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RED Challenging the Competition with a 4K Content Distribution Network and 4K REDRAY Players

11.4.12 @ 4:40PM Tags : , , , , ,

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.

Link: 4K Delivery Get Ready — REDUser


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  • This is really cool, i thought that it would be a very long time before this was a reality.

  • I’ll stick with my 7D and vimeo – as a young filmmaker I’m a firm believer you don’t need a 4k camera a ton of money to make an amazing movie. (sure as hell doesn’t hurt though…)

    No Film School 4 life, cheers

    • thumbs up! very good plan! I`ve just bought the Sony Alpha 99, same plan like you! 1080HD is more than enough to prove if one has skills or not in the areas where it counts – I have enough money in cash to buy an Epic, but it`s not going to make a difference for my career and I`m not that dumb to waste money as long as I can`t cash in the extra expense.

    • john jeffreys on 11.4.12 @ 7:02PM

      You should put a PL mount on that 7D and ditch vimeo for real festivals.

    • I hope you guys are not operators, because you should be trying to get your hands on pro cameras and lenses always for experience.

      • Jay slocum on 11.4.12 @ 9:03PM

        Ryan, Pro cameras alone will not make you the next best DP or director for the small or big screen, it is more logical and convenient to practice and hone your skills as opposed to just being a tech junkie. I would prefer any day to have a complete shooting package( dollys, jib, good glass, lighting etc) as opposed to renting a pro camera or only having the best camera with bare essentials.

        Also PL mounted lens are very expensive, if you can afford them, by all means buy, but at the same time OLD nikon glass and modified zeiss minus a lil breathing , but still lens work just as good as PL glass that cost 4-5times as much.

        • Do you know the difference between an operator and a director of photography?

        • john jeffreys on 11.5.12 @ 4:36AM

          Always rent glass, according to the visual characteristics/needs of your project. But keep a set of cine-modded, vintage lenses around for personal use; leica r’s, minoltas, nikkors, etc.

          But I do believe that a good DP (at least, what I look for in a DP) is one that has a feel for every type of camera and lens, has worked with everything from t2i’s to 80′s camcorders to red epics, and knows how to create and light virtually any type of aesthetic for any project

          • I give up, I was never was talking about DPs, I said operator. Most DSLR shooters I work with can’t sync timecode between cameras, don’t know how to calibrate a light meter, and they don’t even know how to properly pack up a tripod. Talk about all the artsy composition vision stuff you want, but if you lack practical basics then you’re useless. Some DP’s are mentors and some are tyrants who are itching to kick a newbie (dslr guy) off a set. I never said to buy anything either, most rental houses have down time. If they’re chill they will let you mess around with gear when its not being rented out. Easiest way to get experience.

      • Have to disagree. I think these guys have a great plan. The 7D is a great camera with lots of pro features. 4K isn’t really that feasible right now, but there are a lot of great (and cost effective) HD tools around and the appetite for internet content is massive. You guys are on the right track. Don’t jump on the 4K band wagon too quick.

      • I`ve operated Arri 16SR2 and 16SR3, 435 ES and Red One on sticks, Easyrig and Steadicam (SK2 and Master) – so I know very well how to operate “a big camera” and what it feels like, and I know the additional burden coming with it, all the hundreds of little bits of pieces in multiple cases, limiting your mobility in any way thinkable. What people seem to overlook: the DSLRs not only made it cheaper but they made it more practicable for indies to shoot whenever and virtualler wherever they want, even without a permit (here in Germany we don`t need a permit for public spaces for crews below 5 people) and without being disturbed by or getting too much attention from passerbys – additionally we don`t need a huge DIT cart, a 3 pound battery each hour and no van to schlepp all the crap around. I`ve done it and I hated it each time.

  • H.265 is coming out for higher than HD resolutions. We may get even more codecs.

    Its important to pay attention to these development cycles, it’s all very familiar.
    Like when the cost of HD camera were suddenly very affordable.

    We’re not at the point yet where we can affordablly shoot, post and distribute 4k content. But that might not be a problem in a year or so.

  • that’s the beginning of a 5 years road minimum, to have 4k players and maybe one broadcaster won’t set an standard anytime soon, 4k post production is more expensive and cumbersome than 95% of the productions can afford currently.

    • Sports can be the first to have it, just don’t see it happening for movies or tv series in the next years, it will be trickling.

      • Considering how long it took broadcasters to switch to digital and HD, I don’t see them moving to 4k quickly.

        I see 4k content distribution being streamed. I can only assume that’s the way the new 4K TVs will be showing any content. Of course, this is more possible in other countries that have faster bandwidth than the US.

