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Old January 1st, 2013, 07:44 AM   #1
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RED's DRAGON SENSOR BREATHING FIRE

Still not quite on the market. Some very interesting snips about dynamic range, color and even global shutter and going beyond.

Enter the Dragon
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Old January 1st, 2013, 10:43 PM   #2
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Re: RED's DRAGON SENSOR BREATHING FIRE

Yes and from the looks of it the original upgrade price has changed, and it will not be available for Scarlet-X owners. Let's hope with 20 stops it features a new ADC and I wonder if 16-bit raw linear will actually be enough? I sure hope they thought of the data quantization needed that much dynamic range....
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 07:13 AM   #3
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Re: RED's DRAGON SENSOR BREATHING FIRE

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Originally Posted by Jacques Mersereau View Post
Still not quite on the market.
Red's corporate motto?
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 07:28 AM   #4
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Re: RED's DRAGON SENSOR BREATHING FIRE

From what I've gleaned from Reduser, Scarlet never had enough processing to do any higher frame rates than the defaults, and the idea of being able to stick a dragon sensor in there was always put in high doubt by Red's reps. What is noteworthy is they are allowing Scarlet buyers to trade-in/upgrade. Maybe it won't be a great deal, but Canon has never made me such an offer - neither has Sony or Panny come to think of it.

Regarding the other comment, yes, I get it and I am sure that RED is still red-faced about this part of their reputation, but on the other side of the coin, what they have delivered has hugely changed the industry.
Let us not underestimate Jannard and his team's accomplishments - really, credit where credit is due.
RED, a tiny upstart, is the company (imo) leading the 800 pound behemoths Sony and Panasonic - and oh, Canon too. ;-)
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 12:27 PM   #5
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Re: RED's DRAGON SENSOR BREATHING FIRE

It was question previously if with the current hardware inside the red cameras if they'd have enough power to really process anything new Dragon could deliver, looks like now it is going to be a new camera and body. I wonder about SSD module, power, etc...

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Old January 2nd, 2013, 12:31 PM   #6
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Re: RED's DRAGON SENSOR BREATHING FIRE

The primary way in which RED is driving the industry is in price point and speed of innovation, neither of which is ultimately positive for the market, as it forces profit margins down, devalues all related equipment and shortens the lifespan of gear investments. Cameras (from various manufacturers) are now often rushed out and by the time they mature (if ever) via software and firmware updates, they are already well into their life cycle before the next model appears. It's a sweaty mess.
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Old January 2nd, 2013, 08:04 PM   #7
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Re: RED's DRAGON SENSOR BREATHING FIRE

It makes me an inveterate luddite then. A 35mm sensor would be nice but I need to get some more mileage out of a SI2K before I go anywhere.

I wonder if the manufacturers may be collectively brought undone by customers holding off a few generations in a new future-shock syndrome thing like the slow Blu-ray uptake. Costs do need to be amortised, not thrown away.

There is a lingering generation or two of digital camera systems which still provide adequate, if not cutting edge vision. I see all the players being forced into more generous buyback schemes to remove obsolete product and prevent their market from being saturated.

One thing which may come out of the whole "sweaty mess" ( I like that definition ) situation is a whole new generation of film-making out of the third world as one-generation obsolete hardware capable of quality imaging becomes affordable even there. There are bound to be some gems which will break through.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 02:20 PM   #8
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Re: RED's DRAGON SENSOR BREATHING FIRE

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Originally Posted by Dennis Hingsberg View Post
Let's hope with 20 stops it features a new ADC and I wonder if 16-bit raw linear will actually be enough?
If it's indeed 20 stops, a 16-bit ADC will most certainly bottom out (approx. 6 dB per stop). Hence, I bet the Dragon will end up in an entirely new camera.

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Old January 4th, 2013, 04:09 PM   #9
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Re: RED's DRAGON SENSOR BREATHING FIRE

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Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
The primary way in which RED is driving the industry is in price point and speed of innovation, neither of which is ultimately positive for the market, as it forces profit margins down, devalues all related equipment and shortens the lifespan of gear investments. Cameras (from various manufacturers) are now often rushed out and by the time they mature (if ever) via software and firmware updates, they are already well into their life cycle before the next model appears. It's a sweaty mess.
I don't know if that's inherently a bad thing - I love the speed and rate of development that things are being released and its almost as if we get a new announcement every 2 weeks about something new coming down the pipelines from various manufacturers. I want the competition, I want cheaper cameras, I want buggy new stuff that everyone is scared to try because I will be the one using it, abusing it, and seeing how I can make it work because it gives me capabilities most people don't have.

When your looking at all of this from a live production viewpoint, obviously you want none of those things. I shot live sporting events for years and if the cameras we were using were buggy in the least, we wouldn't even take them out of the box at risk of something happening live. Tape delay was a luxury we didn't have all too often. I guess my position changed since then - my footage is used in a strict marketing promotional sense and I can practically cut whatever I can creatively get away with which not only allows me to abuse resolution, frame rates, color, etc etc etc that other forms of media work don't allow me to.

I view RED as a necessary evil, lighting the fire under the ass of other manufacturers, daring other people to pick up their cameras and deal with the nuances of them in order to get that edge. I'm debating FS700 vs RED right now, so we'll see where I end up.
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Old January 5th, 2013, 08:28 PM   #10
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Re: RED's DRAGON SENSOR BREATHING FIRE

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Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
... devalues all related equipment and shortens the lifespan of gear investments.
That's a really significant point that Charles has made here, in a very practical sense. If you want to spend around $15K or more on a camera (F3, C300 or the new F5/F55) it's a real concern, investment-wise, and I know that this factor has been paralysing my thinking on the next camera purchase for quite some time.

