The Hidden Cost of RED Epic and Digital Cinema

The Hidden Cost of RED Epic and Digital Cinema

While the RED Epic stands to improve on its predecessor in both technology and price, there is a cost hidden within the complex circuitry and 5K sensor of the camera. This isn't the cost of time or quality – it equates to real money – so if you're stretching your budget thin already, you might want to pay attention.

Since its release, the RED Epic has been pumping out tons of test footage, chart samples and eye candy on Vimeo. It has also been busy shooting well-known features like the Spiderman reboot and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

But while the camera stands to improve on its predecessor, the RED one, in both technology and price, there is a cost hidden within the complex circuitry and 5K sensor of the camera.

This isn’t the cost of time or quality — it equates to real money — so if you’re stretching your budget thin already, you might want to pay attention.

Dollars for Data

It was a distant spec in the rear view mirror of those driving out towards the wild west of digital cinema years ago with the RED One, but now more than ever, the threat of dollar bills taken from a film’s budget looms with the RED Epic.

What many are underestimating, or don’t realize, is that Epic is going to balloon the amount of data productions will move by double, possibly even more.

This is directly the effect of an increase in resolution and the lowering of compression.

Estimates are showing that, “At 5k 2:1 and REDcode 5:1 (which will likely be what most features shoot with), a 64GB SSD will be about 12-13 minutes,” said Deanan Dasilva from RED.

That’s about half of what you get at a similar aspect ratio, 4K, Redcode 42 compression ratio with the RED One.

Over on the REDuser forums, Jim Jannard released this chart (as an estimate) of time that a 128 GB RED SSD will hold of footage:

RED SSD Recording Times

As you can see, the amount of time is minimal for the large amount of storage. Compression and resolution come at their price.

Compromising Compression

What Jim Jannard and others have said is Epic isn’t going to be about shooting the highest quality all the time, but instead about finding a perfect compression sweet spot. Jannard recently said on the forums:

The truth is that there is a steep curve of improvement with lower compression starting at 20:1 (acceptable) to about 7:1. After that the curve noses over. While there continues to be improvement to 5:1, it becomes almost impossible to see much of a difference from there to 3:1… just more data to deal with. So when we say 5:1 is the “sweet spot”, that is the very best image we can get at the best data rate. Others will argue (successfully) that 7:1 or 8:1 is just perfect. And at a much lower data rate.

To give you a comparison, the RED One’s best compression rate, REDCODE 42, is about a 7.5:1 ratio.

And while Jannard acknowledges that the curve noses over after about 7:1, there is going to be massive data for minimal compression gain as Brook Willard, Digital Imaging Technician (DIT), points out:

With the Epic, your compression choice will have a much larger impact on data rates. The data rate difference from 10:1 to 8:1 is not that great… but the data rate difference from 6:1 to 3:1 is HUGE. As such, I think it’ll be more about finding a balance than it will be ALWAYS shooting the best. It’s sure nice to have it when you need it, though…

Essentially, the curve of visual improvement will instersect with the curve of data rate inversely. A better image is always going to equal more data, but at the tip of the visual end is going to be a massive wall.

A Laptop Won’t Cut It Anymore

What this all comes down to is that data comes at a price, specifically in equipment and personnel. With the RED Epic, unless you sacrifice image quality, gone are the days of a Macbook and a few portable hard drives.

On most RED shoots I’ve been on, the production has gone through about 100 GB a day on a single camera. With Epic halving footage times on its storage, expect to run through twice as much data in the same amount of time.

EPIC will easily encroach on 200 GB a day. For one camera, no less.

If we multiply that same 200GB a day by 20 shooting days, you end up with 4 TB of data. Add a camera, double that. Add more days to your schedule, keep racking up the data. Add long takes of “keep it rollin,” expect more data on your drives.

More Data Means a More Serious Rig

Of course, data, though it exists in some ethereal realm, has to go somewhere. While hard drives are becoming cheaper all the time, that’s still a hefty amount of storage when you consider the standard practice is to have at least 2 backups, if not more.

And then the transfer takes time even with the most advanced and accelerated systems.

