If you work in the film industry (or you know me), you've heard about the RED camera. I was lucky enough to hear about this camera what seems like 2 years before they made the first one. As a result, when they started selling them I ordered one within the first minute it was on sale. I ended up with number 89. (There are over six thousand today.)
The next generation of cameras was announced today.
Before I talk about it, I will answer some questions I get asked in terms that anyone (hopefully) can understand. It's actually just one question:
Why is the RED such a big deal?
To understand this, you need to understand a handful of things which I will quickly explain.
1. Production Expense. While it's not as easy to operate as a video camera, there is no need for film stock or film processing or film printing. You do need to buy some hard drives, but the price isn't remotely the same price. Depending on your budget this could save anywhere from sixty thousand to a million dollars (or more!) But your basic indie production would fall into the sixty to two hundred thousand in savings.
Okay here comes some technical terms, don't worry it's fun to know them.
2. "Latitude"- The RED One (first camera) does not quite have the lattitude of film, but the Epic and Scarlet push it even closer (and maybe matching) film's latitude. What does this mean? I've stolen a shot of Daniel Wu to demonstrate (see below). What you see is that more latitude allows a wider range of color and light.
3. "Movie Style" Depth of Field. Depth of field means the range of focus you have. More Depth of Field means you have more of your image in focus. There will always be one key focus point and then the rest will fall off both towards and away from your key focus point. So - more depth of fieldis better? You'd think... and maybe it is if you're shooting a sports event... but when you're telling stories, less depth of field allows you to focus the audience's attention. I've stolen another image from Daniel's site to demonstrate. notice how it's so much easier to focus on Daniel when the focus is solely on him. You see this faked in anime all the time for the same reason... and because it looks cool. A larger sensor causes this. 8mm film cameras would not have the same limited depth of field as a 35mm film camera. The RED One's sensor was that of a 35mm camra when shooting at 4k. That was part of the revolution.
First off, I think a lot of people who were waiting for full detail disclosure will be disappointed. The specs of the EPIC were announced and the approximate release plan and that's about it.
Starting with the release schedule there are four "stages". (I'm trying to give just the headlines, the link has all the details.)
1. Stage One: Happens this year. RED One owners can buy a BETA Epic-X S35 ("Tattoo") for $28,000 which includes some base functionality equipment and they will forego their trade-in options in exchange for being cutting edge and part of the "in group."
2. Stage Two: Happens early next year. RED One owners can buy an Epic-X S35 for 19,500 (an 8500 discount) and keep their RED One's.
3. Stage Three: (Date uncertain, presumably after Stage Two orders are filled?) RED One owners can trade their RED One in for an Epic-X S35 for 10,500.
4. Stage Four: (Date uncertain, presumably after Stage Three orders are filled?) Anyone can buy an Epic S35 (not "X") for $28,000. It does not include as many "modules" - so they definitely have offered a gift to everyone who bought a RED One prior to October 29th 2009.
The Specs of the EPIC-X
In short -
Resolution and Frame rate highlights: 5k at 1 to 100 fps, 4k at 1 to 125 fps, 2k at 1 to 250 fps. "Quad HD" at 1 to 120 fps (I don't know what "Quad HD" is yet.)
ISO 200 to 8000 (ISO means how much light the camera needs. 8000 would mean you could basically shoot even in dim light. However, you'll probably get a lot of grain, so ISO is relative to performance. The fact that they are not even putting less than 200 is interesting though because it implies they feel there is never a need to go that far meaning the sensor is more sensitive to light which is really important and a good thing.)
Big changes from RED One: Remote control. It's modular. It has the potential to weigh less (hurray!!!),
(Full datails are on the link I provided.)
As for the Scarlet - they basically said "More information on Nov. 30th." That is going to be a huge disappointment for what I think is the majority of the RED fanatics - people who want to get into the market a little cheaper. One important note though... They've made it clear that they will be delivering their 2/3" sensor Scarlet FIRST. Very key point, that means it has a wider depth of field... which, as I explained earlier, is less "feature" like. The FF35 Scarlet will come later and there is NO MENTION of a S35 Scarlet, meaning they probably realized it was becoming redundant with their Epic at that point.
Here is an example from a prototype of how the EPIC system is modular:
The idea being everyone wants different features, so they've given the option to configure the camera's features however you want them. If you don't need audio, don't use the audio module for example. The largest piece in the center is the "brain" and that is the main part of the camera, where the sensor lives and that is what really determines what the camera is.
What will I do with my RED One?
Honestly not sure yet. Apparently I will have 30 days from notification to decide. I will be upgrading it to an Epic, just not sure in what stage. It's a very logistically clever release schedule, that's for sure.
RED just posted this image of the Epic-X (prototype):
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