December 10, 2011

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Shooting on a RED: Why Philip Bloom No Longer Owns an EPIC

On Wednesday my RED SCARLET-X camera showed up at the door, serial number 00072. I posted a quick picture to Twitter but had nothing more to say about it, given I'm waiting for some necessary accessories (this is on me, not RED, given I ordered third party batteries and don't have access to any PL glass at the minute). But just as I'm getting my RED, Philip Bloom has given up his. Here's what happened: Philip had originally written a very balanced post about why to get -- and why not to get -- a RED SCARLET-X. REDUSER exploded with negative reactions, and Philip started receiving emails from a "higher up" at RED:

As the emails went on that person DEMANDED to buy the camera back as they didn’t want me to have it anymore. I of course was utterly shocked. I tried to explain the value of me talking about the good AND the bad and how I got past the issues, I explained the value of having openeness about my experiences, after all RED have been great in helping me get it up and running each time and this was a huge positive!

...This person did two days later apologise for his completely out of order actions and I accepted the apology. He also retracted the demand for the camera back asking if I wanted to keep it but understood why I would not want it anymore. But I was done. I had dealt with too much. After all it was just a camera and no camera is worth the amount of grief (listed above). No camera. All I want is to shoot and create. Not deal with this nonsense.

That's been Philip's experience so far, and I think he's handled it the same way he's handled every camera over the years: with honesty and integrity.

UPDATE: RED's Jim Jannard has apologized on REDUSER: "This situation is my fault... no one else's." The comments thread there is closed, and given the comments that have been posted here, I can see why. Please, if you're going to add to this post, do just that: add to this post. I have a policy of not moderating comments on this site unless absolutely necessary, but any more personal attacks below may get deleted (feel free to disagree with me, I can take it, but I don't like seeing Philip or Jim or Jarred being called names that you usually hear in a school yard, not as part of adult discussions). I've left the rest of the post, with my own thoughts, untouched.

First of all, I find it interesting that part of the debate was over an agreement (explicit or implicit) that Philip not talk about the problems he had with the camera. First of all, that's ridiculous. There is a very clear delineation between beta testing something without going public and buying something with your own money. You beta test things without paying for them -- if RED sends you a camera free of charge, they absolutely have the right to say, "please let us know if you have any problems, we're working out the kinks." Your payment for enduring those "kinks" is they lent you the camera for free. But if you spend $60,000 on something, you are a customer, and you have freedoms as a customer. Including saying whatever you damn well please. You can't have it both ways -- which it seems is exactly what RED and the "mystery" higher-up is asking for from Philip.

Based on my own experience with my SCARLET so far, I also find it odd that there was supposedly an agreement in place. Usually when you open a camera package you expect a warranty card, a printed manual, CDs with software and drivers, some sort of service contract with numbers to call, more documents that upsell you on accessories... for my SCARLET, at least, there was none of this. Just a (very securely packed) box with the "brain" inside. I'm not even clear on the terms and conditions of my warranty -- presumably I can go back to the RED site and find this, but I haven't had the time to hunt around.

Anyway, like Philip, I am here to try to educate and to share my experiences, as objectively as possible. Because I controversially ordered a SCARLET, I've been called a RED fanboy in the comments recently -- although, on the other hand, a few posts from this site were also shared on REDUSER with the headline "No Film School articles bashing RED EPIC" (after a few pages, the original poster went back in and replaced "bashing" with "on," after several commenters noted that I was just trying to be -- shockingly -- objective). This is generally what happens when you try to remain objective: some people say you love whatever it is you're talking about and others say you hate it, when your relationship with anything in this world is always more nuanced and complicated -- whether that be your relationship with your phone, your camera, or your significant other. Ultimately, I'm not looking to love or hate my camera -- it's a tool, great for some things and not so great for others, and it only matters to the extent that I can utilize it to achieve what I'm going for. And "what I'm going for" over the next year is to make my first feature, Man Child. If my camera is not reliable, that could get in the way. If I somehow end up on the shit list of the higher-ups at the manufacturer of said camera, that could also get in the way.