Steve Fairburn, another DIT, gave a fairly specific estimate that “14 minutes and 20 seconds is a rough offload time for a full 128GB SSD. “Those are about the times I see now for 16GB CF cards when using a basic setup most low budget productions provide. If you are expecting to use anything less than eSATA or Apple’s new Thunderbolt transfer system, the time it takes to backup footage is going to be out of control.

Already it gets to the point where there can be 45 – 60 minute offloads at the end of the day, but with RED Epic’s vacuum effect on data, these times could be much, much longer.

These advanced rigs aren’t going to be cheap either. As the data consumption of cameras grows larger, accelerating computers to handle this data is getting even more expensive.

Take for instance this data transfer station which is estimated to rent at around $750 – $1,250 per day. That’s about the same prices as some rental houses offer RED One camera packages for.

Brook Willard DIT Cart

The cart used by DIT Brook Willard

And then once you get something as serious as the cart above, you need a crew member who knows how to take full advantage of it.

The true hidden cost of the Epic are the tools and people you have to surround yourself with to properly handle the workflow.

The producer’s laptop and a PA trained the morning of the shoot day isn’t an approach the RED Epic will be friendly towards.

The Bottom Line

When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.  – Oscar Wilde

Though Mr. Wilde’s quote is sarcastically humorous, it jabs at a tough lesson you learn in the filmmaking world. It seems things can’t be done without money. And while an enormous amount of money doesn’t guarantee a great movie, lack of money can hinder a story that needs to be told.

Don’t believe me? Ask a director forced to cut script pages because a shoot is going overtime. Ask a producer who has to calm a cinematographer’s vision because they can’t afford a dolly.

You get the point.

In the near future, an upgrade of digital quality will be equitable to tangible funds.

For the longest time, digital impressed filmmakers because they could shoot at high qualities at a relatively low cost to film. While all the money in a budget shouldn’t be shoved towards cameras, the cost of it will grow as the data consumption of the next generation of digital cinema cameras rise.

The RED Epic will be the flagship leader in this charge because of its large resolution and low compression options.

With indie filmmakers eyeing Epic for its price, size and RED logo on the side, the hidden cost of data is a threat that could sneak up and threaten the bottom line of film budgets.

Want to be armed with the knowledge about the data rates of the RED Epic? Then get your free copy of the RED Epic Pocket Guide.

  • FB

    as usual, economy of obsolescence. 

    Even if it produces images of better quality – and a) that’s a big “if”, b) “better” depends on your own eyes and the requirements of the project you’re working on – it’s all about making sure whatever you use today is going to decrease its value in a few years (or even months) to basically zero, so you’re “forced” to buy whatever new digital toy is released next….and obviously forgetting about the alternatives we already have, most of which are cheaper (and “better”) in the long run…ah…the old wheel…..

    p.s. sorry for the rant, Evan  :-)

    • Evan

      It’s been awhile FB! I should’ve known a nice RED post would bring you back here ;)

      You’re right though, it’s all about choosing the right camera, the right system, for the right projects. There’s a multitude of factors in that decision — price, quality, ease of use, preference — but there is no magic camera.

      • FB

        I don’t post much because I’m really busy (thank goodness), but I’m checking your blog every day, you know that ;-)

    • James Nelson Smith

      Actually your rant is quite justified.  Sure all these camera’s look great, but in the hands of a really good cinematographer. a Super 8 film would probably look great.  From a completely low budget indie perspective, what I’m seeing is a lot of people advertising what they shot on as if that automatically equals a great (watchable) film.  It’s like owning a Red is now the be all and end all.  From my point of view the Red is no longer a true independent option for a large number of independents, particularly those that don’t have a sideline use for the camera (and that’s without the hidden costs). It’s a low (cost) end pro camera plain and simple.  For many of us shooting on the Red is about as realistic as shooting with an Imax.

  • Greg Gutierrez

    Nice post, I’ve been thinking about investing in a real DIT cart. This may be one more reason for me to invest and focus on DIT work. Sounds like the need to good DITs will be going up.

    • Evan

      It’s just like any crew position — there’s always going to be a need for the people who specialize as opposed to those who do a lot of things, but only mediocrely.

