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

12.10.11 @ 3:24PM Tags : , , , ,

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 “NoFilmSchool 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.1 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

  1. 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. []

Related Posts

  1. Cautionary Thoughts on the RED SCARLET-X from Philip Bloom
  2. 'A Nuclear Reactor in a Matchbox' is a Reality: First Lucky Owners Start Shooting on RED EPIC
  3. RED Drops EPIC-S from Roadmap

COMMENT POLICY

We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 259 COMMENTS

  • Freedom of speech in honor, but the most of the people on these Comments doesn’t even have the right to breathe.

    Have a nice day,
    a so far silent reader.

  • Just go out and shoot something,

  • How did you bought your Scarlet? Did you actually had to pay the full $15,515,- in one time? Or do you pay this off per month? If so, how much is it per month? If it’s around.. Let’s say $400,- that means it takes about 37 months to pay this thing off, which is like.. 3 years or so. Is this correct?

    • I actually did some fairly complicated financial finagling involving a new credit card and a balance transfer to an old credit card… both with 0% APR promotions. And some was cash. Of the remaining balance, half of it needs to be paid off in 12 months, the other half over 21 months. I’ll write more about this if folks are interested…

  • Wow, so I see this comments section has gotten a bit out of hand.

    There are way too many personal attacks here to be constructive. I love the comments section, it’s a big reason why I run this site, but I’m going to have to institute some sort of system — NOT moderation — to ensure that folks are not posting with different names and made-up email addresses. Which, by tracking IPs, I can see is going on.

    To all of you who have shared your constructive thoughts and engaged in useful discussions: thank you!

    • Yeah the worst of DVXuser and Reduser has really been out in force on this post, it’s so easy to criticise when you haven’t got the balls to use your own name or even link to your own work.

  • Wow there’s a lot of vitriol flowing today! Too many folks forget that these sites are Blogs that take facts and add OPINION to them. I’m as big a tech geek as the next guy but come on people – they’re just cameras! How about taking some of your passion and putting it on screen by way of creativity and good storytelling? Better yet, why not get angry about something that matters like racism, poverty, inequality etc.? Life’s too short to hate on people because they love one camera more than another.

    It must be driving Andrew Reid of EOSHD nuts that he’s missed the boat on all this controversy! So many lost page views lol

  • BTW, what about films crews of Hobbit/Spider-Man. Do they have similar technical issues too?

  • It’s over!! Bloom knocks out Jannard in the 12th round!! What a fight!! What a fight!!!

    http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?68587-The-Case-of-Philip-Bloom

    • Well, I guess in reality, it’s more like Jannard tapped out due to a rear naked choke..

    • Wow.

    • The post has been updated with that…

      No one “wins” here, Diamond Dallas. It’s not a wrestling match… we’re all just trying to make movies.

      • C’mon Koo, Bloom clearly having made Jannard cry “Uncle” means there was a winner. Everyone loves a good fight. Nothing was bruised other than feelings. And no, we’re all not trying to make movies. Some are trying to sell cameras. Si? Yours truly, Diamond Dallas.

      • Well we should just be grateful that both men, are people of integrity. Bloom was honest from the beginning about his experience and didn’t go after it with an agenda. Jannard admitted to a mistake that was blown way out of proportion on many forums. Glad it ended ok, maybe Bloom will once again try RED once they are a little more stable and have a more solid footing in Europe.

  • Sarah Balchik on 12.11.11 @ 3:48PM

    Really you think Bloom gets out clean? He showed who he really was and Red in a rare moment showed some class by not airing their laundry. Bloom has no class.

    • Some people just hate.

    • seth.iamfilms on 12.11.11 @ 5:58PM

      Look… If you by some ungodly creation of a chance found residing in this Urth did anything partially useful enough in your life to require what most of like to call sharing, and then with that new found life to live created a film about A Norwegian man’s ball hairs. Something cleverly titled, The Norwegian Man’s Ball Hairs, and then had a influxial wave of people bashing your film, spreading rumors as hateful as “Those aren’t Real ball hairs” to a point where your credibility in the lifestyle in which you had spent years amounting as one you shares now being deemed unsharing, eventually you’d see fit to share the truth as with anything. You’d probably come out and say something to the effect of. “Look guys, The Ball hairs!” and then it would go 2 ways. One, people would rejoice in the silent voice of wonder spewing forth what for some reason people wanted to know about. or two some randoian internettle useless flick of a flat fiat mouth would say. Yea we saw the ball hair film, and we didn’t like it, and now we dont like the fact that your telling us that the ball hairs are real. That in and of itself is most hilarious.

