Red: how many more Scarlet pictures are we going to get shown?

– by Liza Witz and Martin Beek –

waiting for red scarlet cameraCurrently it is hip to be Red. It’s perfect marketing. They didn’t design those cams like this by accident. I think they learned everything about that by Apple. Put good technology into a very cool case, deliver everything from support to software yourself and you can put a higher pricetag on it. Yes, you maybe can get the same technology for a lower price, but it wouldn’t be Red.

But like it goes with guys like Red and Ikonoskop; we haven’t seen a camera yet, we haven’t seen one second of footage yet, we are asked to wait another year. And another year.

Personally, I was interested in RED and when they first announced Scarlet it sounded intriguing, but its changed so much now it looks like they will never deliver the scarlet they promised.

To my mind, the company is all hype and no products… sure they eventually delivered the RED One. But by the time they did, technology had caught up to the point that it was not that revolutionary.

The 2/3 fixed lens version is probably not what you want. You need to spent another 5K$ on stuff for your Scarlet 35. Right now, the Brain with (a fixed lens) is $3,000. Add another $1,000 to put a CF slot on it and a single 16GB CF card (going by current prices on the RED store). Add $3,000 for the RED EVF, and add $600 for a battery, and assuming you don’t want to capture sound I think you’ve got a complete camera for…. what, $7,600?

I think RED is going to stay out of my price range for quite awhile. Call me cheap, but although i like Modular, i don’t like modular pricing.

Like Phil Bloom writes:  Don’t wait for something that isn’t out yet that only has an estimated release date. If you need something, can use something, can make money from something that actually exists then get that now. This applies not just to cameras…. (www.philipbloom.net)

Be aware of the fact, that other sexy 4K cameras will flood the market in 2010, for Scarlet’s price and less – i promise – let’s all wait a bit, try not to be too eager,  try not to be an early adopter -> it will save you money and a lot of stress…


7 Responses to “Red: how many more Scarlet pictures are we going to get shown?”

  1. 1 Paul Schneider
    December 3, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    You know, I get the frustration that scarlet keeps getting delayed. However, to say the red one didn’t change anything seems pretty naive. I mean, a year ago I was shooting a commercial a month…every one was on film. suggesting Digital was the kiss of death in a pitch. Now…CLIENTS ask me to consider red. That’s a game changer. They don’t ask for genesis, or arri digital, or Sony, or phantom, or anything else…it’s film or red…red or film.

  2. 2 marvelsfilm
    December 3, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    I agree Paul. That’s my experience exactly. I hope this article triggers some good discussions though. 😉


  3. 3 Zach Nichols
    December 7, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    Hmm, I gotta disagree with a lot of what’s being said here. Yes red does seem to be very mindful of the way their product “looks” and is being marketed. The company was started by the guy who owned Oakley sunglasses, what else did you expect? The insinuation that you can get the same technology for a lower price is 100% false however. Yet, at least.

    We have been shown footage. Granted I believe it is limited to two clips from Scarlet prototypes (a couple eagles picking at a carcas / the iguana shot).

    It’s also hard to claim that Red is all hype and no products. So far they have a 100% record as far as releasing products they promise. The scarlet may have changed by the time it is finally released, which they are now saying will be sometime in summer 2010, but they proved with the Red one that they can deliver.

    To say that the technology had caught up to Red by the time it was released is also quite a stretch. The only real professional digital alternatives at the time of the release were all still high end cams like the Viper or the Cine-alta line, all of which cost major $$$, sometimes 5 times that of the red one, all while doing less than what the Red could do. Paul is absolutely right, it is Red or film right now. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like when Epic finally hits.

    The 2/3 fixed kit is set to be available at $4750 (Includes CF module, Touchscreen lcd, Red mote, battery) Should be able to shoot right out of the box, though I don’t know if they’ve said if it actually comes with a CF card so that could be an additional expense.

    Also the claim that 4k cameras are going to flood the market in 2010 for scarlet’s prices and less, is pretty unfounded. Granted not all companies are as open about product development as Red is, but so far the only real indicators of competition I’ve seen are from JVC and ARRI. Both of which are releasing cameras that look like they are going to do less for more, not the other way around.