And this is what is unique about RED -- the "agony and the ecstasy." The agony of RED is that they're a startup as opposed to a huge corporation, and that brings with it rough edges: long wait times and unknown backorder periods, convoluted ordering processes (my order history page, for example, has not been updated to reflect what items have shipped and which items I've canceled or changed), the risk of getting buggy or unreliable equipment as did Philip, and the fact that important information is often buried in a thread in REDUSER (RED changed their RED Armor extended warranty after their SCARLET announcement, so that while you could originally order the extended warranty anytime in the first year of ownership, you must now order it prior to your camera shipping -- and this appeared deep in a REDUSER thread and on the online store, with no notice to those who had already ordered). But the ecstacy of RED is also that they're a startup as opposed to a huge corporation: they do ambitious things like shipping a 4K camera when everyone else is working with 1080p, they price their 4K brain at $9,750, they give you trade-in pricing on your RED ONE, they offer upgradeable sensors (the importance of which cannot be overstated, I believe), they invest in building future 4K projector and 4K playback systems for lower prices than anyone else, and they make most of their stuff (except their outsourced components) right here in the U.S. of A. The fact that they're a startup, therefore, is both to their advantage and disadvantage, and as someone with a startup of my own -- which is what this site is, really, and if you don't believe that come back in a year or two -- I understood when ordering my own SCARLET that I was buying into a more volatile ecosystem than that of Sony, Panasonic, or Canon. But it's an ecosystem that I believe has a higher ceiling than those other manufacturer's, and it's an ecosystem that I feel a certain kinship toward given my affinity for scrappy, ambitious film startups.

Philip Bloom is probably #1 on the "people you don't want to start a pissing match about cameras with" list, along with Vincent Laforet. And despite the fact that I have not been a prolific shooter to date, thanks in small part to my very visual and very cheap web series from a few years ago, and thanks in larger part to this website at present, I'm also somewhat high up on that list. If you Google RED SCARLET-X, in fact, you will find multiple posts on this site listed on Google's first page -- above any result from RED.com or REDUSER. After the two most popular search terms for this site, which are fittingly "no film school" and "nofilmschool" -- no surprise there -- the top two search referrers are "red scarlet" and "red scarlet-x." So, like it or not, this site is going to be a source of news and opinion about RED going forward. ((As I've said before, this will not change the focus away from DSLRs and other DIY solutions -- with more writers, this site will cover more topics more effectively.)) And going forward, at no point in shooting on a RED do I plan on being silent about any issues I run into -- but this is the SCARLET, which is sold to the masses, not the "beta" EPIC-M. So hopefully when (not if) I share what I like and dislike about the camera, I won't get on anyone's shit list. We're all just here to make the best movies we can and sharing our experiences honestly is the best way to help each other. Because, really, all of the technological advantages of your camera go out the window if you're sitting in the director's chair on the fiftieth take of the most important shot in your film, the actors capture lightning in a bottle, the assistant cameraman nails the focus, the sound guy give you the thumbs up -- and your camera crashes.

Link: Why I love the RED Epic and why I don’t have one anymore - Philip Bloom

Your Comment

256 Comments

Maturity and sincerity. Two keys lacking that people like you and Philip seem to have. Thanks and keep doing what you guys do.

December 10, 2011

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I really love this site, one of the best you could find about Digital Cinema and all related. BUT, i must tell you, this article it's not nice at all, you are not saying nothing more than Phillip Bloom says in his blogpost, and he had problems, but you did not, why are you saying all this?
And about what you said and i quote below, you really think that? If ever, NOW you look like a RedFanboy, ranting and talking nonsense, far from being an objective opinion. Why?

