Is RED Digital Cinema's Jim Jannard Stepping Down?
Not quite, but in a recent REDuser post, Jannard laid out his plan for the future of the company. Whatever you think of the outspoken leader of the California camera maker (he’s not technically the CEO, though he might as well be), he has absolutely left a mark on the industry. While his message could be misconstrued to mean that he’s not going to be involved with the company anymore, that’s not the case at all.
Check out some of the original post below (emphasis added):
In 2006, we announced the RED ONE. 4K for under $20K. That was quite shocking. Sony’s digital cinema cameras were $200k+. Apparently shocking enough that I almost got into a fist fight with Geoff Boyle in the aisle of NAB where he questioned why we would “scam” people into giving us $1000 deposits for a product that could never happen. Scam? This is the 1st time anyone had ever questioned my integrity. Ever. In hindsight, I wish I would have pulled the trigger. Maybe I’ll get the chance one day. Actually… I look forward to it. (furrowed eyes here)
At that NAB in 2006… we also declared Obsolescence Obsolete. We talked about upgrades instead of having to buy a new camera every time there was some new technology advancement. This concept was new. I had never seen a company do what we were talking about. I still haven’t. The question is… could we really do this?
We released the RED ONE with Mysterium sensor… 4K for $17,500 in 2007. It recorded 4K REDCODE to a Compact Flash card! The only way we could do that was through incredible compression technology. “Ché” and “Knowing” were shot on this camera.
Our color science improved on a continual basis. We upgraded firmware for free… as we should have.
Then… we developed the next generation sensor, the Mysterium-X. We offered this sensor as an upgrade. You didn’t have to buy a new camera, just send your camera in and pay for the upgrade. As far as I know, this was a first in the entire camera world. Obsolescence Obsolete was alive. Several more features were shot on the RED ONE MX, including “The Social Network”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Informant” and many others.
I should mention here that there were many color science and feature upgrades… for free. Again, what company ever offered that?
Enter the EPIC. As promised, Obsolescence Obsolete continued. Trade in your RED ONE for FULL price value towards an EPIC. I defy anyone to find a program on any electronics product in any industry like this one. Your “old camera” just became a “new one”.
EPIC is legendary. The amount of projects shot on EPIC will go down in history. “The Amazing Spiderman”, “The Hobbit”, “Prometheus”, “The Great Gatsby”… the list is too long to type.
So what next? The Dragon.
The Dragon is an Obsolescence Obsolete upgrade. More resolution. More dynamic range. More color depth. And it is an upgrade.
Somehow… I read on CML and other idiotic forums, that I an a hypester, a scam artist. I just have to wonder what these guys are smoking. But I have to say… they have gotten to me. I don’t need this. I don’t deserve this. Life is short and I am tired.
I can only hope that the incredibly stupid posts from people like Geoff Boyle and Art Adams (many other CML posters) do not in any way taint the work we have actually done.
With the release of the Dragon sensor… I have finished my mission. I am done posting. I will no longer be the face of RED. Mercifully, Jarred will take my place and he is worthy times forever. Jarred is me… only 30 years younger.
My final thoughts…
I have done my best. I saw a fatal flaw in the camera industry. We did our best to address it.
I will now sink into the background, I hope with my reputation intact. I will work on the future of digital cinema… behind the scenes.
It is absolutely astonishing what Jannard and the team have been able to do in just 7 years. In 7 years, they went from not having a camera, to being one of the top choices for independent and Hollywood productions alike. Along the way there have always been many options for filmmakers and professionals, but actually carving a market is no small feat. RED single-handedly brought down the price of digital cinema cameras. The only reason you’re getting a 4K Super 35mm sensor from Blackmagic for $4,000 (eventually, at least) is because of RED. The F35 cost over $200,000 when it was introduced in 2008. You can now find them for under $10,000. If RED was not there to light a fire under all of the camera manufacturers, that camera would still cost quite a bit, even 5 years later.
This is why we had the F65 and the ARRI ALEXA starting under $100,000. For better or worse, RED made it possible for almost anyone to own a camera that can shoot pictures good enough to project on a big screen. Sure, you can make anything look decent with enough tweaks in post, but there is a reason these cameras were used to shoot major feature films. If they didn’t stand up on large screens, they would never be shooting $100 million dollar movies.
I think it’s important to highlight those things in light of what Jannard is saying. His late night posts have always been fascinating, especially because there isn’t another company of this size with the leader speaking his mind directly to the public.
Many have dismissed the company and the things he has said, but let’s face it, without any of that, we don’t have digital cinema quality images at anywhere near affordable prices. DSLRs might have made large sensors popular for the masses, but RED was one of the first camera systems that gave you as much as was currently capable inside the hardware, rather than piecing together a carefully designed and crippled camera line.
A few of us here at nofilmschool own RED and have shot RED. We always try to find the middle ground between the what the company says and what the detractors say, as the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. We’ve rooted for them and called them out on certain things, but in the end, it’s just a camera. Just another tool that you’re going to use to tell a story.
Jannard is not stepping down, merely letting someone else be the public face of the company. This has been happening more and more over the last few years, and if you’ve been following along, it’s surprising it didn’t happen sooner.
Even if we don’t hear from him again (I wouldn’t put money on it), he absolutely has had a positive impact on the industry by giving affordable tools to filmmakers and forcing other companies to evaluate their strategies. At very least, we should tip our caps to Jim for that.
You can read the full post over on REDuser.
[top image courtesy of Los Angeles Loyolan]