RED Commentary

Okay, so I went to NAB in Vegas this year really to check out HD cameras and some accessories. I was very impressed with everything I saw from the prosumer models...

1. Canon HDV - I like the XH-A1
2. Sony HDV and their new XDCAM EX (competition for Panasonic's HVX)
3. JVC HDV - I like the HD110U

And all the way up the line...

1. Dalsa 4K
2. ARRI D-2
3. Grass Vally Viper
4. And of course RED ONE

I have been very skeptical of RED since it was announced last year. Why? I'm really not sure. It just seemed too good to be true that you could buy a 4K camera for $17,500. As it turns out, it was, for the price anyway. The body does only cost $17K, but then you need a hard drive, a viewfinder, an LCD monitor, a lense, etc., etc. - so really the $17K camera will end up costing around $35K - $40K. So, that does kinda suck. Well, not really.

You're still getting a 4K camera - a complete camera package - for the price of an old broadcast Betacam rig.

While it will knock a few indie folks out at this price point, the majority of people who understand what high-end stuff cost will be all over this thing.

Onto the RED booth at NAB... I mentioned I was skeptical, and I was - until I went to the NAB booth. My filmmaker friend David Maddox is a reservation holder (#600 something). He plopped down $1000 last year to pre-order an unknown, not yet even built camera. I wouldn't have done that. But he did, and I'm now very glad he did.

The line to just GET IN the RED booth was about an hour wait. It was busy to say the least. We waited and got inside and first thing we were shuttled into a theater. It seated about 40 people and had a 20 ft. or so wide screen. Everyone sat down and then Jim Jannard (the founder of RED and of course Oakley Sunglasses) introduced the screening and in no uncertain terms said that if anyone taped what we were about to see on a cell phone (or whatever) and posted it on YouTube they would get the "shit" beat out of them. So I calmly and every so quietly put my Razor phone back in my pocket... Jim is a pretty big dude.

The lights go dark and up pops a logo for "Wingnut Films" in New Zealand. I'm like, "What?". I thought this was "test footage". Well, as it turns out the "test footage" was a 12-minute short film directed by PETER JACKSON. Yeah, THE Peter Jackson of "Lord of the Rings" fame, etc. He evidentally asked Jim if he could shoot some footage and as it turns out it was an entire short film set during WWI with tanks, explosions, tons of gunfire, aerial shots of old bi-planes, etc. Think of the opening to "Saving Private Ryan" (without the shutter angle and all the blood) and that's how parts of it felt. It was GOOD. Oh, and it looked even better.

I was amazed at what I saw. This from a partially working set of "Alpha" cameras. The theater was projecting on a Sony 4K projector. It looked like Super 35mm film without the grain. I was impressed to say the least. VERY impressed.

On a side note, we ran into Shane Caruth at the booth too. If you don't know Shane, he directed the indie feature "Primer", which WON Sundance in 2004. If you haven't seen his movie definitely check it out. It's not for everyone, but it is good. And, it was shot in Dallas and he still lives in Dallas (gotta get those Texas plugs in you know). Shane is also a reservation holder. He's 200 or so behind my friend David. Shane set next to me and my other filmmaker friend Cliff, at the screening. I can only assume he has a project in mind for RED too?

Anyway, after the screening we checked out several "working" models and I was very surprised at the size of the fully loaded camera (see photo in previous post). It is BIG. Reminds me of a 35mm rig in many ways. This is not a small "run and gun" camera. But that is good. It looks and feels very sturdy. My feeling is it will stand up to the hard work of feature filmmaking duties.

David's RED camera is supposed to ship in August or September. I am planning to shoot a new feature this fall and I'm producing another one. I'm now highly considering shooting both of them with the RED camera.

Like I said, I'm now a true believer. Long live RED. :)

-Blake

P.S. Soon I'll post about Apple's new toys released at NAB. Very cool stuff AND they are working with RED as well.


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Who Am I?

I'm a filmmaker who's produced & directed five feature films including the comedy SPILT MILK (available on iTunes), the new horror/thriller PHOBIA (on iTunes) and the action/thiller KILLING DOWN (which you can buy or rent at pretty much all the usual places).

I also created the Streamy and Webby award-winning web series PINK, which to date has been viewed online around 10 MILLION times at places like YouTube, Hulu, Koldcast and TheWB.com. And speaking of TheWB.com, I also produced and directed an online thriller for them called EXPOSED. It was released summer 2010. And most recently I created a new online sci-fi series called CONTINUUM, which is part of the online indie TV network JTS.tv - Just The Story and NOW available via VOD through indie platform Distrify.

Oh, and I don't shoot weddings. Thanks for asking though.

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