RED vs ARRI – The Fight for the Soul of Digital Filmmaking

July 11th, 2017
RED vs ARRI - The Fight for the Soul of Digital Filmmaking

There are some big divisive questions in life. Star Wars or Star Trek? Coke or Pepsi? Miles or Coltrane? In this guest post, Stewart Addison examines the RED vs ARRI debate, taking a deep look into both sides of the argument.

RED vs ARRI is sort of the Godwin’s Law of filmmaker debates: every argument seems to drift in that circular, repetitive, and exhausting direction where both sides are convinced of their objectivity. What’s interesting to me, however, isn’t which camera is better, but what these cameras say about the priorities of digital filmmakers. Do we, in the ARRI mold, want to carry the traditions of celluloid digitally or, in the RED mold, want to reinvent the way we think about filmmaking around our digital tools? We keep returning to the RED vs ARRI debate because it makes us think about how we want to continue making movies, and that’s a good thing.

Resolution & Dynamic Range

As digital technology advances, so do the implications of high resolution and dynamic range. Celluloid has always been associated with high dynamic range and its virtues, with the Kodak Vision3 offering between 13 and 14.5 stops. ARRI has a reputation for at least coming close to film in this way with the Alexa’s 14 stops. In the ARRI world, dynamic range is one of the calling cards of a filmic image — resolution is secondary.

Other than the hardly-accessible, rental-only ARRI 65 that shoots 6K, ARRI’s flagship cameras all barely shoot 4K — 3.2K up-scaled, in fact — and have used the same ALEV III sensor for years. Resolution matters, but only so much. RED, where 6K feels like old news, is constantly pushing the limits of resolution in pursuit of a different goal.

RED brought 6K to their cameras in 2013 with the Epic Dragon. Two years later, they announced an 8K sensor that eventually manifested as the Dragon Vista Vision 8K and the Helium Super35 8K. It’s objectively harder to keep up with RED updates than it is for ARRI, and it’s not like audiences are pining for 6K or 8K entertainment as we’re still barely catching up to 4K. Why keep adding resolution?

While there are certain types of productions that benefit from high resolutions immediately (CGI-heavy especially) the main benefit lies in flexibility in post-production. The amount of cropping and digital zooming you can do from an 8K image to a 4K image is pretty significant, and that’s not even mentioning 1080p finishes. With a high-enough resolution filmmakers can radically change their images in post-production and/or future-proof their projects for days when high resolutions become the standard. The additional creative freedom these high resolutions provide in post is unprecedented.

A director or DP working with a 6K or 8K sensor can treat the production process very differently if they are saving certain creative decisions for post — just ask David Fincher and Jeff Cronenweth. I can remember how I felt after watching the behind-the-scenes of Gone Girl. When I first started shooting in 6K on a RED EPIC Dragon, the reframing and repositioning within the frame during post-production presented a radically new way to look at filmmaking.

With ARRI the story is a little different. Do you still have an insane amount of freedom to alter your project in post? Of course, but an up-sampled 3.2K to 4K still limits you a little, and you’re only future-proofed as long as nothing higher than 4K becomes the standard, which should be the case for a while. However, Alexa images stand out because of how filmic they are. Future-proofing isn’t necessarily even relevant if the image looks good. The highlight roll-off on the Alexa is stunning and the camera holds its own against RED in the shadows as well. Shooting on the Alexa encourages you to treat your production more traditionally because it is designed to give you the filmic look you crave in a workable digital form straight out of the camera, with “workable” being the key word.

The Modularity of RED vs ARRI’s Workhorse Reputation

From the beginning, RED has encouraged filmmakers to use their camera bodies in new and interesting ways. If digital technology has created an opportunity, RED wants you to seize it. ARRI embraces those freedoms, but frames them in a familiar structure.

Yes, yes, ARRI has the Alexa Mini, but that’s the one exception to a line of cameras known for their reliable out-of-the-box features, as well as brand support. RED’s identity is in its modularity, which in itself is a new and expanding concept.

Modular cameras give DPs more choices to build their setups around things like motion, space, weight and budget. If the brain of your camera is going to capture an image that you can manipulate in so many different ways later, then you can really get creative with how you build around it. It’s a way of offering filmmakers the kind of fine-tuning in production that they now have in post.

