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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.


Related Posts

  1. RED DRAGON Has Been Unleashed. Here is the First Footage from the 6K Camera
  2. RED Dragon Indeed: First 6K 2000 ISO Images from New Sensor Unveiled
  3. RED DRAGON is 'Done,' Camera Upgrades Will Begin in September


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  • 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.

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