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My Final Post (reduser.net)
308 points by cwilson on Aug 19, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 119 comments

I've followed the RED story from the beginning; I have a friend who bought one of the first run and basically launched his career with it, so I've stayed informed for personal and professional reasons.

They've taken a lot of flak because they make big promises and only sort of keep them (or rather, they keep them with a few galling compromises, as I understand it). But the fact is they kicked the cinema industry right in the ass and made them work for it. RED leapfrogged them into the digital era and because of the industry panic we now have amazing cameras like the Arri Alexa and Sony F35.

I don't know what RED has for a future, but despite all the weirdness, hype, and inside baseball, it has a pretty glorious past. Good work, Jim, and thanks from all of us.

I'm not sure the Alexa and F35 were panicked responses to the Red... the Arri D20 and Panavision Genesis predated the Red, and are very clearly the ancestors of the Alexa and F35 respectively - they use the same resolutions, sensor layouts and colourspaces, if not the exact same chips and recording formats. Not to mention the Dalsa Origin, a 4k camera out well before the Reds.

It was a pretty incredible shift though - The more common cameras of the day, such as the 1080p Sony F950, was going for over $180,000 a package, and suddenly you could get a 4K camera package for $35,000. And it could record Raw footage to compact flash cards! The F900 and F950 recorded MPEG2 to HDCAM and HDCAM SR tape at that time.

And they were pretty unprecedented (for the cinema industry) in the way they handled upgrades - dramatically improving many aspects in their cameras through free firmware upgrades and then offering a major sensor upgrade for the cameras, whereas their competitors would just release whole new camera models.

Well, thats a turn out for the books.

I've dealt with RED professionally on a few levels. Firstly I came across RED footage shortly after the cameras were released to film makers. Back then to transcode the output from the camera (jpeg2000 with some meta data) to something useful required a beefy mac pro, some free software and lots and lots of time (3-10FPS if you were lucky). Either way, it was expensive. (we used to charge £500 every ten minutes of red footage transcoded)

This made me sad, especially as there was no SDK for linux to allow us to use the render farm to transcode it. You could spend £5000 on an "accelerator card" however, its £5k and prone to breaking. The annoying thing was the despite the hype the camera really wasn't all that. Yes it was 4k, but it was noisy, had rolling shutter and colours were duller than dish water. It took the Foundry "reverse engineering" the codec to bring RED to linux natively

35mm film was still far better in terms of image quality(assuming decent DoP and film lab). Yet the hype still built. (Early RED films were dark and broody for a reason....)

The next generation of camera was alright, still expensive to hire/buy/use. Yes the sensor unit is relatively cheap, but you still needed to buy lenses, adapters, storage medium, handles(£250 for the cheapest handle), focus gears, etc. You then have to factor in the cost of post production. It was at the time expensive to shoot RED. On a par with film. It took at least two generations of RED cameras, and a lots of third party dev hours to make RED reasonable to use.

Nowadays RED decoding is fairly trivial to do, and the modern sensors are fairly good, assuming you down res from the 5k to avoid sensor noise.

One thing to note is this, RED fans are utterly fanatical. They will swear that anything RED is cheaper, better, faster, messianic compared to the competition. They are also prone to pirating software.

In the annals of cinema, there will be many inches devoted to RED. Evangilising its reforming power. However the camera that really stood out is the canon 5Dmk2. It was cheaper (genuinely throwaway in cinema terms) good enough quality to get by, and has cheap high quality lenses.

In short, RED camera, its alright for cinema, pain in the arse for post. REDuser.net and the surrounding noise is worse than angry 4chan.

The people at RED however are lovely, its just some noisy users that are obnoxious

I also dealt with RED very early on, the post was a nightmare and still isn't as smooth as it could be. But the dark footage was mainly the fault of film trained DPs who were used to underexposing and pushing during transfer (hence the noise). I was amazed when we'd get footage from Academy award winning DPs that looked awful, then get footage from DPs who had never shot much film, but tons of HD. They understood you didn't underexpose but expose to the right, bringing it right up to the edge before it blows out, that's when the footage looks great. The guys used to film were shooting with a tool they didn't know how to use, hardly the fault RED when the video guys were killing it (don't use a light meter, use a waveform and histogram). And the footage coming out LOG shouldn't have saturated colors, it's supposed to look muddy (have film transferred flat and you'll have the same result). That gives all the power to the colorist as far as the final grade as opposed to DPs locking in a look (another major reason that Hollywood DPs hated digital, it was taking away much of their power). RED was ground breaking and had a huge affect on the market, although, for my 2¢, the Canon 5D has had a bigger impact overall (with an image that's much worse than RED).

And RED fans are fanatical. Take the biggest mac fanboy and cross him with a Patriots fan, that might get you close. There is also a very vocal group of RED haters who spew bs for no apparent reason. The cameras should be the tools, not the owners.

