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Ethics statement: Kessler Crane are one of my key site sponsors and an affiliate. I recommend their products not because of this but because they are simply the best!

Whilst on holiday near the Great Lakes in June, I was able to borrow Eric Kessler’s RED Epic for a few days. I messed around with the slow motion 300 FPS first thing but I really wanted to shoot a little piece with it, so we found the Great Lakes Boat Building Company online. Phoned them up and asked if we could spend two hours with them making a little film…Mike, the owner said of course!

So armed with the RED Epic with the latest firmware giving it 300FPS, 3 Zeiss CP.2 lenses a 35mm, 50mm and 85mm along with my Duclos Tokina 11-16 and my generation 1 RED Zoom 17-55 T3 we set off. Joel from Kessler Crane came along to do BTS and brought a Cineslider and a pocket jib. Both excellent tools to lift the production and work a treat with the RED EPIC. My pocket dolly would not cope with the weight of the EPIC, but thankfully the Cineslider can handle just about anything! Click on the photos for more info and pricing on them. Honestly the Cineslider is the best slider on the market, better than mine simply because it can take any camera. Mine can’t. My slider is the best compact slider!!

3 foot Cineslider, works with everything from a GH2 to a fully laden Alexa!

The Kessler Crane Pocket Jib

The concept was simple. Make a nice little film of Mike Keifer who makes wooden boats, something he can have for his website and something for me to shoot to test out the camera, but actually in a real world example. Two hours to shoot a web commercial is a real world scenario. Especially with a camera you barely know.

Lighting wise, I used almost all available light. I turned all the overheads fluorescents off. Especially with the 300fps it would have been a disaster. I did have a little 150 watt kicker that I stole from the Kessler Studio, but i only used it sparingly when I needed to pick out something, like a reflection on varnished boat etc… All the interview is available light. When shooting 300fps (about 5 or 6 of the shots are that speed) you really need 2KHZ or higher lights due to the flicker, which I learnt the hard way when I did my first camera test, throwing water at Eric Kessler.

All sound was recorded on a Tascam DR100 using a Rode NTG-2. I use the NTG-2 over the 3 with the Tascam as it takes a AA battery rather than phantom power which drains the Tascam like crazy. The 3 has better sound, but life is always about compromise. The sound effects were real even on the slow motion stuff. I simply slowed the sound down then ramped the pitch right up so it sounded right, just a lot slower!

 

Now I don’t own an Epic. But I have been lucky enough to shoot with some great cameras recently. Arri loaned me an Alexa for a weekend and I had a blast, lovely camera. Heavy power hungry beast though! I had to give it back of course. Eric Kessler recently bought an Epic for his Kessler Shooters and I was lucky enough to use it first. We didn’t have all the bits as they were not available at time of shipping. I had the LCD screen but no bomb EVF, no batteries, no charger. So big props to Mike Sutton of Boston Rule Camera for getting me some spare batteries and charger with rig. We actually had some stuff from woodencamera.com to mount the battery, and that worked great.

Operating the EPIC was a breeze. Seriously, and I have never shot on a RED before. The menus are very simple to operate. I shot at 23.976 and did some overcrank at 120fps and 300fps. I shot 5K for the majority of the footage and of course 2k for the 300 FPS as that’s what it drops to. One thing to remember when wanting to overcrank more than 120fps is that when you go above that and drop to 2k, you are cropping the sensor. So you may have a beautifully framed shot and think….mmmm, I want to go slower. Problem is you need to totally reposition or even change lens to maintain that frame…so take that into consideration. To be honest 120 FPS is more than enough for most stuff. The 300fps on the dust of the sander and the water looked wonderful mind! Just be careful of any artificial light when shooting that fast. You won’t see the flicker in the LCD but you will in the edit!

I did all the shots first, I used the jib mostly but only so I could easily change position of the camera quickly… it’s on the K-pod which has wheels, and with Eric as my 1st it made it very easy! The tripod we had was bloody awful. Some terrible Manfrotto thing that was NOT rated for a camera this heavy. The tripod I had with me was my Miller DS20, again not able to take the EPIC. All my proper heavy duty tripods were at home. I used the Cineslider to add some life to some of the shots. None of them motorised. All done by hand.

With the interview I wanted Mike to look into the camera to address you, us, the audience. I find a better connection with them that way. It took a few minutes, but I got him relaxed enough to do it and to repeat the questions as I certainly did not want my voice in it! I interviewed him for about 15 minutes, got the SOT that I needed and moved on. I knew when I had enough grabs, and time was of the essence. Fortunately I have had a lot of experience interviewing people so I knew when I had enough!

I was surprised that the camera didn’t devour all my batteries. In fact I only used 1! I expected it to be as power hungry as the Alexa as Vincent LaForet had warned me, but I did the whole shoot on one V lock and 1 and a half 128gb SSD cards. Not much at all!

