June 6, 2013

Where is RED DRAGON? Upgraded Camera Spotted in the Wild

It has been relatively quiet on the RED front regarding their fire-breathing beast known simply as DRAGON. We saw the first actual images from the camera back in February, and there was mention a few weeks ago that some internal power supplies needed to be redesigned as they were getting additional noise in the shadows. While development seems to be edging towards completion, Jarred has finally posted our first glimpse of the monster in the wild:

The picture above also includes a new XL battery module, as well as an upgraded top plate that they will be releasing to compensate for the newer fan.

As far as how things are going, Jarred recently posted this:

As you can see.. The Dragon roll out is happening a little differently than we have in the past. I promise you there wont be a sudden email from out of nowhere that goes out that says " ok send your camera in or you loose your spot ". 

We are keeping the progress very internal... there will be a stage where the testing becomes much more public, you will start seeing footage and test results, and you will start to get a better sense of when notification will happen.

There is still work to do.. the Dragon has more than we are squeezing out of it. We are sitting on one of the best sensors in the world and it deserves the time to make sure it is the best that it can be. 

He also addressed what can we expect for stability with the camera when it is released and where the testing currently is:

Right now the Dragons are many, many times more stable than when we shipped the first Epics. Getting the camera to work isn't what we are working on, it is fine tuning the sensor.. the icing on the cake. So yeah, as with any new product the first ones out will be a bit Janky, but we have already made those. We started actually doing the sensor upgrades at NAB remember. We have made a ton of Dragon cameras already. Once the sensor is tuned.. the power boards are in, its a pretty " safe " upgrade ( I am sure I just jinxed it.. )

It certainly seems like an attempt to get everything right the first time (instead of after many firmware updates), but as with anything, the more time you take to perfect and optimize, the longer it's going to take to release. Unfortunately, they are at a point where any moving image that comes out of the camera has to absolutely blow people away, especially as many are still sitting on the fence about whether or not to upgrade. I thought Sony did a pretty good job showing people what the new F55 could do, and there is no doubt having a video like that can help convince people to try out a particular camera.

I think if RED really wanted to impress, they would get a high-profile director to make a film for them, very similar to the early days when Peter Jackson shot Crossing the Line with the original RED ONE:

And if you want to impress us with low-light capabilities, getting David Fincher to shoot something only with cigars and candles would be pretty interesting. Here he is testing the RED ONE MX:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJpLgdD7r3c

If you want to show off the dynamic range, give us these kinds of images without HDR-X:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6twGOVWctc

In other RED news, they are currently shipping the upgraded fans that were talked about during NAB that should be quieter and more efficient. They have also released a firmware update for EPIC and SCARLET that provides support for these fans. There is still no word yet on when we can expect the newer fan speed algorithms that should also greatly improve fan noise and efficiency. This may very well be an update that coincides with the release of DRAGON, but at this point Jarred has not mentioned any more about it.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few months, and if they start delivering DRAGON-upgraded cameras this summer.

What kinds of tests would you like to see with DRAGON? What would really impress you?

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Your Comment

18 Comments

One thing I really appreciate about Arri is that they typically don't announce something until its practically ready to ship.

June 6, 2013 at 7:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Kenneth Merrill

Alexa Xt have been announced in February, the first deliveries were made in late May.
Dragon to be announced in April, we see when we will start deliveries.

June 7, 2013 at 7:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ALexxiiss

Alexa announced the XT in February 2013, and they are shipping now. Red announced the Dragon update in April 2012, and they are still not shipping. I don't get what you're trying to say.

June 7, 2013 at 11:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Kenneth Merrill

I wouldn't rush for the Dragon update until it's stable and out there for a while. I'm sure it'll be nice but I wont need 6k in the next 10 years or more. Hopeful the DR and color science will be worth the 10k for the upgrade.

June 6, 2013 at 7:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Marcus

Did you not finish your thought? "and there is no doubt having a video like that"

June 6, 2013 at 7:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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steve

That's just terrible on my part. Added that at the end, went to go find a link, and clearly forgot about it.

June 6, 2013 at 7:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Joe, you are awesome!

June 6, 2013 at 8:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Rob Kaczmark

Thank you Rob. :)

June 6, 2013 at 9:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

This isn't the first or second time I've seen someone show some love 4 Mr. Marine. I guess people just looove Joe.

June 8, 2013 at 1:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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The ridiculous dynamic range (claims of 16-18 stops) seems to be the biggest (and most objectively measurable) selling point for the Dragon, when compared to the competitors - so a one-take steadycam shot (or Movi!) going from severely underexposed to blown out (from cellar to sunlight) with the exposure corrected in post (no iris pulls) - that would be impressive, especially if they give us the before and after.

It would also give them a chance to show of their global shutter Motion Mount with some fast panning (a very, very interesting product, especially those fully scalable 8 stops of ND).

June 6, 2013 at 9:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Davíð

Peter Jackson in 2010 talking about the camera he used in that short film and of his love for Red:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-VeXLZTm24

June 7, 2013 at 12:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

This is CIA-tier bullshit. It's freaking June, time to release the framegrabs at least, for fook sake.

June 7, 2013 at 1:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Natt

I can not wait to use DRAGON;)
I love this camera;)

June 7, 2013 at 7:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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LUIGI

Interesting they named it after a mythical creature.

June 7, 2013 at 11:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Of all the features that come with 6k and Dragon I think dynamic range is what I'm most curious about.

June 7, 2013 at 11:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Matt

FYI The new 4.0.12 firmware does include the new fan speed algos
You can now select new fan presets including constant temperature

June 7, 2013 at 11:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Mikael

As an indie director, I sincerely believe we're at the point where 99% of the general public can no longer tell if a $100k or $3k camera was used. Although 16-18 stops of DR sounds incredible and very desirable. I personally can no longer justify the expenditure of this type of camera for my type of work. Soon the market will be flooded with cameras that do 12-13 stops at a much much cheaper price point. I mention the price point because of the fiscal and the psychological toll it takes on both you and the film. I think many of us have been at that point where there's a concern in the back of our minds "We can't do this or that shot because of the potential damage it can cause our camera". As we start out we lust after the latest and most hyped product and we don't understand the pitfalls until we're in the situation as owner operators. I was part of the Red ecosystem and though there were things I really loved about it I must confess there were things that are limiting also (Strictly speaking as an indie). I say all this to say this; Strictly speaking DR is king in my book but much like everything in life, things have their tradeoffs. Think wisely before opening your wallet because your next project and potentially your carrer may depend on it.

SORRY, I FELT LIKE PUTTING MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OUT THERE. THANKS NFS.

June 8, 2013 at 11:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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David F

No matter which camera company or technology you favor there is the upside that all of this competition means that things will continue to become better and cheaper eventually. And that benefits all of us can not wait to see what happens 5 years down the road.

June 13, 2013 at 5:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gary Simmons