Shooting on ARRI is different. On-set freedom with an Alexa XT means the choice to use tactile buttons for certain things that RED might only offer via menu interface. You’re not going to treat the camera much differently than you would a film camera, and ARRI’s reputation is built around the idea that all of the freedoms the camera does give you will be executed flawlessly.

I don’t want to conflate RED’s modularity with the company’s less-than-stellar reputation on the reliability front, but it is worth mentioning because of the way it contrasts with ARRI’s workhorse reputation. Let’s face it: if you’re paying more to shoot ARRI, it had better be reliable. However, it’s hard to think that RED’s breaking of new design ground hasn’t hindered its ability to consistently deliver a reliable product in some way.

RED vs ARRI – The Image

Differences in solution and modularity don’t mean very much if the result is still a pleasing image. ARRI has the reputation for providing the best image in the business, and the reasons for it are plenty, but I think RED gets undersold in these conversations. ARRI’s reputation is boosted because DPs from any generation can see its value, and that isn’t always the case with RED.

If you’re shooting on celluloid and you know what you’re doing, choosing the right combination of lens, camera body and film stock will lay the foundation for a beautiful image. Shooting on the Alexa, throw on some Master Primes and you can impress all of your peers with the quality of your image! All sarcasm aside, the Alexa doesn’t take a lot of tweaking to provide an incredible, filmic image that is hard to top, assuming you have the budget for it and that’s the look you’re going for.

RED’s reputation is that it provides a digital look, “digital” vaguely meaning “not filmic”. While that certainly can be true, it’s a little misleading as a criticism for two reasons. First, non-filmic images can be beautiful in their own way. Check out Pablo Larrain’s Neruda from last year if you want an example. That was shot on RED and looks non-filmic as hell, but it works. The digital sharpness draws attention to the narrative’s artifice in ways that a more traditional, filmic, image would have made more intimate and less distancing.

Pablo Larrain’s “Neruda”

Second, RED is capable of getting a more filmic look but, like all things with RED, you just have to make more choices to get there and those decisions likely involve learning the best practices from the RedUser forums, which does require more work. RED’s new IPP2 color science is a great start, providing more of the highlight roll-off you can achieve with the ALEV III sensor. With a set of vintage lenses and a Black Pro Mist filter to soften the image correctly, RED can emulate a filmic look if it needs to, and at a substantially lower price than you will likely pay with ARRI.

Future-Proofing

This topic is tricky, because while shooting at higher resolutions does technically allow your image to stand the test of the inevitable future higher-resolution screens, streams, and projectors, you have to contend with the fact that 35mm still looks great today. If future-proofing means having an image that will remain pleasing over time, there’s no evidence to suggest that a filmic look won’t do the trick.

For example, the recent support of shooting on film by big name directors like JJ Abrams, Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan has essentially resurrected Kodak film processing. Star Wars is not a niche property, and if a filmic look is working for audiences of that size, why fix something that isn’t broken? Moreover, film is making a comeback due to its ardently passionate supporters. If it remains the standard of pleasing images, will digital ever be able to develop a life of its own? Does it even have to?

Maybe not. My 8K Netflix stream on my 8K television of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (shot on the Helium Vista Vision 8K) ten years from now will theoretically have the same level of detail of a then-modern movie. That’s really cool, and even if I don’t need to have that experience when I’m re-watching The Force Awakens — a beautifully-modern throwback to a classic sci-fi property — it’s great that I get to have it with a space adventure franchise that embraced its modernity wholeheartedly. That, I think, sums up the entire debate.

This is an exciting time to be a filmmaker. As digital technology advances, it will raise even more questions about what we really want from our digital cameras. While there’s a chance of future generations being too digitally-minded to even recognize celluloid priorities, it’s more likely that digital cinema will never fully break from the film mentality. The desire of some for a purely digital filmmaking experience will always contrast with those who want to draw from deeper roots. Can the RED vs ARRI debate ever be solved? Is one way superior to the other? I don’t know, I’m just grateful to have the choice.

