I had posted a thread in October relating my learning curve and experiences on a feature I was shooting with RED (#15, 16). Well, I've come out the other side of our 4-week shoot, and am happy to report that our experiences with the camera were better than we'd even hoped! Thank you Jim, for shepherding this camera from dream to reality. It's truly a welcome addition to the toolset of anybody trying to tell a story through images.
It's fascinating that a piece of gear would inspire you to push yourself further artistically, but as the crew and I got used to using the camera, we were continually excited by the stuff we were getting (as were the producers). I even noticed the G&E team really getting behind the project, pushing themselves constantly to get the best possible images in the short time we had!
The second half of the shoot was similar to the 1st half, in that the camera was the least of our concerns. However, that's not to say we didn't encounter obstacles. So in the spirit of sharing, here were some of them:
- We noticed a few times in our Editorial QC pass that we were getting corrupted frames (and in one case a corrupted shotfile). After some initial panicking, we learned that it stemmed from an encoding issue with the (then) brand new Final Cut plug-in, and that our original RD3 files were just fine. Assuming those issues are being fixed in the newer versions of FCP plug-in.
- We found that the camera would freeze/shutdown unexpectedly. Thought it was a software glitch at first, then we noticed that it never seemed to do that during a shot (even handheld). Figured out that the way we had the battery cage placed (horizontally up near the top carry handle) was causing the battery itself to be bump-able while transporting the camera between shots. Power interruptus. We re-oriented the battery up high, out of the way of the back control panel, but vertically positioned off the back of the camera.
- There were some of the same glitchy control panel issues from the start of shooting (i.e. a few random losing of ASA and saturation settings), but that seems to be because at the time of our shoot, we were using Build 6 only. We were able to play around with BetaBuilds 8 & 9, and really wanted to switch to a more advanced build for the rest of the show, but safety dictated sticking with the (then) official release. I'm excited for all the advances that future Builds are going to deliver (as well as the new daughter boards)!
Overall, the camera proved to be a solid workhorse. The CF card system never got in our way, and out of 24 shoot days on 30 CF cards, we had only 1 card go down. Since you are limited to 4 1/2 minutes per card, we lost 2 takes of a shot. And since we knew about it right away, we were able to re-get those takes before moving on to another scene. Again, not sure if I would go into another project trusting an entire day's (or even half a day's) footage to a harddrive. If the 16gig cards become readily available, that would probably be my choice.
Good luck to everyone on their REDventures, and if anyone's in the LA area, I'll be on hand at DV Expo on Wednesday to sit in on Video Resources' RED Orientation seminar/discussion (hopefully with a quickie trailer from the movie!).
- Marco Fargnoli