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If 'Ali vs Frazier' of the Camera World is November 3, RED's 2/3'' SCARLET is Dead

10.14.11 @ 2:58PM Tags : , , , , , , ,

As you already know, Canon is releasing a motion picture camera on November 3rd. Not one to let Canon steal their thunder, RED countered by scheduling their SCARLET announcement for the same day. In order to make such a bold move, I assumed RED had some advance insider knowledge of Canon’s plans, but RED’s head honcho Jim Jannard claims RED has “no idea what Canon is going to announce.” He also called the day “Ali vs. Frasier” [sic]. And he’s confident enough to say, “My bet is that after our November 3rd announcement… we will never, ever, be out of back-order. Ever. Really. Never… ever.” This kind of confidence does not come from announcing a camera with a sensor several times smaller than the competition’s.

The thing about RED is… they’re crazy. This is sometimes a good thing — no one would set out to upend the camera industry the way they have without being slightly crazy — and other times a bad thing (missed ship dates, buggy gear, and sometimes off-putting attitudes — which Jim acknowledges). But it’s been a fascinating five years since their NAB 2006 unveiling, to watch them grow from a startup of just a few engineers to their current team of 400 employees:

Say what you will about their missed ship dates and technical issues, but these days no one can accuse the EPIC of being vaporware given the number of features (and magazine covers) being shot on it presently. And this thread about RED’s history is nothing short of inspiring for anyone with startup dreams.

Okay, so what will RED announce on November 3rd? Interestingly enough, given how many times they’ve changed their roadmap and EPIC-S/SCARLET plans because of the competition (going so far as to say, “If we give you (and our competitors) all the info too soon, we are likely to be late and have helped the industry keep up with us”), the easiest way to extrapolate what RED will announce is to take a look at Canon’s plans.

When Canon was engineering and building their first entry into the “pro” motion picture camera market, who were they looking at as their competition? RED, because Canon was planning on going 4K based on this quote direct from Canon over a year ago: “4K is a real world for us, we’re not ignoring it, and we’re going 4K.” As the only one with a 4K camcorder at the time, RED was their competition by default. And given the rumors are that Canon’s entry on November 3rd will be somewhere in the $10-$15k range, to me this means they set their sites to compete with what we knew as the EPIC-S at the time, which was RED’s $12k, Super35 sensor camera. So while RED already released this footage from their 2/3″ SCARLET…

… I suspect this 2/3″ SCARLET is dead. Their competition is announcing a Super35 camcorder on the same day, and RED has claimed to be bringing a “bazooka to a knife fight.” As far as the camera analogy goes, Bazookas don’t have 2/3″ sensors last time I checked. Also, Jim Jannard has publicly stated that they do not make cameras for “soccer moms.” They are a “pro,” not a “prosumer,” company. And while 2/3″ sensors are good for documentaries, I see the small sensor arena as a crowded marketplace that isn’t exactly crying out for RAW or 120FPS features. Plus, while Sony is also getting into the 4K game with both a camera and home projectors, they have also called the camcorder marketplace “a 35mm world.” And Sony’s F3, as Philip Bloom recently discovered, gives the EPIC a run for its money in low-light situations. So after years of making small-chip camcorders, Sony and Canon are going large — is RED going to go small at the same time? Doubtful. Especially with their hype of “never going out of backorder,” they will almost certainly announce something new and improved compared to what we’d heard previously.

For some historic context of digital Super35 motion picture imaging, let’s take a look back at the very first feature film shot on the RED, Che — which was in fact two features — and why director/DP Steven Soderbergh has, in Jim Jannard’s own words, “the biggest balls of anyone I’ve ever met.”

After all this speculation and history, let me just say: yes, I know, a camera alone will rarely ever make or break a feature film. But you’d have to pretty damn jaded not to think November 3rd is going to impact indie feature films for years to come. Time and time again naysayers chime in with “if we spent as much time writing the script as we do talking about cameras, we’d make better movies,” but I’ve spend a hell of a lot more time on my script for Man-child than I have following the camera market. And I’ve still got many drafts ahead of me. So there, imaginary naysayers!

