IBC 2010 “Little to no interest in RED”

Categories: Miscellaneous 9 Comments

Sadly when I was filming last week at IBC I only saw one RED camera and that was a non working EPIC camera. RED seem to have given up as the home screen has a very telling graphic, an advert for “RED RAY” that seemingly will be available during “2009”…this is September 2010 and no one has bothered to change the RED home screen let alone this glaring mistake for over 9 months !

I was one of REDs fans as I liked the thought of a small independent video manufacturer taking on the big boys like Panasonic, Sony and Arri. Jim seems to have employed more graphics designers than camera engineers as most of what came out of RED was 3D look a likes or as some called it vapourware.

I emailed their web designer pointing out this glaring “2009” mistake over 2 months ago to a avail, IBC was very telling…not one person stopped to look at the sad, motionless EPIC camera, yet the Panasonic stand was buzzing with DPs and press admiring and reporting on the £4,000 AG-AF101 FilmLike camcorder.

Sony are not far behind with their cinematography camcorder but both Japanese cameras share one massive difference between RED ONE, EPIC etc…YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE AN ENGINEERING DEGREE TO USE THE CAMCORDER. That was always REDs achilles heal…you cant just take it out and start using it.

OK all camcorders need some kind of checklist but the RED is way too complicated in my opinion, most DPs that I know are used to setting up a camcorder the day before a shoot and taking the camera out of the bag and filming…not so with RED. That in my opinion has been the downfall of RED as a working tool, you need to get on with the job in hand not worry about all the pre flight tweaks to make RED work and all the expensive mecanno, bomb viewfinder etc etc.

RED was a good idea on paper but Jim in my opinion got too hung up with engineers and less time spent with DPs, delay after delay till finally the Canon 5D Mk11 and the merry band of followers trampled all over Jim’s dreams even worse was to come with the realisation that Panasonic and Sony were being left behind and are now putting on a brave fight back bringing out their own FilmLike camcorders leaving RED dead in their wake.

UPDATE : I have been getting a lot of flack over at RED USER the forum for everything RED over this article, in fact it was mainly to point out the home page error that HAS STILL NOT BEEN CHANGED that I wrote this article at all. That one solitary page error started to make me think as well as little to no RED cameras at IBC, though I am informed that there were a lot more RED cameras than one at IBC.

There is a section on the right hand side of this page called RED DIGITAL CINEMA (11) which has 11 blog entries all praising RED with the exception of this one…why…times have changed as have the announcements of competitors FilmLike camcorders and more importantly their PRICES.

In my opinion RED should have started with Scarlet, if RED had captured the $6K market place instead of going for the $24K plus elite end of the market we would not have seen such an explosion of DSLRs and many of the DSLR guru bloggers would be talking RED and not Canon. That’s it in a nutshell wrong camera, wrong end of the marketplace…in my opinion.

Scarlet does not stand a chance against the Panasonic AG-AF101 priced at $4K which is why in my pinion it will be abandoned or re designed to cope with the Panasonic price bracket.

To give RED their due they replied to my questions both on RED USER and this blog article…

“There is no team of web designers at RED. The guys at RED are busy doing other things. But your point is valid, they really do need a dedicated web guy. An actual team may be overkill.

Philip, I think the reason why people are abrasive toward you is because of your blog. You missed a lot of key facts in your mentioning of RED’s web site and presence at IBC. This forum is RED’s real outlet into the world, not their own web site. Strange as it may seem, that’s just the way it is.

As for RED cameras at IBC, there were many. I wasn’t there, but I know of several companies using them at their booths and in their displays and I’ve seen plenty of pictures to confirm that.

Small-mindedness is not what you’re seeing here. You’re coming into RED’s house and asking questions that any self-respecting RED fanboy already knows the answer to. If you are indeed following RED, you would know that they have not lost their enthusiasm, but rather the opposite. It’s true that much of their development has gone silent over the past year or more. But the competition is paying attention now and they can’t be as freely open. They made some judgement errors in announcing future products. As the products evolved, they became something else and longer development times were needed. This is not out of the ordinary for any complicated electronics development, let alone something as complex as the Epic camera. But most development companies keep the product under wraps until it’s closer to release, rather than announcing it once it’s become a cohesive idea on a drawing board.

I think that’s one thing that has attracted many to RED, their openness right from the beginning. But it’s a double-edged sword. People all too often try to make plans around announced products and it can sometimes backfire on them.

And while the delays seem perpetual in nature, you also have to consider that RED has still shipped nearly 8000 RED One cameras, most of which are out there working every day. These cameras are being used to shoot everything from no-budget music videos and short films to Hollywood blockbusters. To ship that many cameras in 3 years is truly an achievement for a cinema-camera system. That is something Arri, Aaton, Silicon Imaging, etc.. have not accomplished. Arri Alexa is selling like crazy, but still not at a pace that will rival the RED One in the same amount of time.

Epic is getting closer every day. It will be worth the wait. Then we’ll see how Scarlet shapes up, which should follow very soon after.”   Jeff Kilgroe RED USER Moderator

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

9 comments on this post

  1. Nick D says:

    Love your blog Philip…

    Red has absolutely had technical issues with their Epic and Scarlet concept cams, but I think worse than that is their “open” development marketing approach and the lack of a professional website with concrete details on real product.

