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AUDIO REDucation Real world RED camera training by Ben Sherriff S aturday 28th and Sunday 29th March saw the REDucation training workshop arrive in London at the Met Film School in Ealing Studios West London. I’ve used a Red One but have yet to work on a shoot where I can get my hands dirty with the newer cameras they manufacture (Epic-X, Scarlet, Dragon and now Weapon). When I was asked to attend the course and write up the experience by Kit Plus magazine I naturally jumped at the opportunity. The course is run over two days in the UK and so there is a lot of information to pack into the 18 hours of guided tuition, lead by John Marchant, Dado Valentic and Steve Johnson. Sam Measure was present from the RED Bombsquad at Pinewood and assisted the groups in setting up of cameras and answering technical questions. Jon Theobald and several recent Met Film School graduates were also assisting the groups once we got started with the cameras. The course was neatly broken down into camera setup and operation, shooting, workflow, some colour theory and post-production overviews. It began by covering operations from basic to advanced, the user interface (the menu often puts people off), shooting great images, testing the camera, tips and tricks, inside knowledge and info, ‘touch every button’ and camera builds. As the participants of the course were all introduced to one another in the first half hour it was clear that there was a wide range of experience, professions and interest in the room. From high end stills photographers, their crew, facility company staff, filmmakers, RED owners, resellers, small production companies, to the likes of me – freelance operators, DoPs and directors from the world of Music Video, Fashion, Documentary, Independent Film, Broadcast and Corporate production. From an operators or self shooters perspective it was useful to go through some of the essential maintenance procedures such as cleaning the sensor, changing the OLPF (Optical Low Pass Filter) and also the most base level of setup – charging batteries, navigating the first level 70 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 101 MAY 2015 Hands on with the Epic-­X of the menu and optimising the fan settings and formatting your media. One key nugget of information here, for example, was to allow the camera to warm up for about 10-15 minutes before you begin shooting with it – and also before you calibrate the black shading of the camera. This is something that I would always do with any rental camera since you have no way of knowing how recently this was done with any hire. The best thing about RED is the RAW workflow, but this workflow demands a specific approach and understanding of how to get the most out of it. It really depends on what you are producing for and how much time and consequently budget you have in post to deal with your images. Second to that one cannot fail to mention the overall build quality - the cameras are not low cost but the high quality manufacture of the modular system and constituent parts – the ‘ecosystem’ is considerable. The RED One is the camera that arguably ignited the Digital Cinema revolution and really made world class experienced directors and cinematographers believe that Digital Cinema cameras would and could soon offer greater latitude and dynamic range than traditional film stock. Now with many of the digital cameras out there we are at a point where Digital Cinema technology far exceeds the visual capability of what was previously achievable on film. But what is so different and special about RED? For those who are converted to it – it is like a religion, something for them to shout from the rooftops and evangelise over. I was keen to find out. The strangest thing for me or anyone coming from a background of shooting with the correct White Balance in camera, the right ISO setting, perfect exposure and so on and so forth is to understand that with RED RAW you are not restricted to the settings that were on camera at the time of recording – Colour Space and Gamma, White Balance, RGB, Saturation, ISO, Shadow, DRX and Contrast are all data that can later be manipulated. With that in mind we were instructed to shoot by recording ‘as much light as necessary’, but not so much that important highlights we wish to retain were blown out. This seemed to me an interesting point, but if I’m honest one that I typically follow whatever the digital system I am working with: