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August 21, 2013

RED DRAGON Gets Some ASC Love: DP Peter Collister Delivers a Gorgeous Clip from the New Sensor

We've gotten our hands on a few pieces of sample footage from RED's new DRAGON sensor, but we'd been told that more was coming from all sorts of shooters. RED has been making good on that promise, allowing more sample clips to be uploaded, and while the following clip from ASC Cinematographer Peter Lyons Collister may not feature exotic locations like what we saw from Mark Toia's video (and what we'll surely see from Tom Lowe), it shows off some gorgeous skin tones and quite a bit of dynamic range.

Here is the short test posted to REDUser (download from Vimeo for the highest quality). A better quality version is supposedly being uploaded by Jarred, so we will update the post if/when that happens:

He posted his settings on REDUser:

Beginning Closeups: 85mm Nikkor T/4 60 fps (11:1 compression)

Old man at window: 24-70mm Canon T/4 40 fps (7:1 Compression)

Highlight T/16 incident
Shadow T/ 1.0 2/3 incident

Beach exterior sunset 
Nikkor 105 macro T/22

Pier Night amusement park 24-70mm Canon zoom T/2.8

Lightbulb dimming up 85mm Nikkor
48 fps (9:1 Compression)
T/ 5.6 1/2

Sparkler Test 
Incident 2.8 1/2
48fps 
2.8 (9:1 compression) 

Dog park 
70-200 Canon Zoom 

100 fps (17:1 Compression)
POLA
T/11

Those first few images in the clip are what people (myself included) have been looking for, and to me it actually has a different feeling than EPIC MX footage I've seen in the past, even some of the nicer stuff that's been graded with secondaries to get the skin tones just right. There definitely seems like more dynamic range with the sensor, as the highlights and shadows are holding practically everything (a good example is the clip shot against the window). Again, with a sensor that is as clean as DRAGON, even if it doesn't have that much more in the highlights, underexposing slightly should move that dynamic range around without penalty to ensure you don't blow anything in the higher end.

Though we'll have to wait for higher quality files from the sample footage above, right now the test from Evin Grant is available to download in ProRes LT, which shows much higher detail and gives you a better sense of the noise at high ISOs. You can watch that clip again below, or download the ProRes here:

And if you missed the first clip from Mark Toia, check it out:

I'd be really interested in seeing some log clips that give you access to even more of the details in the highlights and shadows since there is only so much you can infer from graded web footage. Hopefully we will be getting some .R3D files from DRAGON in the next month or so. We'll update as soon as possible when more downloadable footage is made available.

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101 Comments

Wonderful footage.

August 21, 2013

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Ian B

Beautiful images coming off the Dragon. I know that the color science isn't quite set yet, but the skin tones are looking fantastic.

August 21, 2013

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Ben Prater

Impressive, sir.

August 22, 2013

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Edgar

Wonderful? Beautiful? Impressive?
I'm not anti-Red but, I don't think this footage deserves much more than a 'pretty good'.
Most of it looks kind of video-y to me.

August 22, 2013

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I can see what you mean by video-y in the night shot but that environment would be problematic for any digital camera, given the mixed and spiky light sources. Aside from that, what two shots look the worst to you and which one looks the best? I'm trying to see what you're seeing and I'm usually pretty sensitive to it but I'm not getting that from this video. Have you watched the 663MB version? It helps.

August 22, 2013

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Brian

Well, for the record, I didn't mean to say any of it looks bad. It looks very good indeed. Yes, it has great detail and DR but, as Robert Hunter said, 'it looks like ultra clean video'. That's exactly what I think it looks like. It, definitely, does NOT look like film. Film is not this clean. And, It does not look organic, as Alex commented.

This particular sample looks color corrected but, it doesn't look graded. Perhaps it was not graded purposefully to, more precisely, illustrate the DR the camera is capable of. If that's the case, fine. But, without a grade, it look like very clean video to me. Sorry if I offend anyone by saying that but, it's my opinion.

That said, I think it is now necessary, in the no-film, digital domain, for acquisition to look like this. I'm not sure it exceeds the capabilities an F65 or even the Alexa but, it exemplifies a facet of the changing landscape of modern film-making in that, as many have stated before, the 'look' of the film is moving from the film stock to the grading room. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. As long as the DP, if he or she wishes (and I hope they do), has the opportunity to oversee and guide that process. (I hate the idea of the DP becoming merely a camera operator.)

My point is that, since we are moving away from the use of film, digital camera footage needs to look like the sample Mr. Collister generously offers above to start with... super clean... smooth tonal gradations resulting from huge DR and great color science... things this camera has in spades... providing a lush and richly textured image the director, DP and colorist can push and pull to their heart's content.