    However, I do believe Red has shaped the pricepoint, timeframe and some of the design/feature set of the Pansonic AG-AF100, and for that we can be thankful, as I am not interested in a compromised Video DSLR professionally…

  2. James says:

    Sounds like we weren’t at the same show Philip. There were quite a few Red camera’s around the show floor as well as the non-working prototypes on the Element Technica and Band Pro stands. Ted from Red was touring a working Epic prototype around various stands on a schedule posted on Reduser. I happened to pass him several times and he was surrounded by 30-40 guys and the occasional woman. Perhaps not the traditional Japanese mega-global-corp presence but they did have a presence.

    The Red may be a mind warp for some people but if you can shoot RAW stills on an SLR then you can get your head around it. It’s not particularly complicated. It’s the RAW workflow and the sheer grunt you need in post that gets most people in a twist.

    I had a look at the AF101. Looks very interesting as a video camera even if it’s somewhat ergonomically clumsy. It’s also gonna need a meccano kit for handheld work.

    What I want is a DLSR sensor without a mirror/optical-viewfinder that can shoot upwards of 25fps without compromise ie. no in camera downrezzing/line-skipping etc. I want resolution, dynamic range and a RAW workflow. I want footage look like 35mm film. The upcoming Red camera’s and the Ikonoskop are the only two that don’t cost more than a car (the Epic gets pretty close though).

    The comment window is tiny. It’s a proper pain in the arse to use.

  3. HD Warrior says:

    Thanks Nick,

    I don’t doubt for a minute that RED and Canon have paved the way for Panasonic and Sony. The AG-AF101 (UK) is a far better camcorder because of the DSLR.

  4. HD Warrior says:

    Hi James,

    I will get my web designer onto the comments window ASAP. I was not aware of seeing any more that 1 RED camera but you were looking harder than me and I am sure I did not get to all the halls.
    The AF101 will solve a lot of FilmLook issues for many cameramen and women, it is I grant you a little boxy but that box is full of everything the 7D can’t touch. At £4,000 it’s very affordable less your lenses and adapters but I am more than confident this camcorder will eat into all parts of professional video production.

  5. Esmilis says:

    First of all, let me say, i’m very biased when it comes to red: i was one of the early red followers, and i actually own the camera.

    Thing is, you cant compare RAW workflow with anything else. Whenever i had to work with camera footage, before red, i always had this feeling that it lacked in some department. Either DR was too low, resolution was high, but not high enough for some fx work, lacking cinematic feel or compression artifacts where just too obvious. By now most of those things have improved radically in other cameras , but even when you compare red to anything in the prosumer market right now, differences are still very visible.

    Yes, red is a pain to use, always was. Postproduction workflow sometimes makes you want to kill yourself, although compared to the first days, it improved a lot. But when it comes to quality of the end result, its totally worth it. I will never forget the look in one freelancer CC artist’s eyes, when i handed a dpx sequence of a music video, he had to work on, and he loaded that thing into his combustion suite. The amount that you can push raw is insane, and you cant compare that to anything else other than film, d-20 or f35.

    Now about the whole attention to RED thing, i have to agree. Interest in red gone down a lot, but i don’t think its because of the competition. By now red did massive leaps when it comes to pushing for new technologies, and that may have spoiled a lot of the followers. We still expect for red to come out with massive spec improvements and wow us, and that hasn’t happened in a while. Don’t get me wrong, i’m still thrilled waiting for epic, but right now red became less of the magic camera, that’s far beyond anything else on the market, to a pretty awesome tool you can have a pleasure using on set and in post.

    Not sure if you can see my point through all the fanboyishness, and don’t get me wrong, i love what panasonic and even DSLR manufacturers are doing, but it’s too early to write red off.
    Thing is you can’t really compare RAW to AVCHD, you just can’t, and there will always be those for whom the latter is just not enough.

  6. HD Warrior says:

    Hi Esmilis,

    Thanks for coming back to me from a users point of view, I don’t think anyone can compare anything yet till we get a look at the AF101 footage. Just because it’s produced on AVCHD does not mean it will look any less filmic…we will just have to wait till Panasonic bring us the first models during December.

  7. Esmilis says:

    Not less filmic, just less flexible. When you start moving exposure, and shifting colors, avchd tends to fall apart a lot sooner. Gradient banding starts to appear, some other weird things, and a lot of times you dont have enough range to do a proper selection by chroma or luma chanells, to do a secondary grade.
    Don’t get me wrong, AVCHD is a brilliant codec, but for it to be as cool, panasonic has to increase bitrates increase drastically. And that means no “film 100 hours of HQ footage to this little 64GB card”, and make postproduction somewhat harder because of increased requirements for bandwidth.

    Otherwise i’m pretty sure cinematic aspect of AF101 will be superb. I can’t wait to see it myself.

  8. dunney says:

    Go Philip !!
    panasonic will be affordable to most, Red still have to deliver Scarlet !!! how long has that been on the cards! You wil be able to write panny to a P2 brick encoding AVC intra 100 for an extra grand and a half if AVCHD is still not up to it. Not writing Red off but we even got an iPhone eventually! As long as Scarlet is not available, Panasonic, Sony and the DSLRs will steal the march!! rant over, cheers for a great blog>

  9. Nick D says:

    You were exactly right Philip, that’s what happened yesterday, as they officially abandoned the “Prosumer” marketplace!!

    “Scarlet does not stand a chance against the Panasonic AG-AF101 priced at $4K which is why in my pinion it will be abandoned or re designed to cope with the Panasonic price bracket.”

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