Full disclosure: I've never owned a RED, but spent quite a bit of time in post with the footage (worked post on some of the first major commercials shot with the RED) and used it to shoot some of my own work. I've owned a 5D since it's release and have Blackmagic Pocket and 4K on order to finally replace it. I learned on film, spent a decade as a news photog shooting betacam before moving to post for features and commercials (nuke/flame and fcp/avid). I prefer working with the Alexa when at all possible, but that can increase the budget considerably (at least for me as i know plenty of great DPs that own REDs).

And imho, the most beautiful film release this year was Upstream Color, which was shot on a Panasonic GH-2, current retail for that camera is about $1000. And the most daring was a tie between Computer Chess which was shot on 80's era tube cameras and the experimental narrative Escape from Tomorrow shot on Canon 5D/7D at Disney World without Disney's permission.

I think you're overstating a little - I've been editing RED footage on laptops for years (no joke - my main machine is a mid-2011 MacBook Pro 15 inch and I can edit 4K RED files natively in Final Cut Pro X and Premiere CS6)... Rendering takes a little while at the end, but the files downscale to 1/4 resolution on the fly and play back real-time while you're editing.

It's never really been that bad - originally we'd just pump out a 1/4 or 1/8th res proxies out of Redcine and then reconform to the full-res files at the end, so you'd only have to render out the ones you'd need in full quality for grading. We did it all in house on pretty standard machines...

And I wouldn't say that 35mm film was 'better' - really, that is a big oversimplification. 35mm definitely had the edge over the original RED Mysterium sensor in dynamic range, but not in resolution - although some crazy people scan 35mm all the way up to 6K, when you measure what you get you don't get anywhere near that (I can't remember the numbers exactly now - If I recall, due to the OLPF to stop aliasing and other factors, a 4K pixel raster from the RED ONE would measure at about 3.2K (horizontal), and a 35mm camera neg was somewhat less (around 2.8K or something?)).

on a mac! and remember editing has always been easier as you can work with proxies right up to delivery. Also Final cut was the first to have native support. In post land where we are mostly linux, and scaling up macs cost mega bucks, it was not so rosey.

From a post point of view, its much harder to deal with just proxies. I was in MCR, so It was my job to convert from RED to exr/dpx etc. Since it was post, artists had to deal with full res most of the time (can't paint and rotos proxies)

Your right it is an over simplification, but decent film stock and decent scanner can get "4k" out of 35mm+, however as you rightly point out you are reaching the limit of the actual res of the film stock (more than quite a few cases)

+I used to work with a northlight which overscanneds to 8k then down samples to give the final result.

I'm personally very ignorant on this subject (and really appreciate the detail in this thread). I just wanted to add that I recently watched a documentary by Keanu Reeves called Side by Side about the move from analog to digital in cinema, for better or worse, which included quite a bit about the RED cameras and beyond. I thought it was a phenomenal documentary and well worth the watch for anyone interested.


"35mm film was still far better in terms of image quality(assuming decent DoP and film lab)."

After following RED for a while and many other (digital) cameras, I came to that same conclusion. But if anyone is to match it ever, I guess it would be someone like RED?

I don't really know what it will take to capture the magic of film, ie if they had all of the dynamic range in the world, all of the color detail, etc... would it still not match what silver halide captures? Even the Foveon sensor for still photos isn't really there yet, despite looking better (in my opinion) than Bayer.

The personal feeling for me is that watching something shot digitally feels like it's just 1 step away from a DV cam, but something shot on film is like "wow they really put effort into this to give it a proper movie feel". I'm saying this with regards to lower-budget movies. And then on other side of the coin, shooting motion-film seems to be much more expensive for anyone starting out, so it's a no brainer to use digital. ><

The advantage of shooting on film with a lower budget is that it forces the director and dp to plan everything out as much as possible. There isn't room in the budget for very many takes and none for reshoots. You can't just shoot until it's right, you better rehearse and have your shit together or your burn through film like crazy.

And I personally don't think the magic of film will ever be matched. The magic is in the organic process. But I do believe cameras will reach look that isn't video or film, but something all together different.

The Hobbit was a step in that direction, but imho, not the right project for that ultra sharp look (and they need to relearn how to light so it doesn't feel like a BBC soap opera from 1996). I want to see a sci-fi movie shot at 6K and 60fps, use the tech to compliment the story. Star Trek or Star Wars maybe, but even better if it's not something that is already in our collective consciousness, something completely new.

I find the high frame-rate stuff to be "hyper-real", and to spoil the magical surreality you want in a LotR-style movie. I think 48/60fps will make its big break with a heavily grounded films in the style of End of Watch or Chronicle, where that non-theatrical realism can be leveraged instead of fought against.

High frame rates also raise the bar for the actors every bit as much talkies did; micro-expressions become much more obvious at 60fps.

Never thought about the hfr with a movie like End of Watch, not sure I agree though. I like the staccato motion of films like that and hfr may be too real, honestly I'd have to see it before I could answer. Although an action flick like the Bourne series, The Matrix, or other fast paced action heavy movie could benefit from the smooth motion. My money is still on sci-fi and futurism, especially something that needs to feel a bit sterile.

