Not to be outdone by the Arri Alexa, RED has been prepping an HDRx mode for it’s Mysterium-X equipped EPIC camera that is similar in nature to Alexa’s high dynamic range capture process. The EPIC boasts a full 18 stops of range and two modes that allow the processing to be done in camera or in post-production. But does it look as good as many think Alexa does? Jim Jannard, founder of RED, has released the first footage using this new technology and posted it online for the Internet’s scrutinizing eyes.
Before reading on, I suggest heading over to the REDuser.net forum where the video is posted and watch it. For those who aren’t so much into video, you can see a couple stills I pulled from it below (click to enlarge):
As mentioned above, the EPIC captures an advertised 18 stops of dynamic range compared to the Alexa’s 14 – it used to be 13 until the 2.0 software update improved it. The technology works by capturing two exposures in camera – one at the chosen exposure and another at a higher exposure as set by the user – then these two images are combined through EasyHDR (in camera) or HDRx (post-production).
The HDRx provides the kind of flexibility in post that the Alexa’s dynamic range allows, while EasyHDR may save on data. With HDRx the two images are stored in the same REDcode file almost, but not always, doubling the size of the file. Couple this with RED’s upcoming REDCODE 50 and REDCODE 100 and there will be a lot of bits and bytes on the move through these cameras.
The biggest problem concerning EPIC with this technology is it’s motion blur. The way the camera captures the higher exposure is by adjusting the shutter speed effectively rendering two images in one motion blur. There is a very technical and good discussion over at ProVideo Coalition on this. Another good discussion is at REDuser.net.
Overall the footage looks good – it’s certainly an improvement over the RED one – but the Alexa really swayed me to the Arri camp even though it stands opposite of Pete Jackson. I will have to wait until the final software and camera is released (hopefully by the end of this year) before I make any definitive judgments.