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 Uroš Žuraj
Uroš Žuraj
MemberJuly 11th, 2017

good read but there is a lot of words like reputation,… and not a lot of facts. Red had problems with their cameras from start,… they were doing something new, they still are,… pushing the game forward. of course there is a problem with being reliable. Easier with having the same sensor for so long like Arri but Ive seen Alexas not working on the sets few times as well. Red is much more reliable in last few years then it was with RedOne but people dont want to change their mind because they are fans of one system…
also pointing out that Red needs mist filters to soften up,… there is no mention that Alexa needs IR filters to make black really black and not brownish… thats something that Red fixed with Dragon sensor.
worked on both cameras and I work on lots of big commercials and hear alot of bullshit about both cameras and its usually from people who dont know shit. at the end of the day one is a fork and one is a spoon, they are both cutlery but use the one tool you need. dont eat soup with a fork.
love both system and would own both if i could.

Jan Hermann von Bayern
MemberJuly 12th, 2017

Exactly

Mike Tesh
Mike Tesh
MemberJuly 12th, 2017

Good article. Though I think it’s important to note that if you are doing a production for Netflix (and I believe Amazon) you are required to shoot on a camera that is natively 4K. So the Alexa (not Alexa 65) is out.
Personally I find this kind of strange. On one hand I understand that these web companies want to deliver native 4K. I would expect nothing less from tech companies to be more spec driven. On the other hand, when you still have two hundred million dollar Marvel movies being shot on an Alexa and screened on quality projectors at high bitrates on large screens that gross a billion dollars (give or take) and will eventually appear on those web services as well (because would they really deny having those movies on their service just because they aren’t native 4K?). You have to wonder how important native 4K really is at that point. Especially for some significantly less expensive production that will only ever appear on their streaming service on small screens in a heavily compressed format.

 Jospeh Slomka
Jospeh Slomka
MemberJuly 12th, 2017

That is a decent observation. The resolution of acquisition keeps improving by large multiples, but the quality is the same. If there was some kind of visual advantage of shooting higher and down sampling it would have been shown by now. Shooting 8k right now is simply more expensive.

8k is great for VR, events like sports, dome movies and special shooting techniques. In those realms 4k isn’t enough.

 Funky Punky Monkey Junk
Funky Punky Monkey Junk
MemberJuly 15th, 2017

While I think Arri’s 3.2K is inadequate by today’s standards, these network “policies” are issued by suits who want to sound important and don’t know shit about filmmaking or the technology behind it.

Would one of these clowns understand that a “native 4K” camera shooting interframe-compressed junk would embarrass their company much more than 3K raw? Doubt it.

 Jospeh Slomka
Jospeh Slomka
MemberJuly 17th, 2017

Why would you say 3.2k is inadequate by today’s standards, then go and rail against people who say 4k is a requirement?

As judged by box office and movie awards 3.2k is more than adequate for the 4k environment. You’d be really hard pressed to find any advantage of 4k or greater resolution in modern cinema,or any proposed future advancements.

we’ve had greater than 4k for going on a decade, the same amount of time the Alexa has existed. If resolution was the killer application, where is the piece of art that proves the ‘killer app?’

Where is the thing that exists at 4k that just couldn’t be achieved at 3.2k or even 2k? There a a few very specialized specifically shot pieces that can use the resolution and most of them are 3 and the rest are special effects.

 Jared Ba
Jared Ba
MemberJuly 18th, 2017

You started strong then lost me. I’ve never been happy with the 2k resolution in theatres–and I think while John Q Public would say the picture looks “fine” he’s also staying home in droves. And one small reason for that is he has to choose between paying 16 dollars to watch a bad 1080p tv set or stay at home and watch GLOW in 4k on his nice new 4k tv set. You can do great things with HD, sure, just like you can do great things in SD, in pixelvision, in silent movies, in black and white, etc. But that’s not an argument to hackishly cling on to outdated technology.

Amir Kuro
Amir Kuro
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

ARRI > red ???

Erasmo Parra
Erasmo Parra
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

Nokia 3310!

Simon Rabeder
MemberJuly 12th, 2017

Sony

 Jared Ba
Jared Ba
MemberJuly 12th, 2017

1) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 wasn’t mastered in 8k and none of the sfx were done in 8k so unless they want to invest 50 million on a rerelease 10 years from now, you’ll still be seeing GotG in 4k for the next 50 years or so.

2) Despite what I just said, I’m a pixel whore, so Go 8k! An 8k demo I saw on a large format screen at SxSw last year was probably the best viewing experience of my whole life, or at least the only one to ever compete with 70mm Imax.

3) I love the new Twin Peaks but a) it was shot with an Arri and b) it looks video-y as Hell. Check out stills of Bad Cooper’s prison break. Hell, even things actually shot on film can look like video if you aren’t careful.