  • I think this is amazing news I cant wait to see what they drop that day

  • More good news from red… but the main networks in my City are still broadcasting in SD on half of their stations. So I think this sounds great but will take a WHILE. I’m very keen to see 4K projectors in cinemas sooner rather than later though. I feel like we’ve taken a step back from the quality of projeted celluloid. Not saying 4k digital is as good or better but it’s a start.

  • Very interesting development…wonder if they have an NLE somewhere in the works? Just missing the kitchen sink at this point.

  • They want to force people into 4K if they want to use their distribution network – good luck with that, that would mean, even Skyfall would not make it into their system as A) it was shot on Alexa B) it was only 2K, in the end, they`ll maybe distribute heaps of awful movies from the Red horde together with some acceptable ones and a few of the big ones – maybe Prometheus 2 or so…if they spend the extra four-times budget for vfx, btw, Prometheus 1 would be rejected – it was shot 5K but finished in 2K…

    • So your point is… Jar Jar Binks fans should get onto Disney right now to ensure a 2k finish for their recently announced Star Wars films?

      True Grit was scanned and finished in 4k. Personally, I think this development is good news if it means more features with invisible VFX rather than craptaculars laden with unconvincing CGI set pieces that detract from the story. Perhaps it’s just me?

    • Yeah, every film ever shot on the magnificent ALEXA was a masterpiece, oh yeah. Let the sky fall.

  • The way to keep people spending money on the space shuttle was to build the space station. The way to keep people spending money on the space station is to build a new space shuttle.

  • Jay slocum on 11.4.12 @ 9:08PM

    I hear ya RED , but honestly the only ones i see making this relevent or biting the bullet are sports broadcast productions NFL, NBA, NCAA etc and even then, i think they implement some sort of upconvert solution to near 4k before fully going to massive 4k recordings, Blu Ray quality looks just. Honestly i see 3d taking over as a second medium format before we will see 4k.

  • How much are 4K displays going to cost? This isnt’ going mass market for a long time. I say it takes 5 years to a decade to get a decent number of movie theaters with 4k projectors. And even then, I bet its only in their special “uber-digital” house, so one or 2 screens per movie theater. This isn’t coming to our homes for a long time. There are so many people who are still buying their first HDTV’ and even more who can’t figure out how to put an HD signal into the HDTV they have already bought. The majority of delivery to the masses is 2K in theaters and definitely 1080p in homes for 15-20 years. Easy.

    • You have to have noticed the exponential development of electronics. The future is last week.

    • It’ll probably be a bit before 4k hits in the home, but you’re already wrong about 4k projectors in movie theaters. Tons of theaters have 4k projectors, and have for a couple years. Sony’s been heavily pushing 4k projection since long before their camera division had anything but 2k cameras. It’s kinda crazy, I talked to one theater manager and all their projectors were 4k but their DCP servers were still old Windows 98 machines. Weird match of technology.

      • I’ll have to investigate next time I go to the movies.

        @Brett – I agree things move very fast now. But this requires convincing all those people who just bought HDTV in the past 5 years to buy TV’s again. And again, How much do these displays cost? And when they reach a mass market price how much will HDTV’s cost? And then how many mass market people (who think their SD signal on their HDTV is great) will see the benefits of 4k with the investment of a new $1000 TV? And will the Zombie Apocalypse have destroyed our way of life by then? I’ve seen 4k projection, it’s really nice. I think all this is really cool. I’m not trying to be a naysayer, just throwing a little cold water on the “4k is here” claim. It’s not HERE yet. It’s coming. But I think HD will be the Standard in the States for quite a while.

      • Windows 98??? Good God!

  • Great for home. Great for movies. Not so great for broadcasters and cable companies. I don’t see them being able to afford it and consumers wont pay double or triple to get it. We wont see 4K broadcast for a long time. It’s taken forever just for local stations to go HD.

  • I guess I don’t really get the whole 4k hype. Have people really been complaining about low resolution at the movie theaters? What’s wrong with 2k? Also, as far as 4k delivery to home users goes, it will have to be so highly compressed that it will look like crap – very high resolution crap. I can see the advantages of capturing at 4k, but 4k delivery seems unnecessary. Am I missing something?

    • Joe Marine on 11.5.12 @ 1:08AM

      That’s the whole point of REDRAY, you could send that signal as is over something like FIOS. I’ve seen REDRAY, it does not look compressed at all. The reason HD is getting more and more compressed is because they keep putting more and more stations into the same amount of bandwidth, so naturally they have to compress it more. But as technology gets better, like H.265 which should be twice as efficient as the current standard most broadcasters use now, you’ll actually be able to send great looking images.

      I mean people haven’t been complaining, in fact, most people are fine with SD resolution as long as the screen is big – so why even bother shooting on anything other than SD? It’s all about improving the viewing experience overall. If we can do better, why shouldn’t we?

