Part of the fun of working for a video production company in Cleveland as a Director of Photography is landing the gigs that allow the opportunity to work (aka play) with new equipment.
John Stanchina, Director of Photography at Cleveland video production company,
Pixel Planet Studios, talks about using the new RED Komodo digital cinema camera on a recent music video shoot.
Why the RED Komodo camera?
The client came to us to produce a music video. We created all of the sets and shots from a previsualization concept developed and modeled in 3D by our CGI Mastermind, Eric Anderle.
They also had a very specific shot list that required the use of a Steadicam Volt. Seemed like the prime opportunity to get my hands on the new RED Komodo.
Smaller is definitely better for fitting and the new tech with the global shutter was bound to be interesting.
What was the production like?
Our filming arsenal:
Arri Skypanel S360s
Tons of modifiers
24 Astera Titan Tubes (all remotely controlled through an iPad)
We managed to assemble a badass crew and had our Director, Anthony Carabotta, to keep the client and crew vision's aligned. We had one full day of prep and a 16.5 hour day of shooting. That’s a long day of shooting (much longer than a normal shoot day) that included a few minor setbacks, but we adapted.
This team really brought their A-game. Ryan Forte, our Steadicam operator, nailed every shot, and all the prep work from our Gaffer, Eric Martin, and his crew really paid off. They were incredibly flexible and worked hard to bring the music video to life.
We made custom archways consisting of fishing line, PVC Piping and Titan Tubes
The last rig-- the hallway of tubes-- was created by hanging every tube and measuring sash cord and hanging them on 12x12 solid frames.
It was a lot of work, but was worth it because it added to the overall production.
What are the pros and cons of using the RED Komodo?
Number one is the image quality for its size. It’s super customizable. It’s basically a 4x4x4 cube with a bunch of screw holes on it. Like a baby Alexa Mini.
The record button is on the operator side for a Stedicam. It shoots on standard CFast cards, which can be grabbed from any rental house.
The battery life is amazing. It ran off a Single 150 Anton Bauer cine for over 4 hours (with accessories).
Some of the random frame rates were weird to deal with at times. We shot in 5k because that's the only mode that shot 48fps, which we used for some slo-mo shots.
The integrated app was flakey and unreliable. We have an overhead rig that was 10ft in the air and it barely worked to remotely hit “record”. We spent too much time reconnecting.
The software isn’t the greatest, so I’m not sure it’s reliable yet.
Would you use it again?
I'd definitely shoot on it again, but build it differently. The image quality was really outstanding for its size. It has some real potential to be a go-to camera contender.