RED camera systems have been used to create some of the most visually stunning film and television projects such as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Squid Game, and The Queen’s Gambit. To learn more about RED cameras, their accompanying software, and how the two work well together with Wacom’s Cintiq Pro 27, Wacom headed down to RED Studios in Los Angeles and spoke with Dan Duran, Head Post Production and Workflow Specialist at RED Digital Cinema, Director C. Craig Patterson, and Cinematographer and Director Kathryn Boyd-Batstone about their workflows and how they use these tools.
RED Cameras, RED Control Pro, and Wacom Cintiq Pro
When speaking about the advantages of RED cameras, Dan explains what makes them unique is that “they’re not only incredibly small and compact but also incredibly powerful cameras, combining high-resolution raw capture with ultra-high dynamic range” giving filmmakers a lot of flexibility when filming during productions.
Paired with RED cameras is RED Control Pro, which gives users advanced control over their V-RAPTOR™ or KOMODO™ Cameras. RED Control Pro offers an enhanced experience, including a unique customizable interface, the ability to live stream from the camera, navigate the entire menu, and advanced LUT, CDL, and PRESET management. The app is also fully redesigned for larger screens and monitoring of live streaming from several cameras simultaneously. RED Control Pro can be installed as a native version on MacOS, which includes even more options such as clip auto download, detachable and resizable windows.
So what do these tools have to do with Wacom? Together, RED cameras and RED Control Pro are a perfect complement to the Cintiq Pro 27 for on-set use. Cinematographers and directors can view footage on the Cintiq Pro’s high fidelity screen with 100% Rec 709 and 98% DCI-P3 coverage – then select and make adjustments in RED Control Pro using a Wacom pen or their hand directly on the touchscreen.
“Having a tactile monitor you can interact with, like a mobile command center, can completely change the experience for creatives,” says Dan. “On a recent production, I saw a cinematographer and director collaborate in a way I’ve never seen before. Normally when adjusting camera settings, there is one person reviewing the image, and one person actually changing the settings, but with the Cintiq Pro 27, both technical and creative merged into one, and the cinematographer and director were able to make real-time adjustments and collaborative decisions faster than ever.”
This combination of tools is unique in the sense that creators like Dan are able to see everything right in front of them. “A lot of productions will have multiple ways to monitor as well as control the camera. With the Cintiq Pro 27, I’m able to see all the settings and controls as well as the image all right in front of me, which makes it easy and intuitive to work with my production team.”
Cinematography and directing on-set with RED Cameras and Wacom
C. Craig Patterson and Kathryn Boyd-Batstone worked together on Fathead, a recent short film project that pushed the boundaries of virtual production workflows using Unreal Engine and Wacom products. This film also received honors at the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, winning in the Student Short Film category.
From their work on Fathead, C. Craig and Kathryn are well-versed in technology’s role in time-saving workflows. C. Craig said, “Kat and I tend to work on sets where days are expensive, right? So like if days are expensive, time is expensive. So if there’s something that’s even cutting seconds off, that’s an advantage, right? That’s more time spent in a take – I’d rather spend that time in a take.”
Kathryn added, “especially as your teams get bigger and there’s more people to communicate with, being able to move efficiently is important. To visually have everyone on the same page by looking at one of these beautiful monitors and everything that’s listed there on the RED Control app, and then just tap the screen to make slight adjustments helps us move more efficiently. From a DP standpoint, I sometimes have to memorize so many different menu settings and everything is always different, which can be a challenge. Working on [the Cintiq Pro 27] was so intuitive.”
Efficiency was a major motivator when designing the newest Cintiq Pro to have the high color accuracy that allows for use on virtual production sets. With virtual production, a big challenge is matching the volume to set pieces. “Being able to have color accuracy and being able to match those things was so important to make rest of [Fathead] believable and not take the audience out of the film. It took a lot of time, but having a tool with the color accuracy of the Cintiq Pro, we could have gotten to it so much faster,” says C. Craig.
For Kathryn, the RED Camera and Wacom Cintiq Pro combination is also promising for certain tricky filming situations. When experimenting with the setup, she remarked, “I can see this being used for car shoots and when cameras are rigged in situations where it’s hard to reach overhead – with this setup, it’s just so easy to make that shot happen, and make subtle changes to the setup.”
The setup looks to improve some of the challenges that directors and cinematographers face in multicam setups – lack of control and losing the personal touch of a single camera setup. C. Craig noted that, “tools like this give you so much control in the multi-cam space – like one of the things with multicam is that people worry about that you lose the specificity and intentionality that you tend to get in in filmmaking – what tools like the Cintiq Pro and RCP does is give you ability to like, re-inject that intentionality back in on-set.”
Beyond the technical and efficiency advantages of this setup, being able to touch to control camera settings adds a tactile factor that makes collaboration more fun. C. Craig summed up his feelings on the RED Control Pro and Wacom Cintiq Pro simply, “I tend to gravitate towards things that put a smile on my face – I’m a filmmaker because I like to be in spaces that are joyful, and these particular tools are just joyful to use.”