So, the first footage from the new Red Dragon sensor
was dropped today, and I may be alone, but I think Canon's image from both the C500 and the 5D Mark III with the Raw hack is more aesthetically pleasing in certain areas. To my eye, the Red always looks flat and "cold", detached from the moment, and while the Alexa image appears to have more depth, it feels dead in a different way, too smooth or something, like the characters feel three-dimensional but the environments don't. I don't know how to convey what I mean exactly but it's bothered me ever since I saw a movie shot with it projected for the first time. It's like the Red and Alexa are sociopaths in regards to their subjects but the Canons have empathy, like film does.
Aside from the resolution drawbacks, the Canon cameras yield a softer, "warmer" image that, while lacking in certain technical respects, feels more "alive" to me and populated with human beings who actually have a pulse. When I saw Frances Ha in theaters, which was shot with a regular 5D Mark II, despite the visible camera noise, it was the first time watching a digitally shot feature that I felt video hadn't somehow snuffed out part of the heart on screen. I remember Baumbach saying in the Q&A afterwards that they had done tons of tests with the camera to "try and squeeze some life out of the pixels". He seemed disappointed with the move away from film but accepting that going into the future shooting digitally would be inevitable, and he had gone the extra mile to find something that would capture what he felt was missing.
I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on this. Some of it boils down to the lighting and choice of DP, but even the most technically advanced features I've seen shot with the Red and Alexa (Fincher's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Amour, Only God Forgives) seem somehow compromised by the inherent looks these two cameras provide. People seem to accept the images produced by them, but I have a hunch it's more due to familiarity thanks to their pervasive usage (that's how "The Movies" look
) rather than an actual preferance for the aesthetics they create. The C500 is available with a PL Mount, I'm baffled why more filmmakers aren't using it. Or maybe they don't care -- film is only a memory, it's not even something to compare to anymore.
Another way to describe the reaction I'm having to Red footage might be that...this is going to sound fucking crazy but it's the only way I can articulate it -- it's as if the elements in the frame: the actors, the props, the location etc. are layers in a Photoshop file with the opacity turned up to 100% so that they look "solid", but the opacity could easily be turned down to make them transparent. Everything in the frame seems to lack weight or feels flimsy, like the event that was recorded is just a ghost of what it could have been.
Some more 5D Mark III Raw videos to consider, unfortunately most of these aren't locked down:5D Mark III Raw Test - VimeoTokyo Promenade - VimeoA Day at the Farm - Vimeo5D Mark III Magic Lantern Test - VimeoUnforseen Hero - Vimeo
Look at the shot of this girl smiling at 33 seconds, or some of the other shots of people in this video:Honeymoon - Vimeo