You know the old saying, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”? I’ve been thinking about that a lot, lately. Why? Because we just got a really freaking big hammer. One of the first RED Epic-W cameras is on its way to us, right now.
It was not an easy decision, mainly because I’m not much into spending large amounts of cash for an asset that immediately depreciates. But here’s the thing: it’s an insane bargain, if you do what I do. That is, commercials and narrative films, mixed with some TV pilots, etc.
I’m excited about having a RED full-time again. I’d sold our RED Dragon months ago, and been renting on jobs, plus shooting Sony for most projects. The Sony’s great- it’s the perfect camera for a lot of things. But the imagery it makes cannot compare to the RED.
As recently as a year ago, that’d make the Sony a no-go for me. That’s why I’d trudge around NY with a backpack that weighed 40lbs, carrying my old RED, and the batteries and accessories it needed. Even on small jobs. I’d fly around the country with 400lbs of Pelican cases filled with equipment to do the jobs. And yeah, it was a huge drain on me.
I look at my work from that time, and it’s good. Really good. But forcing myself to use the “best” camera no matter what was a huge problem on a lot of shoots. So, when I knew RED was changing up its lineup again, it wasn’t too hard to sell my old RED. Enter Sony.
When I got our Sony, it was an immediate and tremendous hit of freedom. First, I was able to get two Sony cameras, so that opened up a lot of creative ideas for my clients- which they love. Second, I was able to take some interesting but smaller jobs, because I did not need the heavy infrastructure I’d needed with the RED. Not every shoot is done best with a full film crew, after all. Many jobs don’t have the budget or time to work like that. Working with this lightweight, yet still 4K pro setup has been a real treat to me. And in some ways, the work is better for it.
Yet, the Sony has proven to be lacking when it comes to narrative films and commercials- you know, the higher-end stuff that I do a lot of, too. Especially for me, because I like to really push images around in post-production, with heavy grading and VFX composites, etc. It’s kind of one of my hallmarks. And the only camera I’ve found that really lets me do the stuff I love to do when I’m filming commercials or films is a RED. OK, or an Alexa, but that’s a rental.
Enter the RED Epic-W. 8K imagery, and a new sensor that is great in low-light as well as lots of light. It’s not as flexible as the Sony, but what it does, it does exceptionally well. It is the perfect tool for me, when it comes to projects that call for it.
Learning to use the best tool for the job has been a hard lesson for me. In the end, it’s all about the story you’re trying to tell. I’ll never try to shoehorn a RED into a project where it’s silly to do that again. At the same time, I will not use less than a RED from now on, when a RED is what’s called for. From now on, I’m using the right tool for the job.