Am I a Red Fan Boy? Damn straight! And here is why-
1st off. I have spent many months researching this camera, and reading all the different posts by everyone either for the camera or against it. I have always been a believer from the start.
All my life I have always wanted a movie camera that you could just about do anything with. I have wanted something that one day I could shoot something for television, and the next day shoot something that could be projected on a huge movie screen. I remember when I was 10 years old and I had a Nikon FG, I used to say, "Wouldn't it be cool if I could just hold this button down and this thing would run at 24 frames a second?" Then about 8 years ago, when I played around with a digital still camera, I asked the same question.
Jim, and your team- Thank you for making my childhood dream come true. I simply do not know what else is left to say. My life has changed, and it gives me something to look forward to. The hell with the Nay-sayers! I used to listen a bit to what they had to say because I wanted to get a well balanced opinion from each side. But now that I have physically shot with this camera on a real movie set, I will never listen to them again.
So- Here is the real deal with this camera, and my first experience with it.
We just spent an entire week shooting on a real WWII submarine located in Mobile. We will end up needing about 3 more weeks out there, but this was a fantastic start- and one hell of a shake down for this camera.
We shot in two rooms during this week. One was the Control Room (which I will provide pics) - and the other was the Conning Tower (nicknamed hell room- and I will also provide pics).
You have to imagine how damn tight everything was. You can't jump without hitting your head. Believe me, I know. I got so damn excited about a shot we did, that I jumped up and nailed my head on a pipe. He he.. Pretty stupid of me, but the shot was so incredible that it was worth it. : )
The temperature in the Conning Tower was an average of 105 degrees with 100 percent humidity. I knew we hit 100 percent humidity because it started to drip water towards the end of each of our shooting days.
The fan in this camera is incredible. The camera NEVER overheated. NEVER! It did get hot, but the fan was kicking some ass. The fan was loud at some points but it did not matter at all because once we started recording, the fan shuts off. This allowed for an amazingly quiet take. RED team & engineers- fantastic creation on dealing with this heat issue. Your fan works, and I love the design.
We used Arri Ultra Primes ranging from 14, 24, 28, 32, 85, 135. We ended up using the heck out of all of the lenses, however, the 32, and the 85 were on the camera most of the time while inside the sub. We were looking for a tight feel- and with those two lenses, we sure got it.
Lets talk about the focus for a second. I read a thread that someone posted about the focus issues with this camera.
From shooting mostly on prosumer equipment I must say that the focus was an ass kicker for me. However- I LOVED THE CHALLENGE!!! This is a no BS camera. If you want a real movie camera, this is it. The shallow depth of field is incredible. I simply love it. From reading that thread about focus today, they were acting like you can't really focus the camera using the 2x mode, the lcd, and a 720P external monitor. Simply put from my experience- that is horse shit!
We did it, and we had our DIT guy go through all footage and double check everything. Sometimes we slipped a bit, but the majority of the time, we were tac sharp.
With the Arri ultra primes, we were between a F1.9 to a F4.0. We had so little room that we wanted to use as much of the practicals as possible and just at fill. We sat at 2.0 - 2.8 about 75 percent of the time.
We used, measuring tape, the 2X mode, and would have the DIT / and camera assistants in our DIT suite (located two compartments further down in the sub), verify the focus on each take. We shot up to about 100 gigs on the drive, then handed it to Greg (our DIT guy) and he offloaded the drive. While setting up for the next shots, he would go back and scrub through all shots verifying that everything was safely transferred, and everything was sharp. Once we had the go-ahead, we reformatted the drive.
No doubt that focus is tough but it was so much fun checking and double checking. I really felt like a true DP doing his job. It was something very different and it was just like it would be on a real movie set with big gear.
We thought we would do some handheld shots on some scenes. With the set up I have, it was a bit rough holding that thing. It weighed 40 lbs and it basically was a sign that I needed to go to the gym. Its a good thing anyway, because the wife has been on my ass about loosing some pounds and building up tone!
Once the camera is on your shoulder, it really had a good feel to it. It felt very stable and comfortable. However, in the heat, I could not hold it for long.
I elected to get the Oconnor 2060 head and sticks. I must say it was well worth the price. I have never used a head like that, and I will never go back to anything else. No stepping, and the counterbalance system really kicked but.
The menu on the camera: I have heard many people say many things about it- good and bad. For me, I love the menu. Once I found my way around, I knew right were to go, and I felt they laid out the menu the same way my mind thinks. It really felt comfortable once I knew where everything was, and I was not afraid to dig around and play with some of the settings.
False color mode: Amazing- and I went back and forth into that setting almost as much as I checked focus. This thing really double checks your highlights and makes sure you don't blow them out. I was shooting for the actors' faces to be at around 50 IRE (mono-toned in the false color mode).
Gibby said it best about this camera- It is either as simple as you want to make it, or it can be as complex as you want to make it. Choice is yours. After shooting our first week with it, I would say he is dead on with that comment.
We had only two glitches the entire week.
1. I tightened one of the handgrips too tight and broke the knob. Not a biggie- but I need to be careful in the future.
2. We did have a few issues with the LCD monitor. I believe this was only occurring when the camera got hot- but I can't say that is true just yet. During the start of the day, everything booted up and was rocking. Towards the last third of the day, when things were at max heat, the monitor would sometimes come on after rebooting and sometimes not come on. No matter what, I had a magic touch and I could always get it to pop back on- but I can't tell you how I did it. I just fiddled with it and it would come back on every time. I know some others have had some issues with the monitor, but I know this will be fixed and worked out over time. To be honest- everything else functioned so amazingly well, that I just did not care. I knew I had the 720p monitor in an emergency back up, however, it never came down to that.
This is by far the most amazing camera I have ever used. Going with RED has been the best decision I have ever made in this industry. JIM- THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. RED-TEAM- THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.
No matter what happens to our indie films in the future- the most important thing is that we are out there creating, and for me, that is what movie making is all about. Dreaming, and trying to create and share visions. This camera is an amazing tool to help us all get our ideas and visions out there.
Pay no attention to the nay-sayers. They are a waist of time.