“Clients select a shot list from the time code, and then we deliver the related RAW files or processed tiffs.”
I had the opportunity to ask Steve Kalalian, President and founder of Impact Digital about his new venture IC Motion, which was founded to help photographers deal with the RED camera. I think there’s a lot of potential to use the camera on a stills shoot but to me it looks like a complete pain in the ass to deal with all those gigs and of course the equipment is expensive as hell so it makes sense that you would rent a package from someone like IC Motion and they can deal with it.
I’m still a little skeptical on the quality of the frame grabs for magazine reproduction. I have a copy of the Megan Fox, Esquire that was shot on the Red and have to say the reproduction has a “video” feel to it. That may have been intentional for all I know, because I don’t have anything else to compare it to, but I hear the Bruce Willis shoot in W was done on a RED, so you can have a look at that to see what you think.
APE: Can you tell me about Industrial Color and your new venture IC Motion?
Industrial Color is part of Industrial Color Brands which has been around for 18 years and has offices in Tribeca, Culver City, Miami, and Williamsburg. This includes several high-end creative production entities.
- Impact Digital (founded 1991) – Retouching and CGI
- Industrial Color (founded 2001) – Digital capture support on approx 12 shoots a day, post-production, file storage, archival printing, software development, hosted web based image management and high speed file distribution, iPhone App development and now HD and RAW video capture and editing).
- Fast Ashley’s Studios & Fast Locations (founded 2002) – 16,000 sq. ft of drive-in rental studios in Williamsburg Brooklyn and full location eq. rental.
- M Project Gallery (founded 2007) – To exhibit collaborative projects, such as the recent Jim Fiscus CGI graphic novel.
IC Motion was in the planning stages during 2008 and formally launched in March 2009.
When the RED camera was released, we saw an opportunity for photographers to embrace HD video in a special way. Because every frame is printable, photographers can think in motion and still at the same time. The creative possibilities are endless. The RAW digital video revolution is very similar to the digital still revolution when the first 16MP still camera backs came out in 2001. HD Video is very new to the photography industry. We felt that Industrial Color could bring significant value by providing full-service high-level support that makes booking, shooting, editing and distributing video easy for photographers and clients.
After much testing and development, we found the RED and P2 formats fit into our company infrastructure perfectly in terms of our tech capabilities, post production services, equipment resources, NY, LA and Miami locations, and other important resources. Our tech base of 20 full time digital techs are all battle tested and very experienced working on intense studio and location shoots and have photography and film backgrounds. We developed a digital video training program and certified our team during the past year. We then added a specialized editing team and built high-end editing suites to provide important post-production services that are a very big part of supporting digital video shoots and helping photographers deliver meaningful content to their clients.
Also, our software division Industrial Color Software, developed FileSociety, a web-based high-speed file sharing and distribution service designed to serve the digital video industry. We recognized that video shoots generate a massive amount of files and dailies. Video file sizes are large and need to be shared by creative talent and decision makers very quickly. FileSociety is up to 100 times faster than FTP, is secure and lets workgroups collaborate anywhere at very fast speed.
In addition, we are leveraging our tier 3 datacenter in which we have petabytes of LTO tape storage and approx 500 terabytes of live enterprise storage and a redundant gig internet link and an offsite DR facility.
After all the investment and R&D, we worked with top photographers to test many filming conditions and projects. By our launch date, we were in great shape cover our client’s needs throughout the video production pipeline from planning to shoot, edit and delivery. The response has been very strong. We are now concentrating on shoots and editing projects and educating clients on the potential, economics and best practices of adding video to photography shoots. For example we have seminar series on July 14 and 15 entitled, “Photography and the Video Revolution” that will show real world production process and output from RED and P2 Formats.
APE: It looks like the RED is an awesome camera for cinematographers and directors, which is great if you have those skills or the budget for that kind of thing but until I saw one of those “living” images for online use I’ve been kind of skeptical about the use of a camera like this for still photographers. Tell me how you see people using this camera?
Our clients are primarily photographers. They are using the RED in every way possible, including shooting commercials, web content, social media content, interviews, teasers, behind the scenes, b-roll, video fashion stories, in-store videos, outdoor video advertising, music videos, short films, etc. On the print side, they are using video capture in editorial and advertising campaigns.
