I love the RED system for its power, flexibility and modular design. That said, in April of 2012, some aspects of working with the Alexa are more easily "digestible" in typical post environments.
Let's say I had a clean sheet of paper, a fixed budget and was charged with setting up the pipeline for a typical 2D feature (15:1 shooting ratio, 100 minute finished length, 300 VFX shots) on either Epic or Alexa. I'd wager that the respective purpose built systems would be very comparable in terms of bang for the buck. If, however, I had to take into account existing infrastructure (and the current skill sets of the wetware) I might be able to get a satisfactory result more easily with an SxS/ProRes-LogC based workflow. This is likely the scenario Bob faced.
In reference to the dinosaur note, I think there is a fundamental business imperative that distorts the market.
Over the years the larger post facilities in major markets have hired the best talent in town and surrounded them with the best tools. Those tools and the amenities considered de rigueur for client comfort require investments that require time to pay back. This ROI imperative gives the post facilities powerful incentives to change slowly. You would think that competition would force their hand, but here's the rub - the bigger facilities have the talent on staff that producers and creatives seek. We can talk about the tools all day long, but the crux of the equation is talent - and the post facilities know it. How do you retain talent? Usually with compensation and job security. How does a facility afford that in the current market? Perhaps by pimping a digital system that requires less immediate new investment (tools/training)?
FWIW I see the Alexa as a "transitional" star that will find some of its current strengths turn into handicaps down the road. Epic OTOH is constantly improving in terms of current usability and has a much brighter future.
Cheers - #19
I agree Blair, the talent is key. However, one must still ask the question of services. Not just tools - which are no longer the huge expense of only a couple years ago. In the end, does it really cost a post house more to offer an R3D workflow pipeline? Most of those big tools they all use are capable. How many productions does a typical LA post house handle in a year? Is it such a wise move for them to turn away potential customers who are set on shooting R3D and working in RAW? There is a reason Light Iron is doing well... Just saying' Talent, for sure. And the tools as well. But they have the willingness to accommodate whatever their customers try to throw at them. Perhaps that comes back to the talent and just how capable, talented or dynamic they truly are. ...I often find myself questioning what talent really is. There are some people who you can throw into about any situation, whether they have experience that may help or not, and they will find a way to persevere and come out on top. Then there are those who have become quite good at something and they have taken years to hone their craft and become that talent. But you hand them something new and they're back to square-one -- it becomes a new process for them to learn and be productive.
I don't get why people care so much about the alexa, i can shoot dnxhd or prores using a 3rd party recorder on a red just fine... its not like its hard to do this on a red...
This has actually been part of my "job" for the last several years. Discussing, demonstrating, and displaying different workflows with digital cinema cameras. There's a lot confusion and misconception when it comes to Red cameras in general. A lot of strange rumors that have penetrated too many ears.
Seriously, all it takes is about 1 hour with a camera and laptop to change people's minds. The reason I "pedal" and favor Red, particularly the Epic, is that I feel it's the highest quality and most flexible digital motion picture camera on the market. That opinion comes from using the other cameras and plugging them into existing workflows. If I didn't believe that, I would be taking about a different camera.
One thing that does kill me is the acceptance of Adobe Premiere Pro in an industry that Avid is still so dominant in. I feel for smaller houses and those focused on broadcast in particular Adobe Premiere Pro holds the key for turning around material very quickly. At larger studios material is often brought in and made into multiple resolution sequences and proxies then distributed to different departments for their own needs, so that's less of an issue.
The last two meetings I've had with studio heads was regarding 4k delivery, post production pipelines, and how to tackle 2D and 3D content at those resolutions. In the last 6 months there has been a pretty dynamic shift in my opinion about working and delivering in 4k. At least out here. 3D graphics is where things get a bit scary as textures, tracking, rendering, comps, etc. all take more time in 4k. But this isn't a bad thing. It's just where this is going.
As for why people care so much about Alexa, you have to ask yourself why people care so much about any camera. It comes down to many things. It's not always about price. It's not always about workflow. It's not always about pristine image quality. Line up five of the top DPs in the world right now and ask them what they will shoot their next feature on. You're in for a very interesting conversation. :-)
I can't understand why it has taken so long for there to be a prores or dnxhd module for a red or epic, 5k raw workflow is great for features but for everyday run of the mill jobs it is a pain, just plain overkill. If you have control of the post then it is fine, personally I edit with the raw files in Avid and can easily round trip to whatever grading system I want to use. However most production companies or post houses use slower avids or fcp systems that need dnxhd or prores. If you were a production company with your own in house fcp suite and your shooting a doco on a modest budget why would you shoot on an epic when other cameras give gives you prores or mxf files. As a cameraman you shouldn't have to rely on a post house having a redrocket card or that they use adobe in order for them to be able to deal with the footage.
You can deride post house that can't deal with red footage but in their eyes the world doesn't evolve around red, they may say to their clients use Alexa, Canon, Sony, Panasonic but don't use red which would be a shame because all it would take would be a proes/dnxhd module.
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