HDRx: The Impossible Shot

At fxguide we cover a lot of ‘impossible shots’, normally achieved via CGI. With the RED EPIC, we have been filming for next term’s fxphd courses and achieving the impossible – in a totally new way.

Every camera – film or digital – has limits of exposure latitude. With the EPIC those limits just got pushed…a lot. Below is a single take shot from a car mount on a Duclos 11-16mm lens at 5K of a car moving from an extremely dark tunnel to a full daylight blue sky shot. The dynamic range required to achieve this shot as one pass in camera is thanks to the new proprietary HDRx from RED Digital Cinema company.

What is so remarkable about this shot is how effortless it looks. And how natural. Yet we all know from personal experience how much we ourselves would need a moment to adjust to a harsh change in light such as this – if we were simply in the real car, let alone filming it.

Before today this would have been an impossible shot, one simply could not hold exposure in the tunnel and out in the 11am Sydney Summer sun – not without losing detail in the clouds or introducing massive noise in the blacks.

While this shot was unmanned, but even with a remote aperture control, pulling this many stops exactly as the car exited would be impossible without massive luck and a hundred takes. This shot was done in one take, with the camera setting set in a car park 5 minutes before we hit this busy tunnel.


Often a hyped device or camera fails to deliver, this is not one of those cases. This shot was the first shot the director did on the first day of filming. It only got better after this.


For more in depth training on the RED and many other professional areas – see the upcoming April term of fxphd.com (The details of the new term: April 1st LA time).


Note: To view this video below in high quality, press play. You can then select the HD “720p” option from the player pop-up menu (they default to 360p) and watch full frame by clicking the expand button.

HDRx Graded

This HDRx demo piece was filmed in Sydney by fxphd/fxguide, with Jason Wingrove directing, Tom Gleeson as Director of Photography. The final was graded by Ian Vertovec (colorist of Social Network). Shot on EPIC #123, at 5K 24fps with HDRx. Thanks to Katie Fellion and Michael Cioni of Lightiron in LA and our friends at RED.

15 thoughts on “HDRx: The Impossible Shot”

  1. bit hard to tell from the youtube video, but when you transition from one track to the other are you getting a different shutter speed? can you notice a change in the motion blur?

  2. Very impressive, but not sure about the compression on youtube. Is it just me or do the clouds reflected in the wind shield look strangely wavy?. Could be an illusion, just my attention was drawn to it.

    1. After a few more viewings I think it’s because the car is bouncing, the camera is locked to the car so, the suspension smooths & retimes the bounce, plus the reflection is very distant so has a different timed bounce. Or am I talking bollocks & it is the compression? 😀

  3. The clouds are just what the clouds are… they are not added or fake. The car is fixed relative to the camera and the distance reflected clouds just did what they did.

  4. Beautiful – very very exciting!

    In the spirit of being a smartarsey nit-picker – are we getting slightly strange motion-estimation artefacts around the edge of frame? Features entering frame where the optical flow doesn’t have enough info to construct the motion blurred features perfectly? I’m assuming that (and, yes, I have been talking to Hugh Macdonald about this) that the combination of the 2 exposures involves some kind of optical flow business to get the motion blur between the two exposures lined up?

    Anyway – fantastic, and, as a vfx guy, I want to work with some of this material asap!

      1. Interesting – so, is it right that 2 exposures are combined? Are they different shutter speeds?

        1. The motion blur does look kind of weird – watch the lines between the concrete slabs on the right of frame. I’m only asking the kids of questions any DOP would ask!

  5. Pingback: HDRx_fxphd.mov | CGNCollect

  6. Pingback: The Impossible Shot - ecalpemos|nl

Comments are closed.