Rian vs Red

Scott Simmons recently noted some criticism of the Red camera (well, a manifesto really) by director Rian Johnson. Rian systematically rips into Red in a long article on the topic, starting with this bombshell:

“There is a lot of hype right now about Red camera outperforming high-end HD cameras and even 35mm film cameras. We’re going to tell you why we think it’s just that — hype.”

Johnson goes on to assert that “F23 and Genesis get more color and luminance information” than the Red One, and that the whole RAW distinction is just a distraction. He finishes with this statement:

“We agree that Red is “4K” by certain definitions, and that Red has more “resolution” than F23 and Genesis — Red is a very impressive camera. But we also think that Red is much farther from a 4K or even a 2K DPX file than F23 and Genesis are in the gathering and storage of INFORMATION THAT IS IMPORTANT FOR THEATRICAL CINEMA.”

Of course, the Red faithful have been up in arms about this article, Indie4k has written three detailed responses so far, and I’m sure more will come. Johnson has responded to 1 and 2 so far in this rebuttal. It’s an interesting discussion to follow.

Update: Redcentre Podcast #17 has a long discussion on this topic.

3 Responses to “Rian vs Red”  

  1. 1 modifoo

    I listened to some of the discussion, but really find it quite superfluous. For me the bottom line is: I can either buy a RED or some HD camera. The Genesis is way out of league, financially (and you cannot buy it, anyway.)

    So, before even entering the discussion on which camera is better or not, the reality is that no camera comes even close in terms of bang for the buck.

    Additionally I also wonder, why do people like Peter Jackson, who really do not have to worry about a camera budget, chose to use the RED if it was really as bad as a few people claim.

    Makes me wonder what their real agenda is…

  2. 2 Kendal Miller

    Okay a few things I really agree with alot of this. His bottom line is as follows:
    We agree that it’s very impressive that something so inexpensive is even being compared to higher end cameras. Our article doesn’t say Red is bad — it only says that some people are mis-representing technical data to try to show (incorrectly) that there is technical evidence that Red is better. If you say, “Red is great — very good for the price — amazingly close to high-end cameras for something so cheap,” then we agree with you. If you say, “hey, I personally think Red LOOKS better to my taste than Genesis even though some its specs are lower than Genesis,” then we can’t disagree that you think so. The only thing we’re refuting is the phenomenon where people try to quote specs to show that Red is a technically better CINEMA camera. F23 and Genesis see and record MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE IMAGE THAT IS IMPORTANT FOR THEATRICAL CINEMA.
    Essentially he agrees with you, what he takes issues with is the crowd that says 4K resolution intrinsically equals a better camera, spec to spec. His argument that you must take a system in its entirety not based on simply one spec is very valid. IMHO a very good read and well researched article. Now what is interesting is that Peter Jackson has not actually lensed any new projects on Red, he has used it for elements but remains in the film arena for his latest “Lovely Bones” project. Once again I think its simply a matter of matching the best camera to the project, non are perfect, even Red.

  3. 3 Prune

    This is an answer to Modifoo’s comment :
    Of course, the camera price and overal budget DOES matter. But that’s not the question here. If some camera, compared to RED, are 10 times more expensive, while they are not 10 times “better”, have something different.
    OK, Genesis and F23 are way too expensive. That’s why you rent it. Do you really need to buy the camera ?
    Camera like the RED will also help to have the price drop on other cameras.

    But when you’re shooting, just think of image quality and ease of use on the set. Try to do the best you can with the budget. But don’t think of budget first. This will lead you to poor quality footages.
    Let’s say RED is much cheaper than Genesis, but image quality is less attractive. Then use the RED. But compared to the Sony EX1/EX3, the RED is far more expensive. Why don’t go with the EX1 ?
    Then, you don’t have a huge difference between the EX1 and any HDV ?
    OK, let’s shoot HDV !

    Then everything is crap. This is kind of things we can see actualy (in France, but same everywhere) when watching TV : at some point, TDT (TNT) and internet broadcasts are worst than what was image quality when analogic (almost)…

    Are we still going forward ?

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