Working with friend and first A.C. Nick Keating, I shot and edited a video blog that will help you better understand the Red Epic. I go through the menus, show basic operation and offer tips to save you time in the field and bring back stunning pictures. Shot on location in the New Hampshire White Mountains, I also briefly show you how to use the free Red Cine-X software. I am not an expert, so keep that in mind! I am impressed at how much you can adjust in post. Color temperature and ISO is metadata! It does not matter where you have them set while you are shooting, they can be adjusted in post without an issue.
My biggest bit of advice when shooting Red:
Do not clip the whites, clip color channels or have too many pixels in noise.
Once detail is gone or noise is present in raw r3d files, you can’t fix it in post.
I am more tired than I have been in a very long time. I just can’t sleep. I am having so much fun learning and experimenting with the Red Epic M Digital Cinema Camera.
Eric Kessler, from Kessler Crane Inc., bought a Red Epic for one purpose: to allow Kessler University shooters to get hands on an insane piece of film making equipment. Buying this camera was a large investment, the entire kit (so far) costs nearly $90,000. Yes, I have insurance, but that it not my point! It is an honor to be part of the group who has been granted access to it. It is up to Eric’s discretion on who gets to use the camera, so you may want to send him a fruit basket in the mail.
Yes, I do understand you can shoot a short subject on any camera, and I have. Check out this short video doc I recorded on a Canon 5dmk2 DSLR. But the adrenaline pumps creativity through my system when capturing at 300 frames per second 2k or in glorious 96 FPS 5k.
At the time of this blog, the traveling kit comes with three Zeiss compact prime CP.2 lenses. A 21mm t2.9, 50mm t2.1 and a 85mm t2.1. I have never used these lenses until now and I am very impressed with them. They are built very well and they are super sharp. I love the gearing on them and they work excellent with my O’Connor Follow Focus One kit. The Vocas MB255 matte box compliments the lenses and it is a pleasure using Tiffen and Schneider 4×4 glass filters when shooting. It all packs up in a Pelican 650 road case.
I power the camera with VariZoom 190watt/hr lithium Ion v-mount batteries. The Epic draws nearly 60 watts when recording 5k, so these large capacity batteries are the only way to go. I am able to run non-stop for almost 3.5 hours on a single fully charged brick. Mike Sutton at Rule Boston Camera helped Eric out with getting all the pieces of this kit. Not certain about airline restrictions on these batteries (even in checked baggage), I need to investigate this asap.
So why do I have this camera? Two reasons. The first is to produce this video blog which is a basic tutorial for other Kessler U shooters. I am not a Red expert, but I have had some time to play with this kit. I will do my best to try to explain how to use it to get the best results (as I have achieved through trial and error).
You can now find an operations manual on Red’s website. Info in the Red Epic manual is accurate, I can’t say the same for this video blog!
The second reason is because Eric Kessler has cooked up an idea to help film makers try out Kessler products with high end digital cinema cameras. We all know that Kessler gear works great with DSLR and pro-sumer cameras, now we get to try out the kit with pro level rigs. This testing and evaluation is valuable to both Kessler Crane and end-users who read blogs like this one.
Kessler University has created a web series called, “Red Epic on the Road”. It will be following Epic #940 around the world as different film makers capture the planet and use the insane rig to visually tell a story. The first person to get to use the Red was my good friend Philip Bloom. Phil shot a short film about a wooden boat builder who lives in Michigan. You can view the final project here.
I will be using this Red Epic to shoot a project that begins tomorrow night. My story will capture a “slice of life”. A guy who owns and runs a small town coffee shop by morning, rides his race bicycle on some of New Hampshire most scenic roadways by afternoon and roasts his own select coffee beans at night. It should be a very visual story and I can’t wait to tell it using the Red Epic. It will be in a similar style to what Philip Bloom had done with his boat builder piece.
I will have my Kessler CineSlider with me to add a few dolly moves to the project. I will be using an ElektraDRIVE 500 series motor and the basic controller to do motorized slides. The Red Epic works great with Kessler support gear.
The Red Epic is a very heavy camera even though it looks small, weighing in at almost 35 pounds. My tripod of choice is the Vinten Vision 10 AS. This silky-smooth fluid head can hold up to 40 lbs and it is mounted on light weight carbon fiber legs. I chose the mid-level spreader so that I can work in all different terrain.
Nick and I will be in New Hampshire for the next few days shooting with the Red Epic. As soon as we are done, the footage will sit on a hard drive until I can find time to edit it. I am headed out west with Eric Kessler and a few other Kessler University shooters at the end of the week. We will be using the Epic quite a bit as we capture some of America’s most beautiful natural areas. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for updates: Follow @tomguilmette
In September, I will be taking the Epic to Yellowstone National Park to shoot a short film on the natural features found there. I will be renting an RV and my buddy Dave and I will be living the good life.
We are going to call ourselves, “tomscapes“.
I will be posting downloadable Red Epic r3d files in a future blog. I had to rush this one out because of a busy schedule and the fact that the Red is occupying a ton of my time these days. I will also be launching a new website dedicated to just this camera. Stay Tuned!
For now, here is a r3d file to mess around with captured on Red Epic #940 ready to download (shot at 5k). Please go to Red.com/support and get “Red Cine-X” (Beta Version). Supports EPIC cameras up through Build 1.4.8 and RED ONE cameras up through Build 31.
For those of you wondering about my “workflow”, it is not very impressive. I am using Red CINE-X to do a basic color grade, then I am using the program to convert all the Red r3d files to 1080p Pro Res 422 (HQ). I bring the converted Pro Res files into Final Cut Pro 7, edit them, preform a quick color grade using Magic Bullet Looks and export the finished project.
I do not yet own a copy of Adobe Premiere CS5.5. I am told that you can natively edit r3d files. I tried to download the trial version, but it turns out that the Red functionality is not present in the trial. I may buy Premiere (now that it is 50% off) to edit my Coffee Shop/Bike ride short film, but I have not pulled the trigger yet. I have my sights on Avid Media Composer.
For those of you who are interested in HDRx on the Red Epic, take a look at this short video demonstrating how much dynamic range is possible with this camera.
I found this video in a digital cinema blog called Local Hero Post.
Special thanks to Nick for taking the pictures for this blog post with his Canon 5dmk2. And again, thank you Dave and Ellen for your New Hampshire hospitality.