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RED Digital Cinema: A Pre-NAB 2007 Update

An Under The Hood & Behind The Scenes Look At The Camera Everyone Is Talking About By Heath McKnight

If youve been on another planet, you may not be aware that a revolutionary new camera system thats made with both the little guy, big dogs and everyone in the middle in mind will soon ship thats actually affordable and promises to shoot at 4k resolution with variable frame rates including the ?holy 60p!

After spending nearly an hour talking with RED Digital Cinemas Ted Schilowitz, I am now convinced that Team RED is taking an entirely new approach to how digital video cameras are built and work.  Besides, Teds title alone, Leader of the Rebellion, tells me this isnt your Grandfathers camera manufacturer.

Why RED?

RED ONE was born from the mind of Jim Jannard, Madman at RED and Mad Scientist at Oakley, which he founded more than 30 years ago.  Jims philosophy has always been to create high quality products, be they sunglasses, ski goggles, even shoes, but of a design that makes them unique and practical, yet eye-catching.


Jannard is also an avid still and motion picture photographer, and even shot many of the Oakley commercials and print ads over the years.  He has also owned many digital video and film cameras, from HDV to high-end HDCAM and DVCPro HD, even film-based motion picture cameras youd more likely see on the set of a film than in Jims possession. But there was always a problem; a feature missing, what appeared to be a crippling of the camera.  Even when a camera came out with high resolution, the price was too high for the average filmmaker and videographer.  What if the user wanted to use lenses with PL mounts, like those that cinematographers use?  Why record to a tape, and not a more affordable tapeless system that wont require a large RAID array, or limit you on the amount of footage you can record per drive?  With those things in mind, Jim set out to create his own camera, except it wasnt exactly a camera, but a system.

A very common question seems to pass through the minds of most videographers and digital cinematographers: why havent digital video and film cameras risen above 35mm film cameras, much like digital still cameras have vs. 35mm still photography cameras?  That passed through the minds of Jannard and his team as they began work on the design. 
I want to tell you a quick story thats related to this article.  I recently began inquiring about buying a digital SLR camera, because I want to get back into photography.  My friends and colleagues told me to buy a good, high-resolution camera, but not spend too much money, because I will want to spend money on lenses and other accessories.  They also mentioned that I would be replacing the lenses long before I need to replace the camera, that the camera is just the base of an overall system.

Based on the story above, youll be surprised to learn thats how RED works.  Well, that was one of the main ideas behind RED ONE; that, and the team wants to make their own path, not follow that of others.


All images courtesy and copyright Red Digital Cinema

The RED ONE is the premiere camera system debuting from the company.  It will shoot in 4k resolution (4096x2304), and be flexible and powerful enough for everybody from the high-end filmmaker, to, believe it or not, the wedding videographer,  which is why RED decided to go public with what they were doing, in order to get input from the ?little guys, the ones whom camera manufacturers usually dont talk to.  Its all part of the democracy and philosophy of RED.

As is sometimes the case, video and film cameras are designed more for the feel than the appearance, but for Jannard and his team, design is key.  The logic points of the camera needed to work and feel right, but it had to have a unique design, all its own.  Look no further than the offerings of Oakley, and youll realize that Jannard has built an empire on the philosophy of design aesthetics and functionality.

All images courtesy and copyright Red Digital Cinema

For $17,500 USD, you get the base system of RED ONE, which is built upon a modular design.  It will come with basic mounts for battery, the RED DRIVE Digital Magazine, which stores your footage, and another basic mount for the tripod.  Its recommended, though, to use the powerful RED-RAIL and RED CAGE, to mount not only lenses, but also the EVF (Electronic Viewfinder), LCD, any additional accessories you choose and more. 

All images courtesy and copyright Red Digital Cinema

Not only that, but the RAIL acts as a balance, so if youre front- or back-loaded with a heavy lens or perhaps a small lens but the battery and RED DRIVE Digital Magazine are keeping things heavy on the back-end, the RAIL can help counter-balance that, while keeping everything else up.

All images courtesy and copyright Red Digital Cinema

RED also provides lenses, and at the moment, there are two of them: the RED 300MM f2.8 Lens, a prime (doesnt zoom in or out) will ship around the time the RED ONE is released.  Toward the end of the year, the RED 18-85mm f2.8 Zoom Lens will ship. 

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