Red MX works the Night Shift: Using the Mobile Rocket on set

Director: Scott Masterson DP: Patrick Ruth

DIT: David Kruta

Most of the time, the Boston Public Library in Copley Square plays refuge to those seeking a quiet place to study and read, but for two nights last weekend, it played host to a series of loud performances which rocked the old marble hallways in the form of a series of music videos for Night Shift Entertainment.


Director of Photography Patrick Ruth transformed the old building into, among others, a slick dance club, a low-key jazz venue and an eerily lit solo stage for a cover of Rihanna’s “Only Girl”. In addition to the library, we also shot at the Liberty Hotel and Midway Studios in Fort Point. The camera used was the Red with MX sensor, shooting onto 16gb CF cards.


The schedule was very demanding, and with major company moves happening each day, staying light and mobile was key. The client needed to walk with ProRes files at the end of the shoot, as their turnaround for finished videos was less than one week. This is where the Mobile Rocket from Maxx Digital came into play. The Mobile Rocket allows you to bring the functionality of the RED Rocket into the field, and allows for full debayer real time playback and accelerated transcoding of R3D files.

Every 8 minutes of footage rolled would result in a file dump and backup on my end, and I would then send the R3D files into RedCine-X Build 356 for verification, color-science adjustment and export. With the Mobile Rocket, I was able to have each card exported before I would receive the next batch of footage, and if I ever fell behind, I was able to catch up during meal break or setup changes.


The camera was set to RedCode 28 to allow for off-speed shooting, and 4K HD to be able to easily scale during transcode. I used Red Gamma 2 and Red Log Film as my color science settings, and the footage was kept as shot in terms of ISO and color temperature. I would then export to ProRes 422 HQ at 1080p to a stack of G-Drive Minis. At the end of the day, the client had a drive in their hands, ready to be edited and color corrected, before the grip truck had left.

The only drawback to keeping a small footprint with a Mobile Rocket setup is that with one laptop, you cannot simultaneously offload footage and work with the Mobile Rocket. I would have to copy cards from a FireWire 800 CF reader to 2 G-Drive Minis, connected with a dual FireWire 800 adapter in the Expresscard34 slot. Once copied, the laptop would have to be restarted with the Mobile Rocket plugged in, and one drive plugged into the native FireWire 800 port. This skipping back and forth to change “modes” was a bit time consuming, but no slower than juggling 2 laptops, a shared RAID, or something similar.


Overall, the shoot went very smoothly and the MX sensor performed as expected. Patrick was very conscious of exposing properly, and was constantly watching the waveform with me. This resulted in a beautiful image and a smooth experience within the camera department - and a happy client.


Technical note: The Mobile Rocket will not work with the Sonnet Qio E34 device. In addition, the Qio E34 will not work with any Thunderbolt enabled laptop. This is an issue on Apple’s end and there is currently no fix.