And it definitely raises the bar, more so than SD to HD did. Everything from make-up, props, set design, lighting, acting, everything will have to adjust.

Post might take the biggest hit. Post-production times will quadruple. It takes a lot longer to retouch/wire removal/matte painting at 60fps than 24fps. And you can hide a lot with the motion blur at 24fps. I trained a group of photoshop retouchers in motion vfx. The biggest adjustment for them was learning that it didn't have to be perfect because it was hidden behind motion blur at 24fps. It just had to fool the eye for a few seconds as opposed to a still that someone is staring at. Moving to 48 and 60fps will reverse that, it will need to be nearly as perfect in motion as a still image.

It seems very unlikely to me, assuming a digital process is invented that can capture at least the information that film captures (and it is borderline preposterous to suppose that this will not happen), that someone won't work out a transfer function (I'm abusing this term, but you get the idea) that closely maps digital to film. Whether or not people will want that is another question entirely, but it would probably be used as a niche effect for getting an old-timey feel.

I still remember the initial Scarlet hype. "$3k for 3k". Man, was I ever pissed when it didn't pan out. :)

Regarding the transcoding; there must be other costs at play there. Because by my calculation[1], time on your Mac Pro costs £0.67 per second...which seems quite steep.

((3 frames / second) * (1 second / 24 frames) * (600 seconds / £500 ))^-1 = £0.67 per second

You also typically need someone watching over the footage, making sure everything is transcoded correctly (especially in the early days as the software would crap out halfway through). Most producers were under the mistaken impression, at least early on, that shooting on the RED would save a day of film transfer. It didn't, it just switched that day over to the edit house, preferably to a dedicated machine with an assistant. It still took a day or two to get footage ready for the editor.

Also, early on, the camera dept. didn't want anything to do with onset media management and transcoding (the job of the newly created DIT), but over time, camera realized their mistake (in losing that control and revenue) and now DITs are typically part of the camera dept and most transcoding is done on set. Now post will get a drive of the raw footage and the transcodes.

Sometimes you price yourself out of a market because it's a pain and you _don't_ want to do it, but will if someone pays you well.

I don't know all the details here, but I would venture to say that it's around that idea.

that includes storage and basic QA.

You have to remember that staff are needed to over see this, data has to be conformed into something sensible.

and that post production is expensive.

I keep getting a database Error; Here is the cached version.


I followed RED closely when they first started and it's sad to see Jannard bow out like this. Their accomplishments as stated in his letter do sound impressive, but I think they are more noteworthy as a catalyst of change throughout the professional camera industry. Scarlet, when it was initially announced, sounded like a dream camera, but they were never able to deliver on that initial promise (at least not on the price and quality in the timeline that they initially aimed for). With that announcement alone though the other camera manufacturers suddenly had to compete at a completely new level. It's unfortunate that RED took too long to actually get their product to the market, because in many ways they defined the DSLR cinematography market without ever even entering it. Had they actually entered the market as they initially intended, we would have an even more impressive array of cameras to choose from today. Instead, many of the same artificial limitations exist (limited bitrate recording, lack of raw capability, smaller colorspace, etc. etc.).

It's a pity that they didn't deliver there. It's also a pity that Jannard let the hordes of basement dwelling internet trolls and self-entitled, quasi-pro blog dorks get him down, and I wonder if he had paid less attention to these toxic non-customers if they would have been able to execute their initial vision for the Scarlet.

The RED user is a very strange beast. I have witnessed both sides of the mania (I attend a lot of tradeshows for media types) They swarm around Ted (from RED, who is a nice, but odd chap) They literally eat rumors for breakfast, and then troll other manufacturers.

Trying to make software for "casual" red users is a devil's own job. They never really pay for anything, and are very, very moaney.

Sounds like we've solved the mystery of what happened to all of those Amiga fans.

I understand how the RED owners have a vested interest in promoting the system. They benefit professionally from the regard that others have for the cameras. e.g. they can rent out their cameras, command a higher rate as an operator or DP if they have one in their kit, etc. What I don't understand is the users of reduser.net that don't own or even rent the cameras, but seem to be there to either froth at the mouth in either reverence or hatred for the company. I stopped going there a long time ago because the signal to noise ratio was just too low.

It confuses me too, I genuinely don't understand the motivation of the hangers on.

It sounds like he just quit posting, and assigned someone else in the company the role of PR...

Maybe because I don't know the full story, but I'm having hard time understanding why a guy who has built such great companies like Oakley and RED so hurt by some guy who makes movies like Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

Geoff Boyle is probably more a commercials DoP than a feature film one, but in this context he is notable for running the CML mailing list, which is a pretty incredible resource for cinematographers. I think it's the most focussed, knowledgeable online community I've ever known. It's so on-point that you can buy a physical book of the discussions.

HN has murdered the server, cache here: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http%3A...

