Sunday, July 20, 2008

RED ONE revs up Superbowl Spot

Recently I have worked with the RED ONE on a number of interesting projects. Not the least of which was an independent film called "The Light of Family Burnam". For this project I had the opportunity to operate for the day for Canadian DOP Danny Nowak CSC. Another notable project was a series of commercial spots lensed by cinematographer Gale Tattersall (House M.D.).

"The Light of Family Burnam" is an indie with a serious message and intent. Nowak and the director, Marshall Axani, wanted to convey a sense of grandness which would compliment the seriousness of subject matter and so chose the 2.35:1 aspect ratio to achieve this goal.

The RED ONE camera package for "The Light of Family Burnam" was provided by Sim Video West in Vancouver. The package included 2 x 320G RED Drives and a MacBookPro to use as the transfer and backup system. The camera package was outfitted with a full set of Zeiss primes and an Arrihead 2 geared head.

I came to set as the 'A Cam' operator for the day but was also able to offer some insight as to the necessary camera settings for the project's successful acquisition. After discussing the options with the post supervisor, James Tocher of Digital Film Central, the RED tech / DIT, Tony Dean (also a RED owner himself) concurred that we should shoot at a true 24fps and not the more typical 23.976. The primary reason for this is because the HMI sources which were supplied were all magnetic ballast systems which are not flicker-free when shooting at 23.976fps. 24fps is an HMI safe speed when using magnetic ballasts.

The first day of shooting wrapped nicely on-time and we all went to sleep knowing that the 4K footage was safely backed up in triplicate and sent on to post . . .

The second RED ONE project that I want to mention was also filmed here in Vancouver, Canada. A large international electronics manufacturer chose the RED ONE as the camera system to capture a series of commercial spot for their 2008 Super Bowl campaign. As the project is still in production / post, I will not divulge the client nor the product line. Suffice to say that this client and their respective agency and production companies are working with a budget which would allow them to produce spots on any medium they choose including 35mm film, Panavision Genesis or Arri D21.

So why choose the RED ONE?

The simple answer might be: "because it's the cool camera at the moment." But that's not quite good enough to satisfy my enquiring mind . . .

I think that up until recently there has been a significant gap between the capabilities of 2/3" sensor technology and the creative demands of cinematographers and directors. We have been looking for a 35mm sensor in a professional HD camera since HD came onto the drama scene around 8 years ago. Up until recently the WYSIWYG advantages of shooting HD have come at the cost of compromising the established cinematic aesthetics of the film medium, primarily the depth of field characteristics of 35mm lenses.

The RED ONE fills the gap very well at a purchase price that is a fraction of the cost of competing systems developed by the major industry suppliers. Unlike the ARRI D20 /D21 or the Panavision Genesis, it's not just rental houses that are able to own a RED ONE system. The fact that independent production companies or even owner/operator cameramen can afford to enter the market means that the RED ONE system is becoming increasingly ubiquitous.

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