I've been an a "proud" RED owner since 2012 and that camera has served me VERY well...up until about a week ago that is, when I finally sold it. What am I upgrading to you ask? Well, "proudly"....nothing!
Everyone knows that your camera doesn't make you a better cinematographer...right? It's not the RED logo or brand association that pushes you forward...it's not 4K or 6K or 8K and it's certainly not 16+ stops of dynamic range. It's your focus and drive to create and master lighting, composition, story telling through a lens and shaping 2D imagery to be immersive, deliberate and supportive of a narrative. RIGHT!?!?? Sadly, no.
In this world, the success of your career as a cinematographer DOES seem to be about brand association, clever self promotion, social circles and silhouetted "set life" selfies. That pisses me off. Makes me mad. Goes against everything mum taught me as a kid. So after 36 years of life, half of which I've spent dreaming and the other half pursuing, I'm looking for a middle ground. Meanwhile, there is another aspect of working as a cinematographer that is extremely important...
People skills. What does that mean exactly? Well, again, there's two sides to this coin. Be honest, be true to yourself, speak up when something isn't right, be respectful to others, learn to compromise and communicate with tact. It's all about integrity, and it's all great advice, but honestly...I've been practicing those philosophies for over a decade now and what I've learned is that people don't actually like honesty. 'Most' people don't enjoy communication that is open and direct. They often don't care about the artistry, real skill sets or the passion behind your work, they care about brands, being cool, being seen, earning cash and how many followers they have. I realize at this point I'm probably starting to sound like a jaded old-timer...and that's got some truth to it I guess, which is why I need to change.
So, the middle ground I'm paving now has me occasionally posting "set life" pics on insta, flashing camera brands around and hanging in circles I would normally avoid. It also has me biting my tongue, talking less about what I think matters, and listening more. Is it enjoyable? Hell no. Mostly because there's a certain feeling of self betrayal in all of this...but that's probably just pride and ego fighting back. In any case, change is required for sure.
Meanwhile, with 12 full months of practice, I'm feeling pretty good about the new "Matt". A new model, "Matt" that can support a family AND progress as a cinematographer in this crazy age of technology and social dynamics, without completely selling out hehe ;)
ANYWAY! Back to the camera....
So, the RED is gone. It was a sad day, but it was also motivating. Since moving to Hobart over three years ago, I've really had to let go of a lot and start fresh. It's been super tough. As much as I love this city, I didn't think I'd basically have to start again (career wise).
Although I sold the RED, you've probably noticed that I don't shut up about the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC) and Black Magic Micro Cinema Camera (BMMCC)? Well, there's good reason for that....
Once you couple a speedbooster and an IR-Cut OLPF to the BMMCC, it reduces the crop factor considerably. It also leaves you with a camera that captures beautiful colours with lot's of detail, has no moire and can record full sensor 60p 3:1 RAW (12-bit), all to an off the shelf SD card. With 12.5 stops of dynamic range, compressed and uncompressed RAW recording options, ProRes HQ recording AND a FULL STOP more sensitivity (thanks to the speed booster)...how does it compare to the mighty RED Scarlet-X when delivering at 2K resolution?
I could write and crap on for pages about how I think the micro is comparable and in some ways better than the RED Scarlet-X (when delivering for 2K), but it's probably best to download these clips and take a look for yourself. Processing wise I matched each camera's white balance using the RAW sliders, then rendered out RED Log Film and BMD Film for each into a 10-bit 1080p DNxHD file. If you care to download the 1GB archive, you'll find a Resolve Project in there that conveniently splits the screen and corrects the LOG image into a graded final. Both clips have Identical corrections (bot clips have been turned into a compound clip with one grade) and you gotta trust me that there's no funny business going on!! The challenge is for you to put your pixel peepers on and figure out which camera is which.
So who really cares if the BMMCC and BMPCC can compete with / be cut and graded along-side RED's high end cameras? Probably about 5% of you who are still reading this. Why? Because people don't care about this stuff...they care about brands, status, hype and the fact that they just invested $25K into a camera system the promotes all of those things. I was one of those people....and I spent more than that in the end. So what is my point to all of this?
The point is, I'm a crazy guy. I need to know how things work, especially cameras hehe :) I also dislike bullshit. I love challenging people and ideas that get thrown around the internet. I love getting to the heart of an issue...and learning new things. Knowledge is power, which is why I made this comparison! It's tests like these that allow me to up the production value of films that I shoot, offering more to my clients when budgets get in the way. But finally, it's also is a great way to enter debate with pretty much anyone working in the industry..."You know the pocket cam with some extras is basically the same as a RED Scarlet-X?".....people will look at you like you're an idiot, like you have no idea what you're talking about and assume you're a far worse cinematographer than you actually are. Sadly, continuing statements like that will probably place you in a position that slows the phone calls down and discredits your perceived abilities to potential clients.
Of course, not ALL people I meet fall into this self painted, jaded dreary description. In fact, although my circles have lessened over the past few years, they've also been refined. I more often than not work with wonderful, like minded people who I now consider close friends :)
Should I have just posted the camera comaprison and be done with it? Probably ;)