"Philip Bloom is probably #1 on the “people you don’t want to start a pissing match about cameras with” list, along with Vincent Laforet. And despite the fact that I have not been a prolific shooter to date, thanks in small part to my very visual and very cheap web series from a few years ago, and thanks in larger part to this website at present, I’m also somewhat high up on that list... forward, at no point in shooting on a RED do I plan on being silent about any issues I run into — but this is the SCARLET, which is sold to the masses, not the “beta” EPIC-M. So hopefully when (not if) I share what I like and dislike about the camera, I won’t get on anyone’s shit list."

December 10, 2011

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Wait, my article is "not nice at all" and that makes me look like a "RedFanboy?" Those two things seem mutually exclusive... how is this NOT objective?

December 10, 2011

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Where are you objective? What happend to you? No user manual in the box.. ok

December 10, 2011

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Did I say, "there is no user manual in the box and that makes RED terrible?" No. I said, "there is no user manual in the box." I'm sharing information. Objectively. There is also that long passage about why I like RED, and also the fact that I bought a SCARLET, which is the single largest investment of my life so far.

I make it very clear in the post that there are things I like and things I dislike, and that is true of everything. If you can't deal with the complexity of gray areas, I can't help you.

December 10, 2011

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Koo, read the comments, everyone thinks you had issues with your Scarlet-X or something alike. Yes, indeed i have a problem with your "grey areas". Especially the "we are part of a gropu of people you dont want to mess with if related to cameras.." Why they said you are being brave?!? Yes, i have problems dealing with the complexity of grey areas.
Again, have a great evening.

December 10, 2011

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Carlos, what the hell are you talking about? You're making no sense...and being a prick.

December 10, 2011

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Will

Different carlos here

Seriously dude, maybe you should read Koos article once more, how much more objective does it get

December 10, 2011

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Carlos

You still being rude man, why?

December 10, 2011

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I now understand you are the kind of people this article is headed to.

December 10, 2011

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If I'm being rude it's in response to your idiotic statements. Example - "If ever, NOW you look like a RedFanboy, ranting and talking nonsense, far from being an objective opinion. Why?"

Re-read Koo's article, take a deep breath and grow up.

December 11, 2011

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Will

This is the last I'm saying about this, but if Bloom who can afford $80k tech had problems on payed shoots, do you really want to mess with this camera on a small budget shoot, that you have so much riding on?

December 10, 2011

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moebius22

Have you ever filmed with a Red One?

December 10, 2011

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You'll notice most RED shoots have multiple cameras. Nowhere have I ever said I'm planning on shooting Man Child on just one RED... and, in fact, owning one sure as hell helps to ensure that there's a backup.

December 10, 2011

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

I have seen several shoots with only one Red camera. 3 to 8 weeks of day in and day out use.

December 10, 2011

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James

It is always prudent to have a back up camera, and Koo is wise for having that plan in mind.

December 10, 2011

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James

thanks for your honesty and sincerity in this article man. Your and Bloom's articles are the two most fair assesments of Red I've seen, and that's coming from a guy who spends the majority of his time defending his Red

December 10, 2011

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You and Philip are brave. I wouldn't go spending that type of money on what is essentially a beta camera.

December 10, 2011

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moebius22

IMO the only reason why this company is so strict about the posts people make about it, is because it's such a small company and they know if word gets out that they make high priced junk. Then they'll go down in flames with a few lawsuits to boot. It's understandable they want to keep the right ideals about their cameras alive. But it's also not understandable why they do all this stuff in the public realm. This REDUSER site needs to probably shut itself down for fear of putting more bad mojo on the company. And spend ALL of their time making the absolute best camera for the money. Also, just a side note. for the price you pay for the camera, there really should be a bunch of stuff in that box with the camera. I'd say even a t-shirt would be nice. That way you can go out and wear it and give the company all kinds of free publicity...which is what they are always after. Jesus who works in PR at this company. I just gave a bunch of ways to make that company better and yet i'm not being employed by them. IF they ever begin doing these things, they owe me a royalty check.

December 10, 2011

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I think it was Jim Jannard himself Philip was exchanging emails with. In his reply to a comment posted about the blog, Philip wrote "Thanks Aidan. I wish it had just been an employee then that person would have had someone to answer to."

