Clearwater Productions of Johannesburg Acquires a Red Camera

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Wed, 10/21/2009 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

Clearwater Productions of Johannesburg South Africa has taken delivery of the first of two Red One 4K digital cinema cameras. CEO Derek White says “We needed a platform to originate live action and Red is the most cinematic has the best quality and the smartest upgrade path. We are actually after the Red Epic (due for release next year) but in order to be eligible to buy one you need to be a Red One owner first.” Clearwater also acquired a set of Bausch & Lomb Super Baltar prime lenses from a DOP in Los Angeles. “These lenses are simply beautiful ” says Derek. “I saw a couple of commercials shot with the Baltars and instantly knew this was the set of lenses for us. They only come on the market every five or ten years so despite the fact that they cost more than the cameras; we were very lucky to find them. It's the only set in South Africa and they've already been hired out on a couple of commercial shoots.” In addition to the two camera bodies the order also included a host of accessories including Arri matte boxes follow focus geared head and legs and so on. “We needed a complete solution ” says Derek “we don't want to have to hire in any significant items we want to be able to shoot at a moments notice and send the kit to Italy for two weeks without having to pay a hundred grand in hire costs.” “I've never been keen on buying any kind of equipment ” says Derek. “We're a creative business and we should spend money on people not gear. Having said that certain items are essential tools and I believe Red is going to become the benchmark and digital cinema is a phrase you're going to hear often. One can argue that the cost of shooting on 35 or 16 versus Red is negligible but when you add the post-production workflow especially if you plan on doing multiple projects simultaneously it makes a significant difference. In this climate we simply can't afford to be spending a great deal of the production budget on equipment hire and stock when the cost of entry has become so low.” To accompany the camera on all shoots as well as to manage the post-production workflow internally Clearwater has employed a full-time digital imaging technician. “This is not the kind of camera you want to send out on a shoot without someone who really knows the technology and post workflow ” says Derek. “I know we probably didn't need to hire a full-time person but I wanted someone to take ownership to look after the gear keep the software and firmware current manage the data and have an on-site expert during post. I think this is essential with any new technology.” The Reds are an integral part of Clearwater's plans to license entertainment products. “We love producing commercials trailers promos and channel imaging ” says Derek. “Add to that the ability to design produce own and license your intellectual property and you multiply the value of your business. I don't think there's ever been a better time in SA to be creating your own opportunities to be experimenting with ideas inventing new revenue models and exploring new technology platforms. It's become a necessity and technology such as the Red represents a significant shift. It enables us to do things that in the past have been prohibitively expensive and inevitably landed up being shelved for lack of financing. For the first time you can now own a 35mm quality rig and that changes everything. That's exciting stuff.” Clearwater’s new Red is slated for two series pilots to be shot in November and a documentary to be shot in Portugal and Italy in December.