Jim Jannard and RED Give Hat Tip to Sony, 1080p/2K Still a 'Scam,' Price Reductions Coming Tonight
Jim Jannard, the man with the plan for RED, has said a lot of interesting things on the RED forum over the last few years, mostly about how 4K is the only format we should be aspiring to, and 1080p and 2K is not enough — even stated by Arri’s own material on film scanning to 4K. It’s not very often that he gives credit to another product, but that’s exactly what he does here. Why does this matter? RED didn’t have any competition as far as price was concerned until now, and with a little pressure, we could see some drastic reductions in price. Read on for what Mr. Jannard had to say about Sony.
Here is what he said on REDUser, again putting it all here just in case it ever gets deleted.
I am going to give a tip of the hat to Sony tonight. These two camera announcements are significant.
While I do not see them as a threat to EPIC or Scarlet… I do see them as a threat to the conventional and outdated thinking of the industry that tried so hard to cling to “1080P and 2K are good enough”.
We began to champion 4K as the respectful replacement for film in the digital motion world back in 2006. We were embraced. We were ignored. We were revolutionary and we were a scam.
Others in the industry incredibly (and successfully in some circles) attempted to convince the industry that 1080P and 2K was good enough. On one page of Arri’s website they extolled the virtues and increased detail of a 4K film scan and then on another sold the Alexa as a feature worthy camera that “had more resolution than other so called 4K cameras”. (rolls eyes)
Every single camera manufacturer now has a 4K and/or 5K sensor program in the works. Why? Because 1080P and 2K acquisition was the biggest scam in the history of the film industry.
Sony has come to the party. God love them. The F65 is a true 4K camera (although not 8K as it is advertised). The F5 and F55 are 4K cameras soon to be released.
There are 4K display panels being released. 4K projectors. The world is finally coming to its senses. We predicted this 6 years ago. Now it is here.
What does this mean?
There is a new standard from Japan (not exactly sure why they get to call the shots) for consumer 4K . It dictates that you can’t up-rez to 4K.
It means that features and TV shows shot on 1080P or 2K are destined to be left out of a second bite of the apple for a 4K delivery opportunity.
It means that we were right after all. Not that we want to gloat. We are just sad we didn’t do a better job of clearly explaining our position to more people over the past 6 years.
In the end… Sony has validated what we have believed in all along. 1080P is not a respectful film replacement and 4K (or more) is. Actually we believe in 5K+ bayer to a 4K finish. But I don’t want to nit-pick Sony’s announcements.
The image needs to get better over time. There was a moment in history when it got worse. It was called 1080P and 2K acquisition. Mercifully that time has passed. Thanks to Sony for acknowledging this truth.
Did I mention that 4K is 5 times the resolution of 1080P?
As far as the new standard goes, I hadn’t remembered reading anywhere about not being able to up-res anything into 4K. There is so much 1080p and 720p (not to mention 480) material out there, I don’t see that as a realistic possibility for U.S. broadcasters. There are plenty of standards that are not adhered to in the U.S., and that’s probably going to be one of them if, in fact, that is the case and part of the standard is not interpolating anything to 4K.
With that out of the way, this is the first time that Mr. Jannard has admittedly publicly that he’s been impressed with a camera system. This is the first time anyone has really come up with a competitive camera against RED not only in price, but in specs, in design, and in functionality. It’s clear Sony knows the direction is 4K, but they’ve also designed a system that takes into account the fact that most people won’t be using 4K for a long time for many projects. The thing is, RED has been very specific on not offering other options for recording to any other format, that is, until now with the Meizler Module. People still need 1080p and 2K, regardless of how much of a “scam” they actually are — and let’s not get into how many feature films have been distributed in 4K, because you can count the number on one hand.
So why talk about all of this? It means a lot for the future of the camera industry. RED dropped the RED One MX like a bomb on the rest of the film industry, and it brought real filmmaking quality to a level that many people could actually afford to buy. It also made renting a 4K RAW (and RAW in general) camera realistic for many productons, and it was offering a quality unmatched in the space. RED also introduced an entire workflow with REDCODE RAW that is slowly maturing into a really complete system. We don’t know what Sony is going to do about their workflow options, but it’s clear they are working on compatibility with manufacturers, but how easily the Sony RAW format will work into people’s current workflows is unclear at this point. Certainly everyone doesn’t need 4K RAW, but 2K RAW is also an option on these Sony cameras, something RED will likely never enable on their models. 4K is the next frontier, but it’s clear that a hybrid approach might make the most sense for a modular camera like those from Sony, especially since those cameras can simultaneously record RAW as well as different formats internally.
The real reason this is important, however, is because RED hasn’t felt the heat until now. The Arri Alexa is the go-to camera for mid to high level productions. No one is really using the F65. That means at the mid to low level budgets, you’ve got some decisions to make. Besides everything that’s already out there, you’ve now got at least the F5 as a possible camera many can afford, with the F55 being a more expensive option that will mostly be a rental. There is one important place RED can theoretically beat the competition, and that’s in price. No one is offering a 5K camera that can do 96fps — or at least at the moment anywhere near where people could actually afford or consider using. I think 5K and high frame rates are going to get a lot more affordable tonight.
RED sees the competition, and with Sony withholding pricing information, they’ve got a decision to make. Sony basically gave a hat tip to RED by waiting to announce a price until RED does. The people at Sony could have very easily released an MSRP just like they’ve always done for most announcements and then announced a real price later on. That’s standard practice for Sony and Canon and many others. That’s not what happened here. There is nothing else going to be released in the near future besides what RED might do, and what they’re considering price-wise. That’s a clear indication that they are listening in Japan and they know who their real competition is.
RED will be announcing price reductions tonight at 8pm Eastern, 5pm Pacific, and there are a few things that could happen as we’ve already speculated about. With Sony announcing a serious competitor for a serious price, we will surely see a sub-$30,000 EPIC. We also could see a sub-$10,000 SCARLET, and unless you got in on the recent RED deal or you ordered before 2012, that’s a serious consideration, especially since SCARLET will have an upgrade path to EPIC. We don’t know what that will be yet, but I wouldn’t put it past RED to do something really crazy, especially since a camera equipped with the new Dragon sensor will have to cost more. A sub-$20,000 EPIC and $5,000 SCARLET would turn the industry on its head completely. I don’t know if anything near those prices will happen, but it’s clear the guys in California are now seriously considering what the guys in Japan are doing.
What do you guys think? Is 1080p/2K the “biggest scam in the history of the film industry”? What do you think RED will do with the price reductions tonight? At what price would you jump at SCARLET or EPIC? How about Dragon? Will you be considering the Sony options instead? Let us know in the comments.