Add the date to your calendar, prepare your wallet or capital expenditure budget, or just “remember, remember, the third of November.”1

  1. Sorry, but if Jim Jannard is comparing the day to Ali vs. Frazier, I figured I could drop a reference to Guy Fawkes night. Especially with so much talk of “revolution.” []


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  • I’m super stoked man. It’s gonna be hardcore competition from here on out. Great time to be a filmmaker.

    However, gotta get my nitpick in for the Epic. Bloom said the F3 performed better in the initial shoot, but the RED was more than capable of recovering lost information, much more than F3 could (because of RAW, RedcinexPro, and Redcode)

    Anyway; hate to be a champ about it, but, i’m just trying to keep it real.

    Just to reiterate, still love your site bro (check it seriously about 25 times a day; not kidding)

    • Bloom hasn’t been working the EPIC for that long, either… curious to see some low-light tests between the F3 (4:4:4, S-Log) and EPIC.

      • Really liked what i saw out of S-Log. I really haven’t seen much as far as the Epic’s RedLogFilm mode, but i do love Alexa’s LogC. Pure, flimic goodness there

  • Renderjunkie on 10.14.11 @ 4:15PM

    The “4k is better” discussion is irrelevant. Alexa has less than 2k and is sooooo much better than RED.
    I’m looking forward for a Canon’s F3.

  • Do we need 4K? There aint no HDTV in Best Buy or other stores showing 4K. I know 4K is good for keeping it sharp for down-sample to 1080p. it is too freaky expensive, in the next 20 years, we will be buying Flip UltraHD at 4K for $200.00 or less. lol.

    • Finishing at 1080p from a 4K source is great. I use it mostly for reframing or adding movement to locked off shots in post. Subtle push-ins are really handy … and framing crew/equipment out if they drop into the shot without having to roto… it’s great.

      • I would love 4k for post-production, but just give me a camera that records 2k, RAW, and at least 120 fps i spend right away my $10-15k range.

    • I think it will be allot sooner then 20 years…

  • Jannard needs to let someone else do the talking for his company. The man’s knowledge of filmmaking is weak – his comments about real shooters and the 5D, etc are ridiculous. I don’t hate the gear that his company is making, but the tool should just write the checks and stick to making sunglasses for dooshrockets. He sounds like Schwarzenegger pimping a film. His hype has no bearing on my interest. RED fanboys? meh.

    • Jon Thomasberg on 10.14.11 @ 7:37PM

      You sir, haven’t the faintest freakin’ clue what you are talking about. Go screen dailies from an Epic or R1 MX on a 4k projector and then project the dailies from a 5D at 1080 on the same screen, then come back and post your interpretation. As for Jannard, you have clearly never met him face-to-face or else you wouldn’t post this asinine drivel. He has done more for movies in 5 years than anyone I have yet to learn about. What have you done? Here, while you are pondering the answer, have a nice cold can of STFU.

      And yes, I own a R1 and a 5D, and soon an Epic-X, among other cameras. Am I a Red fanboy? Hell yeah I am, their products kick ass, so much so I put my money where my mouth is. What say you now?

      • I don’t think he’s saying a 5D is just as good as a RED; he’s complaining about the language, about the ultra-macho attitude, about all the things they say beyond objective or constructive comments

        I certainly don’t like the usual corporate marketing spinning either, but this macho thing gets tiring pretty soon

  • So, if you had to pick a horse today would you go for Canon or Red? My guess is Red has learned the costs of building a production line and the Scarlet will be a specked down version of the Epic. What Canon brings to market is harder to guess.

  • Red One will be the new Scarlet ;)

  • Look the guy near single handedly turned the film production industry on its head and gave us something with the red we would probably still not be seeing for another 2 years at a cost of well over $100k if it was left to any of the other players. If you think Arri would have released Alexa when they did for the price they did and ditto Sony with their latest and greatest you are a FOOL. Red changed the game, in the blink of an eye and no matter what camp you choose EVERYONE will from here on out benefit from his brass balls attitude.

    Given that I think Jim can talk what ever way he likes!

