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Old January 18th, 2013, 10:11 AM   #16
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Re: Gemini 4:4:4 ARRIRAW Option

Craig-
One other bit of add-on advice:
Budget a little bit of extra OT for the transfer guy -- since he may still be transferring when the rest of the crew has already wrapped and the trucks are ready to leave for the day. Particularly if you have a multicam day. So that also means that he should be the one driving the van, or you'll need the driver to stay late as well.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 11:37 AM   #17
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Re: Gemini 4:4:4 ARRIRAW Option

I've been shooting a lot of projects with the Alexa in the past year and it is my first camera of choice.

I have ONLY shot to SXS cards. We use ProRes422HQ for most jobs, including my series (Key & Peele, for Comedy Central) to keep storage size manageable. On a $3 million feature that is screening this weekend at Sundance, I was able to bump up to 4444 since ARRIRAW with the Codex was not approved due to file size.

The bottom line is that I have seen the results projected and I am more than satisfied. As always, people get hungry for specs and want the best and that's not a terrible goal, but somehow that makes the alternative "bad" in comparison. Yes, ProRes has a lot of compression in comparison but in real-life application, it still looks great. I've pushed it a lot of ways in color and it has held up nicely.

I can't see why a low budget film NEEDS to go RAW. You'll spend more money on drives and transfer time and ultimately, the difference on screen is probably not going to be noticeable by anyone but the smallest percentage of viewers if the results were projected split-screen (which of course they will never be).

Not to be disparaging of the Gemini as I am a fan of Convergent Design products and that's what I would use when shooting RAW, when and if it comes up. I'm just pointing out that if you are struggling to afford the right gear or personnel elsewhere in the budget, run the numbers and make sure it is really worth it to make the decision to record externally.

By the way--Craig--you are planning on 16 setups a day on your feature? Luxurious schedule! Where do I sign up?!
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Old January 18th, 2013, 02:35 PM   #18
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Re: Gemini 4:4:4 ARRIRAW Option

Dear Charles,

I highly respect you opinion and experience.

There is, I feel, another part of the equation, in the decision to shoot Raw or not.

I attended Geoff Boyle's Raw Workships.

It was certainly nice to shoot in Raw and then later extract the dynamic range that was needed, and be able to have a wide dynamic range.

We shot a model, coming out of the dark into very bright sunlight, with modern cameras and various Raw recorders, and were able to extract very useable footage from when the model is very under-exposed to very over-exposed, all in one shot.

All of this was shot in Raw, thus we did not also record to a compressed recorder, so I do not have a one-to-one comparison.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 03:01 PM   #19
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Re: Gemini 4:4:4 ARRIRAW Option

Hi Dan:

I hadn't hear claims of ARRIRAW achieving higher DR but yes, that would be noteworthy, particularly for low budget shows where there isnt the same likelihood of wielding the size of grip and electric packages required for taming high contrast (what, doesn't everyone hang a 20x20 flyswatter off a condor for their exteriors?!)

I don't know the gent that wrote this but it does address this issue from a subjective level. As expected, the most noticeable gain was in resolution. I have long held that Alexa footage doesn't look soft when projected, it's just that higher resolution footage may look sharper in comparison--and that is not always a desirable thing (aging actresses...)

Alexa shooting Arri RAW Vs Pro Res | johnbrawley
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Old January 18th, 2013, 06:39 PM   #20
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Re: Gemini 4:4:4 ARRIRAW Option

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Sperling View Post
Craig-
One other bit of add-on advice:
Budget a little bit of extra OT for the transfer guy -- since he may still be transferring when the rest of the crew has already wrapped and the trucks are ready to leave for the day. Particularly if you have a multicam day. So that also means that he should be the one driving the van, or you'll need the driver to stay late as well.
Actually, an editor's assistant is a really good idea. Set him up in his own van outside and have the PAs run SSDs back and forth. But I don't do mult-cam. No, never.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 06:45 PM   #21
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Re: Gemini 4:4:4 ARRIRAW Option

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
I've been shooting a lot of projects with the Alexa in the past year and it is my first camera of choice.

I have ONLY shot to SXS cards. We use ProRes422HQ for most jobs, including my series (Key & Peele, for Comedy Central) to keep storage size manageable. On a $3 million feature that is screening this weekend at Sundance, I was able to bump up to 4444 since ARRIRAW with the Codex was not approved due to file size.

The bottom line is that I have seen the results projected and I am more than satisfied. As always, people get hungry for specs and want the best and that's not a terrible goal, but somehow that makes the alternative "bad" in comparison. Yes, ProRes has a lot of compression in comparison but in real-life application, it still looks great. I've pushed it a lot of ways in color and it has held up nicely.