If I understand this correctly, the guy who started Oakley (eyewear) went on to start RED (the 4K digital movie camera). Now he is bowing out and handing the reins over to a younger guy. And he is annoyed that people get annoyed with him. Anything else I should know?

Yes. Wikipedia: James "Jim" Jannard is an American designer and businessman, and founder of eyewear and apparel company Oakley, Inc. and RED Digital Cinema. [1]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Jannard

What all of this fails to mention is that Jannard was essentially forced to sell Oakley to Luxottica (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxottica). Luxottica has a gigantic monopoly on the eyewear industry and one day refused to sell Oakley brands in their stores unless they sold out. The high price tag with the sale is to keep Jannard quiet.

I think Jannard has developed a kind of healthy-paranoia here, because the work he's doing is flying in the face of titans. His persona makes him want to stand up against the big boys and say, "Told you so!"

In my opinion, he's right to be super paranoid and fall into the background. He doesn't want RED to become another Oakley.

There was actually a "60 minutes" episode entitled "Sticker shock: Why are glasses so expensive?" [1] where they talked about Luxottica / Oakley / Ray Ban. Worth a watch if you are interested in the eye wear industry.

[1] http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7424700n

Apple created their own brand stores, so why didn't Oakley? This would have prevented them from being so dependent on a third party...

Monstrous costs to do it in more than a handful of locations. Also, when you start a fashion sunglass brand, I don't know that you're all about changing the world to the point that you have to hold out for some ideal. Wouldn't have been a bad result to sell up and move on to something new.

It sounds like Jannard will still be running the company, just not as the public face any more.

Red jumpstarted the new age of digital cameras with 4K RAW at an amazing price. They have had missteps (witness Scarlet and the late / but in the field Dragon).

It is a shame Canon really hasn't learned the RAW lesson and has been dragged by people (e.g. Magic Lantern). It is a crime for any camera to deliver less than its best because of crap codecs / software. Red had software upgrades that improved already shipping products without charging an upgrade fee. Canon barely learned with the 24p for the 5Dmk2.

Their back and forth with people making movies is pretty refreshing when you think about some other camera companies.

As someone who knows nothing about cameras, that was a fascinating read.

I was really surprised to find out (because this post piqued my curiosity) that the Star Wars prequels were shot in only 1080p. I'm really surprised that that didn't look atrocious on the big screen. Hell, that's like half a centimeter per pixel.

DLP cinemas (i.e. digital cinema projectors) are 2k (as in not must more than 1080) 35mm film prints are nominally 2k in resolution (4k if you put the cash in)

Its only a few cinemas that are capable of 4k (thats 4098x 2160) and even fewer films released in 4k.

Does TI even make a DMD with more than 1920 pixels across? When I was researching before, that was the biggest I saw. I suppose you could tile them, but that sounds like a nightmare.

They make 2k and 4k chips, but only for their licensees I believe, not the public: http://www.dlp.com/technology/dlp-press-releases/press-relea...

Attack of the Clones was shot in less than 1080p, at that point the camera (HDW-F900 camera) only did 1440x1080, and it was cropped from 16:9, as they didn't have an anamorphic lens, so that's 1440x817. Revenge of the Sith used anamorphic, so was 1920x817

Am I the only one who finds that anamorphic lenses create really distracting bokeh? The lens flares are always squished, and whenever the camera changes focus, there's this strange vertical stretching effect.

Since they were switching to new hardware anyway, why didn't they just make the CCD the shape they actually wanted, rather than relying on this weird archaic workaround?

Once you start delving into the science it gets really interesting; resolution is the least important part of the image. A high contrast ratio will improve the picture more than going from 720 to 1080 or 1080 to 4k.

There are techniques to hide it, like make the prints to grainy film to alias the pixels, as it was still projected on film.

Both _Attack of the Clones_ and _Revenge of the Sith_ were projected digitally as well as on film. And yes, if you looked closely at some points you could see the pixels on the projection. (Although _Attack of the Clones_ was also one of the first movies shown in IMAX via process of taking a 35mm film print to IMAX film[0]. So with _Attack_, instead, they upconverted a 2K master that was derived from 1080p source to IMAX film stock (as far as I know). Yes, it had a lot of weird smoothing artifacts when seen projected on an IMAX screen.)

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_IMAX_DMR_films

Remember that the prequels weren't really "shot" so much as "composited." The effects shots, which were pretty much all of them, could have been rendered at whatever resolution they wanted, then downconverted to 2K for distribution.

Same idea as recording individual audio tracks at extremely high quality. The final mix ends up sounding better than you might expect.

There have been dramatic happenings around RED for some time. http://philipbloom.net/2011/12/10/nomoreepic/

Often the net feels like a small place, but it's things like this that give me notions of just how much stuff there is going on that I truly have no notice of. On the internet, which is pretty much were I live, there are these conflicts happening that I never see, that I never even suspect are happening.

Understatement of the year! RED produces almost as much drama as it does cameras and accessories.

But why?

