This I think was our 3rd ever Red shoot. 'Spookers' is a horror house ride taken to the extreme Spookers Website The experience is so real that participants losing control of their bowels is not uncommon.
Ben Rood from Cinematic Alliance took the Red and ran with it, literally.
I love the energy of this spot and the look. Noise is welcome here, it is embraced and let loose. Turn down the lights, pump up the volume and project on a big screen for maximum effect.
I had been looking forward to shoot with the Red ever since I had first heard about it - now I have used it twice in two very different situations - this 'Spookers' job was the first one.
The camera seemed to fit the needs I had as a director, namely that it could use proper lenses with a proper depth of field and that it was significantly cheaper than shooting on 35mm. This is important because in New Zealand there isn't the budgets to do that for most of the work that is out there, but the problem with using video/digital formats is that the lenses are disgusting and no matter what with the excessive depth of field of 1/3 - 1/2 - and 2/3-inch aquisition you see too much that you don't want to see, and more fundamentally, the resultant footage just does not cut together properly in the way it does if you had just shot it with the a real camera. Bottom line for me is this: "Film" has a language in terms of editing/storytelling that interests me, "Video" does not - for me it always looks cheap and nasty. Zodiac for example looks like a student movie that happens to have some big actors in it - even the performances become tiny and dull and inauthentic (although that problem is fixed with a film-out, I know, but only very few people get to use it that way). Everything looks small on video. I'm not interested in reality - there is plenty of that out in the world every day. I want big and beautiful and illusion as much as possible.
And what is even more fantastic is that feeling/idea is carried through into Post where I can edit with it in 2K and the pictures look beautiful. I don't see the point of not doing it that way. Working with this camera makes you want to give more, makes you want to work hand - because the resulting pictures, even ungraded, spur you on in an edit. It helps you to see possibilities where in a traditional offline you might pass by a shot and not see its potential. For me, I like to do as much as I can by myself in post, I would rather spend more time in-house than ever going outside, and with this camera I can totally achieve that. I work in 2K for everything on this camera so far but I shoot in 4K for the extra information for compositing/etc.
Again, financially wise, when the other alternatives are an F900 (which costs more!) or an F750, or a HVX-200, the choice is a total no-brainer. For me I will be doing whatever it takes to get the RED because the result is more than worth the minor extra cost to a client and I intent to shoot with the camera 100% of the time for 2008 whenever it is even half-viable. For me, 35mm Anamorphic is superior, but we don't keep any anamorphic lenses in New Zealand and it is generally unaffordable. Of course there are technical problems with the cameras right now, and I hear DP's and Rental houses grumble about it, but I honestly don't care. They don't see it for what it is or maybe they do and are intimidated. It ain't a DP's camera, it's a Director's camera - which is exactly the right thing. All that matters is the pictures you get out of it and having taking the camera out by myself once as well, it really isn't that complicated to use if you are technically minded and computer-savvy. All the problems fade away into insignificance.
I am praising this camera, sure, and one can be skeptical, but I am no shill. If something is crap I say it's crap, and not having a viewfinder and LCD and external monitoring is a crap thing... but that is the only real problem, and there are workarounds already. A DP or myself can chuck up a light meter and it works. No waveform bullshit. All that stuff is anti-creativity. I could go on and on but the bottom line is that with a camera like this for the price it costs... it is a great time to be a filmmaker and it makes me excited. And if I am excited, for clients this is a great thing because they get a better result. That is the bottom line.
For the Spookers job, the idea I sold was to make the promo in the style of a horror movie trailer. I wanted to push the signal on the camera as much as possible - my desire was to shoot it at 1250ASA as a base "rating" and get a really punch, grainy, imperfect look. By default the image out of the camera is so clean - so my taste is to try to mess it up and see what comes out of not using it the "normal" way. Some people were a bit cynical but I believe in being bold and just jumping right in. This also tends to excite people as well. Our DP for this job was Chris White who was brilliant fun and knew what I was after and I only had to say very minor things throughout the shoot - perfect experience in other words. In the end we didn't have enough ND's to get it down enough to get 1250ASA all the time and shoot at the stop I wanted, even for the interiors, so our main rating was 800ASA. But most of the exteriors were 1250ASA. I operated every shot and it was 100% handheld. It was a one day shoot.
Our workflow was like this:
Shoot on 8GB CF Cards in 4K @ 25fps (or 25psf if you are being anal) - 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio mask
Lenses: Arri/Zeiss UltraPrimes - just about everything shot at T2.0
Camera "Rated" @ a mixture between 500ASA and 1250ASA, with 2000ASA for the "no light/blackout" sequence.
After Shooting, covert all 2K REDCODE QT Proxies to 2K ProRes. Edit from that.
While editing was going on, on 3 separate workstations I processed the R3D's in RedAlert and did a 'Bestlight' grade - getting the tonalities in the right place and increasing saturation and playing the colour temperature settings, and exported 2K TIFF sequences from there. After that my assistant opened the image sequences up in Quicktime Pro and converted them to a ProResHQ with 4:4:4 colour processing, which I re-linked to from my edit and then mastered to. In the future I will probably do QT's with Compression set to 'None' for mastering, but at the time we were running out of disk space and time.
I did all the grading in Final Cut Pro, and I also used the Tiffen DFX plugins for some shots, but very little. It was lit properly by Chris and I really pushed the image in Red Alert so I didn't have to do much.
For the opening shot there is image stabilization which makes it look a little soft because of the motion blur and the cropping. This was done because I was rushing and just jumped out onto the verge of the road and shot our hero vehicle - plus there was a few mistakes from having to wait for a gap without any other cars in the road so I think I may have bumped the follow focus also.
Spookers 1080 mov :holloween: