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The Scarlet Letter

While readers of MFM know that most of my editorials deal with sweeping trends in the filmmaking community and with humanity in general, there are times when an editorial deals more with an item of news and technology that just gets stuck in my brain. However, I try to make sure that what ever innovation has become my newest obsession actually has the potential to truly effect my readership. And this could be no more the truth than with the newest press release leaked by the completely rogue billionaire, Jim Jannard (the founder of Oakley Sunglasses and, more recently, Red Cameras.)

Many of you read our commentaries on the Red One when it was first announced two years ago and how we all became more and more intrigued with the 4K cameras when at NAB ‘06, it was announced to be coming in at around $30K fitted to shoot. (While $30K is still more than most of us have in the bank to buy a camera, it became a major possibility for rental, considering it could be rented for an entire month for less than $9 grand, which places it smack within the budgets of many microfilmmakers.) In NAB ’07, Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson, used the prototypes of the Red One to shoot an amazing WWII short that premiered at the massive tradeshow. Then, last fall, the Red Ones began to ship and people from Hollywood to our own readers began shooting films with them.

Of course, as most people know, the Red One’s firmware is designed to never really be complete, so that new upgrades can be added whenever Red can think of them. And if a bigger more powerful imager comes out, the completely modular camera will let you swap out the new imager. Talk about cost effective! (When Jim Jannard decided to break all boundaries and move into the camera world, it was because he wanted to make such an awesome camera that if no one else bought them, he would be willing to buy them all himself! Seems like he came pretty darn close!)

Well, as great as the Red One is already (and shaping up to be in the future), it’s still too expensive for most of us to own. And while the Red can be rented, I’ve spent enough time chatting with our audience to know that most of us tend to share Mike Figgis’ (Leaving Las Vegas) opinion on owning our equipment rather than renting it.

Realizing that the Red One isn’t quite as affordable to all filmmakers and videographers as he would like, Jim Jannard has upped the ante with news about a new hand-held camera from Red called "The Scarlet," which could be the answer to our desires.

Jim Jannard is quickly approaching the level of cult status for filmmakers that Steve Jobs has had for computer lovers in a far shorter time period. His intentions to turn the camera industry on its head and democratize filmmaking have made him a hero to a huge number of microfilmmakers. When the Red One first was announced, I foretold that the trickle down effect would hit ultra-low budget filmmakers who couldn't afford the $30K fully-equipped Red One's.

When I said it, I thought other competitors would provide the trickle down effect. I had no idea that Jannard and his team of hand-picked geniuses would decide to do the trickling down for us!

Obviously, there is no word about what features the camera has and won't be until I and the writers of MFM go to this year’s NAB, but even the little we can conjecture is extremely exciting. After all, when Jannard and crew took on the technology from some of the biggest camera manufacturers, it was on a scale of price decrease of over 8 to 1. (As the closest camera to the Red One was running about $240 K vs. the $30 K cost of the equipped Red One.) If that could be carried to a hand-held professional camera, well, we could be seeing a 4:4:4 camera at 2K for under $10 grand. That might be wildly optimistic, but Jannard has done a good job of blowing wild optimism out of the water in the past, so we’ll see what he does this year!

(And kudos to Jannard for being the innovator to FINALLY give a camera a cool name. I mean, if you buy a car you get cool names like "Diablo" or "Viper". If you buy Oakley sunglasses they have "Predators" and "Aviators" Finally, we can buy a camera with a name as cool as that, too! The only downside with the “Scarlet” name is that, if your DP is a big fan of Gone with the Wind, you may have to put up with nearly incessant repetitions of the famous line, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”)

God Bless,

Jeremy Hanke
Microfilmmaker Magazine

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