permanent aspect of the Red color palette because of all the green hue I saw in 4K footage. Then I came across some beautiful footage without that green hue in it. It was glorious, so easy on the eye, so detailed, so beautiful. I saw why Red cameras are so great. Wish I had the $50,000.00 for one!

      • @ Fergus: I raise my glass to you. :)

      • So, what you’re saying is that cameras don’t shoot films, people shoot films?

        • The point may be that cameras give you footage, but only people make films. Like Fergus, I’ve also never met a professional D.O.P. who works themselves into anything like the tech frenzy evident on some forums.

          • People moaning about cameras tend to forget that a camera is only part of a factor in making a film look good. For example having decent Grip gear with an awesome Grip, some good lights and a great Gaffer is often overlooked on these camera focused forums.

            We are professionals and will use the best and most appropriate resources available to us. Every project is different and we have to be flexible if we want to keep working.

            We need to stop hating, get off our arses and start creating with whatever tools we can get our hands on and more importantly with the best people we can get our hands on.

        • DLD,
          lol, I think Chris Rock said something like that. ;-)

    • @Coty Re: “argue about camera brands” – Socialist statements really irk me… let’s play nice… everybody wins.

  • Timur Civan on 08.18.13 @ 6:46PM

    The raw materials are there for some beautiful images. (No pun intended)

  • Liked the last test much better. This one seemed to be shot almost entirely with soft-ish lighting, which doesn’t show off DR, which is what I think a lot of people are looking for with this, hoping it’s a real competitor to the Alexa. The last shot was pretty amazing though! Also, the skin tones are much better in my opinion than the MX.

  • Skin tones aren’t all that.

  • Ok nice but can someone please do a proper controlled test of this camera sensor?

  • mind= not blown.

  • Nice, but it looks like this Dragon is a pretty tame Dragon. A useful tool nonetheless, just not mind blowing in any way.

  • Other than a great dynamic range acheivement from a technology standpoint of 6k, then this is not really a game changer for the industry to me.

    Sure its future proof way wayyyyyyy down the line, but nobody is rushing to jump ship on 6k no time soon, 2k and 4k scaled down is has been fine for some time now and will continue to be good enough.

    This is the equivalent of a BUGATTI VEYRON , a technology nice piece of art/speed but honestly hardly no one will ever be able to utilize let alone experience the top speed of a BUGATTI VEYRON , same goes for this camera.

    Other than large sensor and lowlight, a black magic camera will do the job just as good

  • The “softness”, I reckon, is due to the Schneider OLPF’s. It may also effect the colors. (FWIW, I like the images … they look more … wait for it … 1,2, 3 … filmic!).
    PS. People are mentioning smartphones in jest but Sony will probably announce a 4K capable Honami (it should have that removable lens system) unit in a couple of weeks.

  • Also, Camera Rumors are reporting that the Fuji/Panasonic organic sensor with 88 DB SNR (29 EV) will be on the market sooner (maybe even in 2014) rather than later (was expected in 2015 … maybe). Dragon is 80 DB (allegedly 16 F-stops), so whenever the FP Organic arrives on the scene, it will be – to use a worn out cliche – a game changer.

    • Eventually you won’t even have to light.

      • You’ll always have to light. Unless you’re either lazy or unskilled.

        • …ever heard of Terrance Malick?

          • With respect, Malick holds up filming for days, waiting for the right kind of natural light to become available. Most professional filmmakers will have more realistic priorities, such as listening to their production manager and bringing in the softboxes.

          • just because they don’t use lights doesn’t mean they’re not lighting. Malick/Lubezki have a strict game plan; when and how to shoot and when and how not to shoot, blocking/staging, camera angle towards light, the use of negative fill ect.

          • Most don’t have the option ‘when’ or ‘when not’ to shoot. Time and money remain the dominant factors for both the mainstream industry and independent productions. Naturally, a director/d.o.p. is free to walk onto the set of a music video/commercial/television drama production and explain to the producer that he’s waiting several hours for the sun to be in position because ‘that’s how Malick does it’.

            But he’ll be leaving that set soon after, and meeting the lights on his way out.

          • Sure. I was replying to the guy who thinks Malick doesn’t ‘light’.

          • That’s cool. Apologies if I sounded like I was biting your head off. :D

  • Windows in the elevator need to be cleaned. Yeah, that’s lots of detail. It’s like the wax on the cars in the first Red Dragon video. You could see how it was applied.