      • FB

        Actually, what I’m seeing is less and less request for DITs around, even though the use of digital cameras is clearly increasing. I’ve talked to 2 cinematographers who are currently shooting on Alexa and Red MX (not Epic), and they both gave me the ame answer: they test the digital sensor just like they would test different film stocks, they choose the look and the settings, and they try to achieve as much as they can in camera, leaving whatever post processing they might need to later, just like they did with film. In their opinion, they don’t really feel like they need a DIT on set, they’d rather pick a 2nd AC/ digital loader/ data manager, as they feel DIT belongs more to post-production than on set. It’s just two people’s opinion, but I’ve been hearing more and more of this kInd of talk lately.

        • Bishop A.

          I and a few other people I know have had a few bad experiences with D.I.T.’s and even with the rental houses for these cams. They seem to want to insert themselves into the process a lot more than necessary with a ‘you can do this, but not that’ attitude… in my experience, everything I had heard about these cameras and how difficult they are to work with was mostly untrue. At the end of the day, it’s still just a camera. We just lit the scene so that it didn’t look ‘lit’, (most red indie stuff looks soap opera-ish), got our settings in camera so that we knew we could at least get the image to a certain starting point in post or even close to final sometimes (because isn’t that one of the advantages of shooting digital, you can SEE it on set? these techie guru types want to overcomplicate things and make you believe that you should never believe your eyes unless they’re standing next to you turning the knobs… then it looks like dog sh*t). I’ve heard Deakins say the exact same thing since he started using the Alexa and if anything, the very top D.P.’s always seem to come from a pov of simplicity first. That’s a place of confidence and security. 

          As for the Epic, the hidden cost in using the Red One instead is that the Epic is far easier to reset depending on how much stuff you have hanging off of it. With a simple matte box, follow focus, side handle, and a few other items, you can switch sides if you’re keeping relatively the same lighting in the same amount of time it would take with any old small camcorder. With the Epic, we found ourselves grabbing a lot more b-roll and inserts with lightning speed… something we couldn’t do with the massive Red MX once you’ve got it all set up. You watch it back and you literally cannot believe you’re getting that quality considering the small effort required to move it around on set. 

        • TJ Hellmuth

          I do hear this a lot lately as well, and I see that happening, but I’d say a 2nd AC/data manager on a red shoot quickly becomes mostly data manager in most situations.  If you have an intern, they become the 2nd AC.    Not sure why its not that way on EVERY shoot that combines those roles.  But in my opinion, if you do it, you better have an ace 1st AC because they will basically be alone, and the DP or operator may have to pull up the slack.

  • Tom C Hall

    I think it’s part of the reason Red is sitting on it’s scarlets, they will seriously undercut the Epics for low budget/series televsion/3D stuff.

    Their part excuses about japan don’t add up when they can run epics off the line no problem.

    This is why i like the Alexas, Prores444 is standard for most jobs.

    • Evan

      That’s a good point Tom, I hadn’t even thought about Scarlet undercutting Epic.

  • James Drake

    It is pricey, but I imagine if you have the ability to shell out $1500/day for a setup, or own, you’ve got a beefy post workflow lined up

    • Evan

      Definitely, but productions should be wary not to shoot on Epic just because it’s the hot new thing. In many cases, budgets and projects will still be better suited for RED One work if they are trying to shoot RED at all.

      • James Drake

        Can’t argue there, a good DP can make any of these modern competitors shine. However the Epic form factor shakes things up.

  • Kimhill

    Who says you can’t dial up the compression somewhat, as Jannard suggests? Or shoot at 4k? There are still advantages to using Epic.

    I think this is a false dilemma. Just because a product offers higher quality options doesn’t force you to use them all the time.

    • Evan

      I understand why you think this is a false dilemma, and in some ways, it is. But if you are going to shoot lower quality with the Epic, why not shoot with RED One or a cheaper camera package? 

      You’re definitely right you aren’t forced to use the high quality options, but there is a point where you dial down the Epic so much it’s more practical to use a different camera.To utilize Epic to its full potential, there will be a cost involved, which is the point I am making.Of course price isn’t the only factor. Usability, dynamic range, and preference are all other reasons to choose Epic over the RED One.

    • Anonymous

      It’s not quite a false dilemma from my perspective (post supervision). Although I agree that the offer of a higher quality (less compressed) image does not mean that it will always be used, I can attest that precious pre-production time will be spent (and in many cases wasted) trying to capture a show at the highest resolution due to the enthusiasm of a DP (or DIT). And because so many producers have no clue (ie are intimidated) about shooting digital, they will humour the DP/DIT until a compromise is struck.