      • Sarah Balchik on 12.11.11 @ 6:43PM

        Seth learn to write. That was too difficult to get through

        • Hey Sarah, I don’t mean this in a bad way, but if I was your son… I’d drink poison.

        • seth.iamfilms on 12.12.11 @ 10:59AM

          wait… that was too difficult to read and that’s my problem. hahahahahha.. hahahahaha. aaaaahahahahhaha.. seems the tide has turned upon your needs and wants here.

  • I can see most comments on this thread were made from a hater or fanboy/girl point of view. Philip Bloom was a huge eye opener when I first bought my DSLR, but my visits to his blog are decreasing in time, just because I don’t find his posts that useful for my needs right now. Nofilmschool is way more helpful. But I have no strings attached to any blog, as they are all tools for one to use.

    Neither I feel “connected” with any brand of cameras, and if tomorrow another brand released a better camera than the one I have I would purchase it right there. Companies certainly are not emotional about customers, why should we be like that towards them?

    I don’t get all this Canon vs RED – Mac vs PC crap. The companies should be doing all the fighting, but they made it easy, they let their fanboys take that over for them.

    All I want is to make films, I don’t care who make the tools for it. If I prefer a certain brand it is because the product meet my needs and it’s reliable. Period I paid for it, I don’t owe anything else to the company.

    All this “debates” over brands and people has nothing to do with filmmaking and it’s awaste of time.

  • Wow, this turned into a free- for-all quickly! I will say I do agree with Sarah B. On her opinions of Philip Bloom. I won’t however launch a personal attack on him. Let’s just say he is a little to full of himself for my liking, and I too agree, of average talent. I guess the same could be said about me, not the full of myself part, but average talented. It’s just I’m not posting to the world how great I think i am. I think when you do that, you’re open game.

  • Sarah Balchik on 12.11.11 @ 11:37PM

    I hope everyone takes notice of some of these posts that have come my way, like: they shouldn’t breathe , I’d take poison, idiot and make a note of the quality of people you have here. I may have been critical of Bloom and Red but these so called filmmakers I hope never get a chance to put any of their visions within viewing range. Make a mental note, include me , if you wish but the real anger comes from the false idolaters.

    You guys are so easy to get to show your real selves as you stand behind civility. Take a long hard look in that mirror, alas I think those posters a re too dim to see the truth.

  • Enough with the name-calling guys! Let’s pretend we’re all sitting in a real room together.

  • Sarah Balchik = Salah Baker

    • Sarah Balchik on 12.12.11 @ 12:07AM

      Really Seamus you’re going to falsely accuse someone of posting under another name.. If this is any indication of Bloom followers then I’d say he’s corralled the bottom of the barrel and no company should ever give him a camera to test thinking his opinion is going to result in any sales.

    • Salah Baker on 12.12.11 @ 8:33AM

      Excuse me? If I wanted to chime in I would.

  • Sarah, whether Seamus’s accusation of a false name was true or not, which part of his post led you to believe he was a “Bloom follower”? Nothing that I can see; you just jumped to that conclusion – why? Because you can find no other reason for which someone might take issue with you? I think most people who do find it hard to respect your abrasive language and superior tone. You complain of incivility, but since you don’t mind tossing around calls like “jerk”, “false idolaters” and “sheep-like group think” it’s not as if you yourself can lay claim to a civil tongue. Take it a bit easier, huh? It’s not as bad as all that.

