Red Digital Cinema camera Colorado
Rocky Moutain 4K contacts: 303.322.5042 or 303.807.8459

HD Video Production & The Red

Great images, depth-of-field control... okay, fine, but for Producers and UPMs and ADs that's not their issue. From a practical standpoint — production people want to know — what's it like to shoot with a Red camera? Is it like HD video?

So What Is It Like?

Shooting with the Red Digital Cinema Camera is like shooting 35mm film.

“It has all the advantages of shooting film in terms of how you shoot it, and it has none of the disadvantages.” - producer/director Doug Liman (see sidebar)

You will need an experienced 1st A.C. and maybe a 2nd, maybe a loader (though that job description will be totally unlike ten years ago). The support, crew and lighting requirements are pretty similar to shooting with film.

But then, so are the results. And that is why you're here, isn't it?

The difference - and the savings - is in the cost of film stock, processing and printing… there isn't any. With 1000 feet of 35mm film going for well over $500 (and that being 11 minutes of shooting) that's a significant savings. Total stock and lab costs for even a low-budget 35mm movie can easily top $100,000 and we're not even talking about printing or post-production there.

Production with the Red can yield the same formats as HD video production (via rendering), but with superior image quality, depth-of-field control, and the ability to revisit the 'negative' since the Raw original is never touched in processing. As with non-destructive editing the original files are not altered in rendering or color correction, so can be used again to output to a different format as your needs change.

What About the D.I.T?

The Red doesn't require a dedicated DIT as you may be familiar with them, as there are no off-board controls. The D.P. and A.C. control the camera, just as with a 35mm package. It's easiest to think of the Red Raw image as a digital negative, where almost every factor except focus and frame-rate can be altered after the shoot, even - to a surprising degree - the exposure.

The Red does benefit from an experienced "image wrangler" (among the many colorful terms for the job so far) to deal with the files coming from the camera, secure backups of the valuable "footage", grade sample images, render dailies, etc. One alternative approach we offer is a combined gaffer/camera tech role — we'd be happy to discuss the needs of your specific production. Call Nelson (303.506.2456) on that topic.

Could you do that with a P.A.? Well, some of it, yes. Maybe. ...but just how valuable is that footage you spent all morning shooting?

So Where Are The Savings?

Shooting like 35mm takes time and a support crew. So where are the savings?

4K production yields savings in several areas:

  • Film Stock. There isn't any. Thirty-five millimeter film costs on the order of $700 for a thousand feet of fllm - 11 minutes of shooting - and that's just the raw stock.
  • Processing and related lab costs. There aren't any. Yes, there can be rendering costs, depending upon the style of your production (talk to Nelson about it), but they pale in comparison to processing film.
  • Knowing you've got the shot. I.e. peace of mind, without waiting for a lab report. One of the great advantages of video over film is simply knowing you've got the shot. Works that way with the Red, too: playback right at the camera with the option of on-set color grading as well.
  • Digital backups right on the set. Try doing that with film.

While shooting with the Red is definitely not the cheapest way to make a movie, it is a much less-expensive alternative to 35mm. The standard for comparison is 35mm film, not video cameras.

But Can I Do Digital Video Cheaper?

Yes, you can. There are a number of HD, HDV and other Digital Video cameras that can be used more inexpensively (in fact Rich can help you there as well, with both HD and P2 gear - the HDX 900, HPX 170 and HDV 200 cameras external link), but none of them yield the kind of results that the Red does. Have you heard the makeup people swearing at HD? They won't do that with the Red — even with "over 40" actors and actresses.

[We] were shocked that Red handled the actresses' skin better than film. — Albert Hughes (From Hell, Book of Eli)

Once again, shooting with the Red is like shooting 35 — with the same gorgeous results.



Rocky Moutain 4K contacts: 303.322.5042 or 303.807.8459

Arri Standard Accessories

The Red Camera is made to work with the same Arriflex lenses and accessories that have become standards in film production.

The Arri PL mount is available for our Red, though we're fielding it with a Nikon lens mount to allow less expensive rentals. But if your production calls for (and your budget allows) Ultra Primes and big PL zooms we can accomodate you.

In addition we can set up the camera to work with either 15mm or 19mm Arri-style accessories: your favorite6-stage swing away matte boxes, follow focus mechanisms, spray deflectors, gyro-stabilized cup holders and much, much more.

Doug Liman: Just Like Shooting Film

From an ease of shooting, it's just like shooting film, so it has all the advantages of shooting film in terms of how you shoot it, and it has none of the disadvantages.

You shoot it like film. It has enough of a latitude that you don't need a technician there to be figuring out like, you expose for the shadows or the highlights - you just expose the way you expose film. — Doug Liman

Producer-Director Doug Liman ( Bourne series, Fair Game, Jumper, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) says that, after Jumper, he'll always have a Red on his set.

Look Around

Film cameramen have long had the ability to "look around" the frame - the eyepiece shows more area than the film captures. It helps the operator to look out for actors, microphone booms and set walls before they end up in the shot.

The Red finally delivers "look around" to the video world.

A Total Convert

Director Alex Proyas, director of such visually striking films as The Crow and Dark City, used Red One cameras for his big-budget feature Knowing (2009).

It's completely grainless and there's almost a three-dimensional quality where you feel as if you can reach into the screen because there's an incredible depth to it.  I'm a total convert. — Alex Proyas

Knowing is now showing in theaters nationwide. Take the opportunity to see what the Red looks like in full glory.


Contact RM4K

Contact either of us at these numbers:
Nelson Goforth: 303.322.5042
Rich Lerner: 303.807.8459

Or use this Contact Form

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