RED's Monstrous Monstro Sensor is Here at Long Last
RED Digital Cinema finally put the Monstro name to use with the surprise new 8K VV sensor for Weapon bodies.
After talking about the Monstro sensor for the first time in 2008 and as recently as way back in 2011, RED has long had big things on its roadmap. Now, as 8K Helium sensors are finally becoming more common in the roughly Super35mm frame size, we have the surprise announcement from RED of their new Monstro 8K VV sensor, along with a short film Iron Horse which shows off the full frame imagery using some of RED's favorite tropes of western and motorcycle imagery all in one. You can only watch it over on YouTube, but you can check out the launch build video here.
VV, or Vista Vision, is, of course, RED's preferred method for talking about Full Frame 35mm still sensor size. Since motion picture film ran vertically and still film ran horizontally, the same 35mm sensors were very different in size, and the still photo 35mm frame size has become exceptionally popular in motion picture use for the larger photo sites and smaller depth of field. Using a different name is unsurprising since it's RED after all, but it's also fair since RED tends to make its sensors both wider and shorter than traditional sensor aspect ratios so a fresh name makes sense to ease confusion when discussing what lenses will cover what sensors. Saying "This covers full frame but not Vista" is easier than saying "This covers full frame but not RED's proprietary full frame."
Though RED's Vista Vision is also wider and shorter than traditional Vista Vision was, you don't tend to see a lot of traditional Vista glass in rental house inventory these days and if you do they should have the expertise to walk you through what sensors it'll cover. The image qualities of the larger sensor are shown off in a few places in Iron Horse which, aside from its creamy imagery, has a few shots designed to take advantage of the tighter depth of field even in a day exterior.
RED loves to give hints about what is coming in the future, and while the company is sometimes wildly off in its timeline, it does tend to eventually deliver a lot of the amazing things it hints towards. The big question is whether the use of the "Monstro" name looks back at the original roadmap from 2009, seen above. There is no mention of Dragon or Helium in that roadmap, and a lot has changed in the digital cinema industry since then, but there is a 35FF "Monstro" sensor on that chart. Below it, there's a Monstro 645 and a 617. With Hasselblad being bought by DJI and having a 4K-capable medium format camera, and the further developments by folks like Fujilfilm in the medium format space, it's possible that this 8K VV Monstro announcement is the first step of fulfilling the original plan.
Of course, back then RED still called Full Frame "Full Frame" and not Vista Vision, and its sensor sizes where more traditional, but those bold predictions of a Monstro 645 and the insane 28K Monstro 617 were on the map nonetheless. While this doesn't mean we are going to be seeing the Monstro 645 tomorrow, and I think we can all agree it might be another nine years for the 617 to hit market, I think the 645 might finally be on the horizon.
While the 617 size likely won't take over the film industry, super high-resolution imagery could be tremendously useful in certain special application or special effects workflows, and we'd be excited to see how that played out. Or RED just really likes the Monstro name and have been excited to use it all these years.
We can only dream. In the meantime, the initial noise tests for the Monstro are amazing, and as much as we cringe when we hear "watch it full screen," with fine detail noise tests, that is the way to go.
Available now at Red.com for $79,500.
- 8192 × 4320 maximum resolution
- 40.96 mm x 21.60 mm (Diagonal: 46.31 mm) sensor size
- IPP2 processing
- 60 fps at 8K Full Format (8192 × 4320), 300 fps at 2K 2.4:1 (2048 × 864)
- .r3d, ProRes, and DNx internal recording
- 17+ stops of dynamic range