Ultimately, I think this camera will be a smashing success... in the hands of gifted DP's and equally gifted colorists. I love the look of David Fincher's films. I'm sure he, and others, will realize the full and magnificent capabilities this camera offers.

I wish I could afford one.

August 22, 2013

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What planet are you from? Certainly not this one, that was way too solid an explanation of your opinion.

That's a weird way of saying that I agree with you, and post on.

August 22, 2013

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Kholi

Ok. So, video-y in the sense that it doesn't look like film and there's nothing else to choose from. I get that.

I hate to call a piece out, especially when the subject matter is for a worthy cause, but below is an example of footage from the F65 that exemplifies what I think of when people say something looks video-y. By comparison, Peter Collister's images have more in common with the look of film, which is where I think many people are coming from. I've seen Oblivion and it looks fantastic. To me, Oblivion and and this Dragon footage are indicative of camera makers being on the road to regaining what I think is most appealing about film (perhaps it's the starting point you referred to) that was lost when we went digital.

For the record, I don't think the magic of film is solely in the grain of film or in the color response, although leveraging those things in post do help take the edge off digital images. I believe it's in what happens when photons strike silver halide crystals, the way it bounces, spreads and gets absorbed. Light film with unappealing lighting, do a poor makeup job, have unattractive wardrobe and degrain the footage and film still has that beauty that a photochemical reaction imparts. I said to DLD in another section that digital audio is to the point where they're starting to do a pretty believable job of reproducing those elements that made analog audio so appealing. I predict digital video will see the same thing happen in the next 10 years. Aaton was already toying with it by having the sensor physically shift position. It doesn't make sense to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

What I thought you meant by looking video-y:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fv988VeQkA

August 22, 2013

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Brian

I'm copying my reply from above because the video caused some of it to get cut off.

Ok. So, video-y in the sense that it doesn’t look like film and there’s nothing else to choose from. I get that.

I hate to call a piece out, especially when the subject matter is for a worthy cause, but above is an example of footage from the F65 that exemplifies what I think of when people say something looks video-y. By comparison, Peter Collister’s images have more in common with the look of film, which is where I think many people are coming from. I’ve seen Oblivion and it looks fantastic. To me, Oblivion and and this Dragon footage are indicative of camera makers being on the road to regaining what I think is most appealing about film (perhaps it’s the starting point you referred to) that was lost when we went digital.

For the record, I don’t think the magic of film is solely in the grain of film or in the color response, although leveraging those things in post do help take the edge off digital images. I believe it’s in what happens when photons strike silver halide crystals, the way it bounces, spreads and gets absorbed. Light film with unappealing lighting, do a poor makeup job, have unattractive wardrobe and degrain the footage and film still has that beauty that a photochemical reaction imparts. I said to DLD in another section that digital audio is to the point where they’re starting to do a pretty believable job of reproducing those elements that made analog audio so appealing. I predict digital video will see the same thing happen in the next 10 years. Aaton was already toying with it by having the sensor physically shift position. It doesn’t make sense to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

August 22, 2013

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Brian

Hi Brian,
For the video-y portions, I would say, in particular, the night shot, the old guy at the French-style doors, the dogs running at the park and the orchid shot.

The opening shot of the kid is beautiful but, the subsequent head shots look like video, too. Very nice video but, video, nonetheless. I say that because I've seen other very good video cameras produce a very similar look.

Unless I missed the BTS somewhere, we don't really know what the light was, exactly, or how and if it was modified so, there just isn't much here to really tell us about this camera. Certainly nothing that should elicit a 'wow' which, no doubt, will be forthcoming.

I don't think slow motion footage of flowers, dogs running in the park, kids faces (young and old), all set to really sappy music is anything to be gushing over but, to be clear... none of my comments here were meant to be disparaging in regards to this camera. In the right hands, I'm sure it will perform as well as other cameras currently available.

August 22, 2013

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I know the "Sticks and Stones" video isn't quite an apples-to-apples comparison because we haven't really seen any artificially lit indoor scenes from Dragon yet, other than the light bulb and sparkler shots in this video. However, it does serve to illustrate the video-y-ness that people generally try to avoid. The trailer does have a few outdoor scenes that, while being better, are in a similar vein. Under the same circumstances, Dragon may behave the same. Roger Deakins said of the Alexa (I'm paraphrasing) that you can't just point it at something willy nilly and you have to light it correctly.

