Shooting On The RED Camera

By Dominic Soo

Our last production, Galaxy Road Trippin', was our first we shot using a RED camera. The commercial is a spec for Pringles and Star Wars, and features four mid-20s kids travelling through space battling their X-Wings against the formidable Imperial TIE fighters. The friends are later revealed to be carpooling on a road trip.

Director of Photography, Mike Dominic shot the entire commercial using a Zeiss ZF.2 lens attached to the RED Scarlet. The end result was beautiful uncompressed 4K footage. This may sound unnecessary, since most monitors and televisions can't even preview videos in 4K. Still, there are some benefits to working with uncompressed footage.

Raw footage means that no camera settings are embedded onto the film, that is, all attributes, like ISO and exposure, are fully adjustable in the post workflow. There is no filter or adjustment layer required because the source file is being modified. If space isn't a concern, this is a lovely feature to have for color correction and grading.

If you're running in Adobe Premiere, the workflow is as follows:

Premiere → Project bin → Right click on R3D file → Source settings...

and all the camera attributes are there for you to mess around with.

Another area where where 4K files really come in handy is visual effects, especially for a compositing artist such as myself. Keying is so much more accurate because the keyer samples from more pixels. It also helps rotoscoping work tremendously when you zoom in and your pixels are still crisp rather than a blurry fuzz.

For visual effects workflow, I suggest color correction in Premiere before sending to After Effects or Nuke. It's usually the other way around, but some VFX programs can't take in R3D, and I like to burn in a little of the R3D color before I convert them into Cineon sequences.

And finally, one last thing about 4K is the freedom of space that it provides. It allows for you to punch in for extreme close ups without losing any resolution. That is if you intend to export at at 1080 of course.

Special thanks to everyone who made this possible, Jackie Chang, Vanessa Tan, Mike Dominic, Eric Stirpe, as well as our talents, William Sterling, Osric Chau, Alexandra Besore and Meredith Alloway.

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