Houston digital film production company XL Films recently took delivery of a RED ONE Digital Cinema camera system. The RED ONE camera shoots in 4K, a digital format that is four times the resolution of the best high definition video. The acquisition places XL among the first in the area to offer the ability to shoot and edit the ultra high-resolution digital images. “The RED ONE is really a revolution in motion picture camera technology,” says XL Films producer, Ken Kosub. “We’re calling it digital film. We anticipate that in time the RED format will largely replace shooting on 35mm motion picture film.”
According to Kosub, there are many benefits to the RED besides big images. “Our chief task right now,” he says, “is helping people understand why this camera system is so remarkable and how they can benefit from it.” The RED ONE camera is unique in using a large imaging sensor that provides the same shallow depth of field and selective focus as 35mm motion picture film cameras. “This means that objects in the foreground and background of the focus area are rendered softer compared with cameras using smaller imaging sensors,” says XL Films director, Scott Jones. “It’s much more aesthetically pleasing.”
Also unique to the RED is its use of the RAW image format, the same format used by most digital still cameras. “Having the ability to shoot RAW images at 4K resolution gives us so much more flexibility and freedom in post-production,” says Jones. “It’s ideal for visual effects work where you are shooting against a green screen and need to perform a lot of compositing, or layering of images. In order to get clean, believable effects you want to have as much information in the image as you can get.” Adds Kosub, "It used to be that visual effects were used somewhat sparingly. Now we’re using effects on the majority of our projects because it adds production value and can be very efficient.” For example, in the last two years XL Films has created three television ad campaigns for The Methodist Hospital System in which doctors were photographed against a green screen and later composited into a background environment. “Being able to photograph the doctors quickly on-site is an obvious benefit,” says Kosub, “when you have very busy doctors who don’t have time to leave the hospital and drive to a studio.”
Understanding and being equipped to handle the RED post-production workflow is crucial to success with the RED. “You want to make sure you have someone schooled in the process to manage the workflow,” says Bruce Ingram, XL Films DIT (Digital Imaging Technician). The RED system has dispensed with film and videotape, instead recording digital files directly to a hard drive. While eliminating the cost of film or videotape stock is an obvious benefit, care must be taken to ensure that the digital files are properly archived. Ingram simultaneously makes two copies of each shot on set. “But what everyone really loves,” says Ingram, “and by everyone I mean directors, directors of photography and clients, is the ability to non-destructively apply ‘looks’ to each shot on set that can then be carried over to the edit suite. This gives everyone a much better idea of how the final image will look, while preserving the unprocessed RAW image.”
XL Films plans to use the RED ONE camera on the majority of it projects, which include television spots, corporate marketing films, documentaries and narrative short films. “This camera is perfect for advertising agencies requiring a national look for their commercials,” says Kosub. “Agencies are already starting to specify their projects be shot on the RED.” He noted the film “Knowing”, starring Nicolas Cage and soon to be in theaters, was shot using the RED ONE, as were two upcoming Steven Soderbergh films, “The Argentine” and “Guerilla”; numerous other movies are being shot using this new technology.
About XL Films: XL Films is a digital film production company providing production, post, visual effects, animation and custom music. Clients include The Methodist Hospital, Rice University, BP, Marion Montgomery, Inc., and EnviroMedia, among many others.
Contact: Ken Kosub, XL Films, Ltd., 281-633-8336. www.xlfilms.tv, 710 S. 8th Street, Richmond, Texas 77469
About RED Digital Cinema: Based in Lake Forest, California, RED Digital Cinema is the brainchild of Oakley founder, Jim Jannard. The idea behind the RED camera system is simple. Design and build a high performance digital cine camera with the quality of 35mm film and convenience of pure digital. RED delivers unmatched image quality with no recording system limitations. www.red.com.