  • If Canon or Sony wanted to be serious about cinema products, they could drive RED out of the camera business by simply matching them product for product over the next 3 years.

    Red is not dumb however, and they have quite a nice patent collection lined up.

  • Red Fan Boys have finally left Red User to explore the rest of the internet…

  • John Simbweski on 10.15.11 @ 5:51AM

    Red what?!! I thought they ran out of business, 2 years ago…

  • Hey Koo!
    Im fairly new to the 4K cameras once they are waaaaayyy out of my budget but I have been reading more and more about them lately. I think a great post for you to write about would be what is takes to shoot with a 4K camera. How long a battery lasts and how much storage space it’s necessary.. stuff like that. Specially with the big announcent coming up soon.

    Great post anyway! Always checking out the news in your blog.


  • Lliam Worthington on 10.15.11 @ 12:43PM

    LMAO. Man I love the RED hater posts. Truly I do!
    I crack up, then I get this wave of excitement that there’s definitely one less guy who could end up in front of me in the order cue! It’s win win time people. Not cripple this and protect profit margins on that. Canon v RED = WIN WIN time.

    Can’t wait to see both announcements. But for driving the change among other considerations, I will almost certainly be RED. Though I don’t have any Canon glass to factor in as a consideration either like quite a few.

    Koo what are your thoughts re your own camera choice for man Child at this point? What are you hoping to see from this announcement personally? Just a penny for your thoughts besides the obvious logical wait and see.

    I have noted your interest in the F3 a few times. I was too. But hard not to feel that it will very soon become the poor 1080p cousin. People often talk about different tools for different jobs and this cam will still have it’s place etc etc… And its nearly always valid. But if either, let alone both RED and Canon offer S35 3-4K 4:4:4 with decent over cranking for 15K or so… Very hard to imagine why anyone would ever choose an F3 again isn’t it?

    Also have to say that every time I visit NFS I am just more and more impressed by what you have achieved here.
    So much work and such a wonderful site.

    Thx Koo. People like you make the grass roots film world go round.

    Best Wishes

    • Thanks Lliam!

      Agree completely about the F3 — I’ve really liked what I’ve seen but it shows how fast the market is changing. I feel like to stay competitive after November 3rd, Sony should think about throwing in the S-Log firmware…

      As for Man-child… one of the REDs, Canon’s new camera perhaps, F3 w/ S-Log… so many options, it’s exciting. Let’s me work on the script knowing that there are multiple great options out there for filmmaking at this budget level.

      • Lliam Worthington on 10.16.11 @ 3:04AM

        Your right. Throwing in the SLOG would be a god step. That combined with it’s low light prowess as well as a non 4k workflow might just do the job of keeping it among the top choices for people.

        Quite a few people are still pretty concerned by 4k work flow and feel ripped off when it comes to considering becoming a part of RED’s expensive modular world. Not to mention the back order issues you may well face with all RED modular products as well as the cameras. The 4k workflow or storage bothers me not at all. But the other concerns are certainly valid.

      • Hi Koo…thank you for keeping this site interesting and in such a good tone…Personally the market is changing everyday. I don´t know anymore what to buy. I keep filming with the equipment I have and wait until March. Sony will release an F5, canon something in November, then a 5DMKIII, Panasonic GH3…etc…etc… For starters I am saving up for a set of Cookes S5i this is a sure bet…The cameras I have seen excellent shoots with 5D´s, RED´s, Panny´s. Sonys and even iPhones, androids and so on. People have to choose what works for them and not long ago we were shooting SD on terribly expensive Betacam SP cameras. If we compare that footage with a regular HD prosumer camcorder we will recognize what evolution is…So I hope that at least once we consumers would get a camera a little ahead of its time instead of buying cameras that have been outdated after they are released…and after 2 weeks a new one is announced claiming to fix the frame rate issue or some silly thing like that…Thank you again for your website and keep up the good work.

  • Good luck getting whatever RED releases on the 3rd of November. Availability is another reason to buy a camera. Canon have a proven track record, RED not so much. The difference in quality between the two by the majority of the audience will be negligible. Showing up without a camera will be glaring.

