The camera gave me a strong emotional reaction when I first handled it.
I remember the first time I touched an M-1 tank. It felt completely perfectly in tune with its purpose. It resonated with strength, and I was very aware of how the tank felt to me as if was actively pushing back. A perfect instrument for its task. Very few things reach that apogee. The Mig-29 and F22, Formula 1 race cars all have given me that experience.
Add Epic-M to the list.
It feels the right weight. Enough heft to lend gravitas to handheld and shoulder work, but light enough to allow completely responsive movement. I got no actual trigger time, but in working through moves on a small head (Miller Compass 25) the camera always did what I wanted. I can honestly say I've never had that much pleasure from just holding a camera- not the Arri 435, not the Red One, not any DSLR or medium format camera- none of them.
The Epic will be regarded as a masterpiece of the tools of our craft.
Epic is built solidly and the various grip options becoming available all seem fantastic. I think that a lot of Epic's future will be determined by the available camera grip. Now that I've worked with the camera, I understand better Red's focus on camera grip. The few bits of the new Red camera grip I've worked with are phenomenal.
Cabling will be less of an issue than it was on Red One. We are still potentially looking at a cable management problem, but overall its going to be much easier than R1 or most 35mm cameras. I think it will be easier than Alexa (which I regard as a huge improvement over R1)
The HD-SDI output is already completely broadcast quality. I checked it out via Decklink Extreme while I sat less than a foot from my Plasma and on three different production monitors. I couldn't run a full gamut of tests, but it looks just as good as Alexa and HPX-3700. That made me VERY happy.
HDRx .... Well. I turned HDRx on in RedCineX on a couple of shots we did. There was giggling. Its not a panacea, you have to be smart about how you use it. If you are, you'll be ecstatic.
Where wouldn't I use Epic M in production? Time lapse is still probably better served by DSLR cameras, unless you also require HDR. Extreme high speed photography is better served by 35mm and Phantom. The camera is roughly the size of a Hasselblad, so if you need a smaller camera than that... its a short list of circumstances really.
I don't want to get into more detail. The camera is still very beta, and as all Epic-M and early R1 users are aware that means there are issues and features not yet enabled.
I will say that it was actually way ahead of my expectations based on the Red One program. With two exceptions the current Epic M is way ahead of the Red One program as late as build 17 and the late 3000 serial numbers. In some ways its definitively ahead of the R1 MX even today- of course we expected that part.
Please understand I am talking about the over all system maturity and on set usability. There is no question Epic's technology is superior in every way.
Epic today stands atop the world as the pinnacle of motion imaging systems.
I thank Ketch Rossi for his generosity and for the opportunity to work with him on his Epic USA tour. He took the time out of a whirlwind schedule to talk to DC film and video professionals for almost three hours on Monday evening. Everyone was impressed and charmed- and not just by the Epic. Ketch is very professional and a pleasure to work with.
Joseph Hutson is quite a dynamo- his energy and hard work was appreciated. His knowledge of camera department is well ahead of that of most anyone near his age. I recommend him completely to anyone for work as a BTS camera operator or as a 2AC. I think he would serve well as 1AC or DIT on any low budget production today. If he is available to your production, find a place for him!
Both of these gentlemen were also perfect house guests.
I in no way regret taking the opportunity to host Ketch's tour.
I also want to thank Tim Lorenz and Interface Media Group for hosting Ketch's talk Monday. Erich Roland at DC Camera also lent us valuable support. Also RedUser Zhibo Lai helped me make sure we had drinks at Ketch's talk (you all missed free beer!) and got Ketch and Joseph safely to the airport Monday when I had to be at the dentist.
I also want to thank Bruce Liffiton of Visual Edge, who saved Ketch's presentation by getting his production monitor when the facilities plasma/AJA converter combination couldn't synch with the Epic's output.
Ketch and Joseph will be posting any pictures and/or footage from DC in their regular places- and I'll send them anything I have, which is mostly stills from my 7D