Uroboros Films 
Turning Vision Into Reality

RED Cameras Resolution and Frame Size (updated)

To figure out your crop factor for transcode output, you need to first understand the resolution that your footage was shot in.

Before we get into crop factor math we need to understand what frame size we are starting from.

For reference here is a list of currently supported resolutions for RED's cameras

RED Resolutions

Why spending $17,000.00 in SSD Media was a good idea

I thought long and hard about what to do with Uroboros's RED One MX once our Epic arrives.

It's a great camera, it does nearly everything i want it to do, and given it uses the same senor technology as the Epic, it makes the an excellent B camera.

But there are some things that I don't like about the RED One. It's big and heavy like a traditional 35mm camera. Also because our primary media has been the RED Raids, we've had to be careful of handling the camera in some situations. We invested in ISO mounts to mitigate the problem of dropped frames when the camera needed to move aggressively or was in an environment where there was a lot of low frequency vibration, say at a concert or on a balcony or bridge. This hasn't been a huge issue, because for any project that didn't require takes of longer than about eight minutes, we could use CF cards.

But the drives, and particularly the drive cables were are only real failure point I've experienced while shooting the camera.

Separate from that issue, long experience has taught me that it's a very good thing to be at the front on the line for all things RED. RED does world class engineering and I think it's fair to say that their work has served as a catalyst to revolutionize high high end cinematography. When it comes to timely delivery of that technology however, RED doesn't get great marks. I won't belabor that here but suffice it to say that we ordered a significant amount of media for our Epic well in advance of the camera's arrival.

Given that the upgrade for the RED One to enable SSD media was only $1,500.00 it was an easy choice to add that capability to the camera as we'd decided to keep our MX.

What I wasn't prepared for was how much of a difference it makes in the day to day shooting of the camera. The RED One body really isn't all that heavy, it's all the gak and cables that get added to the camera. by eliminating the drive and drive cable and the mounting hardware for the drives, the camera has a much more manageable footprint, and it weighs quite a bit less. It also removes the issue regarding camera movement and vibration aforementioned.

But there is another really key advantage to the SSD upgrade that is particularly valuable for larger or multi-camera projects. The offload speed of the RED RAID's is constrained by the bus speed of the Firewire 800 port, the fastest port available on the raids. This is a real problem for long form or event shooting when many cameras are involved. Me and my Red Alliance partner Chris Layhe had a five camera RED shoot of Swan Lake that ran three hours plus With only ~80 MB/s offload speed, it just wasn't possible to backup all the footage at the end of the night or compete transcodes.

When using SSD media with the RED Station an e-sata interface can be used, and offload speeds can be essentially tripled. The interface is not longer the choke point, it's the speed of the media.

This enables backup, transcode and playback far faster than is possible when using drives.

On balance while seventeen grand is a LOT of money for media, I think the SSD upgrade is second only to the MX chip upgrade when it comes to wise investments on the RED One platform. The combination make it a far more capable camera and keep it at the forefront of digital cinematography.

Pair that with the added convenience of using identical media for both Epic and MX cameras on set, and you've got a real winner.

Here at Uroboros we are now exclusively shooting SSD media, because ease and speed on set make everybody's production days better.



Client Monitors and how to create a look in REDCINE-X and transfer it to camera

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is about how to manage color on the client monitor.

On most shoots, we output directly from the camera via HD-SDI to our Panasonic 1710. The Panasonic 17" series is the most standard monitor on set worldwide, and therefore most clients are familiar with it, saving time and effort in setting expectations.

It's important that your client understands that one of the great advantage of shooting raw, arguably the greatest advantage of the camera, is the level of flexibility that raw files provide to dial in the final color and overall look of the piece. The way I describe it is to say that the monitor out is a really great monitor tap, with a preliminary LUT applied. It's a general approximation of the final output, and while it should be "directionally correct" it's a big mistake to spend a lot of time on set trying to dial in the final look of the project.

The reality is that ambient light, and the colors inherent in the environment make it impossible to do any serious color evaluation on set. Get the performance, get a solid exposure, and the images are going to look great.

Occasionally you are going to find yourself with a client that just gets stuck on this issue. They commonly come from a video background where painting in the camera and in camera adjustments to match multiple cameras was common, and where there was far less latitude in exposure and color space, and their experience has taught them to dial things in as close as possible to the final look on set to protect themselves.

While completely understandable, it's just plain madness to have talent and crew standing around while you dial in color on the camera.

If you find yourself in this situation, I suggest one of two approaches. The first involves a little sleight of hand, and will be a harder sell to more experienced directors. (but frankly the more experienced directors understand RED pretty well at this point.)

Rather that use a standard monitor like the Panasonic, output via HDMI to a cheap 24" computer monitor, and tell them they will be better able to evaluate performance and framing on the larger screen, both of which happen to be true. As long as you know you are nailing exposure, you can also accurately tell your client that color space is different, and so they shouldn't be concerned about the color balance as they are going to able to have huge leeway to make adjustments in post.

This strategy works even better if you can have a DIT station with a Rocket on set, placed in a more light controlled environment where more critical evaluation can take place. This is a far better way to evaluate your work than relying on the camera monitor path.

Now if you find yourself in the situation where you just can't sell that approach and you have to output something that is pretty close to final output, you can take the second path, namely to create a look in REDCINE-X and export it to the camera.

I'm not a huge fan of this approach, but it's a good option to have when needed.

This turns out to be a little tricky due to some very specific constraints required by the camera for the media that it will save looks to. Check out my blog article "How to format a SD card for RED One looks transfer" for detailed instruction for what is required.

The other thing to remember is that at present all looks have to be in REDColor Color Space and REDgamma Gamma Space. No other color space or Gamma space are supported for looks transfer at this time.

Once you've prepared your media, the rest is pretty straight forward. Shoot a quick clip, open it in REDCINE-X and use the Look Control features to dial in the desired look. Once that's done go the File menu and select "Save current look to camera" and save your look the SD card, and you are good to go.

You can then upload the look to the camera via the SD card reader, and the Video menu. There is no way to output a look to SD card from the camera, but frankly that not really an issue, and all clips coming off the camera capture all the meta-data that is used to define the in camera look you have created, so you have ready access to that data and can create a Look Preset in REDCINE-X from your clip.

How to format a SD card for RED One looks transfer

1.) Insert a SD card with a capacity that is one gigabyte or less into the card reader connected to your Macintosh.

2.) Open Disk Utility.

3.) Select the SD card from the Volume List in the left hand column of the Disk Utility window. (red)

4.) Select the Partition tab in the main Disk Utility window.

5.) Set the Volume Scheme section of the Disk Utility window: (blue)

  • Set the Volume Scheme: popup menu to “1 Partition”
  • Select the Options... button under the Volume Scheme and set the radio button to “Master Boot Record” and click the “OK” button.

6.) In the Volume Information section: (green)

- Set the Name text field to “LOOKS”
- Set the Format popup menu to “MS-DOS (FAT)


7.) Double check that the SD card is selected. You are about to format the media selected in the volume list. If you format your boot drive by mistake, it will suck... a lot.

8.) Click the “Apply” button.

9.) Click the “Partition” button when the confirmation dialog box comes up.

10.) Double click the SD card, titled “LOOKS” in the finder.

11.) Create a new folder at the root level (first level) of the “LOOKS” SD card and name it “PROFILES”

Your RED One will now be able to save or mount look files from the SD card.