My First Red Camera Experience

  • Published in Film + Web

Updated 12/23: Looking to go Red on your next project? We’re in business. Updated 8/13: You can watch the finished music video at

Director/DP Aaron Proctor and the Red One camera

Directing and shooting with the Red One camera Photo by Tom Smith Jr., drummer for Negative Blue

Stills from the Red footage

First Look: Negative Blue

First Look: 120fps

I just finished directing and shooting the music video for Negative Blue’s “Crash”, which used the new Red camera. Here is what I learned:

  • Do the right thing (on set)
    • Hire an owner/operator, like C.J. Roy, at least as your DIT: tips and tricks will spread through the crew all shoot long
    • Shoot 4K at the sure-thing aspect ratio of 2:1, instead of 16:9, but dial in your gridlines to operate
    • Learn what doesn’t work: there’s no viewfinder (yet), the product design is a lot of form and only a little function, and the film plane’s hook for measuring focus is right by the big red record button; expect to discover you’re own behind-the-scenes footage burning to disk
    • Suck it up and shoot at half the size — 2K at 120fps … or at the technology-limited 113fps if all you’ve got is CompactFlash cards and not hard drives
  • Know your place: you’re on the bleeding-edge
    • Use double redundancy backups with FW800 and/or eSATA from Fantom Drives; they’re handy to give one to an editor, too
    • Think of yourself in the same boat at Peter Jackson, Doug Liman, and Steven Soderbergh — their latest projects were shot with this camera — and then get over it
    • If you’re an owner/soon-to-be-owner, the camera really costs much more than the pricetag ($17,500)
    • Figure out your post production workflow, even though the Red post production workflow isn’t all that figured all out yet; support is mostly crowdsourced
    • Upgrade (or downgrade) the camera’s operating system: development (and bug-squashing) is fast
    • Everything you set, short of the focus and aperature, is metadata; the inside joke of “fix it in post” is no longer a joke
  • Familiarize yourself with the community
  • Be prepared to give up shooting film
    • Director/DP Steven Soderburg notes on the company’s web site, “I should call up Film on the phone and say, ‘I’ve met someone.'”


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site