Introduction: Shooting Slo-mo With the RED Epic
The RED Epic is a high quality cinema camera featuring an 8K sensor capable of capturing 1 to 300 frames per second at full resolution. Movies such as Gone Girl, Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Hobbit Series and The Great Gatsby have been shot with RED cameras. This tutorial is for the cinematographer looking to elevate production value and experiment with impressive variable speed capabilities.
Step 1: High Speed Capture
The American standard speed for cinematic pictures is 24fps (frames per second). Achieving sharp images in slo-motion requires a faster captured frame rate than the playback frame rate. This is called varispeed. When picture is captured at 96fps and played back at 24fps, you are viewing the footage at quarter speed. The degree of slow-down varies depending on application. A 2-4 slowdown is considered standard for replays or artistic effects, and often means a capture rate near 60-90 fps. This speed can also give the appearance of smoother panning and steadier shoulder-mounted footage, since high-frequency movements appear damped. Capture rates near and above 300 fps are an opportunity to take the viewer to places their eyes have never been. Water splashes, flying insects, sporting moments, explosions and other split-second events can become visually accessible and even other-worldly.
Step 2: RED Varispeed
When shooting in 4K, the RED is capable of capturing frames at a speed up to 120fps. Access the "FPS" option in the main menu and dial in the desired frame-rate. Once you do so, the FPS text turns yellow and the audio meters are replaced with “Varispeed”
Step 3: Shutter Speed
Shutter speed affects how much motion blur is in each frame of your video. If you want your motion blur to look normal, you should take your frame rate and double it. If your shutter speed is not double the amount of your frame rate your footage will have a blurry "ghostly" effect and will be unusable.
Step 4: Lighting
Implement a lighting set up similar to the above photos and diagram to light your slo-mo shot. Lighting is objective in most instances but must be executed properly for slow motion video. Increasing the shutter speed for slo-mo means reducing the amount of light that is let in through the camera sensor. This means you must have a very well-lit subject. One can try to fix this through increasing ISO or opening up the aperture, however these options will add a lot of noise to your image, ultimately lowering it's quality by making it grainy.
Step 5: Camera Settings
The steps of adjusting your camera settings in order to shoot slo motion on the RED Epic are as follows:
1) Once the camera is on and set in position check the camera resolution. In this case we are shooting in 4k.
2) When shooting in 4K the RED is capable of shooting a frame rate of 120fps. Adjust frame rate in the top left corner to reflect this.
3) Adjust the shutter speed to 1/240 (double the frame rate). Shutter Speed can be found at the top of your viewfinder.
4) Adjust your settings such as aperture/ISO in order to correct exposure to your liking. This is where the lighting plots will come in handy!
5) Now you're ready to shoot!
Step 6: Final Product
Here's an example of slow motion footage shot on the RED Epic.