By Jennifer F. Modica
TORONTO, ON – From a tent on the floor of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Conference in Las Vegas to buzzing in the ears of the production gurus worldwide, the RED ONE camera is creating a lot of buzz since its magnesium cast prototype made its debut early this month. Scheduled for delivery at the end of the year, two hundred of these cameras were pre-ordered on its first day and a half on the scene.
This camera is the brainchild of Jim Jannard who, when he is not busy running Oakley, is persistently pursuing his passion for photography and cinematography. Partners, Jannard and Schilowitz set out to build a camera that rebelled against the frustration that comes with limitations. RED ONE is a camera that hopes to evolve as technology evolves, as their tag line totes: “making obsolescence obsolete.”
The idea behind RED camera is simple, “[to] design and build a high performance digital cine camera with the quality of 35mm film and the convenience of pure digital. RED delivers unmatched image quality with no recording system limitations.” Removing limitations is the rationale behind their modular design making parts replaceable and preventing the system itself from becoming outdated. At merely nine pounds, the modular format makes RED ONE’s versatility a huge selling feature, allowing it to be adjusted for different applications and adding a depth to the level of customization available.
RED Digital Cinema is creating the highest grade high-definition capture format available at a low cost bracket. RED ONE is changing the rules not only with regards to innovation but also with regards to cost as the 4K HD camera body is available at a price point of $17,500 USD (Note that prime lenses, camera support and hard drive capture are extras). The hope behind the product is that it will prove to be a digital cine quality camera that can stand the test of time. This philosophy is what keeps the camera both affordable and cinema grade, revolutionizing the film industry and democratizing its accessibility. Schilowitz described the camera as “inclusive” in an interview outside the RED tent at NAB, where everyone clearly wanted in.
RED ONE comes with REDCINE, a pre-editorial and finishing application that is designed to ease the process of exporting camera footage to a variety of industry standard video file formats. This process is not only revolutionary for cinematography but also for Toronto broadcasters who are in the process of moving from tape to an electronic server, making the switch seamless. Final Cut Pro announced at NAB that it will support Red Digital Cinema increasing interest in RED and calming some initial concerns about post-production workflow.
This also means that the new kids on the block will have a shot at making something that budget and formatting constraints would have prohibited in the past. RED Camera is yet another democratizing trend on the market. If blogs revolutionized publishing, wikipedia revolutionized encyclopaedias, and iPods revolutionized music, then RED Camera is revolutionizing film. A quote from the RED marketing brochure should read: “Perhaps it’s time to step on our mark and join the RED-volution.”
This is still a camera in development. As such, there will be several modifications required both before and after the expected summer delivery date. Estimates on the cost of required lenses, support and capture could push the acquisition price to $100,000.00 CDN and beyond. Frankly, it’s too early to tell, in spite of the ballooning interest garnered by Red Cinema’s promotional efforts at NAB. Of course, how much of a winner Red will be or if initial concerns raised by local experts about workflow and capture issues will bloom into full scale production problems will only be evident in time. We know that some Toronto rental houses have several cameras on order. If Red is indeed a winner there will be no shortage of opportunities to get your hands on one.