Jan Hermann von Bayern
MemberJuly 12th, 2017

David Lynch would probably would have preferred to shoot Twin Peaks on Hi8. Lol. Ever watched Inland Empire?

 James F. Davis
James F. Davis
MemberSeptember 2nd, 2018

I was in Tokyo recently filming for work. My fiancé was with me and we went to the Akihabara district with all the games and electronics. Saw an 8K TV ($10,000 in price) and it looked like you could literally could reach your hand in the set and pull out what was on the display. A beautiful woman, a beach front, a race car… It was all too real.

That being said, it didn’t have a film look. It was hyper real. That’s not the film look. If you slap an anamorphic on a Red 8K, it loses its grit. You mind as well just film spherical. That’s why 2.8 K, 3.4K, 4K are perfect. Too much resolution takes you out of the picture.

With GOTG v2, the 4K finish was always going to be the deal. Most cinema projectors still display 2K only. I can think of only 1 in the last year that projected 4K, and they proudly advertised it before the film – and I live in a major metropolitan city with TONS of theaters (and I’m a cinephile going to many movies a year)

 Stewart Addison
Stewart Addison
MemberJuly 12th, 2017

Of course, when I mention the “post possibilities are endless when shooting in 8K” that is what I mean because nobody is delivering in 8K. I shoot in 8K, deliver in 4K (if I’m fortunate, sometimes deliver in 1080p) and before 8K on the Helium I was shooting 6K Dragon and delivering in 4K or 1080p, and before that at 5K on EPIC MX or 4.5K on Red One MX, so it goes without saying you’re delivering in a lower resolution than you shoot (when shooting on RED) which is great..

The bigger debate from my article is when material shot on an Alexa Mini at 3.2K then upscaled in-camera to 4K looks just as good as 8K down-sampled to 4K from the Helium, which technically it shouldn’t, but it does (its close enough to be subjective anyway). Take a look at the new Blade Runner 2049 for example, it looks visually stunning and very faithful to the original Blade Runner (thankfully as a huge fan) this was shot on an Alexa Mini and Alexa SXT (so upscaled 4K from 3.2K in camera) but it certainly doesn’t look less amazing because of the upscale, I’m sure Roger Deakins / Villeneuve could’ve shot that on whatever they wanted, but Alexa and Master Primes were what was chosen, just as I’m sure Roger is aware that the Alexa 4K is upscaled from 3.2K but with zero concern for more resolution, that’s the subjective part and what prompted the article in the first place.

 Jospeh Slomka
Jospeh Slomka
MemberJuly 12th, 2017

What that example is showing is that we now have enough resolution and more doesn’t mean better. The Arri was not even likely shooting at 3.2k open gate for every shot depending on delivery aspect ration and lens coverage. There is a point where additional capture resolution no longer benefits the final product. It it seems we have already passed it.

We went from 2k->4k->6k and now 8k without jumps in end quality.

 Funky Punky Monkey Junk
Funky Punky Monkey Junk
MemberJuly 15th, 2017

Not really. You’re ignoring the entire reframing issue. Higher resolution gives you more freedom in post. It can save your ass in some situations, especially those where you really should’ve had more than one camera but couldn’t.

Greg Rodriguez III
MemberJuly 16th, 2017

Did it stop great films where they can’t reframe to be great? Yes options are good but it creates to much problem when “options” became a rule in a workflow. You dont need reframing more than 50% of that time that it will greatly affect the whole of your film. Yes these options in post are great for the ones who learned how to do things the old ways. I find older people specially those who have shot using film benefit from this “options” more. Because most of the time they are already precise to begin with. The problem is with the younger ones who treats things as trial and error. It doesnt train their brains to think better, but rather makes them more lazy as hell to think. It makes more sense why there are lots of people using Arri more. It doesnt make Red inferior. It’s just a lot of options it gives you for post will most likely be used a lot by incompetent people who cant seem to do it right. Even post prod people are being affected by this culture of redo and options. Suddenly this young directors has the sense of you can always “Fix it in post”. And demands it as if its the post problem when really its garbage in garbage out. This Red VS Arri is really stupid. These things are no different from choices of film emulsion. You choose what your story needs. It’s always slower correcting it in post and faster doing it right in the set.

