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HD and UHD ( 2K+ ) Digital Cinema
Various topics: HD, UHD (2K / 4K) Digital Cinema acquisition to distribution.


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Old October 31st, 2009, 07:15 AM   #1
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A hole in the market: S35mm, RAW, affordable

So, the Oct 30th RED announcement has been and gone. RED are clearly working their butss off and their ambition is astounding.

I look forward to hiring one of those cameras. But I now know for sure that I can’t afford to buy the Scarlet S35 that I was so hoping I’d be able to buy. The S35 brain price hasn’t been announced but the module prices alone put a working S35 camera out of my budget.

This is a real shame. It would appear to leave a gaping hole in the market. vDSLRs have created a huge expectation for low cost, large-sensor video cameras. I wonder if perhaps RED have focussed on competing with ARRI's new digital cinema camera and RED are no longer so eager to compete head-to-head with the vDSLRs.

So. The gauntlet is down to make a camera which will evolve the vDSLRs to a point where they’re usable. Who will step in? Canon? Nikon? Panasonic? Perhaps Silicon Imaging will surprise us all? Perhaps someone else?

Look. I know nothing about making cameras. But I like to day dream. Here are some idle musings I had on the night bus whilst catching up on the RED announcments:

1) Keep it simple. S35 sensor. Compressed RAW (or 10-bit log RGB). Dual XLR inputs (maybe S/PDIF if you’re feeling fancy). No options. Just one model, with one clear purpose and one price.

2) Embrace the rapid development model. Use as many off-the-shelf components as possible. Sensor? Off the shelf from Sony of Fuji or Kodak or someone. CPU? Atom. Compression ASIC? Don’t waste millions developing an ASIC, instead use a mobile GPU or two to do the number crunching. The new nVidia Fermi GPUs are capable of over a trillion single-precision (32-bit) operations per second. Codec? Cineform RAW (you don’t even have to spend time developing any software!) LCD? Don’t even bother making your own - just let people buy from the market. OS? Android? Let 3rd party developers create modules for the OS (intervalometers, wireless triggers etc). The camera will basically be a computer so provide a few EtherExpress ports for storage and add-on modules. Build in WiFi. No need to build your own remote; let 3rd party developers create iPhone / Android apps for smart phones which will talk to the camera body over WiFi. Yes the camera will chew through batteries but who cares? Completely open source the camera’s OS (just look at the enthusiasm with which skilled folks have developed their own firmware for the 5D) and provide cash prizes for developers.

Sell it for around 4,000 - 5k.

I can dream, can’t I?

I certainly don’t want to belittle RED’s incredible achievements. But, from my perspective of a cash-strapped filmmaker, what RED are doing is analogous to the NASA moon missions: awe inspiring and technically phenomenal. But I can’t afford a moon rocket. I just want a fast train. Crap analogy; but you get where I’m going with it, right?
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Old October 31st, 2009, 07:20 AM   #2
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Or, another option: modify existing dSLRs and add a compressed RAW recording facility and audio.
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Old October 31st, 2009, 09:12 AM   #3
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I suspect that RED are aiming their Scarlet S35 at people who might be using the 2/3" or 1/2" cameras rather than 1/3" cameras with 35mm adapters.

The 2/3" Scarlet promises to be a powerful camera for those film makers who don't obsess about shallow DOF and just to tell a story on a lower budget.

The Epic is very much aimed that people who are in the higher end RED One or the lower end Arri HD markets.

For people who can accept the compromises of the DSLR HD video they have the production volumes to keep costs down because they're primary aimed at the larger stills market. Could be the small market for a RAW motion recorder for the DSLR would take the costs into the Scarlet S35 bracket anyway.

RED's marketing model isn't one for those people who must have a camera straight away. Basically don't make any plans until they're in production.
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Old October 31st, 2009, 10:22 AM   #4
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I'd settle for a Panasonic GH-1 with a super-16 sized sensor, a C-mount lens adapter, and a live feed out the HDMI port.

Doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility.

Of course, there's this:
http://www.ikonoskop.com/dii/

Now, if it were just a bit cheaper....
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Old October 31st, 2009, 02:57 PM   #5
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If you read Red's Oct30 announcement, there is not a Scarlet S35 in the pipeline anymore. I guess they figure out that it will cannibalize the sales of Epic S35, especially on hard economic times like these.

The order of camera release according to JJ is:
Epic X S35 (Red 1 owners only)
Epic S35
Scarlet 2/3
Epic FF
Scarlet FF
Epic 645
Epic 617

Also if delivery of Epic S35 has been pushed back at least 6 months that means that Scarlet will be available around one year from now.

More info at:
http://red.cachefly.net/OctoberPost.jpg
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Old October 31st, 2009, 03:05 PM   #6
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Jim accidentally left the Scarlet S35 off the list. It's back on the list now.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 02:29 PM   #7
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I dont believe we should be pushing these cameras out like they are. This CMOS stuff is really getting annoying. Most of them are completely useless to someone with a REAL professional eye. RED are the only guys that got it right.