      • I guess while 4k acquisition and delivery is covered, with today’s VFX laden movies the real cost will now be just that – rendering 4k VFX which on some movies could all but double the budget!

        Sure not a reason to hold back and live in 2k forever but it is going to be a big issue for many movies and post houses. There’s always a casualty with progress ;-)

      • What will start happening when they send more than one RedRay signal over the same bandwidth? The same thing will happen at 4k and it will be exponential. If it moves to a mass market, ie you are getting it from the Cable company. We need new infrastructure for this to be viable for anything other than one signal at a time. With the current relationship between network providers and Congress that’s not happening anytime soon.

        So who is going to buy this? See I have my HD cable box here for my TV viewing. My HD gaming console here for Games and Netflix and stuff. My TiVo Box here (cause I haven’t updated to the Cable companies DVR), and My REDRay Box here for the small number of 4k movies at what kind of premium? How much is a REDRay rental going to compare to the price of NetFlix or Vudu, or Amazon? And how much do these TV’s cost? I only one I could find a quick internet search was a 60″ sharp display that is over $10,000.

        Other than High End Video files and studios and Movie theaters and production companies, I just don’t see this shift happening for quite a while.

      • Now if only i could get FIOS in 1080p for my 1080p TV, I’m still waiting on the bump up from 1080i. I love fiber though, it’s a beast to work with. Saves time not having to pull out cables

  • marklondon on 11.5.12 @ 2:34AM

    Love how not one person so far has mentioned where you are more likely to see 4K takeup first.
    Let me help you – you use it to send texts.

    Screens with 4K capability will exist in the palm of your hand (or just in front of your eyes) before they exist in your living room.
    Compression codecs that make it work over-air are coming.

    Re broadcast – look for them to skip this generation. That’s already in the planning stages.

  • Can’t wait to see all the great 4k content: test charts and skin tone comparisons. And probably the next Zacuto shootout.

    George –

  • I use to be a very big fan of nofilmschool but it is turning into a red fanboy site. when I see something like “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”, I would like to know how a redone body only cost can be compared to a dslr that only needs a $ 100 lens to start shooting.

    I can understand red fanboys telling people to buy redone body camera, forgetting to tell them that they will have to add at least $ 5K+ accessories, media and batteries for a usable package. No even counting that, you would need at least a $ 3000 tripod to hold the weight. But from a site like nofilmschool, I am a bit astonished. I am all for the red price drop, but people have to know that that the real price is still much higher than $ 4000.

    • This is not the only major issue people seem to overlook, but usually the first one. Most of them believe that 4K/more latitude/less compression is going to make a difference on their project – in 90% it is not, not only doesn`t it fix more obvious shortcomings like a bad script / bad cinematography / bad lighting / bad actors / bad locations, they always forget how much more tedious a Red One or even a properly rigged Epic is to operate with and working around it: it`s still very big and heavy, takes a good assistant to get proper focus (you can`t focus yourself anymore), takes more people and transportation to lug everything around and slows down everything in post until a proper file format has been generated out of the R3D files.

      Here`s a true story I personally was involved with as postproducer: a colleague of mine wants to shoot his first feature on his own Red Epic. 5 days (5 DAYS) before the shoot the Epic breaks down, he sends it to the U.S., it won`t be ready for his shoot, so he rents an Epic elsewhere for 3000 Euro a whole month (attention: he invested in an Epic because he thought he could shoot his own stuff cheaper this way and was devastated to hear how cheap these things were – btw: this was BEFORE the price cut…). He sold his repaired Epic just before that price cut and never wants to own one again – his personal conclusion: rent or co-own a scarlet, reduce to the minimum, keep a narrow footprint letting you act more spontanously and dynamically.

      • “reduce to the minimum, keep a narrow footprint letting you act more spontanously and dynamically.”

        atemporal truth. Welles in his european yrs. and Cassavetes in USofA are proofs this should be the mantra of indies.

    • You will certainly need to spend more. But your figures are very inaccurate. 2K can definitely see you up and running with a good R1 kit. Depending on your search skills you could scrape a decent working kit together for 1k (Could have done it for $500 BEFORE this announcement) The Libec Rs 450 is an amazing true fluid head tripod which will handle the RED 1′s weight currently selling on B&H now for about a grand. Besides which many people are spending 2K + on accessories for their DSLR’s too.

      But yes of course a DSLR is still cheaper. But your missing the point and or being over sensitive. The reference is obviously just trying to make a point of how truly insane this deal is. And hey, depending on the DSLR your referencing, they could have said you can buy a R1 for much less than the price of a DSLR! Then you could have been realy enraged! ;)

      As to fan boy site. I really prefer NFS’s inspirational and craft based articles myself. But this is BIG news. Whether it pisses anyone else off or not, the fact is it is the best camera deal that we have literally ever seen. So yep, RED is getting some bandwidth… If you read them all NFS’s reviews have clearly been in depth, accurate, and completely unbiased, and covering the “news” should not see them, or anyone else unfairly branded as fan boys.

