View Full Version : RED for the big screen
08-24-2008, 03:38 PM
I`m actually shooting a turkish-german picture for the big screen called "der gelbe satin". My decision to use the RED (for me for the first time) in 4K for this kind of project regarding its budget limitations and the opportunity to use the production companies in-house FCP-facilities, is still the right one. We do our dailies and also the offline-editing in 2 K and then will batch to RAW data in speedgrade XR to build a 4K-DI which will be lasered with arrilaser in 4K onto masternegativ and printed on premiere. The camera works very solid and safe. We really don`t have problems with it - but...and this is the reason for my writing here. Absolutly considering the theatrical release of this picture, I don`t want to see any kinds of white clipping nor noise in my prefered deep blacks...Against all informations regarding the cameras sensibility or contrast ratio ability, my camera, a build 16, does have a sensibility of 100 ASA and a safe exposure range of 4 stops. I`m not mentioning shooting in higher contrast situations and fixing the errors in post with well build LUTS, a steeper gamma or noise reduction facilities or some of the other possibilities, nor to build a downconverted master for tv release...if I was shooting film, I would say, I want to get a fat neg. But I`m shooting RAW. And as far as I can see, I can achieve this goal with my RED only in creating a relatively flat image which limits my creativity in lighting a lot. I do have to embrace colors in production design, costumes and so on more than ever in order to make it more contrasty. I need to give dark colors in my shot so much light to prevent them from going to an extremly fast occurring noise, that I hate the light I do have to see in front of me. Same with highlights and their clippings. So, I`m lucky to have the opportunity to control the whole post workflow and to make my own color timing, so I can still create the look I have in mind (more or less, because of the lighting limitations). But what if had not the possibility? I would probably become a provider of flat configurated raw stock...which could leave me a bit unsatisfied. I don`t want to be misinterpreted, I think the future is now and it`s digital. All aspects of post production tools and their applications are great, and I also think the RED concept is a great one. But for me, lighting is still the main skill of the cinematographer. I would like to do my lighting like I was doing it with film, and to generate the image directly in camera, digitally. I`d really like to read some responses to this thread regarding experiences with RED-shots for theatrical prints from others here.
08-24-2008, 03:56 PM
Oliver, there are lots of people here who can help you. I'm guessing English isn't your first language. Your English is good, but because you're not using paragraphs, it's hard to follow your writing.
I'm not sure you can get an ISO rating of 100, because when I tested ISO in the development of B16, if I were to rate the camera at 100, I'd get very, very clipped highlights as that places mid grey at a very high code value in the raw data and does not given enough room for over-exposure in the hightlights.
08-25-2008, 12:18 AM
Ive done several shows for the big screen, including some of the first public tests of the red, which we took all the way out to film.
One of the key things about shooting digitally is to use the full latitude of the sensor. The sensor has an absolute floor and ceiling where it can no longer record data. To get the most out of the sensor, you need to place the exposure in the range that the sensor can handle.
If you place things closer to the floor or ceiling of the sensor, then you can expect less dynamic range out of your images.
Lets say for example, I have a sensor that can record 8 stops in a perfect world. So to get 8 stops out of my image, I then need to place the exposure in a place where the sensor can get that. If the light happens to be toward the bottom scale of that edge, then it wont record 8 stops of dynamic range. The same happens for the top end.
All sensors, regardless of brand or type, work this way. In the video world, if there isnt enough light we increase the gain - which is just amplifying the low signal. In the still photography world we do a bunch of post-processing of the low-light image (even if it is in-camera) to get back some of that dynamic range. With the Red, we do it in post.
So - if I understand your english and your question, my opinion that the first miscue you are making is that you are shooting at iso100. This gives you the false sense that you need to open up your lens to allow more light in, which then moves the recorded RAW image toward the upper end of what the sensor can handle. This would then generate the 4 stops of latitude you are seeing, and the necessity for you to light flat and then add in contrast in post.
I would advise you to increase your camera iso to somewhere in the range of 250 to 500. Red themselves say the camera functions best at 320 to 500 iso. This is what the sensor is recording the RAW images at. This mean you will need to stop down, and by doing so will place the exposure level in the range of the sensor.