I can't see why a low budget film NEEDS to go RAW. You'll spend more money on drives and transfer time and ultimately, the difference on screen is probably not going to be noticeable by anyone but the smallest percentage of viewers if the results were projected split-screen (which of course they will never be).

Not to be disparaging of the Gemini as I am a fan of Convergent Design products and that's what I would use when shooting RAW, when and if it comes up. I'm just pointing out that if you are struggling to afford the right gear or personnel elsewhere in the budget, run the numbers and make sure it is really worth it to make the decision to record externally.

By the way--Craig--you are planning on 16 setups a day on your feature? Luxurious schedule! Where do I sign up?!
Well, the 16 set-ups were just for the sake of simplified math. Very much "what if". This project's very much in the "what if" state at this point, so I feel I can take some liberties.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 07:05 PM   #22
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Re: Gemini 4:4:4 ARRIRAW Option

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Hi Dan:

I hadn't hear claims of ARRIRAW achieving higher DR but yes, that would be noteworthy, particularly for low budget shows where there isnt the same likelihood of wielding the size of grip and electric packages required for taming high contrast (what, doesn't everyone hang a 20x20 flyswatter off a condor for their exteriors?!)

I don't know the gent that wrote this but it does address this issue from a subjective level. As expected, the most noticeable gain was in resolution. I have long held that Alexa footage doesn't look soft when projected, it's just that higher resolution footage may look sharper in comparison--and that is not always a desirable thing (aging actresses...)

Alexa shooting Arri RAW Vs Pro Res | johnbrawley
Charles, so you would say then, that for theatrical projection, the resolution of Pro Res is plenty sharp? I've never had the chance of a side by side comparison with RAW or seen Pro Res projected on a theater screen (that I know of).
Thanks for your opinion - Craig
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Old January 18th, 2013, 08:01 PM   #23
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Re: Gemini 4:4:4 ARRIRAW Option

On the Arri, the DR is almost the same for RAW and ProRes.

What you get with RAW is slightly more resolution, the ability to more finely tune your WB in post (it's baked in with ProRes) and a lot more room to swing the grade around if youre wanting to push the post side of things. In other words, a more extreme grade is less likely to fall apart when you shoot RAW.

I found the differences small and decided not to shoot RAW on the small feature I was doing (less than 2 million budget) For me, it was a much greater expense for not much of an imaging upside and a whole lot more work for the data wrangler.

I put the money into lenses instead.

jb
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Old January 19th, 2013, 06:26 AM   #24
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Re: Gemini 4:4:4 ARRIRAW Option

That sounds about right, John.

Your point about the resources being used elsewhere echoes the one I was making. There are certain battles worth fighting (such as being able to afford Alexa in the first place) and others, like this, that I think are better let go sometimes. The lower the budget of the job, the more significant the cost differential between shooting compressed and RAW become. Overtime on the data wrangler is no joke with that much more footage to grind; drives for the outboard recorder, drives for the downloaded footage, the ultimate size of the project storage, man hours to manage it, layback to the RAW footage at the end of the project...it adds up.

What I love about the Alexa is that it is a self-contained beast. It's simple and reliable and that counts for a lot on set. With other cameras like the F3, I have suffered a lot of stress due to outboard recorders and data loss. On a multi-camera shoot we had three different manufacturer's external recorders making proxy files for fast turnaround, and each and every one lost files at some point (we were shooting to XDCAM disc so editorial always had that, but they wanted to cut ProRes to avoid transcoding). Data loss is the rarely-spoken of horror that plagues external recorders--sometimes it's due to operator error, sometimes it's a who-knows--but I do know this: I have yet to experience any issues with the internal recording on the Alexa and that piece of mind counts for a lot. Again: this is a thread about the Gemini and I have a ton of respect for the product, Convergent Design and Dan's customer support which has been top notch for me and others (I own a Nanoflash), and if I were shooting a RAW job it's the box I'd be using. I'm just trying to offer the perspective that just because there's a higher spec available, it shouldn't necessarily disqualify the other ones at the cost of compromise elsewhere in the production.

Regarding the "falling apart" possibilities...I've pushed the grade quite far with 422HQ and not had issues. Once again, everything is relative and certainly RAW will offer more headroom, but I've yet to break the codec even with quite aggressive work in the Davinci. Examples here: https://vimeo.com/channels/keypeele
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Old January 19th, 2013, 09:58 AM   #25
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Re: Gemini 4:4:4 ARRIRAW Option

Okay, I realize this is a dead-serious technical discussion about ARRIRAW, however...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
...but I've yet to break the codec even with quite aggressive work in the Davinci. Examples here: https://vimeo.com/channels/keypeele
...when you mention Key & Peele, a simple link to the Vimeo channel will not suffice! Specific examples should be embedded directly within this thread. And thank you Chas, three times over: for mentioning the K&P sketches in the first place, thereby giving me the excuse to do this; for making them on-topic (as examples of how you've yet to break the codec); and for shooting them in the first place.