With the piece I simply wanted to convey Mike’s obvious love of what he does in a very simple way. He made it easy for me – his love for it was so obvious and that he was an easier interviewee.

What took me the longest to do in the edit once again was find the right music. I tried loads of stuff I had licensed and I even had Olly Knights of Turin Brakes send me some acoustic guitar tracks that were wonderful but didn’t quite fit. I have been struggling for days due to the music. Once you find the right music, the edit clicks. Fate intervened when famed Canadian Patrick Moreau wrote to me to let me know about www.withetiquette.com. The idea of it is that they have real artists that make real music, and you can license it for a reasonable amount of money. It gives these new artists a break and gives you some fantastic music. The license for this piece by Drew Barefoot was just $99 for 5 years. A pretty good deal. As soon as I heard it I knew. I actually gravitated to it as soon as I opened up the site! Music is so important!

The camera is pretty aptly named. Epic. A joy to use and of course makes me want one. It’s a lot of money though but you get a lot with it. So a lot of thought would need to go into that before taking the plunge. But from these results…yes I want one!

Now could I do this with any of my other cameras? My DSLRs, my F3 or my AF101. Well of course the content would have been exactly the same. Just different image. The 300fps of course would have been impossible. The 60p out of the Canons I hate due to the moire and aliasing. The 60p in the F3 and AF101 is pretty good but it’s still not 120fps, let alone 300fps. Twixtor would have helped a little but no comparison.

The image out of the EPIC is stellar. As you would expect. Is it THAT much better that the others? For the web it is obviously not really going to shine as much as if I projected it at the Leicester Square Empire cinema. Then we would see how incredible that image is. The F3 is still a really great camera though and this has not at all put me off it. I look at the image from my recent short on the F3, Insipiens and I still love it!  Even if I owned an EPIC I know I would still probably use the F3 half the time. Mainly because it’s a lot easier for most companies to cope with the workflow than from a RED for now! How about DSLRS? Yes, still capable of incredible images. Let’s not fool ourselves though. They won’t compete with an EPIC for video, nor should they. Different tools for different jobs. I shot with the GH2 just ten days ago with one single lens (I will post that soon) and the image out of it was amazing. There is no way I would have used an EPIC on that shoot for instance. Out on a boat…water…EPIC…scary.

So yes it was an absolute joy shooting with the camera and I can’t wait to again! Oh…and the RAW gave me so much room to play in the edit. I didn’t use HDRX. I wanted to learn to walk before I ran. This is also the first piece I cut with Premiere CS5.5. Am nowhere near as fast with it as FCP7 and no I didn’t edit using the native RAW files. I converted them first in RED CINE X as my MBP couldn’t cope as it doesn’t have the correct video card in it…I do have an HP Elite workstation with an Nvidia card so I could use that. I just am so used to the way the Mac works…if I end up getting an EPIC I will get a RED ROCKET. Real time conversion…yum!

I am lucky in that I love what I do. I love to shoot. Give me any camera and I am happy. But give me a EPIC to shoot with and I am over the moon! This was my first shooting with any RED, let alone an EPIC and it was inspiring. The camera really is gorgeous and it is capable of so much, I didn’t even come close to scratching the surface with it…

 

Shot on the RED EPIC
Music by Drew Barefoot “Enjoy the calm”

Courtesy of withetiquette.com

Great Wooden Boats – Philip Bloom BTS from Kessler Crane on Vimeo.

All the below images were graded with Magic Bullet Looks 2. Amazing how much detail I pulled out!


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Comments

  1. Kirk Gillon says:

    Well done Philip! Beautifully done… I can think of one work to describe the new Red Epic… “EPIC” camera. BTW, nice open logo, PC animated… again, well done. Kirk Gillon ( 2011 Miami Canon Filmmakers alum)

  2. Phil Arntz says:

    That is so nice! We all agree that the image quality is fabulous, but your sense of framing the shots is just beautiful!

  3. Wayne K. says:

    Phil,

    Stunning, obviously!

    Question:
    Apart from the 100% professional everything that the Epic is, and of course, the gorgeous slomo, what part of the film do you think you wouldn’t be able to accomplish [almost identically] with a 5D [or 7D]?
    In other words, would you be able to make it look identical with a DSLR [minus the slomo, of course]?

    I’m sure this is a question many would like to know.

    Thanks,

    Wayne

    1. Wayne K. says:

      Hi,

      I guess my comment above was written before your full blog entry was posted.
      I guess you answered the question.

      Tx,

      Wayne

    2. Philip Bloom says:

      just written blog and answered in it!

  4. is that a Manfrotto 501HDV head you got on the cineslider? how did it perform with the epic on top?

