Wednesday, 2 July, 2008

Red camera in Mumbai, India

Ted Schilowitz, of Red camera, the 'Leader of the Rebellion' as his card says, and like the main spokesperson for Red was in Mumbai yesterday. As was Nacho, Vice President of Scratch. They launched Red for DOPs and film-makers in India.

It was a small party The Club, Andheri West. A collection of film-makers, Cinematographers and others gathered on a rainy day. I was possibly the only editor around. No wait, Rajesh Choudhary was there too.

Among the cinematographers were very old friends Anoop, Vijay, Murli, Mahesh, Chiang, Rao saab, and lots of others. Names on the tip of my tongue but not 'coming out'.

Benchmark is their (Red and Scratch) representative in India. They have one camera now that they'll use for promotion and plan on bringing in about 50 more in maybe a few months now. So the first step for Red camera feasibility in India seems licked if even half of these many can be made available by year end.

Not many film technicians seem to have heard of Scratch. This is a Windows based DI software. Scratch can conform EDLs to scanned material, grade rather well, and then output to film or HD/SD tapes.

Assimilate is the company that makes Scratch and there are already 16 in India. If someone tells me the last Hindi movie graded totally on Scratch, I'll put it up here.

I'll write about post with Red in a bit. It starts with editing natively on FCP.

For Red finishing workflows, there's a low-cost product called Scratch Cine. This can open and conform Red R3D files, but not other formats. It can play back, at 24fps, Red files at 1k and 2k (not 4k) There's no info on how many sound tracks it can play and how good it stays in sync.

So, for now, Red has made an official entry into the Indian film production industry. Soon more and more cameras will become available. Cinematographers will start using it, Sound recordists will love it for the zero noise, but will need to get used to the connections and recording system.

Editors will have to get used to 'rushes' with cryptic alphabet-number names, folders within folders, a good storage and backup regimen, but no more keycode-timecode-telecine log grappling.

Post and DI houses and systems will need to come to terms with workflows that involves FCP, Scratch and others. And DI houses geared only to film and DPX, will have one more reason (after HD) to get real and equip themselves to handle non-film shooting for film release.

There will be many who will scoff at this whole new digital film thing. But then, it was another rainy day almost 8 years ago when Apple launched Final Cut Pro here. Many scoffed, some still do. And even before, on a not so rainy day six years before FCP, when Avid launched editing on a computer. The Steenbeck crowd laughed heartily then.

Will Red be a revolution in the way we make movies here? I doubt if we'll take 5 years to find out. Ask me around this time in 2009.


  1. You make some good points Neil, but things are not always so black & white (or RED). There are still advantages to film, in some situations, and the scoffing stopped a long time ago among professional colorists and others involved in image processing for long- and short-form, regarding capture on media other than film and editing on the desktop.

    Rob Lingelbach, TIG admin/founder

  2. Yes I was there. Red has many problems. Which means that those in India will now get to find out about them for ourselves. I've been reading the bugs and complaints forums. It sounds like it's quite debatable if the camera is capable of functioning as a proper camera does.

  3. I worked in Mumbai in Andheri for a while. Sure do miss the food, my favorite cuisine.

    anyway, would i have your permission to direct TIG subscribers to your blog?

  4. Yes, Rob. You sure can link to the blog or any article on it that you consider interesting.



  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Hi Neil, I fully agree with u... with the price advantage that Red has, in spite of a little soft image problem as u zoom in, it is sure to catch up very fast in india... especially certain themes in cinema would rather demand 'Red Look' and it won't be very long before we hear that new word coined.

  7. peterc@davsys.com5:13 pm

    Hi Neil

    We have customers using RED and Resolve and he workflow is great. Just treat R3D images like any other source; they are ingested, scanned, produced or copied into the SAN as industry standard DPX files whether they come from film or any other source, in R3D case, the ingest process includes user settings just like the Dmin and Dmax for a film scan.. then VFX, editing, grading and 3D all get the same source files and can all use them at the same time from the SAN.

    We have 4K RED footage on our demo systems and the pictures look OK. But as Rob said.. every aqusition format and system has its merits and film is far from dead.

  8. As far as post with Red is concerned, yes the software from Red makes conversion to DPX simple. Once DPX, the world of DaVinci, Quantel, Lustre, Nucoda, Baselight etc. are open to you.

    But, taking an edit of Red files done in FCP, or down-converts edited on an Avid, then conforming the DPX that came from the R3D to an EDLs that points to the original files... And doing it over again for subsequent editorial changes...

    These are non-trivial issues. And can be hugely time consuming. R3D - DPX conversion can be like watching paint dry. For a feature we are talking of 200 to 250 thousand frames!

    At the present time, the Scratch workflow seems the cleanest, as that works on the R3D files. Or conversion R3D to ProRes and work within Color.

    The future will throw up some interesting workflows.

  9. Neil,

    I believe that RED has had 'No Representative' approach. I would be glad to be proven wrong as I expect my camera to land in Mumbai within a couple of weeks.

    Appreciate your blogging on the technology. The Mumbai/Indian film industry severely lacks a web presence of professionals.


  10. Sandeep,

    Do please contact me when your camera arrives, if you need to do some testing in a grading suite or do film-outs. I'd like to be able to collaborate with a Red owner to figure out a correct method of treating Red files for post.

    We done some trials, but more needs to be done. I've been in touch with another Red camera owner in Mumbai, but the connection hasn't been very satisfactory so far. May change, but its not working yet.

    Write to me directly if you wish...


    put them in one line and replace the 'at' and 'com'


  11. hi sandeep

    i m a cinematographer. i m interested in testing the red camera n discussing the workflow n stuff with u. its rare to find some platform like this wer we can have discussion on technological advancements.

  12. Hi neil,I am raju. please give your office and post production setup address.

  13. Hi Neil,
    We have just bought editing setup apple MacPro 64-bit Xeon with BlackMagic HD Extreme. I want to know what is the Procedure of film 2K film editing in FCP with HD extreme.

    Kind Regards,
    Kishan Adesara


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