RED got into the cinema industry the way you or I might cannonball into a pool. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does tend to make waves. From then on, they were constantly very vocal in criticising other camera and production companies, and it has ended up being a very polarising company.

They would promise a machine capable off x by a certain date, miss the date and then tell everyone that they are the best in all situations.

Of possible interest, RED and Jim Jannard were covered by Wired back in 2008 @ http://www.wired.com/entertainment/hollywood/magazine/16-09/...

Can someone explain this:

>Typical 2K and HD digital movie cameras keep everything in focus. The 4K Red One is more like an analog camera, allowing depth of field control, which blurs the foreground or background.

Well, that's not a very clear statement of how it works. "Depth of field" is a technical term in photography, describing the amount of an image that is in focus, relative to the out-of-focus areas in front of or behind. This is a function of the aperture (F-stop) of the lens, and the ratio of focal length to sensor size (which also controls perspective, or how wide the angle of view is).

The reason this is important is because out-of-focus areas are a very important visual cue. It isolates the subject of a shot from its surroundings. It is even more important in motion pictures than still photography, where changes in focus are used to move the subject from one person to another in a single shot (watch a conversation in a movie that's shot from one camera for an example). There's even a job, "focus puller", that you'll see in movie credits for the person who adjusts the focus on very large cameras.

Depth of field is strongly correlated to the size of the sensor in digital cameras (and also to lenses). Other inexpensive HD cameras use small sensors, which solve a lot of expensive and difficult technical problems, but at a cost of not being able to do a shallow depth of field (you see the same problem in cell phones and cheap small digital cameras). The big win of Red was to use a full-sized sensor, allowing DoF behavior on par with consumer DSLR cameras. Moreover, the Red cameras had interchangeable lens mounts that could use superb, widely available Canon and Nikon DSLR lenses. This greatly reduced the end user cost.

So basically, unlike cheaper cameras, a Red camera could shoot things that looked like real movies, due to shallow DoF and manual focus control. And it could do so inexpensively. Very disruptive.

This is why the Canon 5DmkII suddenly exploded onto the scene in 2008. It has the same sized sensor as a 35mm film camera (therefore the same depth of field as the RED, more or less)

Its a common misnoma that RED cameras lowered the cost of production. In certain cases it lowered the cost of shooting, but the cost of handling read was at the time ridiculous.

  It has the same sized sensor as a 35mm film camera...
Small point of clarification: 35mm still photography cameras have the long side of the image aligned with the sprockets, (864mm² total usable area) while 35 motion photography has the short side aligned with the sprockets. (334mm²) The RED ONE had a 35mm motion photography-sized sensor, (Super 35) the 5Dii had a 35mm still sensor, of course, being principally a still camera.

Thanks, but I'm fully aware what dof means :). I don't understand why typical 2K/HD video cameras couldn't do small depth of field. Nikon D90 could do small depth of focus with a price tag of $900 in 2008 (only 1 year after Red's first camera), and D90 is not a full frame sensor.

The latest generation iPhone can do f/2.0, and it has a pretty small sensor.

They can, its just the cheap HD cameras had tiny sensors. The smaller the sensor, deeper the depth of field (therefore less blurry)

The canon 5d mkii has a bigger sensor that the RED one, and therefore is capable of blurry DoF.


It's more than just aperture, though. F/2 on a wide-angle lens like the iPhone won't give you the same impact as F/2 on a telephoto.

Most low-cost HD video cameras have severely compromised lenses, and professional cameras tend to have extremely expensive lenses. Red solved the problem by tapping into the Canon/Nikon lens base.

It's not about field of view (a f/2.0 wide angle and telephoto shot both have the same DOF in terms of actual length - telephoto just appears to have a shallower DOF since the image is cropped.) DOF is actually a physical property of sensor size and aperture size.


By "Typical 2K and HD digital movie cameras" I guess they mean small sensors, which lead to large depth of field due to the laws of optics (don't ask me the details, I must have slept through that class). Larger sensors allow smaller depth of field which blurs the background (or just lets you show off your bokeh), allowing the eye to naturally focus on the subject.

That's the part I don't understand: my run of the mill Canon DSLR (from 2010 though) can shoot at f/1.8 with a $99 50mm lens. the iPhone can shoot at f/2.0. Nikon D90 from 2008 could do HD video and have a small dof.


Depth of field is dependant on f-number and sensor size. A small sensor camera can have a fast lens, but essentially no depth of field.


The difference between the RED cameras and your DSLR is that the RED camera is doing it at 24fps or higher with its ability to shoot 120fps. Your DSLR might be able to do 8-10fps in burst mode.

All DSLRs (all still cameras, actually) shoot video now.

There is a huge difference between in video from a DSLR and a RED camera. DSLRs can take a 5K+ still image topping out at 8-10fps, yet only records HD video. DSLR video is a heavily compressed 8bit 4:2:0 H.264 video with ~50mbps data rate. RED cameras record 4K+ video in a RAW format that is only slightly compressed and can do this up to 120fps. Comparing a DSLR to a RED or other RAW format camera is not being fair.