      1. We have one of those in my small company and we use it with a 7D but we are thinking about getting a bigger camera such as the af100, could you recommend us a better head with a similar price ($200-$300 dollars)? We are based in Colombia, shipping and taxes are way too high!

  5. Congratulations ! Great Piece ! From your logo (Loved IT !) to the end of the end credits ! (well, actually, it seems a bit too muched compressed on the file downloaded from Vimeo)

    Very great piece, bravo !

  6. Dave Dugdale says:

    That was really nice of you guys to do that for him, I’m sure he liked the final result. I couldn’t find the video on his website yet, I guess he is out making boats.

  7. Minor Wilson says:

    Beautiful. What did Joel shoot the BTS with? Cheers.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      a 5dmkII. nice isn’t it! :)

  8. Chris says:

    You should put together a tutorial using the new magic bullet looks 2 and how you achieved that gorgeous look. :-P

  9. Stuart Dennis says:

    “…and my generation 1 RED Zoom 17-55 T3″

    Delightful lens, I love how the iris ring and focus ring occasionally stick together…it’s a stop down/up surprise!

    (seriously though, how much do you want an Epic now?)

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      HI Stuart

      The lens is great! sharp as a tack, operationally perfect. Got a great second hand bargain. Would i like an EPIC? of course!!

  10. I love your work!!! The new logo is really also!!

    When are you gonna be involved in a full lenght film?
    If that were to happend, would you prefer a Indie film or a Big Budget one??

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Here we go…would LOVE your support. Doing on a blog on it shortly!!

  11. Someday, somewhere, someone is going to hire you to DP a feature length film Philip. Nice work.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      got two feature length docos coming out this year.

  12. Nico Burasco says:

    Gorgeous visuals backing a great story. Awesome. I love pieces like this.

    Fantastic shirt by the way.

  13. Glenn Thomas says:

    Wow, the image quality is quite stunning. And great short too by the way! Almost enough to make me want to sell the house and buy an Epic.

    PB: “I do have an HP Elite workstation with an Nvidia”

    Now you have a PC, you’ll have to get your self a copy of Vegas to run on there! Even a cheap cheap Studio version to test. So much easier and intuitive than any other editing app. The last time I installed a trial version of Premiere, all I did was sit there scratching my head trying to figure why they had made the workflow so difficult. Then uninstalled it within the hour and went straight back to Vegas.

  14. Reflex Films says:

    great interview subject – i love how people who are confident in their art come across in such a humble manner.

    This piece reminded me of the “Guitar man” piece shot in Christchurch just before the big earthquake – i suspect that was partially a subconscious inspiration for this piece.

    ( and secondly i noticed that the piece was shot on some nice cameras with nice technique too)

  15. Awesome
    The 300fps is stunning for sure

  16. I love this film philip.
    A beautifully crafted film.
    Thankyou

  17. jake says:

    As usual, beautiful film Philip.
    And then you go in and pretty much ruin it by using Magic Bullet looks. Would you use your camera while you’re shooting with auto settings? Same principal here…

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      i sniff colour correction snobbery. Have you even seen the new version of Magic Bullet looks. The work I spent grading it was nothing auto about it at all!!

  18. Great Philip! Really liked the before/after with MB Looks II.

    Would love to learn more about your technique as I just got this software donated to me for a project I’m working on with some youth on sex trafficking in Cambodia.

  19. Ivan says:

    So nice to see two craftsmen at work!

    Weren’t you worried about the dust and shavings? I though you got much too close to danger with that expensive camera!

  20. Philip Ammon says:

    Philip, great work as expected. What type(brand) of kicker light were you using? Also, I am curious to hear more of your ongoing experience with CS5.5 Premiere as you delve deeper into its capabilities. Cheers!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      honestly i have never see one of them before. can’t remember brand. dual led thing. not very good.

  21. Did you have any difficultly finding focus when shooting so flat on the Epic? It’s one of the main reason I’ve avoided shooting with it on dslr’s, just find it a nightmare. Were you switching profiles before hitting record (if this is even a function on Epic’s, I have no idea!) or was there no issues?

    Loved it by the way, one of the best things I’ve seen on the site. Great story/content comes first and backed up with beautiful visuals, Lovely stuff!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      you don’t display the image as raw in the lcd. you can select it if you want. that’s the biggest pain about cinestyle on the dslrs…

  22. gus almonte says:

    Nice work Philip. Great video. It’s funny watching the behind the scenes you really get see TWO great artists at work-the boat builder and then yourself.

  23. Rom says:

    dumb newbie basic question : what is the fresnel light used?
    it would help me to chosse my light-gear, seems light and easy, and god knows light is important.
    thanks and sorry for the basic question

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      it’s a little LED light, don’t know brand.

  24. Zack Gietek says:

    What?! No one dies?!!

    Once again beautiful film, love the sanding of the oars!! That Epic is Epic for sure.