    My two cents: if Bloom hadn’t written about his experiences that would have been poor form. Maybe he was attention whoring but who cares? What happened between RED and him was newsworthy and so the blog was justified. Imagine a political reporter getting badgered by a governor and deciding not to write about it because he or she was worried about looking like an attention seeker. Ridiculous. I don’t follow Bloom’s blog as closely as this one, but I check in from time to time and I’m glad it’s there and glad he’s willing to share his experiences (whatever his reasons). I don’t get the venom.

    • Sarah Balchik on 12.12.11 @ 10:28AM

      Lachlan,
      You really find false idolaters and sheep like group think too abrasive, especially for this crowd. Its funny you defend people who posted physical harm as justified yet you jump on me for speaking my mind about Philips motives. See what i mean about group think now? Well maybe not, you just might not have the necessary tools.

  • Sarah can you write me at james@jamesgaodesign.com?

  • Alec Sprinkle on 12.12.11 @ 10:21AM

    Holy tons of comments Batman. Looks like the crew found your page. That’s good … right?

    • Unfortunately not. It looks like the people who comment on youtube videos have arrived. Everyone has an opinion and social media has unfortunately given them a medium to express it. Community would be a lot better off if people just shut up and not say what they think once in a while.

  • I’m not a big fan of Bloom, either. And I agree with many of Sarah’s points (although I visit his blog every now and then because, seeking attention or not, he does post useful stuff sometimes).

    However, the debacle that transpired between Bloom and his Epic showed how flawed RED’s business ethic is sometimes (and it has nothing to do with the fact that they’re a startup. I have seen plenty of startups with excellent service). Jannard and his people (including fanboys) are quite known for conducting themselves in an arrogant fashion, and this is one of the biggest examples (kinda reminded me of a gizmodo blog post about Steve Jobs and a leaked iPhone a week or so after he passed).

    Things like these NEED to be exposed. The fact that Jannard apologized proves that RED messed up, and will hopefully learn their lesson and rectify their attitudes. I do not blame Philip Bloom for posting this, regardless of his motives. I love RED’s image quality, but I refuse to deal with their (highly publicized) bullshit. Until the company develops a healthy business ethic, I’ll keep away from them, personally.

  • Sarah Balchik on 12.12.11 @ 11:40AM

    I find it funny people are constantly disavowing MOTIVE. When did motive become insignificant. Its the subtext to your stories if you filmmakers have any. Without it we cannot find truth. I loo at Blooms actions and I see an opportunist, its as important to state as telling people the % d has tons of moire. And being an opprtunist I can see his reviews and what he says clearly as opposed to accepting what he has to say like a word from God.

    Well, the common reaction would be, don’t read his blog and move on. How can I avoid him when he posts everywhere and I mean everywhere. You cannot turn that guy off.

    • Reading Bloom’s blog is my choice, not yours. I can discern truth on my own, I don’t need your fanatical, hateful, forceful opinion shoved down my throat. Back. The. Fuck. Off.

      Seeing clearly comes from being neutral and unbiased which, clearly, you aren’t.

  • It’s a shame that in the middle of all this we’ve lost sight of something very important and that’s simply that the camera is just one phrase in the whole production dance. It’s hard enough to make anything in the first place but if everyone on set bickered and ranted like the comments on this post then no-one would ever get anything done. The proof is in the pudding and if you’re not very good then no camera will save you.

    • Sarah Balchik on 12.12.11 @ 1:31PM

      Real Original. I think I’ve read that about a million times from other guys wasting their time posting instead of creating. Why aren’t you out there creating now. who said the camera is the only thing that matters. Stop being a cop and go create.

  • Does Phillip Bloom understand a RED workflow? http://blog.facetmedia.com/?p=325

  • Will Gilbey on 12.12.11 @ 1:35PM

    Probably guilty of doing this myself but trying so hard not to – don’t feed the trolls. Confrontation and pissing people off is what they thrive on. I’m now going to do my very best to ignore every post Sarah Balchik ever writes. It may be hard but damn it, I have to try. Cue the name calling.

  • Okay, first time I’ve ever had to do this but we’ll just have to take it as a rite of passage: comments on this post are now closed. The valuable comments are being drowned out by personal attacks and I don’t spend my days trying to share useful information just so people can call each other names. For those of you who chimed in with valuable thoughts, thank you.

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