      • You should detail us how you can run a redone for lets say a day shoot for $ 1k to 2k more. It would be reasonable for ebay second hand things to understand that the price will be much higher now that this camera is again …. lets say in market again.

        • I’d rather you did your own investigating in future…

          LCD – $500
          GMP batteries x 2 plus charger – $800
          Used Red Drive – $300 – you can buy two if you need to, and still be under 2k.

        • Daniel Mimura on 11.14.12 @ 4:39AM

          All it’s costing me is the media cost (& that’s no small price, honestly… Redmags are expensive.), the dock, and a Nikon mount b/c I don’t own PL glass, and cables (which many people consider expensive, but honestly, they’re generally cheaper than other industry standard cables like arri/panavison/moviecam…etc). V-mount batteries…check. Heavy duty tripod…check (and it will work way better than with the light D-SLR’s b/c R1 weighs closer to the 16mm cameras/ENG cameras it was designed for.) Rods, rails, matte box…check. Monitor…check. Anyone that’s been shooting with d-slrs in any professional or semi-professional capacity should have most of what’s needed to make a R1MX work, cheaply. I am gonna get the element technica breakout box ($500) cuz those mini HD-SDI connectors are flimsy.

          So for me…redmag:128GB, $1250, reader: $200, 4pin XLR to red one cable: $150, p-tap to red one cable (best to have both options): $185 (& I already can run it off of steadicam rig—I just can’t off of a v-mount plate), Nikon mount: $500: $2785

          (I also need to upgrade my less than 1 yr old iMac to get CUDA processing, since I’m avoiding buying a red rocket card.)

          No, it’s not cheap, but the difference of between something with 7-8 stops lattitude and 12-13 is HUGE. Enough that it negates, for me, paying a little bit more for a proper camera instead of hobbling together all kinds of AKS to make a d-SLR work. And before anyone anti-Red brings up BMCC about how much cheaper it is, to make it work, you will have to spend just as much excluding the Redmags—SSD’s aren’t cheap, but they’re cheaper…but it eats up 4 times the drive space at 2.5k what Red does at 4.

          The price drop, as well as needing a good newer better-than-DSLR for a couple projects starting up…it was a no brainer. I’m camera agnostic…I just what the best tools for the price that I can afford. Actually, I’m no fanboy for any, but I have become a canon hater. (I’m a red fanboy hater too…not the camera…just most of the users.)

    • Red Fanboys, Arri Fanboys, Sony Fanboys, Canon Fanboys… They’re everywhere and they want to take our women! What’s your point exactly?

  • “as there is well over 50 years of television content that would suddenly become extinct otherwise.”

    true, as also masterpieces as David Fincher´s Zodiac, shot in 1.9K (correct me if i´m wrong). For me Zodiac is Fincher at his best. :)

  • In the end, I think that this move by red will be good for the creative side of cinematography. It will show how much more important lighting and composition are compared to resolution. I am sure you will get to see some of those blockbusters and some sleek production, we will a big number of below par production that will have only one merit to have been shot in 4k.

  • TV shows 50 years ago won’t become extinct because they were shot on 35mm. 35mm can be scan to 4k resolution. Its because 16mm film was consider an amateur format until the super16 came around. Even than it was only used on indie films and TV News. Actually more modern shows will be come extinct because they were shot on 16mm or SD Video.

    But 4k Distribution right now is too expensive. The big 3 (ABC,CBS,NBC) will decide when this happen just like HD. Not Red.

  • This is cool, but it will suck big time in one way…Internet Service Providers. ISP’s are going to love this because if 4K becomes standard, metered internet access will generate move revenue from customers. Internet access is quickly becoming a entertainment utility service and not the tool to move people forward. I sure Comcast would love to send you a $350 internet bill.

  • I love this site, and mostly enjoy the comments, but this board really needs an ignore feature.

  • Daniel Mimura on 11.14.12 @ 4:44AM

    4k is great for the theater, but I’m in no hurry for 4k in the home, and I’m generally a quality freak…

    If I had the money for a home 4k system, I’d buy my 1st PL mount lens instead. Do more to create beautiful imagery than to consume them…

  • Stu Mannion on 11.30.12 @ 6:24PM

    I see a danger in indie filmmakers thinking its an advantage to finish in 4k and completely destroying their render times. I say leave 4k finishing for the biggest of productions to eventually take on. For budget work finishing in anything more than HD or 2k is a waste of resources that would be much better used on any other aspect of the production. This is not going to change for several years.

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