There is a reason a DSLR is priced < $5000. They are great for what they are, but people are not being honest if they consider a DSLR at the same level as a RED or any other higher end digital video camera.

Of course there is (or atleast was) a difference between a RED and a DSLR, my question wasn't really about that, it was about the dof claim. Note that Canon 5D has been used in number of feature films, even The Avengers[1].

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_EOS_5D_Mark_II#Independe...

I thought we were just talking about DOF...

I think the idea is that larger sensors/image area allows for higher focal length lenses, which naturally have smaller depth of field. i.e. medium format hasselblads had a normal lens of 80mm, with a narrower DOF per f stop, whereas 35mm cameras had a normal lens of 50mm, with a larger DOF, etc. There's some curve somewhere that describes this.

i would highly recommend a documentary called 'side by side' about the history of digital video cameras and analog film cameras in cinema/film. goes into the back story behind red, arri, panavision, sony, etc.

it's on netflix.

I second this and would add that some outtakes (called side swipes) are available on youtube[1] and a podcast. The Steven Soderbergh one is great[2]. Side by Side is a little dated, but it is an amazing and accessible show.

Red is an amazing camera, but they also had good ideas in how to deal with film makers.

1) http://bit.ly/19EQjie

2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U00AEDLLzu4

Another vote for this. As someone who is outside the industry and knew very little about the process, I found it fascinating.


I have great respect for people who make things like the RED camera, which advances technology and allows people to make amazing films without requiring huge amounts of money.

I have very little respect for people who make things like Oakleys, which allow people to spend a lot of money for a small piece of plastic so they can wear a high-status brand.

I'm not sure how I feel about this guy.

>a lot of money for a small piece of plastic

Oakley lenses are practically bulletproof. They're well worth the cost if you need protective eyewear, just ask the US military. Being a fashion statement is just a byproduct of that. Some would venture to say Oakley has advanced technology more than RED.

The Oakley people get their status cultural capital, the geezer accumulates real capital to take risks and you get the cameras. Seems OK to me (I don't buy brands especially).

so is he the guy behind 48 fps movies? If so this guy has nothing to prove. It's the future of the cinema.

James Cameron has also been talking about 48 FPS for a while.

I think James Cameron is talking about 60 FPS.

James Cameron said in November 2012, on his possible usage of 48 FPS:

“If there is acceptance of 48 [FPS], then that will pave the way for Avatar (sequels) to take advantage of it.”


There are going to be 3 Avatar sequels:


Time enough to iron out any issues with HFR (high frame rate). 48 OR 60.

> Some of the word behind the scenes in the SMPTE world this summer is that 60fps could be too much of a gamble and Avatar will go out in 48fps. No one will say this publicly, and Cameron and team are still hyping 60fps in general while not committing to anything. But there are fears that if shot at 60fps, there’s no clean way to play the movie at 24fps in some theaters– an easier transition for 48fps but even untested in 48 given that that issue helped derail the move to SMPTE DCP for The Hobbit release. And fear that current playback gear can’t do 450Mb/s at 60fps. Gear manufacturers say they can do 500Mb/s, but the studios in reality have to settle for less, due to the bit-rate bottlenecks in various systems.”

Never thought about that but yes it makes sense that the conversion from 48fps to 24fps is easy whereas the one from 60fps to 24fps seems impossible or cumbersome. If this is delaying the 60fps age, then I'm really sad about it :(

My guess is it would be something like the well-worn 3-2 pull down; you could get there, but the loss in quality is annoying.


No, this is the guy who started a camera company (RED) in 2005 and now about 1/4 to 1/2 of major motion pictures are filmed on their cameras (such as the Hobbit, which had 25 RED rigs (with two cameras each)).

Cached link via HNPremii for anyone else who is getting the site down.


Congrats Jim. The world needs more creators like you to inspire the rest of us. There are few people willing to commit themselves at the level you did. For that I give you a standing ovation.

Jim owns a beautiful island here in Fiji. He could retire and build an evil lair on Vatuvara Island


This film (The Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout) cured my photographic buying problem.

how so?

Jim is basically the Elon of the video industry.

Can't get the stupid comments and hate get to you.

I remember reading/watching somewhere where someone said (sorry for the vagueness) that you always need a solid little black box in your head you can retreat your conscience to. Where nothing can touch you. Where everything is constant.

Ever since I read that I have never gotten an ounce of hate get to me. I can honestly say I'm living a 100% stress-free happy life. In fact, the more hate I get, the happier I am, I feed off it, it's my fucking life line. It meant I was doing something right.

If I ever let it get to me, I'd retreat to that little black box, and it would tell me everything I accomplished in my life, the things I've been through, where my roots are from. Things nobody will ever take away from me unless they murder me, and that reassurance has helped me get through incredibly tough times.