  • Quentin

    I have been acting as DIT on a lot of commercials and music promos recently shooting on the Epic. I have to say that your 200GB per camera per day estimates are very conservative for these sorts of jobs. We have been doing long days and invariably turn over a lot more than you might on a drama, with a lot of high frame rate shooting to boot. My top one day shoot on Epic so far generated over 700GB of data from one camera and that was using RC 9:1 compression! Two camera shoots have generated around 1TB a day! Yes we work with and supply maxed out fullDIT stations like you pictured to handle this and support our Epics on jobs and provide on set look generation & transcoding. Over 400GB of prores422 generated from transcoding per day on the last two days of 2 camera shoots! Shooting at 96fps all day can do that to you! The high framerates & high resolution that allows you to zoom in digitally are why production choose the Epic in general and we always make sure they understand the full cost & logistics implications of doing so as we offer them the services to do it so they get a true & full quote that represents the real cost of going Epic.

    • Evan

      Thanks for lending your perspective to the conversation Quentin! Glad to have someone with experience chime in here and am amazed to find my numbers are low — though I kept them on that end to try not to sensationalize things

    • Dave Baxter

      Hey Quentin, please send me your info. I’m a freelance producer and would love to work with you.

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  • 45SURF

    The more I think about it, the more I feel Canon will be releasing a 2k/4k/5k camera in the next year or so. :)

    Again and again we see why, that when it comes to shooting stills & video at the same time, the 9shooter beats the Red Epic. :)

    9shooting with the Canon-Based Nine Shooter (9shooter < $4,500) beats the Red Epic ($58,000+). . . And just wait until the Canon 5D Mark IV!

    • Evan

      It would make sense for Canon to do that, but first they have to solve some crucial issues with their DSLR video shooting mode before they should move on to increasing the resolution.

      I have to disagree with you, on some level, about the 9shooter beating the RED Epic. In terms of price, it does beat it — no question, hands down.

      But price is hardly the only factor.

      For one, with the 9shooter rig, you have to use two cameras, and while cheaper, will make for a more complicated workflow and also more moving parts to break down.

      Also, the positioning of the two cameras does not allow for the same field of view or shot. If you have perfect composition on one camera, for instance, it will be slightly off for the other. In short, you have to favor one camera over the other — there has to be a primary and a secondary focus with video or stills.

      For still photographers, the 9shooter seems like it could be a good option to those who don’t like choosing video OR stills, but for those using RED Epic to make feature films, there is no comparison. They serve very different purposes.

      • 45SURF

        Thanks Evan,

        Well, we can compare the Red Epic’s footage (video & stills) with the 9shooter’s footage (video & stills) shot at the Nike US Open Surfing Championship this past weekend:

        You write, “Also, the positioning of the two cameras does not allow for the same field of view or shot. If you have perfect composition on one camera, for instance, it will be slightly off for the other. In short, you have to favor one camera over the other — there has to be a primary and a secondary focus with video or stills.”

        Both the 9shooter’s Canon T3i with the 150-500 Sigma Zoom and the Panasonic HDC-TM900K 32GB Internal Flash Memory High Definition Camcorder 1920 x 1080 HD, zoomed to 20x, had about the same field of view, as both were about 20x zoomed out.  

        Even without a full zoom, the positioning of the cameras can be adjusted to offer a very similar field of view, and perhaps, even more importantly, they can be adjusted to offer *different* fields of view too!  

        Best, :)

        • Evan

          I think what it comes down to is choosing the best tool for the job. In many instances, I would likely have a 9Shooter over a RED Epic, but if I was shooting a feature film, I would have the RED Epic (since there is no need for stills).

          Even though RED wants the Epic to be considered for stills, I think its bread and butter is still digital cinema production.

          • 45SURF

            Yes!  See, RED keeps trying to expand its market by hyping downwards, getting into the stills market: 


            Red Epic capable of “Getty worthy” stills?
            July 29th, 2011 · No Comments · On Convergence, Photography, Technology, VideoI read this compelling statement by Jim Jannard on the Red User forum: “You can extract “Getty worthy” still images from an EPIC motion stream.” I’m usually all ears when Jim Jannard makes a compelling statement, but I don’t see the Epic listed on Getty Images’ approved camera list for contributors.”

