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Monitoring

You have two primary reasons to monitor your RED footage while on a shoot: operating the camera and critically evaluating images, including for exposure, color balance, and focus. With onboard HDMI and a 4:4:4 playback signal, you have a lot of potential for high-quality viewing. You typically use a smaller monitor and/or the EVF for framing and operating the camera during a take. Then you can use a higher-quality and typically larger outboard monitor for evaluating exposure, focus, and color temperature. I think it's important to have all three kinds: EVF, onboard, and studio (production) monitor. That way, you really have a good idea what you're shooting on the set rather than waiting for surprises when you get into postproduction.

Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)

RED's EVF ($2,950—see Figure 4.23) should be another must-have on your list. It has a very sharp 720p (1280 x 720 lines progressive, high-definition resolution) display and offers user-programmable camera control buttons. The EVF also has a diopter adjustment to accommodate variations in operator eyesight.

Figure 4.23

Figure 4.23 RED's electronic viewfinder is a must-have for confident shooting.

The EVF comes with a customizable mount. However, you might want more flexibility to place your viewfinder. I recommend the Element Technica (www.elementtechnica.com) EVF mount ($1,190—see Figure 4.24), which lets you position the EVF in a wider variety of places on the camera and virtually eliminates the risk of damage that can occur if the standard mount loosens.

Figure 4.24

Figure 4.24 The Element Technica EVF mount kit.

Onboard Monitors

The EVF is excellent for the person operating the camera, but a second onboard monitor is also critical. This lets the director and the camera assistant see what's being photographed as they stand next to the camera, and it can be used to communicate framing intentions (Figure 4.25). RED makes two models: a 5.6-inch LCD ($1,700) and a 7-inch Pro LCD ($2,500). They're lightweight, affordable, and perfectly matched to the camera.

Figure 4.25

Figure 4.25 Using the EVF and monitor simultaneously enables the crew to see what the operator is shooting.

Other nice onboard production monitors you can try include the Panasonic (www.panasonic.com) BT-LH900A (about $4,000) and LS Designs' Carrion (about $2,000). Just don't get completely lulled into using an onboard monitor to gauge exposure and color balance. These monitors can give you a rough indication, but you're better off leaving the really critical image judgment to a larger and higher-quality production monitor.

Studio Monitors

Usually when you set up a scene, you place the camera and then run the cabling and power off to the side where you can mount your studio (or production) monitor out of the way. A large studio monitor can be very helpful for judging image quality details and can also serve as a client monitor (a viewing monitor a production client can watch from). Also, if you're using a remote camera and a wireless follow-focus system, the camera assistant might use the studio monitor to gauge focus as the shot is made.

I use the Panasonic BT-LH1760 17-inch LCD monitor (less than $4,000) as the main studio monitor. It's big enough to show what you're shooting clearly, with lots of definition, but it's not so heavy as to prevent it from being carried into the field. The BT-LH1760 includes a Histogram and waveform monitor for more accurate evaluation of a shot. You can also power it via standard Anton Bauer camcorder batteries for use in remote locations. I also recommend the hood accessory to shield the monitor for easier viewing outdoors. Some other suggestions for studio monitors are Tamuz (www.tamuz.tv), Cinetal (www.cine-tal.com), JVC, and Sony.

Routing

Depending on which monitors and accessories you get, you'll need cabling to route those signals. I recommend having both short and long cables to allow you to connect to monitors right next to the camera or a good distance away. The RED ONE camera uses mini-coaxial connectors, for which you need special cables to connect to most third-party monitors. Most of the cables you need are available through RED's Web site.

Alternatively, you can get the Element Technica RED Video Break Out Box ($580) to convert the onboard connectors to standard HD-SDI BNC connectors. This gives you more flexibility and ease of use with outboard monitoring, and I highly recommend this accessory (Figure 4.26).

Figure 4.26

Figure 4.26 Element Technica's RED Video Break Out Box.

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