The EPIC is the successor to the original RED ONE digital cinema camera, and offers many features that overshadow those of its predecessor. Due to their planned EPIC production schedule being hit hard by the events in Japan, camera manufacturer RED offered a limited edition, hand-built EPIC-M (Machined) to customers they felt could offer […]
Due to their planned EPIC production schedule being hit hard by the events in Japan, camera manufacturer RED offered a limited edition, hand-built EPIC-M (Machined) to customers they felt could offer feedback on the system before its official release.
We had the opportunity to use the EPIC a few months ago to shoot the TVC The Diver for Jumeirah Group at the Burj Al Arab, when RED spokesperson Ted Schilowitz visited Dubai. He was kind enough to let us use the camera on set at that time.
We were astounded at the compact size, performance and image quality, and as such, when we were offered the chance to buy one of the early cameras, we grabbed the opportunity.
The EPIC is capable of shooting RAW video at resolutions of up to 5K (5120×2700) at speeds between 1fps and 120fps. The cool thing about the EPIC though is that to reach the 120fps mark, the camera does not need to be dropped down to a lower resolution, instead it is available at full 5K.
However, this is not to say that lowering the resolution will not equate to higher frame rates however, as future firmware builds are promising speeds of up to 360fps at 720P. This is more than enough for the average project. 5K slow motion recording can produce smooth, creamy, shallow Depth of Field (DOF) sequences that far surpass those available at 2K on the existing RED camera, which seems flat by comparison due to the sensor crop.
At the moment, however, the EPIC is still limited to recording at 5K, albeit at various aspect ratios.
The touchscreen LCD is intuitive and incredibly easy to use. Simply touch the function you wish to change, and a drop down menu appears with an iPhone style selection wheel. Touch the value you want, and it is automatically dialed into the camera.
Alternatively, the cameraman can control the camera via the optional DSMC side handle. The side handle mimics the appearance and functionality of the traditional SLR. It adds multiple user programmable function keys, as well as two scroll wheels, an SLR style shutter release and a light up LCD menu screen. The side-handle also acts as the housing for the internal REDvolt internal batteries. Each requires 30 minutes of charge.
The final option for controlling the camera (and by far, the coolest) is the detachable REDmote. The REDmote connects to the back of the EPIC for charging, and can be used to control the camera whilst connected and also wirelessly, after it is detached.
It offers the ability to control any function on the camera, including starting and stopping recording, and “traffic light” histogram monitoring, all wirelessly. This proves invaluable for use on cranes or car mounts. Future builds promise full histogram integration, and there is talk of a PRO version of the remote that will act as a wireless follow focus.
The “Clutch” rig from RED is an incredibly well designed handheld system that compliments the DSMC system perfectly. Offered pre-built from standard RED parts (available separately on the RED store), the clutch can be customised to each user within seconds and offers the ability to shoulder mount the camera effortlessly.
It contains at its core a new RED quick release system, which allows the camera to go from handheld to tripod in seconds.
Overall, like all of the new accessory offerings from RED, the clutch is an example of how far the company has come from the accessories it developed initially for the original RED ONE line.
It is now far less essential to outfit your camera with third party accessories from companies such as Element Technica than it was with the older camera.
The most exciting feature that RED has added to the EPIC camera is a Video HDR mode, called HDRx. This function enables the camera to record two streams of video, both at different settings.
Because of this, the user can expose for two scenes at once, most commonly shooting out of a dimly-lit interior to a bright exterior. This function is also useful for filming subjects that move in and out of shadows, or, for example, a car driving through a tunnel. In previous cases, you would have had to shoot two passes and cut them together in post. Now, you have to simply dial in the settings of the two tracks and shoot once.
This, in theory, effectively increases the dynamic range of the EPIC by at least a few stops, improving on an already impressive 13.5 stops of DR.
In post production, you merely have to open the clip in RedcineX and blend the tracks together with the HDRx slider before exporting. The camera does this by altering the camera shutter on the second (X) track. This makes the HDR useful for motion graphics as well, as the operator can shoot two tracks at once: the first with standard motion blur for the online edit, and the second can be a faster shutter pass useful for motion tracking.
Later on, the tracking data from the x track can be applied to the first track. Like anything else from RED, these functions can (and will) change and improve as future firmware builds are released. However, even in its relative infancy, the EPIC is still miles ahead of its competitors.
Alchemy Films recently took delivery of the UAEs first EPIC camera. RED camera specialist Andrew Clemson takes the camera through its paces