To cope with hate even further, always look at what's coming your way from their angle. Why are they spouting hate? Do they genuinely feel you have a scammy product? Why would they think that? More often than not it boils down to two things: ignorance and a result, spouting bullshit, and/or personal issues being projected. I know that myself, when I'm in a rage state of mind, I'd spout terrible things at people that I'd instantly regret after. Especially on the internet, typing terrible comments that help to vent your anger temporarily.

I've always been an outsider. I've had so much time to observe people. This is what I found out.

Core human values -> projected mask (either bully, asshole, something else that is fake) -> external projection. You need to see through the mask. I've dealt with huge egos before that after awhile, cried on my shoulder and spilled their guts, all just by being understanding, not getting angry at them, and truly understanding where their emotion comes from and why. By being a source of support.

>Somehow... I read on CML and other idiotic forums, that I an a hypester, a scam artist. I just have to wonder what these guys are smoking. But I have to say... they have gotten to me. I don't need this. I don't deserve this. Life is short and I am tired.

Revolutionized the film industry, yet lets internet comments get to him. Fuck the haters. You changed the world.

Sorry if I went off topic, it's just something I wanted to get off my chest and hopefully this perspective can help others.

A cool tip I've picked up on is to have a label in your inbox called "feel good" (or whatever). Then tag the emails that make you feel good, whatever they are. For example, in mine I have an email of my former academic advisor congratulating me on my MSc defense, the first email sent to me by one of my mentors which led me to move to CA, etc.

Ideally those emails will span a period of years, if not decades- it brings a nice perspective on life during stressful times.

That can be your little "black box" :)

I believe the point of the black box is to not be dependent on others for your happiness. Needing external validation to feel good about yourself is a serious mental issue. But, to you, it shouldn't really matter what I think ;)

Needing external validation to feel good about yourself is a fundamental characteristic of human psychology. The black box thing is about picking and choosing whose validation you care about and whose you don't. That's healthy. Genuinely not caring what anybody else thinks sounds more like sociopathy.

In Red's case I don't think it's quite that simple. One of the foundations of Red has always been that the founders interact with the customers continuously through social media; that's how Red built their fanboy army. But that kind of aggressive social media presence always creates an equal and opposite backlash, and it's pretty much impossible to expose yourself only to one side.

That sounds like a fascinating model. Is there any explication of this online that you know of? Tricky to Google due to generic name of company.

It really is fascinating. Professional equipment combined with consumer luxury marketing to sell a dream of overnight success to aspiring filmmakers. A super-secretive company whose marketing is founded on "transparency". Over-promising and under-delivering seen as a feature. Industrial espionage. Patent lawsuits. You can't make this stuff up; it's better than fiction.

Its the apple model.

You put out a reasonably good product to the rumor mill. Stoke the rumors, and then refuse to answer anything specific by saying "its a secret"

For example, the REDray, you ask how its connected to the TV, "its a secret"(looks like HDMI to me), what is the colour depth "its a secret".

whats not a secret? its 4k. Its great for the press as there is a hint of mystery and controversy, shit for anyone that has to use it for a living.

Yeah that's fine but instead of getting angry at bad comments, try to engage them. If that fails, move on, big deal.

It's not personal. It may be for them, but it shouldn't be for you. At the end of the day, their negative social interaction is based around your product, and you as a founder, have to mitigate that.

Nobody is out there digging up personal facts about the guys life and giving him a hard time for it, then its personal.

If the negativity is based around your product, then it's business as usual and should be treated as such.

Never give up.

I think the bits of negativity are more about their methods than their products. There aren't many people who find much to fault in the actual cameras, but the way they are marketed and supported is maddening to people used to dealing with the older-school cinema companies like Arri and Panavision.

The attitude is even evident in this last post:

"In 2005, I could see that the powers that be (Sony, Arri, Panavision) were going to attempt to persuade the film industry that 1080P was going to be the digital replacement for film." - for fifteen years years people have been aware that 4k was a sensible equivalent resolution. The first digitally restored film was done at 4k in 1993! The Panavision Genesis (with a Sony sensor) had a 6k horizontal sensor pixel count! The Arri D20 had a 2.8k sensor!

"Sony's digital cinema cameras were $200k+" - cinema cameras are always rented, not bought. Very few people care or even know about their list price. At the time it was bizarre to market a camera like this to the public rather than to rental houses.

"The only way we could do that was through incredible compression technology" - they use JPEG2000. Not even something more specialised like CineForm, which already existed.

"I should mention here that there were many color science and feature upgrades... for free. Again, what company ever offered that?" - cameras rented from a rental house have always had regular firmware upgrades, doing the kind of things Red's upgrades did.

Compare the technical documentation from Red to that of Arri - Arri will shower you with whitepapers full of numbers and graphs, and tell you exactly what is going on in their cameras. The Red colour science is still secret. What are the primaries of the sensor? It's secret. What do the F-LUT controls do? It's secret.

Enough moaning. Red were the first cinema company with a real marketing budget and it was all very strange to people who were all about the right tool for the job, most of those tools being made in limited runs in extremely practical packaging without shiny logos on every corner...

