Firmware updates are somewhat frequent for RED, but Version 4 or Build 4 was one of the most anticipated, for many reasons. It has finally arrived just in time for the new year, and it includes quite a few impressive additions. The wizards over at RED engineering have added time-lapse functionality, which should be helpful for matching footage if you want to keep everything RED but also want to shoot some time-lapse for your project. They've also added pre-record, ramp speed, an updated user interface, shorter black shade calibration, power management, and much more. Click through to check out all of the significant additions.
Here is the list of the significant updates:
- Updated UI
- Added Pre-Record
- Added Time Lapse
- Added Record Ramp Varispeed
- Added Vertical Monitor Flip
- Added Vertical and Horizontal UI Flip/Mirror
- Added Custom Overlay
- Added Power Save Modes
- Added User selectable 1:1 zoom
- Added Selectable LCD Frequency
- Added Import/Export user cal maps
- Added Calibration warnings for exposure and temperature
- Added Luma Ramp Test Pattern
- Added Pro IO and Monitor Audio Mixer
- Added internal frame summing for long exposures
- Added internal frame averaging capability (advanced noise reduction)
- Added REDmote Auto Pairing
- Added +1 Module Support
- Added pluge pattern to SMPTE bars
- Separate Audio Channel Setup
- Calibration capture speed-up
- Improved RAW metering
- Target exposure time support (behaves like redcode now)
- Enhanced AF
Here is Trent Lillehaugen from the RED Team on the new Speed Ramping:
Ramping allows you to dynamically change the FPS during a record. For example, you could set your FPS to 24FPS, your ramp FPS to 100FPS and a ramp duration of 2 seconds. When you start recording you will be at 24FPS. When you start ramping (by assigning a key to the appropriate action) the FPS will change two 100FPS over a duration of 2 seconds. When you end the recording your FPS reverts back to 24.
- Your REDcode will be limited by the max frame rate (it is not dynamic)
- There is no way to ramp back down
- Your frame rate will return back to normal after the record has ended
This is one of the more interesting upgrades for me. With celluloid, you can ramp speed as much as you want since you're changing a physical aspect of the camera -- running the film faster or slower. With digital, the situation is a bit more complicated, but this is one of the better solutions that will surely improve over time. You can get a similar effect by doing everything at the higher frame rate to begin with, but if you can get it right on set, it's done. I think it can actually be a more powerful narrative tool than just slow motion by itself. They do lots of this technique in these otherwise unrelated videos:
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/43455552
Doing the effect in post will certainly give you the most control (if you shot it all in slow motion), but there are times, especially if you're starting with dialogue or something where you need sync sound, that you need to being with your normal frame rate and then ramp up to a higher speed for slow motion. Everything isn't quite worked out with this particular feature yet, but it's one that will get better and better as the firmware matures.
RED has added pre-record to the camera, so now it's possible to have the camera always recording for 10, 20, or 30 seconds. This is helpful if you're in a situation where you really can't missing anything, like shooting a documentary. From Trent:
You need to activate pre-record each time you want to engage it. One way to do so is to press the button on the pre-record tab another way is to map a key to 'Record: Start Pre-Record'.
The power management and the faster black shading calibration are both significant for helping to make your on-set workflow that much easier and more efficient. It was reported that REDVolts can now get a few extra minutes of runtime, but it's now also possible to set the camera to specific power save modes for when the camera is not in use: Low Power Preview, Sleep, and Auto Shutdown. The black shading has improved by 50% in some cases. While it used to take 20 minutes or more, those times should now be cut in half or so, making it far less of a hassle to do them more frequently as is required by the shooting conditions, and now with the black shade warnings, you should know exactly when you need to perform them.
There are even more additions that I haven't gone into detail about, but you should head on over to REDUser for a slightly more detailed explanation on the others. Included below are the links to the firmware -- also updated was the REDMOTE -- and I've also added the force HDMI/HD-SDI overlay update for those without RED LCDs. You should also keep in mind that this is still a beta, and is not yet a stable release, so there will likely be some bugs. Many will choose to wait for the stable release, but if you want/need these features now, it's available to download.