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RED at NAB

New RED Lenses Announced and Peter Jackson RED Footage Projected in 4K

This morning RED Digital Cinema Company rolled out their newly completed RED One camera system, a new line of Super 35mm cine lenses, and projected 4k footage shot with the RED camera by Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson

Read the update part 2 as reported from the show floor.
More on the Peter Jackson 4k RED footage in a moment, but let’s first focus in (no pun intended) on the new line of RED S35mm cine lenses:

A compact 18-50mm f2.8 close focus zoom for $6,500 USD. Availability projected for Summer 2007.

A set of prime lenses: 15mm f2.8, 25mm f1.9, 35mm f1.9, 50mm f1.9, 85mm f1.9, with a total price of $20,000 USD for the complete set of five lenses. Availability is projected for Fall 2007. The primes are not available individually, but only as a set.

Previous RED S35mm cine lenses announced are an 18-85mm f2.8 zoom, and a 300mm f2.8 prime. As of this writing RED hasn’t said if they still intend to manufacture the 18-85mm zoom, in view of their announcement of the new 18-50mm zoom.

The announced prices are significantly below the traditional prices for cine lenses, so a question that comes to mind is: What about their quality? A few weeks ago I had some hands-on time with one of the new lenses and the RED One camera prototype. Let’s rewind to that.

In early April I had the opportunity to drive down to RED headquarters to talk with Jim Jannard and the entire RED Team about new developments with RED. I took a digital camera with me in hopes of being given the chance to take shots of something ‘ anything! I got more than I bargained for (see the pics with this article I shot of the new 18-50mm zoom on one of the RED camera prototypes named “Boris”). As luck would have it, Jarred Land was doing some shooting tests with the camera. I was able to handle the new zoom lens and help attach it to the camera. The first thing that struck me about the lens was its small size and modest weight. I’d estimate it to be just under 5″ long, and weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 pounds. Definitely a compact lens! The design and outward aesthetics of the lens seemed very comparable to the other cine lenses I’ve handled and worked with over the years. RED emphasized that it was a “close focus” lens. As I handled it, I noticed that the lowest focus ring marking was 8 inches.

I saw no footage shot with the 18-50 zoom, but judging by the build quality of the lens I handled, the announced properties of the lens, and RED’s insistence that their lenses will be top-quality, it will be real interesting to see how this lens performs. Hopefully it will perform as well as it looks and feels. Real world field-testing and lab testing after they ship should answer the performance questions about RED lenses. No, RED didn’t tell me where and who made the lenses. They did say that all their lenses would be of the same quality construction as the one I handled.

Before I left, RED dropped another little tidbit of information on me: Jim Jannard and Jarred Land had just returned from two days of shooting with two of the RED camera prototypes, “Boris” and “Natasha.” Returned from where? From New Zealand, where they were shooting with Peter Jackson, Oscar-winning Director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. At first they were just shooting test footage with the two RED cameras, but then it quickly escalated onward from there. Jackson ended up using the two RED cameras on a Steadicam, a crane, handheld, on a dolly and on a helicopter rig. Before I left that day, I was treated to a quick view of some of the footage shot by Jackson in New Zealand. The RED Team was loading it up on their 4k projector for a first view of it on the large screen ‘ ungraded and untouched footage straight from the camera. It looked exceptional. I was told that it was all shot to on-camera storage in 4K REDCODE RAW at 24 fps. I was also told that the footage, after grading would be projected in 4k at the RED NAB booth, so there’s your eye candy at NAB.

If you happen to be reading this article in the first hour the opening of NAB, come back in an hour to see Part 2, which will be written from the RED NAB booth on 4/16, featuring the finalized specs for RED One, my impressions of the camera, lenses, and accessories, and tons of other info about RED’s big rollout.

Read the update part 2 as reported from the show floor.

END NOTE: I’ve reserved two RED ONE camera systems and several RED lenses. In the coming months, I’ll put them through a grueling series of mobile productions around the world in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, Caribbean, the South Pacific and beyond, as my gang and I find out just exactly what our RED ONE cameras can do. I’ll publish a lot of my real world impressions of the RED One camera system right here on the Studio Daily web site, and also in Studio Monthly magazine. Check ‘em out!
Steve Gibby, President of Cut4 Media Group (www.cut4.tv) is an Emmy-winning producer/director/cinematographer, a national Emmy Awards judge, and a veteran of several hundred national television programs that aired on twelve different broadcast and cable networks. His stock footage is currently available through Mammoth HD.

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