For me, a very telling video-y marker is how light scatters in specular highlights. The c-stand in the light bulb shot doesn't have that typical "shot with a digital camera" look to me. It doesn't say "shot with film", either, but it doesn't draw attention to itself as being digital in nature. The wider DR probably has something to do with that, both in the higher clipping point of the sensor and the finer granularity in luminance levels a wider DR offers. But that's just surmising on my part.

It's also probably worth mentioning that Dragon has something like 40% more pixels than MX and manages to look smoother and more refined instead of harsher and overly detailed, as one might expect. That's the case in these examples, anyway.

August 22, 2013

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Brian

Agreed, skin tones are pasty still. The way I judge skin tones is 'would they look like that if I was standing in front of them' and those girls at the start I dont believe would look like that in person. The elderly gentleman shots are deceptive because he has a lot of detail. The camera definitely has detail tho.

August 22, 2013

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Its Dixter I'm agreeing with to be clear. Its nice and I like the beach at dusk but its not OMG wow.

August 22, 2013

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Someone is jealous and full of shit, as usual. Compare these portraits to the portraits in Kodak demo footage for Vision3 and go away in shame.

August 22, 2013

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Natt

Why did you pick Vision3?

August 22, 2013

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Do you mean THIS demo footage?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5CkXgcafB0

August 22, 2013

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How nice is that? Effortlessly beautiful.

August 22, 2013

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marklondon

'Effortlessly'.

August 22, 2013

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Goddamn that looks good! Digital still has a ways to go.

August 22, 2013

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Steven Huber

That looks great, but it's also a much punchier look than Peter's video...I felt like the look in Peter's video was much more similar to Moonrise Kingdom, with a lower contrast but saturated look (but minus the extra grading).

August 22, 2013

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Gabe

Now let's break down what makes this beautiful at first glance vs the Red footage above.

1. For one thing, this is color corrected (not graded) after a full film scan. If you would scan in film negatives, it would do so logarithmically, giving the flat, low contrast look. It's only AFTER correcting the luma values that we get this look (i.e. putting it back to the way the negative looks physically). I'm sure we're all familiar with Log profiles, so this shouldn't need any explanation.
2. Kodak Vision 3 is very contrasty, and red and cyan biased; some of its most distinct characteristics. It's super vibrant overall. With the Red footage, as with any Log based footage, you can add these visual tastes in post. That is, if you know how to do it and know what you're looking for.
3. Highlight roll-off is of major importance. With the Red Dragon, it does happen, but it isn't as distinct (and the previous sensor just had a nasty clip). The extra latitude from this Dragon sensor helps, but it's not as pronounced as it would be w/ the Alexa or with celluloid. You could solve this w/ diffusion though.
4. And of course there's the grain issue. A matter of taste. I love it and it seems many folks do in varying degrees. We have many options today that can help with that, be they digital grain from plugins or film grain scan packages.

Uh...yeah, that's all I got.

August 22, 2013

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Well what I was pointing out is that Moonrise Kingdom, which was shot on 16mm Vision 3, is much more similar to Peter's footage than the Kodak reel, and that's largely due to stylistic choice than innate format differences.

August 22, 2013

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Gabe

Agreed on that second point.

August 22, 2013

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I'm thinking Kodak worked long and very carefully with this video. I think they're feeling digital taking their business. So they put their very best foot forward in that short. It is a beautiful video with carefully chosen, and edited, colors and sets, by, I'm fairly certain, Kodak's best available personnel. It gets my A+!

I'm wondering what a short using the Red Dragon and given the same attention would look like. What we're seeing so far seems to have been done on the shooters spare time.

August 22, 2013

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Gene

Finally some convincing skin tones from RED!

August 22, 2013

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Anon

Yes, this is the closest to real life I've ever seen.
Yes, this is better than film and 'filmic'.
Yes, this is better than ARRI.

Yes it looks better than Skyfall (preemptive comment to those who will ask).

August 22, 2013

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Gene

"Yes, this is better than film"
Whenever the topic is RED you can always be relied upon to bring the comedy ott RED fan gold, money each and every time. But you usually over do it by chiming in with the insane RED fanning 5+ times per thread. Its funny enough the first time but wears pretty thin over the course of the page...

p.s footage looks great

August 22, 2013

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andy

I'm not a Red fan. It is better than film. That's all.

August 22, 2013

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Gene

Looks like ultra clean video. Definetely not the best thing ever.

August 22, 2013

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Robert Hunter

28 Days Later and Bamboozled look like "video".
This does not.
Are people even sure what "video" looks like any longer?

August 22, 2013

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Mmm... Yea, we are sure.

August 22, 2013

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Aside from the night shot, which one looks the most like video to you. I know the internet makes it easy to claim a thing without backing it up but, if you want to be helpful, you could just point it out and tell us why you think so.

