Tuesday, November 25, 2008
RED’y for takeoff
RED Digital Cinema is rumored to be releasing a hybrid digital motion-picture and still camera. Just don’t call it a D-SLR.
With the introduction of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Nikon D90, the hottest trend in the D-SLR marketplace is video capture. For professional photographers, this definitely will open up new markets and opportunities—not to mention a shooter won’t have to purchase or lug around an additional video camera. Compared to most consumer and prosumer video cameras, users of these new D-SLRs will have a broad selection of faster lenses and specialty lenses (e.g., fish-eye, tilt-shift) that will provide unique perspectives not seen in camcorders in that price range. They also will be able to take advantage of the greater latitude the D-SLR’s larger sensors offer, compared to the usual 1/4- or 1⁄3-inch CCDs of most HD camcorders.
The next company rumored to throw its hat into the ring in producing a hybrid motion-picture/still camera is RED Digital Cinema. “We believe, and are developing for late 2009, a replacement for D-SLRs,” says RED founder Jim Jannard on his reduser.net site. “Currently, we call it a DSMC (Digital Still & Motion Camera).”
According to Jannard, who rarely gives interviews and won’t discuss the project until early 2009, the new DSMC camera will be targeted toward the D-SLR market, but will have a much more ambitious view of the future, which includes higher resolution, a higher signal-to-noise ratio, higher digital noise reduction, a small body and more system flexibility. Although the details are vague, it looks as if RED isn’t looking to jump into the consumer camera market.
The Lake Forest, Calif.-based company was started in 2005 by Jannard, the founder of Oakley—a company known for its high-end sunglasses and goggles. Its first camera was the RED ONE, a 4K camera (4096 x 2304) that captures RAW data directly to either CF cards or hard-disk digital storage—all for a list price of $17,500 (body only). At the heart of the RED ONE is its proprietary sensor, Mysterium. Its file format, Redcode, is a compressed RAW format that allows cinematographers and post professionals more exposure latitude and postprocessing options. To this day, RED is still secretive on the details of its sensor and codec, both produced in-house.
At the 2007 NAB show, RED stunned the motion-picture camera industry with a short directed by Peter Jackson entitled Crossing the Line, using prototype RED ONE cameras. Attendees at the show waited in long lines for up to two hours just to get a glimpse of the footage. By the end of the show, the buzz on the camera was building to never-before-seen levels. Since the NAB show, there are now more than 40 projects being shot on RED cameras, including films by Oscar®-winning director Steven Soderbergh, who completed two films on the life of Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Che, The Argentine), and Knowing, a thriller directed by Alex Proyas starring Nicolas Cage.
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