    I do however 150% agree with Phil’s take, regarding waiting vs taking advantage of what is available now. I’ve been waiting for Scarlet for quite a while now and have been getting pretty frustrated by the repeated release changes. If specs are any indication the scarlet that does finally hit the market will be a much better camera than it’s early incarnations, that doesn’t make the wait any easier though. Thankfully I have access to some nice alternative cams (H1, EX1, etc..) which makes it a good deal easier to hold off and wait.

    I am strongly considering picking up a 7D or the new 1D when it comes out. I love the low light capability and the easy DOF, I find 35mm rigs like Letus and Redrock to be awkward and cumbersome and try to avoid them. I’ve been waiting for Canon to give us a raw capture option (h.264 is a finishing codec for Christ’s sake), but that has also been a frustrating wait. The extreme rolling shutter also gives me pause. If Canon addressed those two issues they would find me a ready and willing customer. Until then I’m going to continue suffering through the Scarlet wait.

  4. 4 marvelsfilm
    December 9, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Zach. Thanks for your comment. My post was intended exactly to get a nice discussion going. Good points there.


  5. 5 Shane
    December 16, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    I’ll chip in here to also say that nothing on the market has caught up to the RED One, especially in its price range.

    I’ll also add to Zach’s comment about Canon offering a RAW codec and fixing the rolling shutter, that they also need to address the aliasing issue by doing a proper downsampling, a windowed mode, or a full sensor image (which would be 5K+). Basically, for them to be able to do that, they will have to put some serious processing power in the camera, which will, guess what, make it cost as much (or more) than the Red.

    Red’s secret sauce is REDCODE. Until another company can develop a codec like that, you won’t see a company able to compete on the same price level and offer the same quality that they are.

  6. 6 Rob Ruffo
    December 17, 2009 at 6:57 am

    I think Red does not really have direct competitors. Those who chose ENG cams at higher prices instead of RED seem to be older guys who miss their Betacams (sorry but.. It’s true.)

    That said, the latest Me2 adapter is heavy, yes, but with an EX1 produces very, very nice imagery, and the fuss is not such a big deal. You get lower fuss in the data wrangling, recording to a Nanoflah or your SXS cards. The added expense of RED is lots of RED cards with shorter record times and rooms of harddrives full of 4K footage. In some cases, this amounts to not much, but doing long-form docs it can add up to definitely something. We must also consider Ex1 cheap and long-running batteries, high working stability (the EX1 is a workhorse that just works and works and you can always rely on, with very, very rare exceptions, a RED can sometimes be a bit finnicky.) We add to that that RED footage must be converted to something else to edit… (EX clips drag and drop into any NLE…)

    All this to say, the Red costs more, in several ways, maybe looks better than an Me2 + EX1 (sometimes, at least)and that both of these are better or worse alternatives, depending on the situation.

    To me the real problem with the 5D and 7D is aliasing – this causes even SKIN to look weird – and not very high actual resolution. I love the 5D as a stills cam – CRAZY AWESOME – but it is mediocre as a shooting cam, at least for serious broadcast apps in HD or film-out. I coudl care less about ergonomics – when it’s on a tripod/dolly/steadicam – who cares at that point? Ergonomics are easy to fix. It’s the image quality which I find less than stellar on many occasions, and just not trustworthy.

  7. January 7, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Hmmm… couple of points. Scarlet is not RIP. It is indeed delayed, but look at how the specs have changed.
    You say that the camera is out of your price range, but you dismiss the fixed Scarlet without explaining why. From what I’ve read the lens alone on the Scarlet makes it a very, very interesting camera, that should fit many projects (which again should then enable you to pay for a S35 format camera.)

    And Rob,
    As much as I love our R1, when I am out on a paid ENG job, I take our old DSR-570 camera. Not because of its inferior image quality or because I guess I am old by your definition, but simply because it is the right tool for the job. The R1 just takes too damn long to boot. It sucks up too much power. No ND to dial in. No zoom buttons. No delivery format that my clients understand. Too heavy to lug around all day long.
    A friend of mine runs a bigger ENG shop, and he was looking for a new HD ready camera. I tried to get him interested in a R1, but after many discussions we both agreed that a more expensive JVC at “only” 1080p fits his company’s needs better.
    Now, things will get very interesting with the Scarlets and Epic.

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