August 22, 2013

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Brian

Aside from the night shot, which one looks the most like video to you? I forgot the "?" the first time.

August 22, 2013

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Brian

Like!

August 22, 2013

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You can't really compare it saying its better than Skyfall till you shoot under the same lighting that they did. Lighting is key for film you can't compare them under these circumstances.

August 22, 2013

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Luke

beautiful skin tones and this is still old color science. Amazing shadow detail in that night shot. Highlight roll off looks wonderful. DR is very impressive. And you can pull 6K from all this, shot in the 86-100 FPS range. So much to be excited about!

August 22, 2013

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carlos

Wow, I can't believe that a professional DP with a professional camera and professional (?) color grading was able to capture beautiful images in an interesting location, clearly this is story of the century.

Seriously I'm over this camera porn. Maybe give it to some professional DP's who will show off what the camera CAN'T do well so we can be better educated on what cameras are best to use in what situations. (Maybe in a post film world, camera's should be judged more like film stocks then actual cameras) Instead of this, if-I-show-off-the-camera-I'll-get-a-free-package-and-the-producers-will-hire-me-for-the-next-movie mentality.

August 22, 2013

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Nick

I dont think Peter Lyons Collister ASC has any trouble finding work. Im not sure where you get that idea, its pretty laughable actually. Mark Toias footage was the sort of stress test you were asking for. The camera handled extreme situations very well. Who said its the story of the century? Any cinematographer should be excited that tools of this caliber are on the horizon, regardless of manufacturer. Honestly, I dont know what youre on about.

August 22, 2013

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carlos

Let's just clarify something - these videos are trying to make the camera fail. The locations, the cinematography, camera movement is all out to make this camera seem worse than it is.

But it's not. They were shooting with firework sparklers as the light source. Professional DPs would never do that unless the want the camera to fail - but it doesn't. This camera constantly surpases all of these tests - the only thing it would fail in is when there is no light source at all, however when there is no light...

...so maybe, just maybe, you should get over yourself. I'm sorry that this camera passes almost ever test that these people have thrown at it. Just because the camera is good at what it would never do, doesn't automatically make it a showcase or as you call it; camera porn.

August 22, 2013

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Tyler

Well said.

August 22, 2013

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Nick, why are you even reading this article and watching the videos? Looking for something to complain about?

August 22, 2013

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As if there's something to complain about. Well, people are people.

August 22, 2013

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hansd

Wasn't trying to say that this particular DP was shilling for the company, I'm just sort of over this level of "camera" test. Just trying to understand the reason behind the fanboy love, not just for this camera, the xt, the f55, pretty much you name it. I'm not surprised when Professionals deliver professional results, it's expected, These cameras are professional, They should be expected to deliver. (though the sparkler shot was impressive, the rest seemed run of the mill for cameras these days)

Fair enough I probably shouldn't watch these tests anymore, but it was late and I was bored, perhaps a little drunk I don't remember. My argument is that we're starting to split hairs and it seems like each camera that comes out is designed to be the "everything" camera, to me it would be more interesting to focus on what each camera brings to the table. I.E. if I have a shot lit by sparkler I used the epic dragon, if I have a shoot with critical skin tones I use an Alexa, If I have a shoot that needs cheap aerials I use a gopro3, I have no budget I use the 5dm3 raw, or the black magic etc.

I guess I'm over everyone going gaga over processed footage that looks good, that seems to me like something from the f900 days.

I don't think that the manufacturers should stop developing and pushing the limit, I just think that you should be more impressed when you see professional looking work from non professionals and non professional cameras, which I thought was kinda the point of this website.

August 22, 2013

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Nick

This footage looks amazing. Doesn't look video to me at all. No digital camera has this kind of detail and range. look at the shot with the tree! The sky is blue, the sun is facing the camera and yet the tree still looks detailed. Very impressive.

August 22, 2013

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F65

August 22, 2013

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Robert Hunter

F65

August 22, 2013

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Morton

At a guess, looks at least a stop better than the F65 to me...

August 22, 2013

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F55 and F65

August 22, 2013

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And once again: 5 month old video, very good skin tones and night shots with extremely lowly MPEG2 (!) compression that easily surpass that Red Dragon night shot material:

http://vimeo.com/60927476

Where is your RED God now ?

And when it comes to rez, F65 and Dragon are almost exactly equal. Of course there are several standard cinema lenses that force Dragon users to lower rez than F65 because Dragon sensor is too big.

August 24, 2013

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Juhan-i

That video does not have resolution as good as Red Dragon.

August 24, 2013

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Gene

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