Khalid Saif AL-Mesalam
Khalid Saif AL-Mesalam
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

both r great tools but now it is time for story telling more than technology

Marx Franzen
Marx Franzen
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

Yes! this is why Spielberg shoot on 5D. cause the story matters

Khalid Saif AL-Mesalam
Khalid Saif AL-Mesalam
GuestJuly 12th, 2017

Marx Franzen I thought he was doing it thru a handy cam ! ?

Matteo Bertoli
Matteo Bertoli
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

Wait… which fight?

Joelle Mcneil
Joelle Mcneil
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

Oh boy here comes the unnecessary arguing.

Muddasir Shah
Muddasir Shah
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

ARRI <3

 Funky Punky Monkey Junk
Funky Punky Monkey Junk
MemberJuly 15th, 2017

Less than three what?

Kjeld Kahn
Kjeld Kahn
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

ARRI 3.2K up-sampeling to 4K vs RED 8K let me think about it ?
http://www.arri.com/camera/alexa/technology/arri_imaging_technology/alexas_sensor/

Mase Daniel
Mase Daniel
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

Of course Arri is top

 Funky Punky Monkey Junk
Funky Punky Monkey Junk
MemberJuly 15th, 2017

Hm, compelling argument there.

Prince Bereka
Prince Bereka
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

ergonomics of the Red is extremely lazy

 Funky Punky Monkey Junk
Funky Punky Monkey Junk
MemberJuly 15th, 2017

Says the guy who hasn’t mastered capital letters, periods, or bothered to provide a single specific example.

Rafael Molina
Rafael Molina
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

Both are great. Thou, I’d go with a Flex 4K if I had the maneh :v

Heinrich Mack Ibañez Escano
Heinrich Mack Ibañez Escano
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

Im on Arri

 Funky Punky Monkey Junk
Funky Punky Monkey Junk
MemberJuly 15th, 2017

“Im”?

Martin Landsburg
Martin Landsburg
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

MAAAAAC! Oops, sorry wrong thread. ?

Luca Orlandi
Luca Orlandi
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

Red. Forever.

Petar Ivanov Anev
Petar Ivanov Anev
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

ARRI !

Dylan M. Young
Dylan M. Young
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

Apple’s vs. Oranges really

Roman Lehmann
Roman Lehmann
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

nicely written. thanks for your thoughts

Kevin Radcliffe
Kevin Radcliffe
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

Yawn

Mark Martin
Mark Martin
GuestJuly 11th, 2017

Camera porn ?

 Dan Brockett
Dan Brockett
MemberJuly 12th, 2017

Yawn. “My camera’s bigger/better than your camera”.

In the end, writing, casting, talent, story, lighting, post and audio all make so much more difference than which camera was used. We truly are at a point in filmmaking history where which camera you use really barely matters.

 Jospeh Slomka
Jospeh Slomka
MemberJuly 12th, 2017

The real battle for the sole of cinema right now is happening in HDR and HFR. Both of those technologies have much more visual impact than acquisition resolution.

All available professional motion picture cameras deliver enough resolution for a high quality 4k digital cinema finish (Panasonic, RED,Arri, Canon, Sony, etc). As well they all deliver enough dynamic range for HDR.

There is no battle between cameras. They are tools used to capture shots. Any top tier camera will capture a shot. The big difference is in how easy it is to access certain features while operating.

Carter McCormick
Carter McCormick
GuestJuly 12th, 2017

If it’s a matter of personal preference maybe the specs should settle it. The better the specs the greater the possibilities.

Gene Nemetz
Gene Nemetz
GuestJuly 12th, 2017

Ideally, sure.

Nuno Trancoso
Nuno Trancoso
GuestJuly 12th, 2017

Erhmm, that’s the whole point of the article you know… You can’t compare the specs for “better” when it’s apples to oranges. If res was the sole difference, better res wins. If better DR was the difference, then better DR wins. But if one product is so different from the other as these, well… You’ve just left creative ground and gone into engineering ground :) Filter out which ones meet the requirements of the project at hand, pick up the “solution” you like best or think works best from whatever is left.

