Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Red One Digital Movie Camera
Wired has published a long and fascinating article on Jim Jannard's latest project. For the time-challenged, here are some text-bites:
"Jim Jannard, 59, is the billionaire founder of Red. In 1975 he spent $300 to make a batch of custom motocross handlebar grips, which he sold from the back of a van. He named his company Oakley, after his English setter, and eventually expanded into sci-fi-style sunglasses, bags, and shoes. In November of last year he sold the business to Luxottica, the owner of Ray-Ban, for a reported $2.1 billion."
"Two years ago, Jannard brought a spec sheet and a mock-up of a camera — not much more than an aluminum box about the size of a loaf of bread — to NAB [National Association of Broadcasters, Ed.] 2006. Even though it wasn't a working product, more than 500 people plunked down a $1,000 deposit to get their names on a waiting list."
"For months, industry watchers wondered if the company was for real. Today, there's no question. The Red One is being used on at least 40 features. Steven Soderbergh, the Oscar-winning director, borrowed two prototypes to shoot his Che Guevara biopics, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and later purchased three for his film The Informant. Peter Jackson, the Lord of the Rings himself, bought four. Director Doug Liman used a Red on Jumper. Peter Hyams used one on his upcoming Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Digital cinema that's all but indistinguishable from film is finally coming to a theater near you."
"His team of engineers and scientists have created the first digital movie camera that matches the detail and richness of analog film. The Red One records motion in a whopping 4,096 lines of horizontal resolution — "4K" in filmmaker lingo—and 2,304 of vertical. For comparison, hi-def digital movies like Sin City and the Star Wars prequels top out at 1,920 by 1,080, just like your HDTV. And that's what makes the Red so exciting: It delivers all the dazzle of analog, but it's easier to use and cheaper—by orders of magnitude—than a film camera."
"Typical 2K and HD digital movie cameras keep everything in focus. The 4K Red One is more like an analog camera, allowing depth of field control, which blurs the foreground or background."