I will not name names, but the actual footage out of all of these CMOS cameras is completely useless. I have seen raw footage from every CMOS camera available at the moment, and the list is VERY short for the ones that even pass the motion issues with rolling shutter. And that camera still is limited with so many other issues...

I think RED is doing the right thing by pushing back constantly, I am tired of these other companies putting out these CMOS cameras and pushing them out the door before working out any of the serious kinks.

Personally the DSLR's are jokes to me, completely unusable for professional situations. I said I wouldn't name names, but I guess I have to for one specific camera: HPX300. Down right the worst I have ever seen in a camera that even tries to claim itself as a professional or even pro-sumer camera. The camera cost $9,000 after taxes and it cant even shoot a static shot on a tripod with a TINY bit of moment in the frame, without noticing skew. To the people who have said "its acceptable"... You are weakening the standards and hurting the production lines of the future by accepting these issues at thos price ranges. To the companies that says "hey its ok if you put out a sub-par camera at that price" so who is to stop the companies from continuing to put out another sub-par camera? no one.

Let the gap be there. Leave it alone, wait for something good to come along, or just leave the gap... whats wrong with having a gap there? for MOST of the life of cinematography there was 2 ways to go... 16, or 35mm who cared about a gap?? no one. then there was the digital world and it became SD, HDV, HD, 2k, 4k, Film. It was still all good. The cheap cameras were good at what they did, but were still no where near film resolution. The GOOD cameras where much closer to film in looks and resolution, but they were in the range of $100,000 which means you had to actually be good at what you were doing before you were able to use one, or buy one.

Now we have all of these 2k and 4k cameras that are being developed with price ranges that the average shmoe could afford.... my point that I try to make is this...

The price gaps are what kept people "in line" so to speak. Obviously if you owned an F900, that meant you usually had worked your way up from the bottom, and you work was good, and you continued to do good work until you could afford to buy an F900 at 100,000 for the camera. That or you came from a film background and already were good at what you did and wanted to go digital. Either way, if you owned an F900 chances are you were actually a GOOD cinematographer/Op.

Now we have cameras that are coming close to film resolution and look of film, for a super small price... What this means is, now these instruments are in the hands of the people who are "not deserving" of them. Now your slightly above average DP could get their hands on and use the same exact gear as a major motion picture would use, for practically nothing. There is no more race to be better to be able to afford a better camera. No one will take the 10-30 years to get to the level of shooting something with the quality of a 4k camera... Now these KIDS are in film school and owners of 4k cameras that should have never been in their reach at that price range.

What this does is create "lazy shooters". No one is working their way up to get better and better cameras... It would takes years and years of being a DP and working your way up and saving money, to get to that level of quality camera. Now they buy a RED camera, and just produce crap with it. No one is trying to be better at their job to get a better camera.

Now some may argue and say, well now they can just work on their skills... There is absolutely nothing that has come out other than major studio films that have shot on RED, that even looks worthy of a cinematography award. Just about everything I have seen online from these kids who own a RED camera, is simply putting out mediocre footage. They aren't getting better at anything. All they are doing is getting the ability to say they shot their project in 4k. And it then starts this hype for 4k shooters/owners. Meanwhile shooting crappy footage in 4k is still crappy footage. Sure it looks nicer than say HVX footage with a 35mm adapter, but quite frankly, if you cant shoot and make things amazing with an hvx and 35mm adapter, you wont be able to do anything ANY better with shooting 4k.

Guys instead of just wanting a camera to come out in the price range you can afford, why don't you better yourself over the years, and become a working professional and save up until you are "worthy" of owning such camera? By then you will actually have the skills to bring out the real quality of owning such device anyway.

I am old school, but without us, everyone would just run around asking... whats an F stop? ... Work your way up.

Last edited by Giuseppe Pugliese; December 17th, 2009 at 04:00 PM.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 02:47 PM   #8
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Oh man....

In so many ways, I agree. So many ways.

BUT, I will say this...

I see the 5D and 7D as exceptional learning tools. The cost is not prohibitive and I recommend them to students who want to learn about film. Why?

1. It FORCES you to actually think about exposure. No zebras, no live histograms, etc. You actually have to LOOK at what you're doing.

2. No autofocus. You actually have to focus the camera. No false colors, no peaking indicators.

3. You can't just shoot continuously forever. You have to give some thought to what you are shooting or you'll "run out".

4. No decent sound. So you have to learn to shoot double system and sync. And you have to do it the old way since there's no timecode either.

5. You have to select lenses. HUGE change for most shooters who've only worked with handycams.

6. You have to conform the footage and work with that. Kinda like working with film.

7. You really need to do an intermediate. A lot like working in post with film footage (without the edge numbers and such)

8. It's affordable. And this is a biggie. Part of the reason a lot of people with creative ability never do get into film is because the camera, lenses, and media cost a lot. For the price of a single PL mount prime, you can get a camera, rails, follow-focus, and an hour's worth of media and go LEARN. I think more than anything, this is what is missing.

I have absolutely shocked on these forums and others to hear supposed pros who don't have a fundamental grasp of exposure, shutter speeds, and other things that were absolutely fundamental when I studied photography in junior high and high school, as well as college.

