Double Geekgasm: 'Spider-Man' Starts Shooting Using RED EPIC 3D Cameras

by Kevin Jagernauth
December 7, 2010 10:30 AM
4 Comments
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"Spider-Man," the newly rebooted comic franchise, has officially begun principal photography with director Marc Webb at the helm, but if that wasn't enough to get geeks thoroughly excited, a whole other subset of fans (i.e. camera nerds) have their own bit of news to freak over as well.

Cinematographer John Schwartzman hit the Red camera user forums yesterday (via Rope Of Silicon) to boast about the first day of shooting, confirming the use of Epic RED 3D cameras (the first major studio film to use the format, beating Peter Jackson, who is also using the cameras for "The Hobbit," to the punch) and praising the ease of use of the new technology so far. Here's what he had to say with the key points in bold:

Today was Epic, Monday December 6 marks the first day the Red Epic camera was used to shoot a major studio motion picture. I can say for certainty the camera does exist and boy is it ready for primetime, as a matter of fact it's a true game changer. We shot in 3D with 4 Epics mounted on 2 3ality TS-5 rigs today, we did 22 set ups, including running high speed and the images look stunning! I do believe the sensor is iso 800 minus 1 stop for the mirror in daylight and iso 640 in tungsten light but that is really for every dp to determine for themselves, Brook Willard and I figured 640 tungsten but that's just a number. For the first time in digital cinematography, small size doesn't come with a resolution penalty, as a matter of fact there isn't a higher resolution camera available other than IMAX, and this one weighs 5lbs with an ultra prime on it, suddenly 3D isn't a 100lb beast! We had the cameras on dollies and a libra head today and we flew the 3D rig like it was an Arri 435. You guys told me you could do it in September and here we are today, Congratulations.

I am lighting by eye except that I've had to re-train myself to work at lower light levels because the camera is so sensitive. The images we made today were stunning, rich beautiful color and the resolution of a vistavision camera all in a package the size of a Hasselblad 501. We are shooting 2.40 at 5K, there wasn't a hiccup from the cameras all day, the data was flawless, and there was a lot of it. I can tell you without these cameras it would be impossible to move a 3D rig in the ways that THIS story demands, if Jim and the crew hadn't made these cameras available to us I don't think we could have shot this movie the way our director envisioned it in 3D. Guys you've trusted me to take these out on their maiden voyage and I can tell you that after today I won't let you down. I will have the members of my team, most of whom are familiar to the REDUSER site post about things about sub-menu's and stuff my camera assistants won't let me touch. I would like to thank Nate, Brook, Michael, and Deanan as well as my regular camera crew for an unbelievable first day, and Brook thanks for the Tiff's they look amazing!

Mazel Tov RED!

This surely will be more fodder for RED geeks who will trumpet one day of shooting without problems as ironclad proof that nothing ever goes wrong with the company's digital cameras. God forbid someone like Werner Herzog or Rian Johnson actually voice their frustrations and concerns with the format.

As we've said in the past, we're still not one hundred percent sold on digital as it tends to suit "colder" color palettes such as those of "Winter's Bone" and "The Social Network," versus those with warmer color themes (though, obviously, we've nothing against those films, they do indeed look fantastic). Additionally, 3D gives an impression of lower perceived brightness and when it's at its worst, it's a distraction. How all this will affect the bright young world of Peter Parker remains to be seen.

That said, Webb and Schwartzman are smart, technically savvy guys and if they didn't feel the EPIC RED could deliver, they would have found another solution. So, the short of it is: "Spider-Man" is officially underway and the production is helping to break in a new 3D camera, which could mark a big breakthrough for the format.

We'll see the results on July 3, 2012.

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4 Comments

  • Peet Gelderblom | December 9, 2010 3:04 AMReply

    I agree with Marc that a cooler or warmer palette is mainly a matter of color grading. The short below is an example of how warm RED-material can look, using a melancholic palette of golden hues en green tones in soft contrast:

    http://www.vimeo.com/15819754

  • Marc Furmie | December 8, 2010 5:31 AMReply

    Whether digital produces a warmer or cooler palette has nothing to do with the format, but more to do with how it is color timed in post-production. I think the 'coolness' you speak of is probably the sterility and harsh video sharpness of the image, verses the softer, more organic nature of a film image. 'Inception' was quite a cold film despite the fact it was shot on film whilst The Lovely Bones the Star Wars Prequels and many other saccharine films were shot digitally. Its more a matter of how its treated.

  • BradZuhl | December 8, 2010 4:51 AMReply

    With the amazing sensitivity to light of these cameras and the ability to change anything in a digital intermediate it seems like the art of light and cinematography (not to mention the roles of everyone in the lighting department of films) is irrevocably changed. No more waiting an hour between setups while the DP laboriously tweaks one bulb endlessly.

  • Oliver Lyttelton | December 7, 2010 11:16 AMReply

    Brace yourself, Kevin. They're coming. I can feel it.

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