Jarred Land of RED has been teasing what some thought was a camera accessory, but has now been unveiled as a camera body upgrade for all DRAGON sensors.
The new WEAPON camera is going to be a paid upgrade announced at NAB, and will only be compatible for those who've upgraded to DRAGON. Jarred mentioned that both EPIC DRAGON and SCARLET DRAGON will be able to benefit from the upgrade, but it's unclear how much of a price difference there will be between the two options.
[Update 4]: Jarred has spoken, and it looks like WEAPON will stay the official name of the new camera (this is after a lengthy discussion on REDUser). For those concerned about the branding for security reasons, or maybe you just don't like seeing the word WEAPON on the camera, RED is going to offer a stealth version without the branding:
Appreciate the candid discussion and all the feedback.
The name is here to stay.
There are some of you with genuine security concerns and for those that would prefer we will be offering a "stealth" Weapon without the Weapon branding engraved on it... simple check box at the time of order.
[Update 3]: The SCARLET DRAGON and EPIC DRAGON camera will stay in RED's line for quite some time, even after the release of WEAPON. Even though MX upgrades will end in the summer, they will still be selling new DRAGON cameras alongside the new WEAPON cameras. There will also be more than one WEAPON camera body, and an upgrade option for SCARLET DRAGON owners to go to the best WEAPON camera if they choose:
There is more than one Weapon and there is a path for Scarlet (dragon) owners to go to Weapon.
Of course we are... Epic Dragon and Scarlet Dragon will remain in the line for quite some time.
[Update 2]: Looks like the WEAPON brain itself will be about the same length as the current EPIC brain, but can actually be shorter depending on the modules attached. That means there will be no ENG-style clone of ALEXA/F55 coming from RED. There will be different I/O modules that give various configurations of HD-SDI/HDMI, etc. The picture below was recently posted (I brightened it slightly), and it shows what Jarred called the Legacy I/O module, which has HDMI, HD-SDI, and what looks like Mini-XLR. It also looks like the side of the camera has controls and an LCD, possibly for controlling the camera without needing a touchscreen (though we do know the camera will have WiFi).
The current monitoring solutions will work on the new camera with an adapter:
There will be an adapter to make current LEMO monitoring/touchscreen options work with Weapon.
Here's Jarred in the forum (a number of modules will probably not work on the new camera):
Weapon brain is actually almost half an inch shorter than the Epic brain, and when you add the modules there is no adapter needed and things get much more compact ( the base IO for example only adds 3/8" of an inch to the body ) For super compact setups, where you may not even need the base IO, just the battery module, you can skip the IO module completely.
Some modules like the plus one module become redundant, since there are now 2 LCD/EVF connections on the Weapon brain itself.
REDVOLT XL batteries work fine... the existing REDVOLT XL module does not. Foundational change to how that all works which is why we could delete that adapter module. We also built alot of the old modules into the brain itself, things like the additional LCD/EVF connection, wireless control, etc. etc.
The Weapon Redvolt XL module has 2 x 2 pin AUX power outputs now ( 1 more than the current XL battery module ) . So will the AB and V-lock options. Certain other modules will have additional AUX. power outputs depending on their use.
[Update]: Jarred has clarified that EPIC MX owners will be able to upgrade to DRAGON after NAB, but that the option to upgrade to DRAGON will be going away sometime this summer as those lines switch over to DRAGON to WEAPON upgrade lines:
You do not need to upgrade to Dragon before NAB to be eligible for Weapon.
You do need to upgrade to dragon before NAB to get the extra credit, the NAB price and to be able to make a Weapon reservation at NAB. Thats what i meant by " upgrade before NAB it will be worth it " .
You can upgrade to Dragon anytime before the the upgrade line transfers over in the summer, and then go to Weapon after that whenever you can until the weapon line eventually closes ... it just will cost you a lot more money and your spot in line might be way far out.
This heads up is to save you money.. not to force your hand at anything or some weird blackmail attempt that we have been planning for a year :)
Here is one of the shots he teased earlier, with a few more throughout this post (Jarred has said the fact that it's called WEAPON shouldn't be a problem with TSA or other officials, but that's not necessarily the case for everyone in all parts of the world):
[Update]: Shane Hurlbut got an early look at WEAPON and posted this photo online (this looks like a new REDVOLT XL module):
#ShanesInnerCircle gives you the first exclusive look at the Weapon. Bleeding edge exploration starts now!