Okay, hope y'all enjoyed that diversion as much as I did...
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Old January 19th, 2013, 12:06 PM   #26
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Re: Gemini 4:4:4 ARRIRAW Option

Hey listen, when the guy that runs the site lays down the law, you just have to go along with it!

I'm not sure those are the most "stretchy" examples of color correction we've done but I'll let the curious browse the rest of the channel.

I'll let you guys get back to it. And I look forward to posting after I've had the chance to use the Gemini in ARRIRAW soon, I hope (waiting for the next feature).
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Old January 19th, 2013, 06:26 PM   #27
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Re: Gemini 4:4:4 ARRIRAW Option

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
What I love about the Alexa is that it is a self-contained beast. It's simple and reliable and that counts for a lot on set. With other cameras like the F3, I have suffered a lot of stress due to outboard recorders and data loss. On a multi-camera shoot we had three different manufacturer's external recorders making proxy files for fast turnaround, and each and every one lost files at some point (we were shooting to XDCAM disc so editorial always had that, but they wanted to cut ProRes to avoid transcoding).
It's a great point you make, but I'd add that at the moment, the self contained beast is only self contained when shooting to ProRes. And it does do a VERY fine job to be sure, but you're still "limited" to ProRes (or DNx)

That was another reasons we didn't go for the ArriRAW option on this feature. It's another BOX that has to be powered and cabled.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Data loss is the rarely-spoken of horror that plagues external recorders--sometimes it's due to operator error, sometimes it's a who-knows--but I do know this: I have yet to experience any issues with the internal recording on the Alexa and that piece of mind counts for a lot.
I have ;-)

I've had faults with the camera....dropped frames...

I think any camera can fail. I expect them to now. External recorders just complicate the possibility. I've had internal camera record faults with EPIC, RED, ALEXA and BMCC. Mostly it's ended up being media related.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Regarding the "falling apart" possibilities...I've pushed the grade quite far with 422HQ and not had issues. Once again, everything is relative and certainly RAW will offer more headroom, but I've yet to break the codec even with quite aggressive work in the Davinci. Examples here: https://vimeo.com/channels/keypeele
I think ProRes is very very robust. But it does have limitations. I've been spoilt though a bit lately. I think the Alexa LOGc is excellent, but you wouldn't put any really important information in the extremes of the highlights for example. So you can have something up near clipping, not overexposed, it will look fine, but trying to pull it back down more than a little and you run into the bit depth limitations of the codec. It's not something you need to do often, but it's one of the advantages of higher bit depth recording when shooting RAW.

The Gemini by the way, seems like the most elegant off-board recorder for the Alexa I've seen.

The problem is, no one here in Australia anyway, can justify the need to record RAW in the first place. Most features made here as local shoots are sub 5 million, and the budget just doesn't allow for RAW, as desirable as that is for the many reasons you touched on already above. I know of only one feature shot here in the last 2 years that shot RAW. In that case they were given the CODEX recorder for free. Even then, it was still a stretch for them to cover it.

jb
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Old January 19th, 2013, 07:45 PM   #28
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Re: Gemini 4:4:4 ARRIRAW Option

John, I think we are in complete agreement.

I really should have knocked on wood regarding not having data issues with the Alexa. I'm sure something will happen someday and actually, I wouldn't necessarily know if there was a dropped frame here and there unless editorial made a point to tell me. Much has changed since film days where the lab report would detail every last thing, to a fault!

I think that I have been extraordinarily unlucky because if everyone had the experiences I've had with outboard recorders, there would be a few bankrupt manufacturers out there. I seem to carry a curse on this issue.

There is an interesting paradigm here and that is that an independently financed micro-budget production might just have more of a chance to shoot RAW than a more "legit" one that actually has something of a budget, comparatively speaking. When you get into a situation where time (as in an individual's wage) is not as much of a factor, you don't have the same pressure on the bottom line. For a long time it seemed like RED made the most sense if you were either a high budget show that could outsource the workflow to one of the boutiques that specialized in it, or if you were essentially a hobbyist who could handle it yourself as non-billable hours. It's the inbetween that made it tough to manage. I've constantly been asked "you aren't planning to shoot this on RED, are you?" in job interviews and they are quite relieved when I say no.
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