            So basically the 9shooter also allows for all the “Getty-Worthy” cameras, beating out the Red here too. :)

            Also, major films such as Iron Man and Captain America use the Canon 5d Mark II, as do the majority of the indie films at Sundance.


            “RED will be eclipsed by Canon, just like Sun computers was eclipsed by PCs, as Moore’s Law tends to favor companies aiming up, rather than companies aiming downwards.”

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  • Andrew Coppin

    I don’t believe data rate is a “hidden cost”.  Any legitimate production should know the cost of the system they plan to use… from MDV tape to 65mm.  It’s a budget line item.  And I would argue that productions that are choosing the Epic over the Red One should expect higher data useage.

    Quentin commented on using 700GB in a day being remarkable.  It isn’t when you keep in mind his shoot was all at 96fps.  1TB at 24fps and the 9:1 ratio he mentioned is almost 6 HOURS of footage.  Very few sanely run productions would shoot that in a day.

    I also disagree that data rate is a big concern.  Shooting 1TB/day, backed up, still only costs about $300/day.  That 6 hours of footage would be a rediculously busy day for a production, and unlikely to be sustained.  A lower budget feature could comfortably move down the compression scale (10:1 would still look awesome for big screen, use 3:1 for VFX only) and probably shoot close to the 200GB you suggested… peanuts.  If they can’t afford a couple grand for media over the run of a feature, they are not properly funded.

    Keep in mind that a single camera crew is worth over $1 000 of overtime in a 12 hour day.  Its all relative.

    And the big DIT cart for transfers is totally optional.  A laptop with ESATA and a drive dock works fine.  Done it.  If a production can afford the TrueLight with CineTal monitors, it can afford a couple hard drives.

  • Paul Watt

    I have shot on film for most of my career on a lot of low budget “indie” shoots, and outdoor adventure films. Film costs (with S16 from purchasing film to best light transfer) are about $3000 per hour, bare minimum.  I’ve just started using the Epic.  1.5T drives are about $100, so with 7:1 4K 16×9, we’re able to backup close to 4 hours of footage on 3 drives for about $300 in drive space.  Less than $100 per hour.  And connect a drive to my laptop, throw it in Premiere, I can edit in real time, and do a one light colour too.  If you’re on a fast paced, multi-cam, commercial shoot, you need a loader/DIT, cart, etc. but you can get away with a lot less.  Either way, it’s faster and cheaper than the cheapest film shoots of old.

  • Rokinaj4


  • Steve S.

    Just to put this in perspective for those wondering if “real”productions shoot TB of data a day, the answer is yes. Did dailies on a Sandler film this summer and we were dealing with on average 2TB a day, with some days going into the 4-6TB/day range. The reason: They ran 3 Epic cameras at 5:1 and sometimes hi-speed. It added up. But we still cranked through dailies as the system had a couple of Red Rockets, and very fast storage. Basically, for the most part the on-set and near-set systems never fell behind. We had the right tools for the job. Production was happy.

    • luca

      Cheaper to shoot in35mm :)

      • Evan

        “It depends” I think is applicable in most situations, and definitely here :)

  • Skylinepictures

    Very interesting article, but I’ve gotta say I really don’t understand why everyone is surprised that these new digital cinema systems come with added production costs because of data and the handling of said data.  The cost of storage and other post expenses for shooting high-end digital cinema is only a “hidden cost” if you’re an amateur who’s never worked professionally in this business and haven’t the slightest clue what you’re doing. 

    I’ve worked on projects shooting 35mm film and projects shooting both RED One (M & MX) and EPIC.  I’ve seen first hand how shooting 35mm can get expensive, and fast.  At the end of the day it’s a lot cheaper to buy a stack of hard drives (or build a RAID) and hire a DIT who knows what they’re doing than it is to pay for all the film stock you’ll need for a day of shooting, the rush fees, and the final lab cost per foot to process/develop/transfer your 35mm film, and then the added cost of the actual DI scan for digital editing/color.  And after that, if you want your film preserved properly, you’ll need to actually clean and cut the original negatives for archiving, on top of the studio/production company ordering IPs after answer prints are approved.

