If you haven’t heard by now, RED debuted a new sensor available as an upgrade to their existing Red One model cameras quite some time ago. Named the Mysterium-X, the sensor provides a greater dynamic range and light sensitivity as well as the ability to shoot up to 5K for it’s placement within Red’s upcoming Epic cameras. Though the sensor is the direction the company is going with it’s new modular cameras, the Red One, the company’s workhorse, has the ability to upgrade it’s brain to take advantage of the new technology.
The video contains quite a bit of talking from Jackson about RED, a company he has supported and lent his own RED One cameras to films such as District 9 and The Lovely Bones. But the most interesting are the visuals that are provided by Jackson who has been working with cinematographer Richard Bluck on testing the new Mysterium-X sensor.
The first series of images come from a basic tungsten light source on a color chart to give a real idea of the new chip’s ability to read into shadows much more and have a greater sensitivity to light. Click the images to enlarge them.
There are two striking differences in this simple test from the outset: the first is the greater sense of color and depth in the Mysterium-X still and the second is it’s ability to read into shadow so much more than the original Red One sensor. The Mysterium-X is able to be underexposed a full two more stops than the regular Red One sensor.
This means that it’ll be even easier to shoot with the Red, effectively enabling low-budget films to shoot with lenses that aren’t quite as fast without having to pump in as much light. To get a decent image on a limited lighting budget on the original Red, you have to end up shooting wide-open somewhere between 1.4 and 2. Now with Mysterium-X, you should be able to use the same amount of light at a lens rated for T3 or so.
So that’s great, but were only looking at a chart. How about people? We could look at objects all day, but when it comes down to it, films come down to the human element. If the characters don’t pop, neither does the film. So, Jackson and Bluck shot some more tests with people using tungsten sources.
In the video, Jackson raises a good point about the improvement to the way the camera reacts to tungsten light. That had always been a sore spot for the original Red – it’s reactions to tungsten light were not as strong as shooting in daylight. And yet, as many people know, unless you have the sun outside, shooting with daylight sources is more expensive and harder to do (simply because tungsten light is more easy to obtain in practicals).
In the shots of these two subjects, you can see the marked improvement with shooting in tungsten light. But also, you get a greater sense of the ability of the Mysterium-X to pick up details in shadows – something that becomes crucial in post-production with color grading/correction. In video, unlike film, if you don’t have the details off the base exposure, it’s harder to bring them out. Anyways, check out the images and again, click to enlarge.
As you can see, especially if you enlarge them, the color in the skintone and the shadows on the garments are much better than the original sensor. Where the skin looks somewhat green and paled in the old sensor stills, the new sensor brings a sense of warmth and an authority to the light that allows it to look more beautiful.
I must admit that I wasn’t sure how to react to the Mysterium-X when I first heard about it. I didn’t know if it was a bit of a cash grab on the part of Red – a minor upgrade to a camera that might not be around as long with Arri’s Alexa and the Epic on the horizon. However, after seeing this video, there are some really great improvements that have been made in the way the sensor reads the world around it. And though lenses will obviously play a large part in the image quality, at least the base at which the visuals begin will have risen up a few notches.
If you didn’t click the link above, head on over to Reduser.net and watch the video for yourself.