A few ruminations about RED after meeting with Mike Most (our familiar "mmost" member) at his facility Cineworks here in Miami. Mike was gracious enough to give me a couple of hours of his time to discuss RED based workflows and ideas for an upcoming project of mine I want to shoot on RED. For whatever is worth it, here are a few of my impressions after this meeting, some of which have just cimented thoughts I already had and others I just realized. Also, note that these are MY thoughts based on the conversation we had, not Mike's. In no particular order:
- Mmost, like Mark from Ofhowllywood or Gibby and others is an industry veteran, generous enough to share his knowledge with many of us who, at best, can aspire to reach that level some day. It would serve us well to listen carefully when these guys talk instead of jumping to defend our views right away. They are a great source of technical knowledge, not just ardent fanboys.
- Scratch is an AMAZING tool, not only for RED but for anything else. Mike's facility has a fully fledged Scracth suite, including the proverbial kitchen sink, hooked to a 2K projector and that was something worth experiencing. Scratch is akin to RED, a fraction of the cost of what a Da Vinci or an Inferno are, offering basically the same performance. Yes, it's not affordable for the Indie producer, or is it? Working a feasible deal with one of these facilities sounds more possible than not, and if you come to a color grading session having done your homework and know exactly how you want your scenes to look, I would argue the time savings would result in amazingly affordable prices. But yes, of course, there's also the After Effects, Color, Color Finesse, etc, way that many of us will continue to use for many a project, just be aware of what your options are before conceding that you can't "afford" it.
- RED produces amazingly clean footage, but this camera does clip highlights very, very, very, very much. It is one of its limitations, so if you're set on using it, accept it, and be prepared to deal with it. You will HAVE to expose for the highlights plain and simple, and be ready to use plenty of fill light on exteriors (lots of bounce cards should do the job if you want to stay the affordable way) and either light up interiors or night shots a LOT more than film if you don't want noise or be prepared to crush your blacks. Then again, the footage does look amazing, but the exposure needs to be cared for like a newborn.
- Wathever we hear, say or think, the truth is that RED is geared mostly towards Apple and FCP, plain and simple, at least, editorially speaking. Scratch does run on PC yes, but I have a feeling Scratch can run RED natively only because they were involved in writing the REDCINE and RED Alert software, but that's basically where the windows connection ends. This is bad news for those of us who are comfortable and happy working with Windows, or more precisely in my case, with Premiere and Adobe products. Right now, the only people doing anything about it are Cineform, but I really don't know what level of exactitude and reliability their from-redcode-to-cineform offering has since it is mostly untried and is basically designed without any help from RED whatsoever. And as you know if you've tried, working with Quicktime files on Windows based programs, though posible in theory, doesn't really work all that well all the time. So, at this moment, PC and Windows users have a rough patch ahead of them, where either you'll have to become a maverick and transcode, transpose and permutate files through different formats or basically bite the bullet and buy an FCP system. Which in my case, admiring as I am of Apple and their credo, I refuse to do because why should I be forced to start form scratch on a platform/program that, ardent fanboys aside, is not any better than that which I've taken years becoming ccomfortable with and proficient at?
So there, that's what came to mind after this visit with Mmost, and for what is worth, RED is here to stay and nothing will ever be the same. Now, if only certain kinks could be ironed out by the time the moment comes to decide whether to shoot that life defining project on RED...Why not, everything is subject to change, right Jim?