However, a large part of the photo industry is still thinking in the past that still photography is the only medium worth pursuing. Everything is going video. Print and video are converging. Digital advertising is replacing traditional print so fast right now that entire industries are disappearing and new ones are taking over. Plus, with the RED (and only with the RED) clients can print every frame, so you can produce print work using the RED. What we are seeing now are photographers that have a natural affinity and passion for motion are adapting very quickly. This is very exciting for us, as we love to help photographers translate their visual style to video. Since RED is a RAW format, you can change color as much as you want without effecting the RAW file. The camera software also allows you to create looks and shoot in real-time using a look, just like with still capture software. Hardware and software manufacturers are doing a great job in anticipating how photographers work and are integrating photo style workflows into their products. I think that the film to digital still transformation in the early 2000’s taught everyone a lot of lessons and most people are prepared to embrace this new technology and medium. We see people very open and eager to learn about the equipment, workflow and possibilities with digital video.
The current RED sensor is 13MP (the same as a Canon 5D) so the file is quite respectable for print – as there are many advertising photographers that still shoot with the Canon 5D for campaigns to this day. But to be clear, we don’t recommend leaving your still camera at home. Many clients think that the Red completely replaces the need for still cameras. Today’s still camera backs are at the 22-65MP range and produce amazing still images. Plus still photography is about freedom of movement. So this needs to be taken into account when deciding what to shoot with. The RED is a Cine-style camera and is rather large and heavy especially when fully accessorized. Almost every one of our motion jobs includes both still and video gear on set. The huge savings and opportunity for clients come from being able to capture video content with only a slight incremental cost of hiring a RED video capture team. All the major sunk costs of producing the still shoot like hiring talent, locations, props, sets, styling, travel, lodging, etc. are leveraged by adding video on a still shoot. Financially it’s a no-brainer. For the photographer, video provides a new revenue opportunity. Right now, video is a win for everyone and content is in demand by marketers.
APE: How much expense does using a RedOne add to a shoot?
The day rate ranges from $3,000 to $5,000 for a complete system and tech support. Our full featured package called the “CinePak” includes a full Red system, specialized computer and video equipment, 2 techs, tape backup via our GLOBALvault storage service and a 30-day FileSociety account for high-speed file distribution. We also have high-end sound recording packages and our Panasonic P2 packages called the “VideoPak” as well as color grading and editing, format compression and authoring rates. We also offer discounted still/motion combo packages that reduce overall cost and reduce the number of crews while streamlining communication and deliverables. We can also supply lighting equipment via Fast Locations, our equipment rental company.
APE: What’s the editing process like dealing with all those Gigabytes?
On average there can be anywhere from 100GB to 500GB of RAW data per day, depending on how much you shoot. For sure that’s a lot of data and files to deal with, especially for multi-day shoots. But there are techniques for making it manageable. For pulling stills, our techs work with the AD’s and photographers on set to edit when possible, but usually we will process QuickTime dailies with clip names and time code and send them via FileSociety or on a drive to creative decision makers. Clients select a shot list from the time code, and then we deliver the related RAW files or processed tiffs.
For motion editing, we have full editing services and work with directly with clients starting with a clip list, then make rough cuts, do the color grading, sound, graphics and final edit, or we deliver a drive and the client manages editing separately. Color grading is one of the most exciting parts of the video editing process from a traditional photography point of view. Color grading in video is like image editing in Photoshop for still images. There are powerful tools that let photographers refine the look of video like they would with still images, including primary color, secondary color, color masking and adding realistic film grain effects and other filters. We can work with the photographer directly or photographers can work with the RAW files themselves using free editing software from RED.
APE: How do you store all that information and how do you deliver a final product to the client?
First thing to consider is the active storage on set during the shoot. We have about 16TB of very fast RAID storage built into our shooting systems for primary storage and backup, plus we also backup onto portable drives and usually deliver a terabyte drive to the client. In addition, we back everything up to onsite and offsite tape libraries that are stored in special fireproof safes. Data storage adds up fast, so it is an important consideration. Clients should decide what is worth keeping and storing.
APE: Tell me about a shoot you’ve been involved in recently with the RedOne and how it all went and how the client reacted to the final product?
One of our recent shoots was with fashion photography team of Jenny Gage and Tom Betterton. They wanted to use the RED camera to produce a short film and stills for fashion phenomenon, Tracy Feith. The risqué project was shot on a sunny day in the back streets of LA. The freestyle shoot worked well to enhance both the vulnerability and courage of the subject that reflected the Tracey Feith brand. The client was very happy with the results and produced a 7-minute final edit that is planned to run in stores in addition to print collateral pulled from the RED footage.