RED Challenging the Competition with a 4K Content Distribution Network and 4K REDRAY Players
RED seems to be on a roll lately. First it's massive price drops, which include a $4,000 RED ONE MX body -- you know -- a camera that has shot many high-end feature films, and it costs only a little more than DSLR after the price drop. Now it's looking like their REDRAY player, which plays highly compressed 4K material at lower-than-Blu Ray bitrates (but with almost indistinguishable quality), will begin shipping soon. The biggest news, however, is that RED is partnering with another company to introduce a 4K content distribution network built right into REDRAY. Slowly but surely 4K is arriving, and the only thing left is displays and affordable projectors -- and RED is working on the latter. Click through for more details on both pre-announcements.
Jarred Land said this in a post on REDUser:
I know we have been harping about 4K distribution forever... but it is about to get very real.
Now is a good time to figure out ( if you haven't already ) how to prepare, conform and finish everything important that you have shot in 4K. There are going to be alot of people very happy that they chose a camera that was ready for this whole new world of distribution.
The Consumer Electronics Association has finally laid down the UHD 4K rules for Displays... and they don't take kindly to anything below 3840 x 2160.. In fact.. they don't allow it.
4K Displays are here. and their prices are dropping every month. Soon they will be in reach of the masses.
And then there is REDRAY... the crown jewel of 4K content delivery.
Next month we start shipping 4k REDRAY players to alot of new eyeballs.. consumers and professionals alike.. and they are going to want the same thing... 4K content.
For REDRAY we have partnered with one of the most innovative content distribution companies that both content owners and viewers have ever seen...and we built it right into REDray.
Expect the official REDRAY and 4k Content Distribution network announcement along with pre-orders to happen in a couple weeks.. but I thought it was important to give you all a heads up so you can prepare.
Our Production Lines are churning.. manufacturing is ramping up.
We are ready.... are you?
I'm not exactly sure where they keep getting this information about the standards for Ultra High Definition, or 4K/8K, not allowing any upscaled content. Maybe this content will not get the UHD sticker (of course), but that will not necessarily stop it from being displayed. In fact, from what I've read so far, part of the standards allow for other resolutions to be upscaled. We're still waiting on the ATSC and the FCC to weigh in on the standards, so until they do, under 4K content will not be disallowed. I honestly can't imagine this being the case even when they do decide, as there is well over 50 years of television content that would suddenly become extinct otherwise.
So when exactly will we know more about these products? November 30th according to Jarred Land. What does that happen to coincide with? Sony's event on November 28th fully introducing their new cameras, the F5 and the F55. As with anything RED, I don't believe this is a coincidence, and we can expect them to continue announcing big news very close to announcements from other companies.
REDRAY itself could be a pretty big deal to the industry, even if it is all proprietary RED technology. Being able to send a full 4K movie over the internet and have it be played in another location by a REDRAY device (and have it actually look good) is a serious technological advancement. While these files are not small, they are well under Blu Ray bitrates. If you don't think this is possible, I just saw Luke Scott's Loom at NAB, and it looked fantastic playing from a REDRAY player. These units are not just part of home, post, and theater use, but they will be used on location for playback in 4K. Since no RED camera can output 4K from the camera itself, if you'd like to watch material in 4K right off the REDMAG SSD drive, it's a far more involved task. While 4K displays are another matter entirely, they are coming in greater numbers on the professional end by next year.
We've heard these REDRAY devices should be shipping soon for a while now, so what makes this announcement different? Well, for one thing, they are literally on an assembly line, which means that they are far closer to being released than they've ever been. Usually the only time a RED product is imminent is when they show products actually being assembled, so I have to believe this is actually coming very soon. We still don't know when exactly we will see the RED projector, but REDRAY itself is included in every RED projector -- so even though 4K displays are few and far between, getting people introduced to the format early on makes a lot of sense. The final details on REDRAY might have changed since the original announcement, so we'll have to wait and see what the exact specs are.
Now to the biggest news, that RED has partnered with another organization to create a 4K content distribution network built right into REDRAY. This is a pretty big deal -- of course, there's no guarantee it will work long-term (or even short-term for that matter), but the fact that they are jumping out in the lead on the 4K distribution front means they are serious about getting 4K material into the hands of more people than ever before. If you don't see RED's strategy by now, you probably aren't paying close attention. It's clear that they want to take over all spheres of entertainment, from acquisition all the way to distribution.
Their approach is very similar to Apple's: get a few high-end productions on-board, but really make it affordable enough for low to mid-level productions, and eventually it will become standard. Final Cut Pro went from an obscure program from a large company to one of the most widely used editors in existence in less than 10 years. They've done a lot to damage their reputation in that respect, but it's clear that outsiders can come in and make some noise -- and actually become a force.
We'll find out soon enough what this announcement really means, but a real content distribution network could help change the landscape for filmmakers. While you'll need a REDRAY player (again all part of RED's plan), if the prices are right this could be a huge deal. As Jarred says later on in the thread, RED is in the democratization business, and while that doesn't mean anything is dirt-cheap, it does mean that they have a pretty good track record of making the impossible, possible.
What do you guys think the 4K content distribution network? How do you think that will work? If 4K displays come out for a somewhat affordable price by next year, is REDRAY and 4K content something you might work into your business? Do any of you think RED will change the distribution landscape? Let us know in the comments.