For those of us wandering the periphery of the East Coast “industry” – noses pressed against the glass, staring at the shiny toys of the elders – the RED camera is the buzz product that you read about but rarely see. So, when David Brillhart of Brillhart Media offered a hands-on tour of his RED ONE kit this past Monday, it drew some grateful attendees. The 3-hour event took place at the Georgetown campus of the Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University. Besides letting the eager grabbers paw his gear, Brillhart offered various insights into his real-world use of the RED and gave a detailed demo of his post-production workflow (which includes FCP, of course).
DCFCPUG couldn’t resist the opportunity to pose a few questions to David on his RED experience. The answers are worth a read by anyone interested in buying, renting or just learning about the latest watershed product in the ongoing HD revolution:
1. You’ve got an impressively low-numbered RED ONE. What was it about the RED camera that made you decide to get on the wagon so early? I was happy to see a “David” coming out to slay the “Goliaths” who have created great product but at premium prices – and product that was brand specific. You buy Sony and only Sony… etc.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about your current set-up: the camera, the bell and whistle add-ons? My package I built from the ground-up except for some existing Pelican and Porta-Brace cases I had. I have a solid Miller 55 head and heavy duty two-stage carbon fiber sticks. A sweet 3-stage swing away Vocas Matte Box. A set of soft edged grad ND filters and a set of standard ND filters, a Polaroid Filter, Classic Soft and IR Filter. These are all P4′s (Panavision 16:9 aspect ratio). I also have the Electronic Viewfinder which is like looking at a 720P 17″ monitor at 4 feet. I’ve added some Element Technica options — a viewfinder mount and a box that converts the tiny BNC connectors standard on the RED to regular size BNC’s. I also have a few Zacuto items, an articulating arm that the LCD display mounts to (or the EVF if needed) and platter for a wireless receiver.
3. Has the RED met your expectations? Have you had any pleasant surprises that exceeded expectations? It’s 30% heavier than I expected and builds out normally to about 35lbs. But it delivers the kind of cinematic images I anticipated. It’s too cool.
4. What has been the greatest hurdles in each of the production phases: pre-production, acquisition and post-production? Just getting my outfit so it packs easily and moves easily from location to location. I’ve been able to put together a fairly transportable kit – a big hurdle with this camera that has many parts and pieces attached to it. Going out for solo shooting is not recommended. It really requires two people to manage the gear and a third if you are in the city or needing to keep a vehicle close-by. Render times for the one-light color corrections are timely, but that’s what Playstations were made for. However, Build 16 and the new RedSpace colorspace may end up being a big time saver for those who don’t care to mess with the curves in post (i.e. adjust the RAW R3D files.)
5. Gear geeks like you, me and half the DCFCPUG membership drool just thinking about a fully-functioning RED kit. What about Brillhart Media’s clients? Do they “get” the RED revolution? Are they clamoring for you to use the Red on their projects? I’ve been fairly low key about it. My clients, like everyone else’s, care mostly about budget and then about look. What is cool about the RED camera is that completely outfitted it costs only $1200 a day. It requires more personnel, but the results are so stunningly different, the clients are happy to gain the edge that RED gives.
6. How do you decide whether a project is right for the RED – or do you just shoot everything you can in 4K? I don’t consider it a run and gun camera. It’s not a Varicam or an HDCam. It’s a Digital Cinema camera that requires a different pace and a somewhat different skill set. I’ll shoot with my XLH1 for my next two jobs, and then the RED for the two following that. It depends on what the project demands both in terms of art and in terms of budget. As for 4K — I shoot everything I do in RED in 4K.
7. Tell us a little about your basic post-production workflow. I don’t have a fixed workflow yet. If I need to punch something out quickly I import my folders from a RED shoot into FCP, use the medium res proxies to cut a piece, export to REDCINE via a third party application, RED Crimson, do my one-light color corrections, export to the flavor of QT I want my conformed piece to be in FCP, and then import the project via XML back into FCP. Voila, a conformed piece. Or, I might do a log and transfer into FCP of whatever clips I know I want to work with and never go back to REDCINE. I believe it’s possible now to set up a ‘look’ in Red Alert and apply it to one’s Log and Transfer into FCP. In either scenario, I’d probably use some of the color correction plug-ins in FCP if needed or grade it in Color.
8. Any exciting RED projects for Brillhart Media in the coming months? Every project is exciting!
9. Do you have any advice or insight for the video professionals and semi-professionals counting the days until their budget warrants a RED ONE (or maybe the upcoming RED SCARLET)?
Well for those of us who have taken the plunge, count us as a rental resource. There are several of us in town and we’d all like to keep our gear busy. Everything is negotiable. But even at $1200/day (or a $1000/day without my lenses), I rent on a 3-day week and 3-week month. Most of the owner operators will come with the camera as a full-on DP if you like or as a first AC. We know you need it, so that’s what we will recommend. And don’t assume the RED is right for your project. It’s really well-suited for the high end promotional market, political market, commercial and narrative markets and some documentary markets. Scarlet will be a very cool add-on as it will allow for some awesome second unit and even crazy first unit image capture.
10. Care to add anything else RED-related? There is likely going to be a RED users group created in the DC area soon. We’ll keep you posted.
By Rich Volin
Photos by Shawn David