Its exceptionally hard to not get pissed off. If you work hard on a product, put your money on the line and people get all huffy about the shape and size of screw holes, or the wrong coloured button.

That's why you get paid. Plenty of people build cool stuff in their garages and never distribute it to the world. Lots of people worked hard for the money they pay to these companies, too. That's no excuse for incivility though.

"In fact, the more hate I get, the happier I am, I feed off it, it's my fucking life line. It meant I was doing something right."

This is pretty quote worthy. It reminds me of Admiral Nimitz saying "If you're not making waves, you're not underway."

It is also the same attitude that conservative christians have to criticism about some of their campaigning for things like opposition to gay marriage. They see that Jesus suffered at the hands of the Romans so they take all the criticism as proof positive that they are in fact living up to a the ideals of christianity.

The point being that gauging your success by the amount of opposition you receive is really measuring the wrong thing, its actually orthogonal to the value of your work.

But it is a valuable way of handling criticism. Most of us are easily cowed by critics (internal and external.) I applaud any way that helps me "deal" with criticism.

No, it is not. It's straight out delusional. You could be torturing puppies on a webcam and feel good about it by repeating a quote like that.

If you want to become a genuinely good person, you'll have to learn to differentiate between deserved and undeserved hate.

"In the case of any person whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has it become so? Because he has kept his mind open to criticism of his opinions and conduct. Because it has been his practice to listen to all that could be said against him; to profit by as much of it as was just, and expound to himself, and upon occasion to others, the fallacy of what was fallacious. Because he has felt, that the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in any other manner."

-- John Stuart Mill

I mostly agree with you.

I have no problem deciding if I'm a genuinely good person. I am able to determine if my actions are correct and accept valid criticism.

This isn't about that. It's about not "letting the bastards get you down."

The creative world is rife with people who pooh-pooh your work. Often this criticism is within your own mind, preventing you from developing/creating/succeeding. Having a defense against other people's negativity is an important step to keeping you going.

Duke Ellington simply refused to read critics. In today's hyper-connected world, it's difficult to not be "part of the conversation." Having a way to insulate yourself from undeserved hate is an important tool, and knowing the difference is an important skill.

Angry online comments wear on a lot of people down over time, especially if you feel like you're accountable to your product's fans, because it's hard to just say "he/she's just a stupid commenter" without feeling like you're abandoning that mandate.

Actually, writing this, I'm beginning to think it might be better to abandon that idea of accountability, because I'm sure people like Jannard have high personal standards, and holding themselves to their fans' capricious opinions may be more trouble than it's worth.

I've read time and time again about musicians, actors, and directors that all slowly come to realize that reading the reviews about their product just isn't worth it. It's hard to reconcile this sentiment with the "customer first"-attitude that should go into running a company. Yet if there's one thing I've learned from running my company over the last five years, it's that the Internet hate delivered by our users will be constant, never-ending, and more often than not, baseless.

I think that the creatives who just cover their ears and stop listening to the reviewers have something useful figured out. There are so many channels through which feedback can travel, why bother spending time on the mean-spirited, irrational ones?

  > In fact, the more hate I get, the happier I am, I feed off it,
  > it's my fucking life line. It meant I was doing something right.
The NSA must be extremely happy from all the right things they're doing.

> Can't get the stupid comments and hate get to you.

I'm getting there on my own websites. Feedback is an essential part of the process of publishing, if the feedback is mostly negative in nature then that gets interpreted as 'we don't value this, go away'. Small wonder that in the end that is the result.

Just like people get pestered away from neighbourhoods people can get pestered away from running websites, I can very easily relate to this.

This made me think of a quote from a movie. Actually it was just the trailer I saw, years ago. Took some digging but here you go, it's from The Libertine:

"...you must acquire the trick of ignoring those who do not like you. In my experience, those who do not like you fall into two categories: The stupid and the envious. The stupid will like you in five years time. The envious, never."

Revolutionized the film industry, yet lets internet comments get to him.

Really. I feel for the guy. But this stuff is nothing new, that's how it works when you do revolutionary stuff. Look at what RCA did to FM inventor Edwin Armstrong, and to TV inventor Philo Farnsworth. It's Not a Business for Old Men.

100% stress-free gets boring though. I'm good at insulating myself from drama and anger and hate, but I'll be the first to admit it leads to a sort of _sterile_ existence, that sometimes starts to feel devoid of passion. "You've made enemies? Good..." and all that.

It does get boring. However, instead of just being a friend to people, they see me as someone above their friends, where I become their main listener and comforter.

However I don't really hang out with anyone that much because I can't relate to their problems or experiences. People come to me with their life problems and for advice and I'm okay with that, kind of like a "life consultant".

I thought RED was an alright movie at best. To be quite honest, I am surprised they made a sequel.

seriously, are you high?

After spending the last 15 minutes slowly readying and scrolling down these comments, I'll admit, I laughed.

Indeed, I thought was a pretty good movie. Even Bruce Willis was awake.

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