    Film costs more than digital.  Period.  For the cost of one week’s worth of film and lab expenses on a 35mm project, you can build a couple of very nice, fairly large RAID arrays with hot spares to store everything you shoot digitally. 

    Hard drives are getting cheaper and bigger all the time.  It is becoming more and more affordable each year, but the biggest reason indie filmmakers fall into financial trouble with these cameras is because they’re going into it with the mindset of “if I just manage to get this camera, I can make a REAL movie!”  They get excited and forget that it takes a lot more than a nice camera to make a good looking movie.  I get so annoyed when people complain about the cost of shooting 4K and 5K with RED/EPIC.  It’s like buying a Mercedes because you want a Mercedes then bitching about having to buy Premium fuel. 

    If you want to play “professional” expect to PAY professional.  Doing things professionally in Hollywood has never been cheap.  The only people I see complaining about the data rates and cost of shooting 5K are the people who can’t think more than five minutes ahead.  I’ve never once heard any of my colleagues or the directors/producers on a film set complain about the supposedly high cost of digital, because they’re professionals and they know what it takes going in to get the high-end results that studios and distributors demand. 

  • AD Stephens

    I hadn’t though about how much data would be produced with a 5K picture at such compression rates until i read this post, but now you mention it that would explain why on every shoot I’ve worked on with Epic (I’m a Camera Trainee at the moment so still learning!) there’s been a supplied ‘Epic DIT’ from the rental house.

    On the Alexa shoots it’s simply been a guy with a macbook pro and a few Lacie’s, although each shoot has been at 1080p with the SxS cards rather than 2K with an external recorder, but still the workflow seems much easier!

    what worries me at the moment is how producers are lumping DIT and 2nd AC positions into one, I’ve only just found your blog so I’m not sure if you’ve posted about it, I don’t know things are going in the States with regards to this (I work in London), but certainly from what I know the DIT is very much more than a simple data transfer position and to throw a 2nd AC into that through a producers technical naivety is a bit worrying! but perhaps they only expect a data transfer? I’ve seen from posts above that perhaps the DIT can become a hinderance, a case of perhaps too much technical knowledge and not enough creativity?

    Like i said I’m just starting out so I might not be seeing it as it is, any advice/knowledge on this would be great!

  • Anonymous

    Hi everyone :)

    it’s a very interesting topic .

    On one side it’s very good to warn people that digital cinema is not cheap ! most people nowadays just think that digital will open doors for FREE to the industry !!! People who works in the business just knows how expensive it is to produce a movie with this usual risk to get no money back from the investments . And here i’m talking about the most majority of people who works on indie projects . indie doesn’t mean cheap, an average movie budget is around 3 to 5 millions dollars .The real positive point about the digital cinema, is to get the same day, what we have shot !!! and that  worths SO MUCH, no need to get upset about the focus in a scene, the look of the lights, the performance of the talents .

    No more … We can now with a DIT on set get a previsualization of what we’ll get and adjust our workflow, and work faster, time is money, especially for producers . to me that’s the real difference between the traditionnal workflow ( = with film stock ) and the digital daillies .

    The other point is, for commercials, and ad agencies, it’s much better to work in digital, the client can see “live” the final product on an ipad, or the computer screen, and get the confidence that he has spent wisely his budget   .

    About the EPIC workflow, i was upset about this side of the workflow, to deal with so many data , but i saw lately a workflow whorkshop on how to use the Alexa, the sony F65 and the EPIC on set . I had to admit that among those three cameras, the RED has produced a very versatile way for the post prod . The training shown us the regular routine with 2 mac pro and a DIT and the copy of the master on a hard drive ( with a Codex Vault )  & the LUT + color front “on set dailies”, and then we saw a smaller configuration with a macbook pro . the workflow begun more “painful”, slower, but do-able i may say but i wouldn’t recommend it for a long feature production, at the very least a short, or indie music video ; because of the high bandwith of the Data as we agreed that it’s the main issue for indie budget . but these tools are not for the mainstream market .

    So to end , i would like to encourage everyone who wishes to make movies, to write first something that means something . i wish to say it again, but when we gather so much efforts, to get a budget, talents, equipement ( and it’s not only a camera ) :) it has to be for something true !

