Scarlet = Epic Lite

The crew of Tech Media Planet was invited to RED Studios Hollywood for the launch/unveiling of the much awaited and anticipated RED Scarlet camera. I will say this. I drove home that night having mixed feelings, and probably not for the reasons you might think. While RED does do things differently than any other camera manufacturer in the world (that’s a good thing), this product launch could have used a dose of “traditional product lunch”.

In front of a packed audience, in a huge empty soundstage looking at a projection screen, Jim Jannard basically tells the attendees, I’m going to go in the back, type up a blog post, post it to RED user, then someone here will refresh a Web Browser page, let you read this new announcement, along with everyone else in the world that didn’t bother driving all the way over here, and then I’ll return to answer questions….

I’m not making this up. That was the plan…. SERIOUSLY?!?!? …. that would have been a good idea WHY?!?!?

You are introducing a product that the entire film community has been eagerly waiting for, are excited to drop some dollars on, and you’re going to walk away?!?! I have to say that I was totally shocked, and the general deflation and sadness was felt amongst the crowd I was sitting in. But then, in a beautiful twist of fate and irony, something happened that I believe saved the day…

There were so many hits on REDUSER.net, that the website would not load… you have hundreds of people watching a web browser that will not load a page… In any other circumstance this would have been a complete fiasco. But not here, while we waited about 30 minutes for the website to load (there was no hard back-up of the post… I know.. hard to believe), people started to chatter, go to the bathroom, grab a few more meatballs, and then, something that should have been all along happened. Jim came into the room, apologized for the web snafu, and gave an honest to goodness, from the heart, presentation… THATS ALL PEOPLE WANTED TO BEGIN WITH!!!

And it was great. He explained the philosophy behind Scarlet. Talked about the constant evolution of the product. Explained how rapidly things have changed. And concluded with unveiling the Scarlet X, it’s price point and features. The crowd was back! And everyone was into it. And why not? You have the founder of a camera company that has revolutionized Digital Cinema, announcing that you can purchase an “EPIC LITE” for under 10K. To put it mildly, there simply is no other camera on the market at that price point, that can compete with the feature set and quality of this camera. PERIOD. This is a revolutionary step forward for Digital Cinema accessability.

As I drove home I marveled at how smart it was to forgo the 2/3 sensor + fixed lens model. This would have required an entirely new production chain coupled with lenses and support for 2/3 inch. While some would have liked this, from a manufacturing stand point, there would have been no way to maintain good profit margins because this would have required Scarlet specific parts to be made. By essentially cannibalizing EPIC parts that “don’t make the speed grade” and re-using them in SCARLET. You can essentially sell a cheaper version of the EPIC without incurring any additional production costs. Lens manufacturers have been doing this for years. Glass that cannot meet the spec of their top of the line lenses, gets passed down the chain to cheaper lenses to make up for the lower performance. Why not do this for a camera?

All said, while I was underwhelmed by the methodology and thought behind how this presentation was planned out and executed, I could not help but be excited and impressed by the magnitude of the announcement itself. Being able to purchase the image quality of an EPIC at under 10K, is quite simply amazing, and something only a company like RED could pull off. 

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