    I agree a PBloom Magic Bullet tutorial would be put to good use! In response to Magic Bullet being an ‘auto’ app–just because there are some presets doesn’t mean you can’t build your ‘look’ from scratch. Nothing auto about that at all!

    I too liked the before and after photos-wow what an amazing difference.

    Great work Philip–oh yeah sweet logo anim.

    Z

  25. Chris says:

    Philip just wondered if when shooting you saw the super flat image we see in your “before and after shots” or if the monitor for the RED allowed simulated colour to ease focusing and visualising the end result? I hope that makes sense.

    1. You are able to select what you would like to see.

  26. JW Lee says:

    Nice piece, it’s good to see more of your doc work. Was pleased to see that you had your subject looking into the lens, I agree that it makes something like this more personal. I’m curious about what goes into your thought process when deciding to shoot interviews into the lens or the more traditional off camera style.

    I’d also like to know about your choice to frame your subject in the middle of the frame about half way through. My first impression was, wow that’s really symmetrical, but obviously done with purpose.

    Overall, first rate stuff.

  27. Paul D says:

    Very interested to see that you graded this with Look 2.

    Here’s my take on the new Looks 2 and Magic Bullet Suite 11.

    http://paul-d.tv/blog/2011/07/12/magic-bullet-suite-11/

  28. STR1337 says:

    Awesome short. Loved the slow mo sanding shots!
    Couple of Q’s!

    How did you find DoF with the EPIC sensor?
    What Fstop for the interview shot ?? beautiful focus..!

    also how long did the transcode take to PRORES? (422 or LT?)

    great work again Phil!

    seb

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      interview was wide open around f2.8 Seb.

      prores transcoding? forever!!!

  29. Lovely work Phil! Just streamed it in full HD on my new 51″ Samsung plasma. If it looks that good over a stream I can’t image what this looks like with the original file. Good stuff!

  30. Tess Spaulding says:

    A very elegant piece .. wonderfully shot and edited. You have an artist’s touch in your work.

    Question unrelated to the actual shooting if you will indulge me … You’d mentioned finding the right music for a piece … I am currently working on a project and have been scouring for music (thank you for the withetiquette.com site reference) .. do you have other sites that you visit for music as well? It does indeed seem to be one of the most time consuming parts of the edit :) but it has to be right!

    Thank you in advance and thank you for the continued inspiration in your work and teachings :))

    -T.

    1. Not sure about Philip but I have had some success with Sonicfire Pro 5. Worth a look.

  31. Tess says:

    Thanks! I’ll check it out :) Any others care to chime in with ideas?

  32. Hey Philip,

    Great looking work, thanks for sharing! I have a question about your color grading workflow on this project…

    It looks like you shot a flat image in camera, transcoded that to ProRes in RedCine, and brought that transcoded file into MBL to grade. Is that correct?

    Did you make any adjustments to the original raw file in RedCine or did you just try to bring the flattest image possible into MBL? Do you see any advantages in doing an initial color adjust with the original raw file in RedCine before moving onto MBL for final tweaks?

    Just trying to figure out what the best post workflow is with this camera. They’re a different world from DSLRs!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      I am so new to this Michael that I did very little adjustment within RedCine. Not the best way to go but the workflow I know. Next time will work more within RED Cine

  33. Dylan says:

    Hi Phillip! Thanks for this blog post. I really enjoyed “Great Wooden Boats”. It shows that everyone has an interesting story to tell.

    I immediately noticed that he makes his boats in his garage because my wife and I make a web series called In The Garage where we explore the cool stuff people do in their garages.

    I’ll be sure to share this video with our friends.

    1. Dylan says:

      Oh, here’s a link to my web series if you’re interested: http://inthegarage.tv.

  34. Baron says:

    How long can the camera record at 300 fps?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      as long as the card can take!

  35. Chris says:

    Please consider submitting to ITSA Film Festival in California. http://www.itsafilmfestival.com also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/itsafilmfestival 

  36. Ethan MacCumber says:

    Do you think the PB Pocket Dolley would have been able to support the Epic?

    1. If not fully kitted out, it would definitely be able to support it.

  37. J Taylor says:

    Hi Philip,
    I’ve been reading your blog and watching your videos for a few years now, I really appreciate the advice and insight you give us.

    I had a quick question about shooting with the RED Epic

    I was curious about captured resolution versus delivered resolution.

    Shooting with an Epic and delivering to blu-ray or vimeo at 1080p, will you get a better image shooting at 5K instead of 1080p, or since it’s being compressed to 1080p will you get the same image quality shooting at 1080p?

    Thanks in advance for your response,
    Jacob

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Hi Jacob

      The camera can shoot 2k but it’s a cropped sensor so it’s not good

      I shoot the 5k as it’s so powerful and flexible. It also looks amazing down scaled

      Best

      P