Isn't there only one person at RED that answers to no one?

Pretty much narrows it down.

Second, who else could authorize buying back an $80,000 camera.

Hmmm....

December 10, 2011

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DDP

Nobody cares more about RED more than Jim Jannard himself. I think you might be right ;)

December 10, 2011

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bordesign

Yeah, i think its clearly Jim himself. Otherwise, it must have been sanctioned by Jim. No way that an employee could piss of PB like that without the go ahead. Bad move all around on RED's part.

Those cameras are going to be expensive paper weights in a few years when RED self destructs with business practices like this. They've had a history of being negative, offensive, immature, secretive, etc. about their products and their respective flaws. Only wish they would clean up their act and start focusing on being a company that provides a more reliable service to their customers.

December 10, 2011

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stickingwithcanon

Yeah, funny thing is i still wanted a RED, despite Philip's problems with his Epic and the limitations of the Scarlet (cropping mostly). But after reading about all this drama him and Jim got into, i can say without a shadow of a doubt they won't be getting my20-80k anytime soon. Not because i am offended so much as scared. Could you imagine investing in a system of this kind and then having to watch your every step to assure that you don't wind up on their "shit list". I mean, long lead times and unreliable product is one thing... If the company grows over time those kinks should be worked out. But being shunned and unable to buy additional support and upgrades for your camera because of a blog post or something you say on a forum (especially when they are objective and honest) is something i wouldn't be willing to risk. I don't think this is a concern i would have with any other camera company and i think its enough to ensure that i too am sticking to mature, proven companies. Not overly entitled startups.

December 10, 2011

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cofilmnut

I hate to say this, but if you are following P Bloom, you shouldn't be buying a Red, or any camera over $10,000.

December 11, 2011

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James

Philip told the truth, his own experience about a camera. What RED did to Philip was EXTREMELY immature, just like thousands of those RED fan boys out there. NO ONE is instantly a better filmmaker for just owning a RED camera. Philip did the right thing, consumer has full rights to say about their experiences with a product, good or bad. RED should listen and improve, by pissing off a well known camera reviewer does not help RED branding. However to the public, it sends a message that we think RED is an arrogant company.

Speaking of ScarletX, now is 11th of Dec. Once again, RED did not meet their promised shipping date. The legend of RED NOT being able to ship on time continues. RED must have rushed to the announcement to match C300. Their production line is not that ready. This is my first bad experience with RED is having to wait for a UNKOWN period to get hold of one camera body.

I think you should not worry too much Koo. I ordered one ScarletX to try, I am not afraid sharing my bad experiences (if any) nor I do not care about what RED and their fan boys have got to say. There are people out there who can be honest about a camera, if the tool is shit, drop it and move on.

December 10, 2011

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bordesign

Sorry, but i think this is just for having some attention from the Phillip Bloom problem and blogpost. Please, keep it objective as you said "Anyway, like Philip, I am here to try to educate and to share my experiences, as objectively as possible". I can tell you, you have the respect from the indie film community, you have my respect as a profesional who knows that sharing knowledge is everything. Aside the user manual "issue", you had any other problems? Then why you do this? To tell everyone that "hopefully when (not if) I share what I like and dislike about the camera, I won’t get on anyone’s shit list.”

December 10, 2011

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Dude -- I said "what I LIKE and DISLIKE." Did you miss the "LIKE" part of that sentence?

December 10, 2011

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Dude? Koo, have a nice evening.

December 10, 2011

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Hehehe, so now the war is about "Dude" not the Red? I''m a nobody in cinematography but I've never seen this kind of intolerance on any western blog, Red Fans sound like some soviet era organization. Thou shall not dissent, nay, thous shall not doubt.

December 10, 2011

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Bob

You paid fair money for this camera, you don't owe RED positive feedback or good publicity unless it's actually deserved. You owe the community your honesty and genuine experiences with the camera. You paid for it with the communities' generosity, so if the camera crashes, or is at all unreliable, they need to know. Don't fear any 'bad vibes' from RED.

