Thread: 12 Late Night Dragon Thoughts

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  1. #1 12 Late Night Dragon Thoughts 
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    It's on my mind and it's time for another late night Dragon post.




    I got to spend a moment with Dragon today at Red Studios Hollywood. Promptly afterwards during dinner I was asked why I'm spending so much time researching, studying, and testing this camera out. More specifically they were curious why I was so damn interested in it.

    I thought it would be fun to write up some of the features I like, which interestingly enough shows how Dragon separates itself from Mysterium-X.


    #1 - 6K



    While some may not "need" all that resolution it does indeed make a difference for everybody overall. You can use the extra real estate for Look Around. You can use it for stills. You can use it for motion. You can use it to find an aspect ratio and resolution you want to crop into. You can use it however you want. Over cranked 6K material is a joy to behold really.


    #2 - 16+ stops of Dynamic Range

    The big one really. Combined with the resolving power, the new dynamic range Dragon has pushes us past the technical bar set by film. Resolution as well for that matter relative to the format size. The combination of these two things is the first time this has ever happened in a digital cinema camera. And we just found out the HDRx is coming back to Dragon. So if you want to get crazy you can.


    #3 - Increased Light Sensitivity

    Dragon is more light sensitive than Mysterium-X. Combined with the higher captured Dynamic Range you have something that provides a lot more creative freedom to shoot under some crazy lighting conditions. I like to shoot clean, but sometimes I like to shoot dirty. And dirty is going to look "more gooder" within the dynamic range of Dragon.


    #4 - New OLPF and Smaller Pixels

    Compared to Mysterium-X you can clearly see the subtle yet noticeable resolving gains at a one to one pixel comparison. Dragon sees more in pretty much every way. Not to mention improved IR performance when using higher density ND filtration.


    #5 - Clean ISO 200-2000 Performance

    Working within this 3.3 stop range you can go "straight to screen". And you can go a bit further if you don't mind a bit of texture to the image. This is a bigger playground when compared to Mysterium-X. Specifically at the extreme ends where the sensitivity and dynamic range come into play.


    #6 - Format Size Relevant to Resolution and Coverage.

    5K essentially taking up the Super 35mm 3-perf format size is good news. You can shoot where the vast majority of cinema lenses ever designed have their optimal performance. 5.5K takes up the same space as Mysterium-X full which is pretty close to APS-H. 6K is now getting closer to, but not quite VistaVision frame width.

    If you're lenses cover Mysterium-X 5K Full Frame today you'll be safe for sure at 6K HD and likely 6K WS for that matter. Wide angle lenses in some sets tend to be where the 6K Full Frame coverage is a bit of a concern. However, think of the FOV, think of your capture format, this of your delivery format.... Think of how to use the resolution. And also remember you can mount damn near any lens to the camera.


    #7 - Larger Workable Latitude

    Having a lot of dynamic range and "clean flexibility" within the ISO range itself allows you to push color around real hard if you want to. You'll be pleasantly surprised how nuts you can go with well exposed material.


    #8 - Newly Designed Sensor Box.



    Something that hasn't been really talked about, and it's actually not even listed on what's included with the Dragon upgrade, is the new Sensor Box. And I assure you it comes with it! There's some really interesting differences between Mysterium-X bodies and Dragon bodies. Specifically how far back things are and what the exact shape of things are, this may have lens implications for some that protrude back into the body a bit. I have a couple theories on the matter. However, where it shows visible gains (although extremely slight) is that the new Sensor Box indeed provides a bit more of a protected light trap which boosts the contrast of the image captured. Extremely subtle, but noticeable.


    #9 - New Color Science.

    The sensor itself looks different in many good ways. Reds are vibrant and true. Blues are richer and cleaner. Green seems more natural. Skin looks really, really good. Added to this that there's new Dragon color science on the way real soon. That's not even out yet and it's currently producing some of the best out of camera color I've seen from a digital cinema camera to date.


    #10 - Sensor Character, Look, Highlight Roll-Off.

    Dragon just looks different and in a good way. It feels much more organic in the way it burns out to clip and doesn't really have that digital fingerprint. The highlight roll-off is smooth instead of hard, which is important. It feels new, yet familiar. It's a slightly intangible thing, but it's the one thing that will separate it the most from other cameras out there. And honestly, it looks beautiful under a variety of different lighting conditions. We'll see more and more of that coming soon.


    #11 - REDCODE Improvements/Lower Noise Floor/Black Shade.

    REDCODE is benefiting from the new lower noise floor found in Dragon. It's keeping file sizes down and still retaining more detail. More tests need to be done, but my brief early tests at 24-96 fps at REDCODE 5:1-17:1 are damn impressive. Dragon has a broader workable range under one single Black shade as well. I'm betting we're going to see even more improvements on this front via the briefly mentioned Sensor Heater and potentially the new and old fans with these new fan algorithms.