Once you do that, you will see that you can light the same way you would with film, for the most part. On the current feature Im working on, the gaffer has been impressed with how well the red has taken our "film style" lighting.
This is your "digital fat neg".
08-25-2008, 02:26 AM
Thanks to both of you. Before starting the picture I tested the camera extensively and synchronized it with my light meters with the use of color charts , a waveform monitor and a 2 K monitor, both are also on the set the whole time and I have a technician there to control each set up. As soon as I get darker than 2 stops (not the nominal exposure, dark portions of the frame) it starts to noise. Same with clipping. The camera I`m working with actually isn`t definitly capable of working at an ISO of 200 or more (and still getting excellent results) without loosing details on both sides of the curve. I started to shoot the picture one week ago and already had different set ups and lighting situations with different colors in the frame etc. It doesn`t work. Conrad, I set the cam from 320 down the whole way down to 800 (because I had read that D. Mullen did that with good results) but....I will tell you more since I still have to shoot some more weeks, maybe I will get the right way for me. Best. OLI
Hans von Sonntag
08-25-2008, 04:35 AM
personally, I find Red quite close to 35mm in many regards. The latitude is smaller but much better than often said. I did not change lighting style at all. Red does not render reflection and blown-out highlight as nice as film does, nonetheless, Red's roll-off is far away from videoish as long as you expose well.
In the studio where I can fully control lighting 200 - 250 ASA might be the way to go, if virtually no nosie is the aim. Remember that you cannot achieve this with film.
On an avarage contrast scene I find 320 ASA a good compromise between noise and "flesh" in the highlights. Shooting with 100 ASA will steal 1 1/2 stop in this regard, not a good idea. The noise here will be hardly visible but the picture gets a more lively feeling.
In a high contrast scene I would rather expose at 500 ASA or even more. Here, it's vital to keep important parts of the skintones out of the noise floor. Some light assistance will help here. Noise is visible but not distracting, not more than 500 ASA film has. Some will argue that film has grain and not noise...
Often the blacks will get crushed anyway. The noise will be much lesser in the final grade.
Remember that the HDSDI out is a high quality video-assist. You cannot evaluate correct exposure and noise level just by looking at a monitor on set regardless how great the monitor is. I find that a full 4KRAW debayered picture scaled down to 2K has considerable less noise than the 720p-out of the camera delivers. If in doubt use RedAlert on set. Set it to RedLog and do a grade that is close to the look you want to achieve later.
I've done very sucessfully film-outs with Red originated footage. Proper exposed Red footage has less noise than a 35mm scan of the same size. Red can deliver a very good basis fo a great DI.
Sure there are scenes where 35mm excels - a sunny day in a park, for instance - but no need for grief and flat lighting.
08-25-2008, 06:36 AM
Strange camera you've got there Oliver!
What is your waveform monitor for as the RAW data is not an HD rec709?
How do you convert your RAW into 2k? What debayer/lut/hardware do you use?
If redcine gives you 4 stops (from clipping white to deepest black) your red has a problem... IMHO
08-25-2008, 01:55 PM
Did you really get excellent results in the RAW format under contrasty scenes? Without using any LUTs etc? Unfortunately I didn`t have the chance/money to test all the way from DI to masternegativ to print and to see it on a theater screen, so I still don`t know what I will get in the end. I can only argue with the tools I have with me right now. So dailies get checked in 2K on a 2K colorcalibrated monitor. We then set my preset LUTS (Redalert) for the different moods in. Everything looks great - also the testing footage did with the LUTS. But this is not what I want to achieve. I decided to not expose with my light meters after directly seeing my tests, I only use a spotmeter to check the contrast ratio of the scene. In the test I also checked the cameras build in "exposure help" in all lighting situations and found a interpreting way to me (320ISO camerasetting-which still remain 100ISO on my "calibrated light meters", with no overexposures) to make it usable to me. I believe your words, but unless I haven`t seen my shots on the big screen, I will not know, what this camera I`m using is really able to give me. And - I don`t want to think about technical parameters (don`t beat me), I only want to light and to use my tools to visualize the story the way I feel it. However, I will tell you more in the next days. But again. Thank you all.
08-25-2008, 02:52 PM
There`s an interesting side I found: http://prolost.blogspot.com/search/label/RED