If they can't keep their ambitions consistent they should be more realistic. Their customers should not feel pressured to sugar coat them.

They're acting like the MAFIA.

We trust you Koo,

December 10, 2011

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Richard

Amen to that!

December 10, 2011

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Thats the risk of working with a small company, you actually get to deal with people...and their flaws...good or bad. Thats why RED has such a strong following, its personal. Its very hard to find that nowadays. Its a real community, within in itself, with all kinds of characters. Its not all candy and ice cream. I think this is an isolated case because RED is usually pretty chill.

December 10, 2011

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Nagato

I prefer impersonal, anti-social companies which deliver reliable products

December 10, 2011

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NotNegato

Do you own any RED products? Do you know what public Beta means? People forget the Epic is just now starting to roll out as a 'regular' product

December 10, 2011

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Nagato

THis is all about integrity and it seems to me that Ryan and Philip have retained theirs and
have risen above this murky development. If you are an Indy just starting out and excited by the new offerings and wrangling with financing options, then, because we are mere human beings, emotion is part of the mix. This is what branding is all about. This episode may affect my decisions about investing in Red systems. I'm reminded that there was reference on the Red site about buying " with bad attitude", well, what about selling with "bad attitude"? If a major influencer is treated this way, how is little old' me going to be treated?

December 10, 2011

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"Because, really, all of the technological advantages of your camera go out the window...." literally? i'd like to see a camera being thrown out a window.

December 10, 2011

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Peter

I wouldn't! What a waste!

December 10, 2011

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Wow reading the comments was great till some carlos troll kept showing up.

December 10, 2011

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Will

Why you call me that?

December 10, 2011

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What are you talking about? Are you really that upset that Koo revealed to the world that the Scarlet came without a manual in the box? If that's the case why don't you get over to reduser.net and talk bollocks with all the other like minded fan boys.

December 10, 2011

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Will

Great that you read everything i wrote, that means you just want to be rude and dont know why, you feel the same way as Koo for his Scarlet not having a user manual :D

December 10, 2011

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How did the fact that there's not a user manual in the box get blown out of proportion? It's not a big deal. There are a lot of other observations here more important than that one...

December 10, 2011

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

again different carlos

lol dude I really dont get what your issue is?

Koo just invested ALOT of money, and will have to invest a lot more with time, in this company, he's a fanyboy but then he's being mean by saying that he will make clear his struggles and successes with the system, this happens with every single camera, get over it man

December 10, 2011

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Carlos

Im not calling you a fan boy, im saying carlos duenas is contradicting himself

December 10, 2011

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Carlos

this man spits the truth

December 10, 2011

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Patrick

Love how you can't find a peep about this on REDUSER either. How are we supposed to view the site as a place to go and receive genuine information when they censor it so heavily in times such as this. Very sad day for RED.

December 10, 2011

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cofilmnut

It was on reduser, it was taken down because it would start a firestorm like the first time. Since Philip posted it on his blog, people should go there or to a site like this which is neutral. reduser.net is for people who like RED...I wouldn't go to a Christian forum and start arguing atheist points. Its just going to cause problems. All "news" and comments are subjective and can be filtered. Even nofilmschool is SUBJECTIVE no matter how hard Koo tries to be Objective. He can only try his best.

December 10, 2011

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Nagato

Koo, are you impressed by the C300?

You should be...

http://www.cinema5d.com/news/?p=9006

December 10, 2011

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Richard

I am... I've done plenty of sharing about it:

http://nofilmschool.com/tag/c300

Will post that one too!

December 10, 2011

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

I don't understand the negative comments on this website. I have read EVERY SINGLE ARTICLE on this website since I first discovered it about 8 months ago, and I have never run into anything even remotely off-color or bullheaded. And in some of the articles, you will blatantly reveal if you have a bias in the argument. When all of the cards are on the table, what is left to be upset about?

December 10, 2011

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Jake Kilgore

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