May 1, 2011

Watch RED's Short Film 'Tattoo,' Shot on EPIC at 5K and Screened at NAB

Around the back of RED's military-themed NAB booth, a 4K screening room was showcasing a film produced specifically for the tradeshow. The RED folks had decided a scant ten days before NAB that they wanted to create a dramatic short to show off their new 5K EPIC camera, and so they wrote, directed, shot, and edited this 9-minute film, entitled "Tattoo," on an accelerated schedule. Today they posted the short in full; here it is.

Presumably for quality considerations, RED has posted the short as a downloadable x.264 movie instead of as an embeddable video. I don't want to upload it against anyone's wishes, so instead of watching it here, click on the following image to download the x.264 zip (x.264 is a variant of h.264; if the video does not play correctly on your computer, try VLC).

UPDATED: The above link is for a 1K-resolution version; they've since also posted a 2K download.

What did you think? There's no shortage of resolution and dynamic range, and this low-resolution compressed web file actually has more saturated colors than I remember in the 4K theater (where I watched the short twice, along with a semi-secret end-of-day screening of a terrific short co-produced with Avid). It's hard to find fault with the EPIC, as you'd expect -- it's easier to evaluate DSLR footage with "oh, look, aliasing!" than it is to evaluate a full-featured, mature cinema camera. Things simply look as you'd expect them to: good.

The ending may not make a whole lot of sense if you don't know that at the show RED also "announced" their next generation sensor, named RED Dragon (thus the namesake tattoo at the film's conclusion). Unfortunately there was no official announcement, just a mention that they are, in fact, working on the sensor. Which is not really an announcement; more on this soon.

Digital Acquisition Supervisor Michael Cioni also wrote an in-depth entry about the accelerated post-process.


Your Comment


haters be scorned now :)

May 1, 2011 at 4:46PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


that's about as filmic as i've seen a digital camera yet, and definitely the best of the epic footage I've seen so far

May 1, 2011 at 4:46PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


The pictures are pretty brilliant. Only a couple of brief times did I think the images looked "video-y".

Oh, to have a massive budget to shoot nine minutes.......sigh........

May 1, 2011 at 5:32PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


That Tattoo looked like the tramp stamp on a hookers lower back. Or something off a UFC fighters affliction shirt. Should have made it way more badass.....

May 1, 2011 at 9:34PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


No shit right.......

May 5, 2011 at 1:55PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I didn't have to install yet another codec to play the movie.
As I understand it, x.264 is just another way to create h.264. You don't need another player...

PS : As expected, the movie is just great... And this file is only 1K (1024 pixels).

May 2, 2011 at 1:06AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


You're correct -- x.264 should play in regular 'ole Quicktime as far as I know. It does for me.

May 2, 2011 at 10:03AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Ryan Koo

Interesting, my feeling watching it was that it actually had quite a strong video-y feel to it. The resolution is great, the images are rich and detailed, but it's just too clean. One of the great characteristics of the RED one is that it has its own very unique, warm aesthetic that's actually very flattering to people, but the EPIC footage doesn't really have this. I'm actually slightly disappointed by it. The footage at the booth at NAB looked better as it was coming off the camera to the monitors. Could be all sorts of things, deep depth of field, dodgy grade, it just feels like it belongs on TV. Footage I've seen from the ALEXA has been far better, that I've seen so far. Jury's out, for me anyway.

May 2, 2011 at 8:37AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


see to me I've felt the opposite, that the RED One looked videoish, too much "white light" whereas epic has mostly turned that around, the one exception I've found is here: , where to me this looks like RED one footage but was actually shot on the Epic. however, you can kind of tell immediately that the fault was also mostly with the cinematographer because the key light is too strong and obvious and the contrast and shadow are too exact

May 3, 2011 at 7:20PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


clean footage is to me a matter of great starting point for digital footage. A matter of adding some grain in post.

May 6, 2012 at 3:02AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


So I get this is just a marketing piece, and I for one am glad to see it. It's well produced (was that thee Bill Paxton credited?) and it's a welcome change to see the lead character played by a eurasian. Points off for using James Hong for the umpteenth time in a role that he should be allowed to move beyond.

However, there are a few things that scream out at me to be mentioned. Not the least of which is because the people reading this blog and possibly this comment need to take the good and improve upon it, while identifying the bad, and destroying it.

First. Keylights should not be treated like a dirty word. Moody lighting yes. Completelyunabletoreadsilhouette, No. Like me writing a series of words all in one go without proper spacing, things get muddled and lost.

Yes, Red's sensitivity and dynamic range allow "film" makers to shoot with available light. Light which in some ways is much truer and verisimilitudinous; but when the story is impacted, or a shot favors lights that are inconsequential (read fill lights & accent lights) this "advantage" becomes a disdvantage.

Take for example the relatively well shot scene where The Stranger walks up the flight of stairs. The first shot is all hallway stair lights, blooms & light wraps and we read his movement past them. That's fine, and kind of cool to see that range in both light sensitivity and artistic license. After all, we humans detect contract and motion first.

The second shot in the sequence, the shot where he reaches the top of the stairs, is all muddled. Yes, dark and moody, but no to muddled. Here The Stranger stops. Motion is not detected, and without motion, our eyes rely on contrast. Here the contrast is heaviest in the lower right, where the accent light from the hallway stairs is brightest. The second focus of contrast is strongest vaguely around something that looks like his torso? Who knows, because we can't see it properly.

The Stranger is supposed to be the focus of the viewers attention. It is the main character and his motivations about what he's about to do. Instead subconsciously, all I do as an audience member is view what's biggest and most contrasty in the scene as something that is telegraphing importance. From the framing, I think that someone else will be walking up the stairs, stealthily, as incognito as possible, illuminated only because the hall accent lights provide the reveal necessary. After all, the preceeding shots were of people taking long second glances at The Stranger. The main character himself looks over his shoulder paranoid, concerned.

So, is it a marketing "success"? Yes!

Good cinematography & lighting hurt due to an over-reliance on verisimilitudinous fill and accent lights which ultimately affects readability? Also Yes!

Composition & Framing which leads to confusion on the part of the audience, and ultimately a muddling of the scene's intention? Yes again!

Let's bear in mind one thing. These faults are a direct result of the "because you can" method of filmmaking. Just because you can get away without keylights, doesn't mean you should.

May 3, 2011 at 9:39AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Jacques Broquard

agree with most of what you said, but the errors that you pointed out seem to be the subjective decisions of how the crew chose to light the scene. Please believe me, I'm not jsut out to defend epic to the grave, but so far any criticisms of it have been somewhat misdirected, I believe

May 3, 2011 at 7:17PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM



May 6, 2011 at 3:02AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Oh my goodness...In my excitement to see this short film and share it with other Daniel Henney fans, I forgot to ask permission to link to you first. I'm an admin for Hermosa USA, a fan blog site for one of the actors in the short, Daniel Henney. I hope it's okay I shared this post and download link with the rest of his fans on Hermosa USA and Dan's Facebook. Please let me know if you wish me to pull the link. Have a wonderful day and congrats on winning Total Film's 2011 Best Creative Blog Award! -Marianne ^_^

June 7, 2011 at 1:52PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM