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:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QleIfcA8mRQ
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:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJpLgdD7r3c
If you want to show off the dynamic range, give us these kinds of images without HDR-X:
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?