As shooters and budding cinematographers, we owe it to ourselves and our craft to understand the basics of what we are doing. My journey started with a 1960s Anscomat range finder camera with kodachrome, progressed through a few SLRs, and finally ended with some medium format work, and my trusty Nikon F4s some 25 years later. And I still had/have a TON to learn about lighting, sound, camera moves, and all manner of other things. But I work at it. Daily. And this is something I see missing from a lot of folks.

Frankly, instead of folks complaining about what these cameras WON'T do, we'd be a lot further ahead if we'd simply use them to their maximum. I semi-DPed a short a couple months ago with a 5D and was utterly delighted to go back to a light meter, a slate with no timecode, and more basic movie-making techniques. Had a lot of fun with it. I really believe more people should do that. You'll learn a ton.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 02:24 PM   #9
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Perrone, you talk a lot of sense, man! Not everyone can "work their way up" through the industry (it's not a huge industry), so a DSLR is a good film school for those who can't even get into film school.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 03:03 PM   #10
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I agree Perrone, learning to pull focus, work audio and expose is a real talent and the 5D, 7D makes you work towards theses goals.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 06:48 AM   #11
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Excellent post Perrone, very valid points.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 10:04 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Wyatt View Post
Perrone, you talk a lot of sense, man! Not everyone can "work their way up" through the industry (it's not a huge industry), so a DSLR is a good film school for those who can't even get into film school.
John. I don't get what you are saying. Isn't this the point that Perrone is making too?
I'm with this entirely. Buy a 5dmk2 to learn technique, make stuff for any market you can find and maybe rent or buy higher end gear in the future (A Red or whatever else comes onto the market in a year or so), having learned how to use a camera meantime.
Hands-on is the way to learn. That's what Perrone is saying too isn't it. Or have a missed a point?
BTW It's not polite to say that someone is talking nonsense when they have as much experience as Perrone has and are making a well-constructed argument.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 10:12 AM   #13
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Richard, I think he was supporting what I was saying.... maybe you misread? Or maybe I misunderstood! ;)
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Old December 19th, 2009, 10:17 AM   #14
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Sorry guys. I've just had three teeth extracted and bone surgery. I guess the anesthetic hasn't worn off completely. I read 'nonsense' instead of 'sense'
I'm glad we all agree and I'm going to shut up now :-)
ps maybe I need to get my eyes tested too ;-)
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Old December 20th, 2009, 08:52 AM   #15
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Thats all well and good for learning situations, but my response wasn't towards people needing to learn, it was towards the already working, and the cameras that are being dreamed up with all of these different price ranges are really hurting the industry in many ways. My response is to the people who are taking these "learning" cameras seriously and that's whats really hurting things. Its the lack of valid information, or the lack of any information that these directors are getting. The DP's and post people need to start speaking up about the reality of the situation with these cameras, they are very low bit rates, they cant handle motion, and they cannot be tweaked in post very well because of their unprofessional compression rates and color information.

There is a quality issue here, and so many people and companies are skimping on the quality, just to get shallow depth, or more light sensitivity, but not realizing that it would NEVER meet broadcast quality standards.

I am going to stand up for the DP's who actually took years to get where they are, and spending tens of thousands of dollars on their HD cameras, and learning their craft over years of work. There is this internet ridiculousness that seems to be taking over the idea of a DP's work, anyone can all of a sudden shoot some pretty shots and put them together and be done with it. Problem is you are looking at a 500x340 sized image on a computer monitor, heavily compressed, or an HD size clip still heavily compressed over the internet. The second you see these clips compared to professional cameras on real monitors and screens, there is no contest of who the winner will be. Sure its nice to just grab a little DSLR and shoot some stuff to learn and for fun. But I am talking about these people who are now passing themselves off as a working DP and shooting "commercials" and "feature films" with a DSLR and the bottom line is, the footage looks bad.

I dont care what it was shot on, as long as it looks good on a proper HD monitor or being able to tweak it in post, in color. But the fact of the matter is, it DOESNT look good. Most of the footage is wobbles and so many other things. Yet directors that dont know any better, are saying yes to these guys, without any research as to what is your better choice. A real ENG or Digital cinema camera setup, or a DSLR?

There is this trend of not caring about the actual quality of the post side of things, and its all just pretty pictures right out of the camera. Meanwhile you cant pull mattes and rotoscope well, you cant even walk with it... I want the directors and DSLR shooters to really take a look at what they are doing to the industry. They are cheapening it. They are not caring about the quality on all aspects anymore. Sure learn with a DSLR great, but posting yourself on mandy's or crigslist as a DP and then you charge a day rate and your camera is a DSLR, meanwhile for the same price you can get a DP with a better camera and more knowledge about shooting.... Then these directors and line producers fall for the hype of a DSLR and shoot with that, instead of using the better DP. These cameras cannot handle a real production. These prices are hurting the working men and woman out there who really do own the best gear, and have the power and knowledge. Instead people run around and say... hmm we can get 1080p 35mm depth for cheap? lets go for that, then there's absolutely no lighting work done, or expert work to make it look special.

Every tool has its place, just don't try to pass off a screw driver as a craftsman high powered 24v drill.
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