Reinvention: Shooting With Red One

Posted on 6/26/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

Many stock photographers are looking for new directions and ways to reinvent their businesses. Jonathan Ross is putting some effort into shooting video with the Red One camera.

Red One, the latest in ultra high-definition video cameras, rents for about $1,250 per day or $4,500 per week. The equipment usually comes with a Digital Imaging Technician who operates it and may also provide such services as transcoding, encoding and burning a SD DVD of all the day’s footage, complete with a burned-in timecode.

Jonathan has forged a union with Royal Galactic Productions, which has used the Red One since the camera was introduced about two years ago. They have the gear, and Jonathan has the production and stock experience. Together, they are learning each other’s industries while sharing profits from their ventures. Ross also points out that, “best of all, from our first shoot, we all realized that we fit together very comfortably—that was just dumb luck but a big part of the success.”

On these video shoots, Ross is the director/producer, rather than the person operating the camera. When asked what it was like to step away from being a shooter, he said: “I could totally be a convert, if the money is there. I love it. It is more relaxing for me, and I can have more direct interaction with my talent, which is probably my favorite part of the image business.” Ross also pointed out that his father was a director, and he was raised in a theatre, so he is very at home in the new role.

However, there are nuances to shooting footage that require some getting used to. Of course, strobes are out, and continuous lighting is required. Ross has found that moving lights on the video shoot is slower than lighting for a stills production, but once the continuous lights are set, you have a better visual understanding of the lighting effect.

It is also necessary to arrange sets to incorporate movement. Ross’ stills have always involved a lot of movement, so this transition has not been a major problem. Paying attention to every detail of the subject is extremely important, because retouching of logos or other small details after capture is impossible.

In Ross’ experience, it takes about twice as much time to shoot motion as stills. This may be partly because the team is still learning. But, given the necessity of carefully choreographing the actors to get the right feel from each set-up, it can sometimes, with a large cast, require quite a few takes in order to get the right clip.

The fact that sound is not required with stock footage has some advantages and disadvantages. Ross said, “I can scream and yell and jump up and down to get my talent to respond. I can give direction while the shoot is taking place; tell someone to slowly move back or into the frame, making it very easy to direct.” However, it is necessary to see people moving their lips for the interaction to look believable. To accomplish this, he has his models saying “peas and carrots” a lot.

Asked if production costs for video were higher than for stills, Ross said: “No, because we are pulling 50-megabyte TIFF stills from our Red One shoots and getting motion at the same time, so the per-image or per-clip price has stayed manageable.” Ross and his team were able to generate 45 different video scenarios and just as many stills from their last day of shooting, so the shoot was very productive. Of course, they do not yet know how much of this production Getty Images will accept.

Ross is still considering whether or not to shoot stills as well as footage on his video productions. “Now, we are pulling stills from the Red One, which is great; however, you have to slow the action for a sharp still. Also, the Red limits you to a horizontal, if you want to create 50-megabyte TIFF files for our distributors. That should all change when the new Scarlet comes out with a much larger assortment of image-capture sizes. I can’t wait,” he said. For the moment, the team supports the Red with a Canon 1DS Mark 3 for stills. (Take a look at these production stills, stock images and video.)

Ross believes that producing stills and footage on the same shoot will be extremely important in the future. “I think we will see more and more buyers interested in supporting their ad campaigns with stills and motion from the same shoot,” he said.

Copyright © 2009 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Gerard Fritz Posted Jun 26, 2009
    Even at this early stage of the digital stock footage industry, there is now FREE Red One stock footage being offered. The window for reasonalble compensation is closing really fast for this business.

  • Jonathan Ross Posted Jun 26, 2009
    Hi Gerald,

    Thanks for the information. It amazes me that someone would spend upward of 100k or more (depending on your lenses ) on equipment then give it away for free. Would you please post a link to an example of Red One stock footage being given away for free or where I might locate the company offering this. I would really appreciate it.

    Jonathan Ross

  • Alan Bailey Posted Jun 26, 2009
    You typically get what you pay for

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