    Another note on REDCODE is in a rather shocking turn of events several 3rd party applications now support Dragon material. Basically when you get your camera you'll be able to hit the ground running and likely in a workflow you already are utilizing. This is fantastic news.


    #12 - It's a bit more than a simple Sensor Upgrade.

    It's fairly clear that this isn't just a sensor upgrade. A few things are mentioned here: https://support.red.com/entries/2376...grade-include-
    (Hey add that Sensor Box to that list!)

    However, that doesn't really even state what I just listed above. For those who own DSMC Brains with Mysterium-X, you don't need to purchase a brand new camera to get to Dragon. You can simply upgrade it if you want it. Nobody else is doing this. It's been mentioned and demonstrated now that Dragon is "more" in pretty much every way. It's clear the focus is more about increasing overall image quality in a variety of ways while making a slightly more creatively flexible tool. Red's pretty much done exactly that.


    It's not all roses. There is the wait, but recently we learned that sensor production is up and a new larger shipment is coming in December. More cameras are trickling out right now and more will be manufactured, QC'd, and shipped in quantity in the next couple of months. However, Red's clearly been putting the effort into tweaking and squeezing as much as they can out of Dragon. I've been fortunate to see various stages of this in the last few months and it is admirable how much is being done to make Dragon a beast of a camera. That's where much of the time between NAB 2013 and now has been spent. So as much as it's a bit of a teeth grinder, it certainly feels closer than it's been in the past and you can almost see them coming over the horizon at this point.

    The real reason Dragon is important to me is I know I'll be shooting my future work with it, and I care about my images a hell of a lot. I'm into larger formats. I'm into resolution. I desire a meaty, rich, and think raw image to work with. It's sort of hitting on all the marks I really want in a motion picture camera. It's pretty much that simple.
    Phil Holland - Cinematographer - Los Angeles
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Ketch Rossi's Avatar
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    Very well put out Phil!!

    And do not listen to those that as why you do it, just keep doing it as we enjoy the reads... :)
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  3. #3  
    Senior Member Christopher Probst's Avatar
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    Nicely stated.

    Next chance I get, I want to get much more scientific with this camera... My torture test outside was incomplete... I shot that in entirely in about 10 minutes and in my haste, skipped one exposure iteration that would have helped in the analysis/comparison of the Dragon to MX.

    Monday maybe.
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Will Keir's Avatar
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    Phil,

    I think it's time you make your film. Any locations or arrangements in mountains of Northern California, I'm your man. Glad to give back, even if you are here just for tests.
    Will Keir
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member Will Keir's Avatar
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    How much more light sensitive is Dragon? Can we quantify it? Two Stops, three, two and a half?
    Will Keir
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  6. #6  
    Senior Member Will Keir's Avatar
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    Can anyone post comparison pictures of "Hard" highlight roll off and some examples of how the Dragon is smooth?
    Will Keir
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member Christopher Probst's Avatar
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    Will, I can say this, the VFX super on my recent job has started doing post work and composites... and a shot came up that had a hot edge light for a daylight feel... His initial response was to be concerned that the information would be all clipped out... but then he dialed it down and there was tons of meat in there. I just smiled and nodded knowingly...
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member Will Keir's Avatar
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    Christopher, can you put the link up for your video here?

    Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Probst View Post
    Nicely stated.

    Next chance I get, I want to get much more scientific with this camera... My torture test outside was incomplete... I shot that in entirely in about 10 minutes and in my haste, skipped one exposure iteration that would have helped in the analysis/comparison of the Dragon to MX.

    Monday maybe.
    Will Keir
    Creative Director ~ Jumping Rock Pictures
    Epic X & Dragon #2482 / R1 #3033
    Zeiss MKII Super Speeds Lenses

    "Why I choose film?
    The friendships, the adventure, the art."
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  9. #9  
    Senior Member Will Keir's Avatar
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    hahaha. I'll keep asking this question about quantifiable light sensitivity until it's answer you know.

    Do you have any way of testing light side by side with MX?

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Probst View Post
    Will, I can say this, the VFX super on my recent job has started doing post work and composites... and a shot came up that had a hot edge light for a daylight feel... His initial response was to be concerned that the information would be all clipped out... but then he dialed it down and there was tons of meat in there. I just smiled and nodded knowingly...
    Will Keir
    Creative Director ~ Jumping Rock Pictures
    Epic X & Dragon #2482 / R1 #3033
    Zeiss MKII Super Speeds Lenses

    "Why I choose film?
    The friendships, the adventure, the art."
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  10. #10  
    Senior Member Grzegorz Gill's Avatar
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    Thanks Phil, posts like these keep the excitement up and help me forget about the wait for my upgrade:)
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