Let's face it, cameras in this range are purely a business decision (unless you are a wealthy hobbyist!) and it can put strain on your business model when the change in cameras comes so rapidly and are also "rushed out" (not yet mature in their features as Charles pointed out). A recent example was when RED virtually halved the price of the EPIC overnight (which I'm sure was necessary for RED's own business model) and the reactions on REDUSER of those who had bought EPIC packages in the preceding months. I think one chap spent over $120K on some EPIC packages just a few weeks before, only to see his investment halved overnight. And through no fault of his own. Who would've seen that coming? That's why I'm currently leaning towards a more conservative camera-purchasing strategy. While I'd prefer a C300 or F5, I'm currently looking at a C100 for about $6,500 (it might be a bit "nobbled", but gives a similar image to the C300). I figure it will eventually become a "B" cam further down the line when things settle down more with regard to camera releases (if they ever do).

With regards to the Dragon sensor, with it's 20 stops, it's really seems to be a "dream come true" in terms of pure imaging. And an Epic brain for $19K with a Dragon upgrade for $6K (if they can actually pull that off) would be an excellent long-term investment, even with having to buy some extras with their modular system.

Except for the one point where - so far - they (RED) keep shooting themselves in the foot. In my view, they seem to confuse their positioning (marketing) with their delivery features. They don't have to be the same. Federal Express has the positioning of "absolutely, positively overnight". They dominate the "overnight" category in people's minds. But they're not stupid. They provide a lot more delivery services than overnight. They just don't lead with that in their marketing. RED initially positioned itself as the "4K camera" and dominated that category. When Alexa came out, they also started to position themselves as the "RAW" camera. Again, this is great positioning, in a marketing sense. These are great features, if you want them.

But they lost out on the philosophical point. What about those who know exactly what they want in terms of the final "look"? An underlying argument with the marketing of a RAW workflow is that you are still able to change your mind later, so you are not "baked in". But it kind of assumes that you didn't know what you really wanted in the first place. I can see how that could apply with filming 30 second commercials where you might have the ad agency execs or their clients changing their minds later. But, once you start moving outside of that sphere, that argument tends to drop away. In recent years Sony, JVC and Canon have come up with terrific image manipulation in terms of cinegammas, etc. and you can set your scene files or picture profiles to get the exact look you want. Before the job, you can thoroughly test and select the exact picture profile you want, then you just set your white balance, expose it properly and shoot it - baked in - with only minor tweaking (color correction) needed in post, if at all.

That's what a lot of people want and Sony, Canon, etc. provide that. That's what they're known for (marketing-wise). But it doesn't stop them from recently, and without a lot of marketing fanfare, also adding RAW recording capabilities to their newer cameras. There's some demand for that, so they've added it for their customers. Just like Fedex added services other than overnight.

But what did RED do? Arri Alexa came out with its "baked-in ProRes" and its 1080p and completely pulverized them in the TV production field. (Heck, even the new Bond movie was shot on the Alexa.) Did RED add a module that would provide proper image manipulation plus oversample their 5K Bayer sensor into 1080p ProRes output and then promote the visual benefits of their oversampling PLUS having a 5K RAW master for later insurance (in case everybody is watching 4K TVs in 10 years time)? Unfortunately, there was just knocking of 1080p and knocking of "baked in". I reckon that the TV shows would pre-test to get the look of their show right in the first place. So why complicate the post workflow when all that's needed is a bit of tweaking? Especially when you're doing it week in and week out. Arri now provide, I believe, their own form of RAW (because customers wanted it) even though their successful positioning in people's minds is "1080p ProRes".

If this new Dragon sensor can really deliver the goods as promised (6K Bayer sensor, 20 stops DR, extremely low noise), I think it would be a camera you could happily use for the next 10-20 years and therefore has the potential to be a superb investment (especially if they can keep the brain and sensor upgrade close to $25K). The other camera companies are now giving the 2 options for recording:
a) with image manipulation (such as cinegammas, etc.), and
b) with RAW

I guess, by only offering option b, it's no wonder RED had to halve the price of their camera recently. In my workaday world, I'd like the highest image quality (which the Dragon sensor oversampled to 1080p could do) but I am so busy shooting and editing that everything has to be "to the point" with no added steps. I think that RED could clean up with this new sensor if they separate their marketing from their actual delivery and just quietly added a module with the option of composing a great "look" in camera and baking it in to an oversampled 1080p output with no further post work required (if you exposed it correctly). That's where they got creamed by Alexa and it's probably where Sony and Canon will continue to make inroads on their potential market.

The only point where I'd differ from Charles is that the advent of RED prompted a seismic shift where Sony then released the EX1 and you could get a genuine (1000 lines+) 1080p for sub $10K. Prior to that, the only way you could get 1080p was the F900 at over $100K. Until then, Sony would only release interlaced cameras at 1080i. At least that's how I remember it.

EDIT: Sorry, I just remembered that Sony, etc. use log and I said it was RAW! My mistake and please ignore the bits where I said this.

Last edited by David Knaggs; January 5th, 2013 at 10:06 PM. Reason: Incorrectly said RAW for some cameras when I should have said log.
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Old February 4th, 2013, 12:53 PM   #11
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Re: RED's DRAGON SENSOR BREATHING FIRE

hmm, might be time to sell the sports car. or the house.
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