Brandon Li
Brandon Li
GuestJuly 12th, 2017

Who cares

Dion Jaymes Chapman
Dion Jaymes Chapman
GuestJuly 12th, 2017

The Soul of Digital Filmmaking are the small guys and they don’t use either of those…

Big Hollywood have no soul…

Gene Nemetz
Gene Nemetz
GuestJuly 12th, 2017

Dion Jaymes Chapman . I don’t know if agree. True Grit, The Fighter, Sicario, American Sniper, The Dark Knight, all three Lord Of The Rings, The Incredibles, Bourne Identity, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, The Notebook, Iron Man(the first one), all had soul. I could list more.

Gene Nemetz
Gene Nemetz
GuestJuly 12th, 2017

The Red Helium has ended all argument as to which looks better. Splitting hairs over DR isn’t an issue anymore when you see the beauty of the Helium image. Helium is above and beyond everything. It is in a class all its own. “Filmic” is passing away. It is mattering less and less. When the nostalgic “filmic” crowd is passed away from the scene no one will make it a point to use it. It will be just what video “used to look like”. And I’m ok with that.

 Monte Zuma
Monte Zuma
MemberJuly 14th, 2017

Nope. Again, highly subjective. I bought and sold a Helium because I disliked everything about the image. Super super digital looking, looks like plastic.

 Erkki Juurus
Erkki Juurus
MemberJuly 12th, 2017

“There are some big divisive questions in life.”

Meh. Just standard nerdytainment.
Insert the “vs.” between two popular brand names in a headline, and the clickbait is guaranteed to work.

RED vs. Arri, Canon vs. Nikon, Redarri, Schmedarri, Canikon, Schmanikon, ho hum.
Horses for courses.

People are getting the results they desire with both Redarri and Canikon, (along with a number of other brand tools). The “vs.” debate is a mostly a distraction, mere nerdytainment for the hardcore gear nerds. A meme-fest for the posers and hipsters, and an irresistable lure for marketers and bloggers, of course. ;)

Nothing wrong with discussing the different schools of thought in a blog post, though, but the end result of the Wilma vs. Betty debate (and headline) is pretty much the same every time. Until each of the popular kids grows old and becomes obsolete, eventually. Replaced by two new opponents to bicker about.

 Joe Orlandino
Joe Orlandino
MemberJuly 12th, 2017

Great article. Very informative. Thanks for writing and posting.

Tim Naylor
MemberJuly 12th, 2017

This article definitely seems all speculation and no meat. Clickbait for fanboys and nerds. How about just settling it with some objective tests like this:

https://vimeo.com/202842588

From what I can see, the Helium isn’t ground breaking and still lags behind Alexa in overall IQ, specs be damnded. Worst of all, it looks like Red still hasn’t solved the green bias that has plagued their chips since Red 1.

Instead of more articles like this that fan useless debate, how about sponsoring some proper testing?

Johnnie Behiri
Johnnie Behiri
AdminJuly 12th, 2017

Tim Naylor.

I would expect from you to respect the amount of time and thought that went into this article.

If you think you can do it better, go ahead and I’ll be happy to publish your own observation and thoughts about this topic.

Thank you.

Johnnie

 James Zsigmond
James Zsigmond
MemberJuly 13th, 2017

Yes, both time and thought went into an article undoubtedly contrived to elicit a polemic/ stir up controversy in knocking Sony & Panasonic out of the equation, two companies equally viable in the same battle. For example: The Sony F65 (renders a much more filmic image and is capable of rendering superior skin tones to anything Red has thus far created) and the F65 mini (Panavision revision) have both been used to shoot a number of major studio releases this year: Alex Garland’s $100m blockbuster: ‘Annihilation’, Joseph Kosinski’s; blockbuster ‘Granite Mountain Hotshots’, Woody Allen’s: ‘Wonder Wheel’, Xavier Giannoli’s: ‘L’apparition’, Claire Denis; ‘Let the Sunshine in’. Not to mention the innumerable amount of series shot on both the Varicam and f65/f55 for: Netflix and Amazon….

Had the author put more time into the article, it would have certinaly included the other major competitors…

Tim Naylor
MemberJuly 13th, 2017

F65 Mini? Please elaborate. They still all seem to have the same bad ergonomics/body that doomed them before. That said, I agree, the F65 gets phenomenal images. Storarro says it’s the only digital camera he’ll use because of the complete color space. Unfortunately, few get used mainly because of ergonomic issues as well as earlier work flow complexities. Varicam has definitely been making inroads on TV production in NYC. The F55 is used on some episodics (Blacklist) and loads of doc work. I’m using one tomorrow. But it has its issues that kept it from being a big player. You can also get them used for a great deal. I’ve a feeling Sony is going to drop a new pro cam in the 4th quarter. Meanwhile, will Red add built in ND’s already?

