Case Studies

Red One on the Road in "Knowing"

Knowing” the Alex Proyas (I Robot, the Crow, Dark City) feature was recently released with great success around the globe, becoming the first big budget feature shot on the Red One camera to hit our cinema screens.

Lemac became involved in the project in March last year DOP Simon Duggan ACS, Director Alex Proyas and Producer Topher, came to Lemac in Melbourne to look at and test the Red camera with the view to using it for the feature.

Alex, who was very into digital photography, was very interested to check out Red’s potential. Lemac’s MD and Cinematographer John Bowring ACS took the guys through the Red camera, and shot tests around Lemac’s theatrette and out on Richmond’s Bridge Road at night. The test were taken to both a 35mm film out and a HD master, and from there the decision was made to go with shooting Red.

After a very successful shoot, we asked Simon to tell us why and how:

Why did you choose to shoot on Red?

Alex and I were keen on trying the Red as we have been getting such great results from our own digital cameras with CMOS sensors.We were both happy to try a new format, this production being the first time I’ve ever shot with a video or digital system.

What is the difference between shooting Red and other cameras?

Aesthetically, I prefer the look of the Red CMOS sensor over HD. More filmic, nicer skin tones.

Is there an advantage for shooting Red?

Image quality, 4k great for VFX, almost lossless compression, immediate results!

Have there been any disadvantages or problems shooting Red?

A few technician familiarity problems, a few software, hardware problems but generally much less than anticipated.

The director couldn’t relate to poor quicktime dailies quality as they were ingested into Avid system rather than Final Cut.

Weight and size of Red compared to other camera systems - any comments?

Red with production kit accessories is similar to Arri LT and stripped down to bare body and lens similar to the Arri 235.

Would you shoot Red again?

Yes, now that it has advanced towards a production camera. Interested in finding out more about the Epic camera. It will be great for the codec to be natively incorporated into other third party editing, grading systems.

What suggestions do you have for those shooting Red?

Inbuilt metering great but use a meter for continuity of look, best shadow detail and contrast at 320 although 500 gives more filmic look with “softer” highlights and skin tones. Set up viewing monitors correctly. Watch highlight clipping.

What suggestions do you have for Red to improve the camera/system?

Build 16 has addressed most software/firmware problems including stability, monitoring, post workflow issues. Need to keep working on streamlining accessories e.g. solid state drives to make into a reliable production camera.

Director Alex Proyas on the subject of Red told Wired.com. "There’s no going back.....The results we’ve achieved are extraordinary especially when the film is projected digitally,"......"It’s completely grainless and there’s almost a three-dimensional quality where you feel as if you can reach into the screen because there’s an incredible depth to it. I’m a total convert."

"Knowing" stars Nicolas Cage and Rose Byrne.

Photo Courtesy Summit Entertainment

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