Masters Project RED Epic “Kick Boxing”

RED Epic kick boxing

The final film RED Epic “Kick Boxing”

(Video features as the Red Scarved Femme Fatal, Beatriz Delgado Mena)

In the video above is highly compressed and slightly soft we get to see the slow motion abilities of the camera. Please note the actual footage is only 2K at 320 fps 5K at 25fps.

RED Epic and “Kick Boxing”RED Epic

A University Masterclass for the RED Epic presented me with the opportunity to work with a team on a short film that was going to be used as a pilot of a webseries or the first episode in a webseries on Malaysian style martial arts. The pilot which we called “Kick Boxing” in pre-production and Directed by Hazlin.

First we identified a location for the shoot, which seemed ideal as it could be imminently believable to have existed anywhere in the world. With a backdrop of shipping containers the action was centralised and the camera positioned such that field of view was constrained within this area to maintain the belief that this action was happening somewhere much more exotic than the University car park.

For the first sequences I tripod mounted the camera using the camera loose head following the action as the combatants sized each other up and then proceeded to battle with each other. The camera was moved and the sequence shot again from the new angles.RED Epic on location

The camera was dismounted from the tripod and transferred to a shoulder rig. I was ably assisted by Dimitrios who took on the duties of camera assistant for the shooting of the close action scenes.

All the sequences up to this time was shot at 5K RAW and at 25 fps. For the next sequences I changed the menu settings to capture at 2K RAW and 320 fps in order to explore the slow motion abilities of the RED Epic. The later sequences where all shot with these settings although the camera was once again tripod mounted.

RED Epic Reflection

The RED Epic is an awesome camera if we look at the specifications but I found it deeply flawed, fully rigged it is heavy and I mean really heavy. Focussing is a nightmare at 5K, get it wrong which is really easy to do and you may as well have shot the film on a DSLR (We got it wrong on occasion even though I was being double checked by a remote monitor).RED Epic rigged

This brings me onto lens choice. For this masterclass we were limited to a small range of Nikon DSLR lenses and although they perform well on DSLR’s and some filmmakers like the look of old glass, when combined with the specification of the RED Epic’s 5K RAW then the resolution of the glass has to match and these lenses just didn’t. So the final footage is really no better than had I shot the film using a DSLR or Panasonic AG AF101 which would be typical options.

The workflow for handling RAW footage is also challenge, just a few minutes of actual usable footage used 169Gb of hard drive space taking 2 hours plus to transfer from the cameras SSD to a PC.

The saving grace of using the RED Epic was it’s ability to shoot at 320 fps.

RED Epic ConclusionRED Epic focussing

I’d wanted access to a camera like this for a long time, in fact I believed all the hype that you must shoot all your projects in 4K RAW otherwise the quality of your work would just not be up to the standard of current filmmakers. Reality was so different, the camera was a pain to use because of it weight, rigging it before shooting takes an age and the workflow, well lets just say I’m happy for the DIT and Editor to manage this.

However I’m sure on a film set and fully crewed these problems are surmountable but for a filmmaker like me this could be a compromise too far to make. The Canon C300 is much more user friendly and image quality in the real world is easily comparable.