RED DRAGON 6K & Anamorphic Lenses Have Mated. Here's the Gorgeous Result
Tired of RED DRAGON footage yet? Well we've got some you've never seen before: Anamorphic. That's right, for the first time you can feast your hungry eyes on some video shot in 6K anamorphic. The Diamond Bros. -- Josh and Jason -- had only 6 hours to play with a RED DRAGON before a scheduled shoot, so they threw some Elite Anamorphics (32mm, 50mm, 135mm) on the camera and shot some available light footage guerilla-style around NYC. Check it out below:
The Dragon is handily 2 stops over the previous Epic MX sensor which in its own right is a stellar sensor. We found ourselves able to expose and ISO where we would not have been able to before without being in the outer limits. I say handily 2 stops over because it's actually more than that but subjectivity and personal sensitivity to noise floor is for everyone to decide on their own above that. I think one of the bigger eye openers is the slow motion. Higher fps performance at seemingly ludicrous compression ratios. We shot 6K 2:1 Anamorphic 2x at 80fps 17:1. That's right 17 to bloody 1. You can see in the piece that the compression looks nowhere near that. Also, one of the biggest leaps of all is being able to shoot lower ISO's without highlight penalties or pinky purple weirdness invading your upper registers.
About shooting and post:
There is no grading on any of these shots other than some white balance and RC3/RG3, obviously older anamorphics are softer and we were often wide open at 2.5/2.8 which is not the sharpest point of the lens but this was not a scientific test, this was an available light shoot in a public hotel with no permits or agreements with the hotel...
...I personally rate our Epics at 800 and am very comfortable w "noise" in my image as we push into the higher ISO's. I started noticing that situations we would normally shoot at around say ISO2000 we were very pleased at ISO1000/1280 on Dragon and could've prob gone lower. ISO320 outside is a pleasure, no highlight penalties for lower ISO's is so killer.
The first still image above is easily my favorite of the bunch, and it's one of those things you need to look for if you're trying to see what the sensor can do. It's holding dynamic range in both highlights and shadows, especially the lightest area near his right arm. My biggest issue with RED footage that I've seen before is still the sickly yellow that you can get from lower Kelvin lighting situations, and again I'm not seeing it in this footage -- especially in that second still where it might start rearing its ugly head.
We have talked a lot about the various potential benefits of the new sensor, but as the guys mentioned above, being able to shoot at much higher compression ratios is a huge deal. With 6K footage, your files are gigantic, so you'll need to shoot higher compression if you want to keep your data down to a much more manageable level. Obviously some compressions issues might disappear in the downscale from 6K to 4K or even 6K to 1080p (then again to 720p for the Vimeo video), so it will be interesting if the cleaner DRAGON sensor will also be able to do such crazy-high compression ratios at 5K, 4K, and 3K. I would guess you might start seeing issues more in the lower resolutions, but when people get their hands on them we'll find out.
I've always thought the anamorphic lenses were a great way to take the harsh digital edge of the RED cameras -- even beginning with the original M camera on Steven Soderbergh's Che Part 1, and it's no different here with DRAGON. If RED actually introduces a user-upgradeable and removable low-contrast/softening filter that they mentioned they were looking into, I think you'll have even sexier-looking footage.
Read more about the shoot on the Vimeo page or on REDUser using the links below.