Below, you'll find the short called “Borrowed” and then a couple of screenshots and then a good writeup from Josh.
A before and after color correction frame grab… click for full size!
Coming from shooting for three years with a 5D Mark II, which I still own and love, the RED Scarlet, and it's RAW shooting capabilities, is a breath of fresh air. My business partner, Joseph Hendrickson (who is also the director of photography on many films that I direct) and I bought a RED Scarlet together for the purposes of working on bigger projects and capturing a 4k image for our own films.
We collaborated on what “Borrowed” would fundamentally be and decided to tell a story about experiencing some of life's delicacies for the first time. Briefly, as not to “try” and sound deep, this paralleled our own experience in shooting on the RED. Here, you have two experienced camera guys/filmmakers working with a new tool, and getting to experience making a movie as if it were the first time again.
With an idea, an actress (Amanda Rau) and our shiny (well actually not shiny, because it has a matte finish) new camera, Joe and I took to the canyons of Malibu, CA. I'll be honest when I say we both only slightly had any idea what we were doing with the camera. Our RED Scarlet operates off of a touch lcd screen. Being a 5D shooter, I've grown accustomed to my dials for f-stop, shutter, and iso control. With the RED, as we have it configured, all of those exposure settings are done via a touchscreen. We learned very quickly that we were going to need to buy a hood for our lcd. I had a towel that we threw over us, so that we could see the lcd, but have you ever stood with your face less than three inches away from your cinematographer, under a towel, to watch an lcd? We're good mates, so we made it funny.
When we were shooting we noticed that the image was, in fact, very flat. We fumbled around the RED's menu and were able to up the saturation and contrast and get an image that was more pleasing to look at as we were shooting. We didn't have any camera glitches, that I can recall, and setups didn't take any longer than if we were shooting with a 5D. We shot all canon lenses. We “borrowed,” (see what I did there, hehe) a friend's Canon 100mm macro lens, and shooting with that blew me away. I still don't understand how we were at f32 and getting a super shallow depth of field. We also shot with a Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM AF, a Canon Normal EF 50mm f/1.8 II (yep the cheap one), a Canon 85mm f/1.8, and a Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L. We didn't know how to use the auto focus, but fumbling around we found out how to punch in on the image to check focus. We powered the camera using A.B. batteries and the AB mount from viewfactor.
I've never been much of a camera manual reader, but I did myself a favor and read through the RED Scarlet manual, before day two. Oh, and I also ordered us an LCD Hood (Hoodman 5.6″ Monitor Hood for RED Cameras, which fits the 5 inch touchscreen perfectly). In the manual, I found that the top button, on the side of the lcd, will let you punch into the image, and a simple auto focus setting will allow you to either press the front record button down half way to get focus or by simply touching and holding on screen where you want the focus.
With the newly gained knowledge and the lcd hood, day two of shooting went off without a hitch.
The post: I wasn't sure what to do here. I'm a final cut pro fanatic, and earn a living using it. At the time, (this has since changed I believe) but you couldn't just drag the .r3d (the file type the RED shoots) into a final cut pro timeline. Many hours of transcoding to a format that works in final cut was going to be needed. Around this time a competition was announced on the Reduser.net forums, seeking a film that we had pretty much set out to make. The only thing was, it needed to be edited in Adobe Premiere Pro. I researched what would be the best system for editing in Adobe and ultimately decided to get a new mac pro and put in an NVidia card that isn't technically supported by Apple, yet. The GTX580. With some trickery and magic (read: help from various forums and sources) I got the GTX580 up and going in OS 10.7 Lion. This card allows me to drag a .r3d straight from the RED camera, into the timeline, and play it back (in 4k) in realtime. I set up premiere pro to use all the quick keys that I've learn to love in final cut and ventured off into the cutting of this film. Once I had my cuts in the timeline, I started to color time. First, I figured out how to open the camera raw settings, of each clip, and threw away the saturation and contrast that we added while shooting. This brought me back to a nice, flat, raw, image. I first tried magic bullet looks. I often use this program in final cut to color time, and since I had it installed in premiere, I thought “why not?” It worked, but I couldn't help to think that I could do better. So, I started researching how the hell to use REDCINE-X, which is RED's own free program. REDCINE-X offered tons more coloring options than I found in Adobe Premiere's camera raw color settings. I exported an xml from Adobe Premiere, imported the xml into REDCINE-X and poof, all of my cuts from Adobe were in a timeline in REDCINE-X. I did my color correction in REDCINE-X (note: when you shoot raw you no longer have to worry about matching colors from shot to shot, only exposure. Simply because the white balance isn't baked in) exported Apple Pro Res 4:4:4 and sent those files back to Adobe Premiere.
For the competition, it's very clear that films submitted can't have any sync sound or dialogue. I knew I wanted a synthesized worldly score so when I pitched the composer, Noah Potter, what I wanted he asked “why not incorporate sound design into the score.” Genius idea.
Other than the last three shots, there are no visual effects in the film. No removing of electrical wires or towers, no sky replacements, what you see is exactly what we shot. When Tommy Lira Jr., the visual effects artist, and I spoke about what the end should be he suggested something organic to match the rest of the piece. Genius idea.
I had an awesome team working with me on this and Amanda Rau was quite the trooper for what I asked of her.
Enjoy “Borrowed” and let me know what you think.
(cover photo credit: snap from the video)