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RED In Lowlight ... Post script from David Wakeley

Published : 22nd May 2010

I guess the subject line says it all.

I haven't shot RED in very low light in about a year. Back then we had some nasty artifacts (those weird rough vertical lines).

I'm going on to a job where we are going to be really up against it and we'll wind up in low light situations.

Should we reconsider the camera?

Any thoughts greatly appreciated.

Ruairi´┐Ż O'Brien,
DP
Ireland
www.ruairiobrien.com


I know you'll be happy with Build 20. If your using After Effects then the new colour science isn't supported yet. The base Rec709 look is much nicer and a bit warmer.

The new production release of Build 21 came out 2 days ago. I would wait on that for at least a week. Its bricked a few cameras.

The Camera hasn't become anymore light sensitive but the difference in noise structure is 20x better.

Good luck,

Dane Brehm
DIT
San Francisco
Phantom | Red | P2


 

Hi Dane and thanks for your response-

Are you saying that the noise structure is twenty times better in build 20 or in build 21?

And is twenty times better accurate or expressive language?

Thanks again,

Ruairi O'Brien,
DP
Ireland
www.ruairiobrien.com


Expressive language.

I find it more pleasing personally but you have to be your own judge.

Good luck,

Dane Brehm
DIT
San Francisco


I would still be wary of shooting it above 250asa, you can buy back a  little and avoid flickering street lights by going to a 216 shutter,  but it still wants a lot of light. If you plan on crushing your  blacks anyway, 320asa can be acceptable, but be careful how much you  dig!

Samuel Brownfield
Director of Photography
Los Angeles


The improvements in Build 20 for low light are huge, especially the improvement in blue channel noise.

The maximum acceptable ISO is really dependent on your project - I am now shooting some Canadian football playoffs at 100fps in 2K, for HD finish. With some finesse in the blacks by the colourist, 800 looks really good, 1000 - 1250 still cuts quite acceptably with HD footage from the live truck. The extra speed helps me narrow the shutter as much as I can to keep motion crisp. I might even try 2000 for a few shots to see what happens!

Last year I did a similar shoot, and 400 looked good, but 640 was really on the edge of acceptable, with noticeable blue noise.

I would absolutely test to determine where the threshold of "acceptability" is for your particular project - you can push an HD television project much further than a feature film! Regardless, Build 20 will definitely be noticeably better than 17.

George Hupka
Director/DP, Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada
Listmum, Cinematography Mailing List


>> I would still be wary of shooting it above 250asa, you can buy back a little and avoid flickering >>street lights by going to a 216 shutter,

I recommend 1/60th to be absolutely safe. I did some testing and 216 isn't actually that safe if you're dealing with magnetic ballasts on any kind of light.

I rate RED at 160, and it works for me--but I find I still have to overfill and pull down the blacks to stay absolutely clean. The blue-speckled noise is gone but otherwise it's still fairly noisy if you underexpose it and try to pull up the shadows later. I give it a beefy exposure using 5600k light whenever possible.

It does look better under tungsten starting with build 20. A lot better.

But--I don't at all consider it a low light camera. George, I'd love to see some of your footage as, frankly, I'm a bit sceptical--or I don't get access to the same noise reduction options you do.

-----------------------

Art Adams | Director of Photography
4 1 5 . 7 6 0 . 5 1 6 7

showreel -> www.artadams.net
trade writing -> art.provideocoalition.com

ICG, SOC, NWU


>>George, I'd love to see some of your footage as, frankly, I'm a bit sceptical- or I don't get access to >>the same noise reduction options you do.

There's no doubt you would be able to see the noise, Art!


(I don't have any of the colour corrected footage, I've only seen it broadcast - the colourist did do a very good job of reducing grain in the shadows without crushing the blacks unnaturally)

I probably should have *started* my post with the comment about context - television vs. theatrical feature, etc.

So when I say it looks great, it's in the context of football game footage, where high contrast, slightly crushed blacks, and a gritty texture are all quite acceptable.

If I were to use 1000 on a romantic close-up, with subtle shadows on an actor's face, I suspect I would be much less satisfied with the result

George Hupka
Director/DP, Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada
Listmum, Cinematography Mailing List


>>So when I say it looks great, it's in the context of football game footage, where high contrast, >>slightly crushed blacks, and a gritty texture are all quite acceptable.

Got it. That makes a lot more sense to me.

-----------------------

Art Adams | Director of Photography
4 1 5 . 7 6 0 . 5 1 6 7

showreel -> www.artadams.net
trade writing -> art.provideocoalition.com

ICG, SOC, NWU


Just a note on the new page re RED in low light. 

The posts you have included are very much out of date, as RED One at Build 30 is a different camera & RED One M-X is a dream in low light, and, while some disagree, I believe it is native @ 800 ASA & I shoot everything at that EI with fabulous results. Not so great at 2000 ASA - crawling blacks, but still gradeable.

However, there is virtually no difference in the mid tones between 800 & 2000, so no advantage in changing EI from its native 800.

Cheers,

David Wakeley.

Cinematographer.

Sydney.