Nikkei Asian Review has broken the news that Foxconn, the manufacturer of many popular items including the iPhone, is teaming up with RED Digital Cinema to produce a mass volume prosumer-focused 8K digital cinema camera. Having noticed a slowdown in the smartphone market, Foxconn is looking to expand into other revenues streams, with digital cinema cameras appearing like a smart, higher margin area to target. "We will make cameras that will shoot professional-quality films in 8K resolution but at only a third of current prices and a third of current camera sizes," said Terry Gou, Foxconn Chairman. RED has yet to acknowledge the talks or confirm a partnership.
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If true, this pairing shouldn't come as a surprise to cinema fans. RED has already shown their desire to get in on the consumer market with the Hydrogen phone, which was a play to move into volume and perhaps build a platform out of the holographic technology. In addition, RED had already teamed up with longtime Foxconn customer Apple to place the RED RAVEN in the Apple Store, attempting to bring awareness outside the industry to the camera package. For their cameras to keep growing, the company clearly wants consumer volume.
The best aspect for filmmakers will be the use of RED's proprietary .r3d codec into a consumer form factor. The biggest technological innovation of RED has always been the codec: the ability to create 4K (and then 5K, and now 8K) files that are compact, usable, and look amazing is the secret sauce. If you've worked on a 2.5K Alexa job lately and were shocked by how long the files took to download vs. .r3d, that's why. Bringing .r3d to a prosumer camera is truly exciting.
On top of that, RED is unafraid of innovation. The company will happily design a prosumer camera from scratch with no need to fit into any previously existing product line or workflow. It's probably going to be MFT mount (that's a wild guess), but seriously, who knows? This is RED we're talking about, and the company remains a wild card. Combining RED wavelet encoding and experience in design with Foxconn manufacturing experience seems like a camera that could be innovative and actually ship on time.
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