This is a little bit of what Jarred Land has been saying:
For everyone with a Dragon... NAB is gonna be awesome. For everyone that hasn't upgraded yet.... you are best to get that done before the show. It will be worth it.
About paying for the MX to DRAGON upgrade but not having done the physical upgrade yet (taken from a number of different posts in the thread and chopped a bit):
Its ok.. as long as you paid you will be included in the chaos even if you havn't actually upgraded yet. Just make sure you keep your bombsquad rep in the loop on your timing as the Dragon upgrade lines will be shutting down and switching over to Weapon mid summer.
Come summer our MX to Dragon upgrade line changes over so the old process logistically needs to end.
If you upgraded or upgrade your Epic M/X to Dragon before NAB you are eligible. Carbon Dragons get pole position just like last time.
And more about money as it relates to the new camera:
Yes... you need to own a Dragon to upgrade to Weapon. As long as you are a Dragon owner before NAB, you will get a nice chunk of change back to continue along the journey.
The reason I am telling you now instead of @ NAB is that it not only gives you more time to get your ducks in a row if you want to partake.. but also because if you have a Dragon before NAB you will be paying less for the upgrade to Weapon than if you get a Dragon after the first day of NAB and upgrade to Weapon. Its a bit of a double credit... You get a nice credit for having Dragon and going to Weapon, and you get an extra credit if you have already gone to Dragon before NAB.
So what he is saying above is that this upgrade, just like some of the others, will cost less for those who have already upgraded to DRAGON, but if you buy a DRAGON after NAB, the WEAPON upgrade will cost more. Again we don't know specifics yet, but since this isn't a sensor upgrade, I have to imagine it will be slightly less expensive than the previous MX to DRAGON upgrade (but who knows). It's clear there is going to be an order of preference just like last time, which will probably be Carbon DRAGON owners, then EPIC M, EPIC X, and SCARLET (which is how the last upgrade went).
What's Coming in the New Upgrade?
We know very few details so far, but we do know that the body is changing. Some aspects of the modular system will likely still remain, but this is a departure from the original body. We don't know if it's getting bigger, staying the same, or getting smaller, but it's possible that the technology advances since the start of DRAGON upgrades have meant that they can get more tech in a body the same size or smaller. There is no more giant front fan, so I have to think that this thing will be quieter right out of the box (this also means they must have figured out a better way to cool it). We also know that MiniMAGs will be the only option going forward for WEAPON:
Make sure to get the MiniMag option. You will need those going forward.
Your current mount will work on Weapon when you are using S35 and full frame lenses.
As for how this upgrade will make the DRAGON sensor better, this is the only tidbit we have so far:
Don't worry... we found a few things. A few big things.
I've heard some crazy rumors about super dynamic range being possible with this new body, but we don't know any details yet. What it could also mean is that the camera will be better in low light because it can see into the shadows more (thanks to better DR). The current DRAGON sensor is limited by the electronics they can fit into such a small body (something that was stated by RED a long time ago), so besides engineers finding new power within the sensor, I'm sure changing the body type in some way and upgrading the electronics will have a pretty good effect on the performance we can get out of it.
I personally think it's time for RED to take some inspiration from the competition by making their body more physically balanced and including more features right on the body from the start. I would hope they have included a way to control the camera from the actual body itself without need any accessories, as you could with the RED ONE. Not holding my breath on that one, but it's about the only camera out there that requires you to purchase another accessory just to operate it (and while there will probably be built-in WiFi, that's not really what I mean).
I would also like to see them build in more features like ProRes/DNx from 4K all the way down to 1080p, and built-in ND filters which are perfectly matched to the sensor. All of these things would make WEAPON more versatile from the start, rather than having to worry about modules or accessories that may never come. We don't know what they will do as far as the OLPFs are concerned, but that modular system may or may not find its way into the new WEAPON camera. They should also have more outputs right on the body, including 4K HDMI and a number of 3G-SDIs for 4K output.
This upgrade could finally be the one that makes the brain concept what they wanted from the start. It's possible that the sensor could be modular just as it is with Blackmagic URSA, and you would only be upgrading the sensor and not the brain as you have had to do since the first upgrades. I'm not sure how that will work out, but if people keep having to send in their cameras to upgrade, there will always be big bottlenecks and delays just as we have seen in the past.
It will be interesting to see how long RED keeps the original body for people who want a tiny camera for specific purposes like drones or gimbals. It would make sense to keep the original body around for a long time because there is really nothing else quite like it on the market for size/performance.
We'll just have to wait and see what else happens at NAB (or if new details are revealed before).