Why I didn't buy a RED camera.

It's been days of exploring the internet, trying and renting a RED camera. I canceled my order and here is why I didn’t buy a RED camera.

Since I started with filmmaking and editing, soon or later I stumbled on two brands: ARRI and RED. The beef, love and hate for these two brands is insane in the community and when I talk with people about this topic and experience - which brand they would go for - it's always a straight a or b thing. Neither of them is a weak or bad system. Both sides have their advantages. We talk about Arris Alexa Mini and when Red brought the Helium Sensor to the market. Both are great and have their benefits.

Back to my decision of starting big and making it in the industry, getting customers and work with clients - I was on point the last months: 

I will buy a camera that lasts long on the market. I want to have a premium camera with cinema profile - a workhorse. If I spent this amount of money I want security to have a space in the market and to ensure I’m running the best system for me and my clients.

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I decided to take a credit and buy the RED weapon 8k with the helium sensor to be safe for the next 5 to 10 years. With tax about 60.000€. The intention was to make a big step into the market, provide customers an amount of quality without crushing their budget - in my head I would be attractive for a production because I can provide everything a shoot needs.

So I was asking banks and my family if they could help me out. This camera would cost me 800€ per month if I chooses the lowest rate thinking about financing it. 

Soon I realised that this is a big risk. I have no problems in taking risks but this would limit my freedom of making films because I had to do every job. Lets think about this a second. I would shoot 8k footage for a small brand and render it out at 4k, if they need it - keep the 8k footage on my disk and go on to the next project. 

Here I have to jump in, meaning: making and rushing instead of producing good quality content and working for the clients I want to work for. To compensate this monthly rate - keeping in mind all the costs there are; rent, travel fees, all sort of private costs, a life - this would make me the workhorse 24/7 instead of my beloved camera.

I went to the RED website again. After five days of thinking and analysing whats good or bad, another plan came up: I was close of spending 20k on a camera called Scarlet-W. The RED camera that is the "what you need now in 2017". It does 5k 60fps, 4k 120 fps - amazing specs.

So I tested different customers for my upcoming shootings, what quality they need and would pay for.  Which resolution they want and need for their final video and what specs I really need to produce them.

My conclusion: shooting with a RED camera is a dream for me. If I would have bought the RED Scarlet-W, I would pay for my needs - not for the needs my customers are having.

Thats a decision everyone should think about before purchasing: when you are a doing a camera service job, when you are self-employed and when you're working for clients.

You're packing your film equipment wrong - please stop.

Since a couple of years now I packed, lifted, carried and transported gear all over countries and cities. I learned a lot in camera rentals, packing for and with customers, rolled out live streaming events, had interview situations in nowhere places, shooting spontaneous commercials in the streets, recorded after movies in clubs and beach locations..all sorts of productions.

The goal of this text is that you think more on planning your shoot. Stop saying: maybe next time I don’t bring that and try to stop bother my back - because you’ve been carrying too much, too inefficient and again too much.

I try to be just right in place, time and space. So here is a little checklist I always do when I’m planning my shoot. Main argument: how many pieces, boxes, cases and bags do I have to carry.

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Research of my location

  • Where am I shooting - inside, outside, studio, car.
  • How do I get there/travel options - flying, walking, train, car.
  • How is the weather - checking the forecast and tendencies.

First step for me is doing research about temperature and conditions. This reflect the clothes I’m wearing during the shoot and travel phases. A hoodie is a must for me all time.

Time management

  • When do I shoot - night or day, studio or location.
  • How long am I shooting - this is about batteries and memory space.
  • How much footage is needed for postproduction - does it make sense on shooting two days then one long day.

Second I try to concentrate on how the time will be arranged. I also take care of feeling fresh - there are times where you can’t change and have to wear what you have, no bathroom or hotel available. So very interesting point here: how much underwear and t-shirts are needed.

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Style, look and quality

  • How many lenses, a zoom or fixed focals.
  • Soundsetup - mics, boomarm, fieldrecorder.
  • Lighting - small or big LEDs, stands and power.
  • Stabilisation - tripod, gimbal, slider.
  • Optical filters - NDs , effects and how to handle sun and shade.

Last and third point of the research is how the style and quality should be. For sure this is a basic and the most general question of all. But most important point here is to have a clear vision of how your clip/movie/production in result should look like. So therefore you need a specific management of your gear.

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I might repurpose my ideas here and there to keep my blog and vision up to date.