Tim Naylor
MemberJuly 13th, 2017

Sorry, if I was disrespectful. I re-read the article and there was a good deal of quality analysis. I guess, I was ideally hoping for was footage to make the case.

In the meantime, I’ll refrain from being a bit of a twat and see if I can get Abel here in NYC, lend me a couple bodies to test side by side. I’d love to try to put something together for C5D. I need to explore this further myself.

Thanks

Johnnie Behiri
Johnnie Behiri
AdminJuly 13th, 2017

Thank you Tim for that last post and looking forward hearing if you can come up with some valuable content for our site.

Johnnie

Jason J Eliot
Jason J Eliot
GuestJuly 14th, 2017

I’ll take the new Panasonic out in fall over both!!!!!

 Monte Zuma
Monte Zuma
MemberJuly 14th, 2017

+1

 Malte Fandrich
Malte Fandrich
MemberJuly 14th, 2017
 Ernesto Lomeli
Ernesto Lomeli
MemberJuly 14th, 2017

This article reads like click-bait
It really provides very little information on a topic that really needs no comparison. Its like comparing Cannon to Nikon.
We live in a time when sensors are so good, you just have lots of options. Also you ruled out everything from Sony, which believe it or not is pretty good. Also i am seeing more and more productions use the Varicam, which is in another leauge of its own in terms of Exposure index.

But back to the title, it reads dramatic and with no context. its obvious you just wanting to bring eyeballs to you web ads.

Tim Naylor
MemberJuly 14th, 2017

In terms of resolution while I think it’s vastly overrated (I’d take the BMPCC’s 1080p image over anything by Red), we should only consider the resolution as measured on a rez chart. The BBC’s EBU tests by Alan Roberts demonstrate that an Alexa at 3.2k measures a higher rez than Red up to 4.5k and on par at 5k. Yet unless it’s a theatrical acquisition Netflix will accept a Go Pro at 4K over Alexa. The obsession of Rez as demonstrated by Red comes at the expense of overall IQ. It’s no wonder a 3.2k camera eats it lunch every year at the Oscars. Quick name a Best Picture shot on Red.

 Dan Brockett
Dan Brockett
MemberJuly 14th, 2017

I recently had my own minor experience as well. Back in the day, I was a big fan of the Panasonic P2 cameras like the HVX200, HPX170, HPX300, I owned and shot with all three and the complaint was always that the image was too grainy and soft. Having shot a lot of 16mm and S16, the images to me strongly resembled film in both colorimetry and grain, which I really liked. At the production company I worked at at the time, we had HVX200s and Sony EX1s and EX3s. I shot with the Sonys often too. To me, the Sonys were much sharper but the colors were less appealing and the images, overall, resembled really sharp, detailed video, looking basically nothing like film. Not better or worse, just very different than the Panasonic images.

I was cleaning out some old drives this week and stumbled upon a lot of stock footage that I shot in Times Square in 2007, along with some driving footage around Manhattan and some footage I shot on the Circle Lineof the Statue of Liberty and all of the bridges, waterfront. Much of it was even 720 60p, some of it was 1080. I have to say, the images hold up well for what they are, there is an appeal and undeniable charm to the footage, seeing Times Square before it was shut off to traffic, seeing NYC cops dressed like cops rather than paramilitary SWAT teams as they do today. It was soft and grainy but so was S16 film (in comparison to 35mm) I found some EX1 interviews I shot in the same era, about ten years ago and while the images look good, they also look a bit sterile and lifeless, even with good lighting.

I think the Arri vs the others look is really the exact same phenomena, just updated and at a higher end level. At this point, I still think there will continue to be two camps, the resolution-obsessed digital moderns and the back in the past film users who see the Arri cameras as digital Arri film cameras. Resolution and having no ties back to film will eventually win out. Most DPs and directors under 40 today may have never even shot on film so why would they have the romantic attachment to film that those of us who did shoot on it have?

Tim Naylor
MemberJuly 14th, 2017

Agreed. Much has to do with a filmmaker’s priorities. Those who make eye candy to impress other eye candy makers on Vimeo (if i see another time lapse film of an exotic location , I’m going to puke) or those who want to make films that emotionally connect to the public at large. The public don’t care about 4k vs 1080p unless faced by a salesman who’s job is to make them feel inadequate.

