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Greg St. Johns - An Epic Transition

April 13, 2012

As DP Greg St. Johns reflects on shooting season 7 of the hit CBS show Criminal Minds, it’s clear that his recent transition to RED technology has had a significant impact on production. After moving to the RED EPIC from the Sony F35, St. Johns was more than pleased with the results.

“The RED is just such a massive leap from where we were last year,” he says. “You’re talking about a camera than can pretty much do anything film could do. And actually do it faster.”

While it’s no secret that television moves at an accelerated pace, Criminal Minds particularly embraces a run-and-gun aesthetic that demands a high level of mobility and professional quality that only the EPIC could provide.

“This camera is by far the best thing I’ve ever come across,” St. Johns explains. “I think I’ve cut my stress level in half because I don’t have to invest so much fear in not being able to achieve what’s in my mind.”

The push for RED was one that required Greg St. Johns to convince others that the transition to something new was going to be worth the effort. After the invitation to demo RED technology at RED Studios was extended to producers, it was evident that there was no other choice.

“They really were speechless,” Greg St. Johns recalls from introducing the EPIC to the Criminal Minds team. “They really almost had nothing to say but ‘this is going to make all of our lives easier across the board – from post-production through production.’”

“It was really nice to know that [RED] made such a great product, that it stood on its own and it explained everything without having to sort of really push it on anybody.”

Coming from a tape-based workflow, the challenge for Criminal Minds was to determine how to incorporate an all-digital pipeline into their post process. For years it has been misinterpreted that RED is difficult to work with in post, when it’s actually one of the more flexible and accessible formats in the industry today. Michael Cioni, CEO of Light Iron, was able to take the time with Greg St. Johns and company to explain just how easy it is to piece together a seamless strategy for a broadcast-ready RED workflow.

When describing the introduction of the new post workflow, St. Johns says he “had everybody in post-production just in awe of the combination of RED and Light Iron.”

“Light Iron was definitely a key component in the transition to RED being so smooth.”

For half a decade, RED has been widely adopted in the word of cinema. Now with all of the advantages and features that the EPIC brings to the table, television looks to be the next frontier. Greg St. Johns is wrapping up his first season with the RED EPIC, but is still thrilled with the finished product.

“I still wake up and I get to go work and play with one of the best pieces of equipment I think made in Hollywood today.”