    • I know, especially considering RED is hinting that they’ll be shipping right away — how many cameras, though? Shipping 100 is different than shipping 5,000. We’ll see!

      • Well, with Jim saying, “we will never, ever, be out of back-order. Ever. Really. Never… ever.”

        In the world of consumer goods it’s a disaster to be short-supply on product. But Jim says it like it’s a badge of honor to be waiting to get a lucky ticket to own one of their cameras …

        • Lliam Worthington on 10.16.11 @ 3:18AM

          Yeah excited as I am. And very grateful for their vision. I have to admit the above points are my greatest fear.
          I read posts by people who have waited two years on a camera but are ok with it – which is great because usually they have a RED one or something else to use in the interim, but I really can’t afford to drop my allocated camera budget on a camera I won’t get for any considerable length of time. And I don’t think many people at this end of the market can.

          However, I have read posts by the RED team which have stated they are aware of this – and they are expecting large volumes of orders. But again, they may feel 1000 is a big number of early orders. Where for a Scarlet. 10,000 would seem reasonably conservative for the camera with the greatest build up any camera has ever had.

  • Hurray for Red, hurrah for Cannon 4K, yahoo for Sony, weehee for 5D/ 7D etc.

    Hooray for pixel counters. . . To me it is, generally speaking, a sign of passion (for the lack of a better word) to look into the frame and try to see all the subtle details and to have vehement opinions. That will go on forever, but we are fast approaching a point where the differences will not be noticed or, at the least not distracting to the general viewer.

    Some argue that the HDSLR’s are equal or better than to a 16mm film on a big screen. I don’t know.

    I do know that there are features being shot with the current Cannon offerings and that the 5D and 7D are put up against the major players in ‘shoot-offs’, so for me the low end is already well past the ‘won’t work’ line.

    The macho talk is a bit off putting, but that often takes care of itself somehow. RED broke out and got everyone to chase them, and that has changed the game. Good for them, good for us.

  • Lucas Adamson on 10.15.11 @ 6:30PM

    I want to know HOW do either Canon or RED announce a camera for 3rd November and say that it will ship on that date, prepare for this by manufacturing many many cameras, and keep it secret?


    NDAs, sure, but still, we are talking about a factory of workers making these things…..

    My guess is that RED in particular will have very few cameras to ship on that date. Is that a reasonable assumption?

    I am excited, but I won’t be buying. I might be hiring though!

  • I’m still waiting on more “Magic Motion” Information. As if this feature can give that “Film like feel” and “analog’ish” glue, that could really be a selling point for me.

  • Good article Koo. This is the best advances in digital cinema ever. You have so many great and affordable cameras to chose from and really you cant go wrong. Thanks for posting the Che BTS video. The part with the guy saying they put the heat sensor in the wrong place then giggles made me laugh. All I could see is those poor bastards getting ice in 113 degree weather to cool the camera down. Awesome.

  • If I had a dollar for every company that went belly-up for never getting out of back-order, I could buy a couple of the new Canon “Red-Killers” and fit them with all the glass Cooke makes. And maybe still have enough left over to buy an Epic for my kids to play with.

  • Dude, I hope you wrong about Scarlet 2/3! I really hope they will release 2/3 Scarlet for a variety of reasons. Chiefly, because of it’s affordable price. Also, the aesthetic of 2/3 is not strictly for documentary work. Classical cinema is mainly composed of wide-angle, deep depth of field shots. I am personally not too enticed with the over the top shallow depth of field videos popping up on Vimeo.

    For the sake of the little indie filmmaker guy, I hope that Red releases 2/3 Scarlet.

  • Your comment about 2/3″ being dead is nothing but unsubstantiated speculation. You are allowed to guess but it is a little disingenuous to put it into your headline as fact, and as if you know what the shit you are talking about. The intro of a 2/3″ Scarlet on Nov 3rd is by no means guaranteed, but it is probably still the highest likelihood of any of the various options.

    • First of all, there is an if-then statement in the title.

      Second and more importantly, now that November 3rd has passed, would you say I knew “what the shit” I was talking about? :)