I still contend, if you blind A/B’d tested images from a 5D vs an FS7, 9 of 10 people would pick the 5D. But if you told a producer I have a 4k camera or a 1080p camera, sight unseen, the producer will go for the 4k for the same reason their amp goes to “volume 11”.

I’m glad you brought up the old Panasonic line. I once had a somewhat embarrassing situation. I was shooting a pilot for History or AMC years back. We had a fleet of 3 CCD Varicam’s and one Red 1. When we tried to shoot the Red 1 with the Varicams, it was impossible to get the Red to match the Varicams. The Red just couldn’t render the talent’s blue shirt as accurately as the Varicams by a long shot. The Varicam out of the box, not only gave better skin tones, but rendered accurate colors across the chart as where the Red had some biases that would’ve eaten much time to correct.

It was that moment I realized the step from three chip CCD to debayer’d CMOS was in many ways a step backwards. How could it not be full of compromises when you’ve double the green over Red and Blue pixels as where CCD had none of these biases. Granted 3 Chip has other issues that sealed its demise but color wasn’t one of them. And that has been the uphill battle with CMOS ever since. Alexa has come the closest to a full color gamut, with Varicam, Canon, Red then Sony in that order (with the exception of the F65 – last of the CCD Pro cams).

In short, I’ve some of the same reactions as you when I look at my old HX 200 projects. It was at the apex of three chip tech.

Matteo Fontana
MemberJuly 14th, 2017

The good old fight between Arri and Red is changed .. before we could argue about the fact that the red was cheaper , but the Arri was nicer .. I believe that now both cameras reached the same level in terms of quality, and they both are very satisfying with what comes out. Right now competition is in our favour, so I personally follow whats in the script. Thank you ARRI thank you Red.

Tim Naylor
MemberJuly 14th, 2017

Based on what? From tests I’ve seen, Arri still delivers more accurate colors and better highlight fall off as well as low light noise. And when is Red going to build in ND’s? This is especially helpful on doc or gimbal work.

niky narchos
niky narchos
MemberJuly 14th, 2017

Kodak=unforgettable beauty

 Funky Punky Monkey Junk
Funky Punky Monkey Junk
MemberJuly 15th, 2017

The article ignores the fact that these are single-chip cameras. The resolution of the Arri is even lower when you account for the Bayer pattern. If you shoot 6K, you’re theoretically (depending on who you believe) getting a true 4K’s worth of resolution. Arri’s 3.2K is pretty paltry at this point.

I wonder what’s taking Arri so long to come out with a next-gen chip. Perhaps they still can’t get the DR from a higher-resolution sensor.

Tim Naylor
MemberJuly 8th, 2018

Aside from clickbait, what really is the point of this article? It reiterates everything anyone involved in filmmaking already knows. It shows no objective tests or data to support its assertions or offer any new insights nor even at its simplest a case study or reports from the field. The title alone, “fight for the soul of digital filmmaking” is portentous as … Because if you’re being realistic about which cameras are in the ring, there are countless more FS7’s being put to work then the entire Red/Arri arsenal combined. In terms of what’s is at the forefront of cinematic digital capture, that depends on your needs. I’d take a Go Pro over anything in certain circumstances. The fact the writer failed to mention Sony’s Venice or Varicam tells me he may not be on the pulse of things to come.

But of the status quo, aside from the usual bromides, he could’ve gone deeper into the technology of what Arri actually does with its chip (dual amp or “iso”) to have such good DR and fall off. Or why they chose 3.2k and what’s on the future docket of chips. Or perhaps he should’ve gone in more depth about what Red’s new Genesis chip poses and its seemingly retrograde Arri like approach to imagery (fewer pixels, dual amp chip). Is that a concession to Arri? Why not delve into why Red’s Helium still has that green bias many narrative DP’s loathe (and perhaps accounts for the dearth of Reds at Oscar time).

While I don’t expect anything as illuminating as ASC’s Steve Yedlin’s Red / Arri resolution tests and article, if you’re going to run an Arri vs Red article please let’s see some true revelations. Or perhaps cite more in depth research.

 Stewart Addison
Stewart Addison
MemberJuly 8th, 2018

Tim, this article was written/published over a year ago.

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