  • Does the BMCC have better skin tones then the Red Dragon?

    • Who knows? With all camera’s good grading is crucial. Most of us are still learning I think.

      G008 1 2013-08-06 0953 C0000 v3 from Eric V on Vimeo.

    • Not with that grade it isn’t. Really overexposed there. Seriously, how can so many people still not get correct exposure with RAW files? And I’ve played with those shots… the skin detail is there… but this is just terrible processing of the cameras files.

  • Perusing the Canon Rumors forum, I followed their discussion of the anticipated 7D MKII. The camera should come with twin Digic 5+ video engines, hereto only available as a pair on the high end 1 DX (~ $7K body only, depending on the package) and 1 DC ($12K, body only) models. 1 DC can of course record 4K internally in M-JPEG 8-bit 4:2:2 but 7D MK II is expected to have its video performance “crippled” . With the speculated MSRP of $2,000-$2,200, however, not having a 4K capability isn’t the end of the world. Twin Digic5+ chips should theoretically easily handle a 2.5K . Otherwise, it seems an overkill for just 1080p.*
    *It’s also supposed to have a 10-12 FPS burst rate for stills.

  • For those questioning skin tone – go watch Elysium.

    The red epic and how it was graded looke amazing. it was funny, people leaving the theater didnt know it was shot on red. Many were saying film, other alexa. Nope.

    Elysium is reds finest hour.

    Why doubt the Dragon once the bit depth math is sorted out? Im sure it will rock.

    • Greg, where did you see Elysium? The reason I ask is that most European theatres are running 35mm prints of the film, so this may have some bearing on skin tone.

      • Dolly – Seattle WA. – 4K Sony digital projection. But you are 100% correct that it depends on the theater.

    • Will Gilbey on 08.19.13 @ 7:56AM

      Worth having a look at Rust and Bone, too. I was convinced it was shot 35mm until I watched the ‘making of’. Looks really impressive.

  • And finally ‘what they expect from RED, if the tone’ of the skin fail on the first pass of color there are no more excuses for anyone.
    These images shot at 4000 iso surprise me are insanely beautiful, the dynamic range of this sensor and ‘crazy.
    This DPX and ‘was burned at 4000 iso and it seems crazy …
    I can not wait to use the new ledge of the color;)

  • Like i said on a vimeo comment, i’m not impressed at all by this test..
    I don’t want to seem like a “Dslr crazy fanboy”, but i have to admit that this video could have been done by 5d Raw, maybe in a better quality..

    In fact, at this exciting time where cameras are strongly evolved, you can make your shoots look everything you want, you can make a 5d raw looks like an alexa footage, as well as you can make a red epic footage looks like a 550d footage, it’s all about the skills now, i guess…

    For people who’ve tested the 5d raw, what do you think about it against a Red scarlet footage? Objective point of view would be great to have..

    • ‘but i have to admit that this video could have been done by 5d Raw, maybe in a better quality’


      • This video below was shot with 5 D MK III and it looks spectacular. Maybe one can spot the difference on a large 4K TV but most folks will be ecstatic with something like this (even in 720p on Vimeo)
        PS. Dolly, my reply was addressed to Fergus but your comment was posted before mine, so it looks like I was commenting on your comment and not … well, you get the point.

        • But DLD this is almost all time lapse footage which was almost definitely shot in still mode.

          • It is time lapse. I’d say there’s no argument the 5D time lapse is just as beautiful as 4K. 5D video on the other hand……. If you want to use a little camera for video save the money and buy a GH2 and hack it or buy a GH3. :-)

            That’s just my opinion.

    • Mendes, good observations become.
      I own a 5d mark III and use the Raw, to be honest watching many movies in vimeo to 1080 the difference and very little, certainly be compressing vimeo or youtube, there are many factors to consider.
      However you certainly watching this movie you can see the difference from RAW from Canon, this Dragon have a lot more, and downloading the DPX is also noticeable the high resolution and dynamic range.
      When I use the RED Epic of my friend is always pleasantly surprised by the softness of the image being beautiful, actually ‘using the new Sony lcd 4k, there is no comparison RED definitely be better.
      If I had the money definitely choose RED rather than a Canon 5D III, but how many of you are still missing the money.
      Obviously RED Dragon, and a 5D III would be a nice couple, DNG and R3D and ‘the future.
      Alexa!? but honestly after working with the lightweight Canon and Epic when I find myself with an Alexa becomes a problem … heavy, bulky batteries that do not last long ……. traveling with bags huge and heavy to be very boring.

