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View Full Version : Computer Control for Epic/Scarlet?



Paul Rosckes
12-16-2008, 06:43 PM
I'm sure the new REDmote will offer an amazing amount of control over the new brains, but I was wondering how everyone feels about expanding the amount of control by allowing Macs and PCs to remotely control all functions of the Epics and Scarlets. This could either be through a wireless (WiFi, proprietary?) or tethered (USB, ethernet?) connection utilizing a cross-platform application with an easy-to-use GUI. One big advantage is that there would be no complicated menus to navigate. All of the camera's functions could be easily laid out in a tabbed interface and changing parameters would be as simple as clicking on a checkbox or selecting a value from a pop-up menu. Also, user-defined presets would allow the camera operator to instantly configure a camera with new parameters, or possibly "broadcast" a configuration to multiple cameras simultaneously. Additionally, this would a great way to upload "looks" that could be created prior to the shoot using REDalert (assuming we will someday have the option of saving look presets which are compatible with the cameras).

To take this a step further, it would be great if RED would supply an SDK to allow users and third-party developers to come up with their own software for controlling the camera. I think this could provide some really interesting solutions to problems we cannot yet imagine. Here's one example I thought of recently.

I used to shoot a lot of time-lapse footage when I worked in a high-rise in downtown Chicago. My rig consisted of a Canon Powershot Pro1 connected to a Macbook running Canon's ImageBrowser app. That application offered an amazing amount of control as far as setting the ISO, shutter speed, aperture, time-lapse interval, etc.; and it even offered a live-view preview window. Once I had everything set, I could just start it going and it would shoot a 3K still every 20 seconds (fastest interval I could get because the image had to transfer over USB before the next one could fire). This worked great until I started doing time-lapse footage of sunsets and sunrises. The problem was that as the sun went down I had to babysit the laptop and shoot 45 minute chunks at certain aperture/shutter settings. Then I would have to cross-dissolve these segments together to get a seamless transition from day to night or night to day. While I was doing these experiments, I thought that it would be awesome if I could animate parameters like aperture and shutter over time, the same way you can animate a value in After Effects. This way I could subtly adjust the exposure to match the sunset without have to hack-together various clips in post (which BTW can ruin the smooth motion of clouds or other moving objects).

This is the kind of camera control problem that I would like to see RED address by putting more control into the hands of users. Obviously some of these solutions will require all-electronic lenses (which are coming!), but it opens up all kinds of possibilities. Imagine being able to program automated focus-pulls for a complicated shot, or being able to shoot HDR time-lapse footage by programming a repeated exposure bracketing, or having complete control of the camera when shooting with a motion-control rig.

And finally, I would like to thank the RED team for not only dreaming up such amazing products, but actually getting them into the hands of talent filmmakers worldwide. It is very exciting to witness such a radical and positive change in our industry.

-Paul

P.S. Here's a very lucky (and completely unaltered) frame I captured of the Tribune tower during one of my time-lapse experiments:

PatrickW
12-26-2008, 08:15 AM
A system for computer control of the Red Camera systems, could be the innovation that propels indie filmmaking to a whole never level. It could give rises to smaller crews, smaller budgets, more efficient sets (less people running around getting in each others way), and can give rise to crews that are small and light and able to go anywhere to get any shot.

Basically I am thinking, linking multiple cameras (different types are fine), and audio, into a single system, that then stores all the tagged data. Having the ability to change where the cameras are pointing, as well as complete camera control, the same with lights, audio, etc, could mean a person or a few in a control center (think the Sun Microsystems data center in a box concept), could film the movie while the automated cameras track the talent. The shot film, immediately gets backed up and can be pushed to editors, on or off site, to work on the footage immediately.

I don't see anything that is stopping this from being a reality.

Austin Glass
12-26-2008, 11:13 AM
A system for computer control of the Red Camera systems, could be the innovation that propels indie filmmaking to a whole never level. It could give rises to smaller crews, smaller budgets, more efficient sets (less people running around getting in each others way), and can give rise to crews that are small and light and able to go anywhere to get any shot.

Basically I am thinking, linking multiple cameras (different types are fine), and audio, into a single system, that then stores all the tagged data. Having the ability to change where the cameras are pointing, as well as complete camera control, the same with lights, audio, etc, could mean a person or a few in a control center (think the Sun Microsystems data center in a box concept), could film the movie while the automated cameras track the talent. The shot film, immediately gets backed up and can be pushed to editors, on or off site, to work on the footage immediately.

I don't see anything that is stopping this from being a reality.


Actually, there are already systems in place that a lot of news broadcast organizations are using that do basically that very thing. Grass Valley makes their Ignite system that allows a single show director to operate the entire newscast. He hits a single button at a time, and the correct camera is punched up, the talent's mics are turned on, the correct tapes roll, etc. The director can even readjust the shots using a joystick, in case he doesn't like the previously programmed shot. I got to see one of these in action last year, and although the station using it wasn't using it to the fullest extent (they still had a crew of 4), they were working to the point of being able to do it with one director, and one producer.


This type of thing can easily be modified for television or motion picture sets. The scary thing is the fact that when jobs are replaced with computers, if those people can't adapt, then they will not be able to survive in the industry anymore.