Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Red Camera

This is a picture of the Red Camera all stripped down. Not all that impressive looking, but it is a piece of technology which is going to change the film production process.

For eight days beginning Jan. 30 and ending Feb. 8 Flashpoint Academy produced The Intruder, a short Twilight Zone-esque film, using the Red Camera. It was the first time the camera had gone out as a rental in Chicago and it was yet another way Flashpoint is at the "bleeding edge" of both education and technology.

Since I am not the most technical person I'll give you the lay version. The Red Camera, captures a digital image at 4K resolution. That's more than double the image quality than the Super Bowl broadcast, while film itself is about 12K resolution. To my eyes you couldn't tell the difference between the Red images and 35mm film.

The camera will accept any 16mm or 35mm lenses with a PL mount. You can record to a 320 gb hard drive, but we chose to record to 8gb compact flash cards. Those flash cards would hold four minutes of "film." When filled they would be transferred to a computer and reformatted and reused. In short it was not much different from using your digital still camera except we were capturing 24 frames per second. As a point off comparison- the Panasonic HVX200 P2 camera shoots 16gb cards which can hold 42 minutes of film.

The Red Camera comes at a base price of $17,5oo and with all the accessories you will probably spend $60,000 to have a decked out camera. That's not a lot of money if you shoot a lot of film. And because of of the huge, file storage issues, you will probably need another $30,000 of computer technology and storage space. Cheap if you are making lots of film or working on a feature.

Check out the camera for yourself.
Here is a picture of it all tricked out.



Don said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Did you find that the four minute limit altered the production, perhaps making it more like shooting film?

PeterH said...


It certainly did feel like shooting film and having to change magazines every 4 minutes (instead of 10). But, the change is very fast and we had several flash cards rotating in and out.

The alternative would have been to go to the 320gb drive, but if there is/was a problem you loose everything. We decided to play it safe.

John Knipp said...

that is an amazing camera and i am so glad that i will be coming into the industry with it. i know we did that budgeting the other day and i guess i can realize why it is priced so high, or so low. but that still just blows my mind how much money that is, even though its well worth it i have a small MiniDVD camera at home and i got it for like 400-500 bucks, blows my mind what the HUGE difference is. by the way peter, do you know if we will be using the red camera again for our (january students) production in action or was it only for the intruder. talk to you later

bobbyboy said...

If I may ask, what is your school like? Are the courses fun and interesting? Or is it just another boring film class?

PeterH said...

John and Bobby,

John, I am not sure about the Red Camera. We might use it again or we might shoot film. That decision will be made as we get closer. It all depends on the project and the budget, I think.

Bobby, I will let you decide for yourself if it is fun and interesting or boring. What I can say is that it's different. It's a lot of work and it's an mmersive learning experience. I can say for certain no other film school has used the red camera.

Set up an appointment and see for yourself.


william williams said...

Sorry if this is not a post about 'the Red Camera.' But I was wondering, how do you teach on the subject of screenplay.

For you see, I'm a screenwriter in traning; with some flaws of my own, and was how do you deal with students, like me.

My questions are:

1. How good of a writer do you have to be, in order to write a screenplay?

2. Do any of your student have some writing or grammatical errors?

3. And how do you go about helping them understand the fondamentals, to writing a screenplay?

PeterH said...


Yes, I teach screenwriting classes and yes, I have dealt with students who had issues.

First off, I think you need a good teacher- one who can decipher the good idea from the sloppy writing, then nurture that idea. It's relatively easy to clean up the poor writing.

Also, you really need to have good screenwriting software. We use Final Draft- that helps a lot.

To me the idea is king. Everything else can be fixed.


john knipp said...

To Bobby,
what peter says is correct but i believe i could add a different view also considering im a student. The question what is our school like is to difficult to answer, i have been to many schools in the past (weather touring or actually going there) and i can tell you this now the atmosphere is beyond anything even i imagined, very nice people and a perfect area to talk, work, or just sit and think.

I also personally think that the courses are fun and interesting, the teachers make the class real instead of becoming a robot in front of us students, that talk about real life, and offer real life knowledge. I find it in no way boring, maybe sometimes i may find some classes no use to me, but when i analysis them closer i realize everything plays off of each other. each teacher has there own unique personality and they all care about the students very much on a personal level even. also i am not one for approaching people but the students and teachers here are very approachable and i dont know anyone who doesnt have a open door policy. but as peter said come check it out for yourself, if somehow you dont get anything out of it, it will be a fun experience nonetheless.

bobbyboy said...