  • Lady Gaga’s new music video was released this morning, and it was shot with the Dragon. Looks great to me, despite the Vevo compression:

  • FWIW, Andrew at EOS HD got his hands on a Kineraw Mini that is beginning to be shipped in Europe. Images look superb but, at a ~ $5K for the full rig if/when it hits the US, the price seems excessive.

  • RED obviously go another way in color science than ARRI do, the latter persuing an almost-imitation of chemical film. The dragon meanwhile is a continuation of the look whe saw from Red earlier with a couple of improvements resolutionwise and with regards to dynamic range but it still has a vintage RED look. I like that look, but I’d still favor the ALEXA.


  • While it looks nice I’m tired of all this camera comparison (not on the site but just in general). Just give me a camera of some sort and I’ll make it work, I just want to shoot stuff now.

  • Finally!

    Now RED can start becoming a real company. Thanks Jim!

  • Skin tones look too red to me.

  • Gotta love the footage. Azn gurlzzz…

  • I’m not a Conon user but I came across this shot with a 5DMk3 and Magic Lantern and the skin tones, detail are some of the nicest I’ve seen anywhere.

    Pity about the bizarre concept they are talking about ;)

    • Terrible video, not that the camera did a bad job just bad subject matter looks like most of it was shot in the worst time of daylight available.

      • I agree about the subject but the time of day I actually really liked. The skin looks amazing as if you were standing right there in front of them. This dragon footage they wouldnt look like that if you were standing right there.

        I like that it wasn’t at magic hour or anywhere near it. The bounce light from the desert sand looks great.

        • My point is that it wasn’t a test it was a commercial project that was delivered like that. I’m not knocking the camera at all its 100% fine for a test but what gets me is that this was delivered as a finish product. Look at the the first shot of example she has a bright triangle for a nose. Its good that the camera brought out the shadows like it did, but its just terrible direction imo. So is this dragon footage, I mean some of it is OK, but just goes to show that more of the guys that are producing video today aren’t really good at it. Technology is far superior to film, but that lack of superiority has handicapped the skills and knowledge of users a great deal. Film you had to 100% know what the hell you were doing, with digital guys are getting by with as low as 50%.

          • I was more comparing skin tones to skin tones. The Magic Lantern 5DMk3 footage is capturing to my eye far better and realistic looking skin. The Red footage looks muddy in comparison.

  • Skin tones look very f65ish too me… That is naturally a good thing… the footage of the guy walking up to the girl reminds me of 5d raw stills… I agree with everyone that as of right now the most game changing thing is the low light capability, hopefully this will be f65 dr and colors(or better) with 5d mark iii low light capabilities.

    I think we really, really need a glossy film to be mind blown…. a controlled narrative style film that shows the cameras chops in the best of situations…even if that isn’t really useful to gauge the camera’s technical merits in an empirical way, It might help me and others be more impressed. Still pretty excited about it.

  • Very underwhelming. But I guess Vimeo’s compression is to blame.

  • I find it funny how everyone is so into color grading. I mean I get its a cool tool but I remember back in the day when it was just important to get things right on the shoot itself. The look was created on the scene. People look to post to much now days.

    The point that I’m making is a good image the image you want should come out of camera for the most part and most times at the shoot. CCing everything is time and money in the long run.

    • I agree with you on getting it right in camera, on the shoot. But todays high end camera’s shoot raw and/or log. With these formats post production is where the digital image is ‘developed’. Just like a good photo print can be made in the dark room (way back in the day ;-)

    • they have always timed sir

  • Bravenewworld on 08.22.13 @ 10:24AM

    I don’t know what it is about RED but I gotta say that it seems like no matter how many K’s they add or newer shinier camera’s they produce – still looks like cr*p! Jimmy needs to step down and the company needs to take a good hard look at the picture they produce. Companies like BMCC and Canon have their color science down to a tee!

    • Thankfully your opinion doesn’t reflect the majority of users. If you’re comparing the color science of Canon and Black Magic, you may be on the wrong track as those cameras generally emulate actual cinema cameras such as Red, Alexa, Sony and higher end production cameras. Not the other way around.