    As it has been said, we’ve seen so many projects shot in digital or film which were such a WASTE !!!! Another thing is : a movie is a team work !!! when i see so many newbie people who claims to be a cinematographer, just because they got a dslr/digital camera and have shot a few pictures …. come on !!! Cinematography is a real art & craft, and it’s more about the light than a camera ! so is it about directing a movie, it’s as well, enough work !!! Apart some genius who did it both, like Kubrick ( who he had a cinematographer by the way to help him ) each jobs require skills and TIME .  One cannot do it a movie by himself = Again a team work !

    So a camera by itself doesn’t make a great movie, only vision matters . The other point is, to produce a movie, one needs people, lights, lenses, costumes, grip, catering, insurance, production design and SOUND …….. :) so the cost of the post production digital or not is indeed important to plan, but i wanted to say that whatever option one’ll choose it will COST A LOT , even with a dslr movie made to get print for DVD market, the bill will be salted if one doesn’t see the economic reality ! Digital tools just SAVE time, and as we all know in this business time is money !!!

  • Catvisionfilms

    Just approach shooting like it’s film. Dont waste the film, dont keep
    Rolling – respect the process, and embrace the technology.

  • pedro guimaraes

    working a 3D feature last year,,7TB of Epic data in 1 day…….

  • Davemingchang

    Good article, but you should have stressed, even more, the fact that on EPIC and Scarlet, you can dial in your choice of compression ratio and resolution/aspect ratio.  For example, many episodic TV shows, commercials, and music videos love shooting on EPIC for it’s image quality, modularity, size/weight, workflow… and often times they shoot at 4KHD 7:1 since they are finishing for 1080p and can achieve great results, yet save costs on storage and post production.

    This article, while covering it’s bases, is a bit misleading if one doesn’t understand how easy it is shoot and post in the res and compression of their choosing.  
    Not to mention, that there are several options available as portable onboard recorders, such as Sound Devices PIX 240 and AJA’s Ki Pro which allow for Pro-Res and DPX based workflows and they can be synced to the Camera record start/stop and timecode.

    The idea that DITs are going away seems to be more of a Camera department wish than a reality. The importance to back up data on set, view footage instantly, test LUTs in camera, etc., are invaluable.  True, they add some cost to the overall production budget, but they also save in the long run, and time, of course, equals money.Articles like this one, while peppered with useful information and technical facts, come off more as politically motivated.

    It also focuses on one camera/company.  If it were truly objective, the statistics from the competing cameras in the same market would be discussed and compared as well as the quality of the image.  For instance, the ARRI Alexa camera, while not having as high resolution, has two main methods of workflow.  It can shoot to Pro-Res (which most productions use, and which compromises image quality), and ARRI RAW, which is uncompressed and eats up WAY more space than RED RAW which is compressed and offers a visually lossless mode at 5:1 and 3:1 if really desired.  ARRI RAW is currently practically unusable for it’s incredibly large files and worflow that is not generally accepted in the post universe.  So many times, tests will be done for quality on ARRI RAW and then later it is decided to go with Pro-Res, when RED RAW is a much better format.  

    The facts are coming out, and more and more, REDCODE is becoming a standard in this industry.  When RED ships the RED Ray player (for theatrical, professional, and home theater usage), it will be yet another game changer.
    All I ask is that those reading this article take it for face value.  The title is misleading, and those shooting on RED EPIC and Scarlet are making the most of this incredible technology while other are fearing change.

    Embrace advances in technology or run the risk of being left behind.

  • jiveaces

    Great post, very good food for thought.

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  • Brian Merlin

    my 3 year old mac runs reds just fine. its a mini too… you don’t need to playback in full 247. i think looking back you were kind of wrong about all this, drives are cheap, so are mags and brains now compared to before. i mean even my broke ass has a scarlet

  • niki

    my experience in film school in LA is that film is way better than digital and cheaper..faster…but
    the billion dollar digital video business does honor Kodak by trying to imitate film…for me knowing film helped me creatively reel looking spectacular ..and work…wise getting into the union ….check out BREAKING BAD …and BOARDWALK EMPIRE GOOD LUCK!