Red Epic 5K Camcorder

One of the biggest digital-camcorder announcements at NAB is Red Digital Cinema's new Epic camera with 5K (5120x2700) resolution. Why 5K? Because it's one better than 4K? Well, sort of. Having 5K resolution allows content creators to crop or downscale to 4K with better-looking results.

The Epic body is modular, with the basic configuration not much bigger than a high-end digital SLR still camera. The frame rate is variable up to 120fps at full resolution, and its HDRx function provides up to 18 stops of dynamic range, allowing composite exposures that more closely mimic how the human eye sees.

I saw some footage shot in New Zealand and right here in Las Vegas that looked stunning, with very dark and bright areas in the same shot that looked entirely natural with lots of low-level detail and no blowouts. At the Red booth, they played a short movie called Tattoo that was conceived, written, shot with the Epic, edited, mastered, and delivered to NAB in one week. The movie was played on a Sony SRX-S105 4K projector and a 16-foot-wide Stewart Snomatte non-perfed screen, and it looked incredibly film-like with exquisite detail, especially in the many low-light scenes.

Like many camera booths at NAB, Red had several of its new models pointed at a live subject—in this case, as you can see in the photo above, a guy getting some tattoos to coincide with the subject of the movie.

This is clearly the future of moviemaking—in fact, Peter Jackson is using prototype Epics in 3D rigs to shoot The Hobbit in New Zealand. Basic-configuration production units are estimated to cost around $30,000, which is incredibly inexpensive for such a phenomenal camera.