Web TV Toolkit: Red Camera Stays Ahead of the Curve

By 04/16/2010
Web TV Toolkit: Red Camera Stays Ahead of the Curve

[Ed. Note: This post is part of our Web TV Toolkit series, which is a resource and guide for web television creators. This guest post, written by Christian Meoli, is sponsored by IAFT. To learn more about the IAFT and their RED workshops, click here.]

Michael CioniIt was merely three years ago that the RED Camera was first released, driven by the maverick inventiveness of Jim Jannard. Parallels to the iPhone can be easily made, as both revolutionary products took the world by storm in 2007, changing the landscape of their respective fields. Within a very short time, both the RED and the iPhone have become leading brands, even more so because they constantly strive for improvements and innovation to remain ahead of the curve.

RED has continued to evolve with its recent releases of the Epic X S-35 and the Scarlet, skewed towards the ‘Prosumer’ market.

LightIRON Digital’s Michael Cioni is a valuable resource in the arena of ultra high resolution and has overseen post on hundreds of RED projects at his offices in Culver City. He is aware that the ‘4K market-place’ has fully arrived on the landscape and foresees some steep competition by other major players in the industry at NAB 2010. Still, Cioni recognizes “what keeps the Red ahead is that it has over 200% more resolution than any competition with five to six times higher res[solution]. Forward thinking is future proof.”

RED CarmeraDirector of Photography Rick Robinson starts his day ahead of most of the industry, at Bigfoot Studios and its education-affiliate, the International Academy of Film and Television (IAFT) in Cebu, Philippines. Robinson is a seasoned user of the RED, shooting films for Bigfoot Entertainment, who were one of the pioneers to integrate the camera system into their filmmaking process. Like Steven Soderbergh did when shooting Che, Robinson has taken the RED through its paces. In almost every possible condition be it on land, air, sea and underwater on a variety of Bigfoot projects shot in the US, China, Vietnam and Philippines, RED has succeeded.

“Every cameraman has a different approach to the RED. There are those who have worked primarily on video, making the digital transformation easier, while there are those who have worked on film and found the transition more challenging” says Robinson.

Cioni recognizes as well the importance of the training aspects of high res storytelling, with each next model an improvement from its predecessors. “One with a ‘screwdriver mentality’ will have a hard time adjusting. The subject of continuing education can sometimes get confused with issues of ageism, but the fact is that those people, whichever age, who are computer tech savvy will be the ones managing the systems down the line.”

“What is now referred to as the new technology will be the next normal. With anything new, there is a learning curve and one must be willing or able to accept the new challenge,“ says Robinson.

In the web television and online filmmaker community, a recent debate has been whether the next generation of Ultra-High Resolution is advancing too fast for the creatives and the Internet to keep up. Cioni states clearly what he observes from his post facilities at LightIRON that, “Shooting 4K for online is not overkill!” He sees Wavelet flavors becoming the standard to view files and web series’ within the next one to three years and believes that those web filmmakers keeping tabs on the latest editions will be in a good position to suceed. Web storytellers are best served learning the pros and cons of the sharp Scarlet or the new FLUT color science and MYSTERIUM-X 5K sensor that wraps the eye on the EPIC X. “…We’re talking about no visible artifacting…and no noticeable pixilation which offers better, smoother values at a faster tradeoff. I’m looking forward to seeing 2K, 3K and 4K online,” says Cioni.

“The language of film storytelling today is in binary code,” says Robinson. “No matter how you spin it, understanding the production and post production workflow is crucial to the success of the project.” He has found his best success with RED in something he likes to call the ‘Sweet Spot.’ “The RED cam shines the brightest with low light means. Shooting wide open, long lens texture is the sweet spot and you can get amazing imagery. In exterior settings, the same rules apply, however it is essential to gain total control over the bright light. Generally, shooting in high contrast lighting environments with shadows cast by the sun poses greater challenge because the video does not have the dynamic range.”

Michael Cioni believes that although luminaries will continue to improve as technology advances, skills and the artistic creativity will remain an important experiential trait. “Cameras are similar to a cat’s eye in the dark, it’s largely a question of emphasis on ambient than sculpture lighting. With the Epic X you will not require as much ambient light, enabling you to focus on sculpting instead.”

Robinson is on post production with two upcoming Bigfoot films, Deep Gold and Love Stinks while currently mentoring The Filmmaking Series at IAFT in Cebu, Philippines. “Shooting in Cebu is a great opportunity because it is a great tropical setting with visual colors and texture that will simply amaze you. One of the biggest advantages as a student at IAFT is that the campus is shared with Bigfoot Studios, which is a fully equipped state-of-the-art production facility.”

Michael Cioni has been on the frontlines of NAB 2010 this week and returns to Los Angeles to facilitate a highly anticipated RED CAM workshop on the latest advances and new editions to the RED family, held in Venice California at Bigfoot/IAFT on Saturday April 24th from 1-5pm. (310) 593.4444. Learn more and sign-up now.

Christian Meoli is an actor, writer, producer, director who will next be seen as one of the leads in Victor Goss’ film The Apocalypse According to Doris. He is the CEO of Cabaret Voltaire, an independent entertainment/media services company based in Los Angeles, CA.