Peter, John, thanks for your replys. I'm actually looking foreward to taking a school tour. I did some more reseach and read all the positive responses towards the school. I'm really excited!

Again, thanks.

Gabrielle Faust said...

I just wanted to let you know that I am passing on the "Excellent Blog Award" to you! You can pick up the award badge on my site in the post about the award. Keep up the great work!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Anonymous said...

I'm hearing about a lot of funky artifacts with the RED camera and how it sometimes will just freeze or turn itself off. Did you experience these problems?

don't call me "surely" said...

Hi, peter,

I'm a 25 year-old college drop out, and was just wondering: who is accepted to your school?

Is it someone with a high educational background (not me).

Or someone who loves, has the passion to do the job, while having a good education (me).

Is it basically a school where students can express themselves, as well as learn the ropes of the industry, in a fun pace. Or is it just a average film school where the people are dull.

PeterH said...


No artifacts I saw with the Red Camera. We shot 90+ 8gb compact flash cards. The biggest thing was once on a battery change the camera's internal menus were re-set to the default setting. Otherwise all was good.


Set up an appointment at Flashpoint and come see for yourself. I would like to think we are anything but average. And if you are able and willing, I am sure you can express yourself just fine.


bobbyboy said...

I have one last question: How demanding is your school. In demanding, I mean mentally and physically.

PeterH said...


It's demanding. We look at it like a 40 hour work week for the students. You are pretty busy.


mr. cool said...

I have a question, since I won't be able to make the tour, Saturday.

Question: How different is your school from New York Film Academy (NYFA)? It seems like they teach in a more Hollywood like way. I mean, they teach their students with Hollywood style.

Again, how different is your school from NYFA; in terms of teaching style and technique, to life on the campus. Oh, one last thing.

Do GPA's have any influence in a students chance of being accepted in your school? Or is it your passion to learn. The reason I ask, is because I have ok grades: 3.50.
Have you ever had students with lower GPA's get accepted?

mr. cool

PeterH said...

Mr. Cool,

Yes, GPA is considered. 3.5 is pretty good in my book, but what do I know I am just a dumb filmmaker.

I am sorry you missed today's open house. Come in two weeks when we do it again.

In comparison to NYFA, we are as current as current can be. We take professionalism very seriously and it is a real commitment to come to Flashpoint. Other than that I don't know what to add.


Anonymous said...

Hey Peter,

Do you think mistakes are a good thing or a bad thing?

The reason I ask this question, is because I don't have the balls (confidence) to fail. When, and ever, I do fail (make mistakes), I believe that there is no chance for me to succeed in the world. Or do what I want to in life, because I failed.

Does your school accept failure/mistakes, to where you can learn from them. Or does everthing have to be picture perfact the first time around?

PeterH said...

Mistakes are part of the learning process. The best film experience I have ever had was on the worst film I ever worked on. We learned EVERYTHING because mistakes were made.

I was the production manager and it was easy to blame others- starting with the script- But I made lots of friends and Learned tons!

Make a mistake, don't do it again.


Donald H. said...

yoh pete,

mr. cool makes a good point. do you have to have a goooood gpa score, or can you have a low gpas and still get in FP?

and anonymous askedd if mistakes were ok. are they??? can i really make a mistake in FP and still learn from it, even if i make it twice? or does the mistakes go on a school record; where they see you as a "mistake" in your school?

this is DH. signing out. ;) lol

Gina said...

Wow, 4k! That's really terrific!

Anonymous said...

with flash card technology changing daily, has anyone tried any no RED flash cards ... maybe the 32GB

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

It's interesting to see just how pervasive digital memory has become in our every day lives. It's like everywhere I turn, I see something with a card slot or USB port, lol. I guess it makes sense though, considering how inexpensive memory has become as of late...

Gahhhh, who am I to complain. I can't make it through a single day without using my R4 / R4i!

(Submitted from ComP for R4i Nintendo DS.)

Anonymous said...

Interesting post... Looks like flash memory is finally starting to take off. Hopefully we'll start seeing a drop in solid state harddrive prices soon. 5 dollar 32 gig Micro SDs for your Nintendo DS flash card... sounds good to me!

(Posted by FFV2 for R4i Nintendo DS.)

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