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Jim Jannard Says He’s Done As Public Face of Red

In Farewell Post, Company Founder Details Accomplishments, Snaps at Detractors

Red Digital Cinema founder Jim Jannard stepped out of the spotlight today with the kind of public flourish you'd expect — he posted what he said was one last message in the "Recon" section of the RedUser forum dedicated to his words. Titled "My Final Post….", the missive is a statement of principles that doubles as an attack on his detractors.

Jannard recounted the 2006 announcement of the Red One 4K camera, the company's NAB debut, and the release of the $17,500 camera in 2007. He says the company strove to make "obsolescence obsolete," releasing the Mysterium-X sensor as an upgrade option (not just part of an entirely new camera system) and offering a generous trade-in program for Red One customers who wanted to purchase the next-generation Red Epic. 

 "With the release of the Dragon sensor" last month, Jannard wrote, "I have finished my mission. I am done posting. I will no longer be the face of Red. Mercifully, Jarred [Land] will take my place and he is worthy times forever."

The posting was meant to argue for Red's strength in the camera market, but Jannard seemed a little wounded, as well, railing against "idiotic" Internet forums and "incredibly stupid posts" that he said described him unfairly as a "hypester" and "scam artist." He remembers an encounter at Red's first NAB show where he says he "almost got into a fist fight" with a skeptical cinematographer who, Jannard says, accused him of promising something that his company couldn't possibly deliver.

"This is the first time anyone had ever questioned my integrity," he writes. "Ever."

Word spread quickly today that Jannard had "stepped down" from Red, but it's not actually clear from the post that he has retirement on his mind. "I will now sink into the background, I hope with my reputation intact," Jannard wrote. "I will work on the future of digital cinema… behind the scenes."

Love him or hate him, one thing's true about Jannard — he's a galvanizing figure with prodigious ambition and an unshakeable confidence in his own vision. He's a fixture on the digital filmmaking scene and nobody, but nobody, has done as much to shake up the Hollywood production establishment during the digital transition. If he's serious about a new policy of silence, it's possible that even people who claim to hate his guts will miss having him around.

Certainly Red will be a somewhat different company without his very public presence at the helm. We'll all have to stay tuned to see exactly how that plays out.

UPDATE 08/20/2013: Land posted to RedUser.net yesterday to clarify one point: "There is no Red without Jim." So Jannard is not retiring, and his "behind-the-scenes" work will continue to take place at Red.

11 Comments

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  • http://darnellworks.com/ Roger Darnell

    Fascinating story – thank you Bryant!

  • Linda Nelson

    RED changed the landscape of the movie business. Jim delivered a camera and upgrades that have transformed the industry making it possible for people with vision to create 4K professional grade feature films for under $100,000, like we did. It also forced other camera companies make competing cameras in the same price range. I’d say he more than lived up to his promise and deserves to “play” in peace.

  • Mark

    All he has said is that he is stepping back from being the public face of the company, nothing about stepping back from the company as a whole.

    • Anonymous

      Right. I *tried* to make that clear in the article (steered clear of words like “retirement” and such) but the article still reads that way partly because his post reads so much like a valedictory address. But if you read the post closely, he seems to be saying only that he’s not going to be the one making Red’s public statements, product announcements, etcetera. Then it’s easy to conclude that he will still be running the show. But it’s still going to be a big change in how the company does business. Everyone got used to getting their news about big Red product launches in those dramatic messages posted to the forums by Jim. Does Jarred Land have the same theatrical urges? We’ll see.

  • Ralph

    I love the guy. There would not be a Canon Mark III and the soon-to-come BM 4K without his ‘reserve the right to change delivery’ approach to balancing cost with practical business considerations. I think that this strategy (in cahoots with social media CSR) changed the basic business landscape for designing and releasing products. You go guy!

  • Toke Lahti

    RED certainly changed the market, but never delivered the original dream of 4k-for-4k DSMC. Either too low resolution for stills or too expensive to compete with other still cameras.

  • Jamie

    I was on dvxuser since 2005. I was on the site the day the red one was announced (before they created reduser and jarred land became a red employee) and for some reason barry green held off. I would private message Jannard occasionally on DVX, and he actually took the time to respond to me individualIy. I was in high school at the time. It meant a lot to me. He’s a nice guy. He is also however very apt to be bombastic towards those he seemed to view as competition — I was also in attendance at NAB 2007 day 1 when he had the near (“fist fight”) argument – he told the guy to F*$k Off. I hated that. Imagine ARRI telling a someone off. Anyway this was the pet project of a powerful person. I think it’s smart for him not to be in the spotlight. The biggest detractor to red has always been it’s marketing and corporate social demeanor. But the guy did his thing, he took an industry where the Dalsa Origin behemoth was the only hypothetical (and non field ready) competition for 35mm film and flipped it on it’s head. For better or worse he changed the industry. Would have done so even if the red hadn’t been priced $32.5K less than the 720p Varicam. Simply amazing. In many ways the red ironically hurt the individual film professional economically, most especially at the low end freelance spectrum. Partially giving way to the new wave non-rental paradigm –broke freelance “kids” face today. It also of course gave-way to the murder of fuji, the death by “natural causes” of new arri film products and the assassination attempt of aaton. That said he certainly did what he set out to do.

  • A Gibby

    Jannard is one of the most creative and talented persons on this earth! A visionary. A complete Rarity. He personally changed the world! Anyone who would question this mans integrity obviously doesnt know anything about him. What we in this business do not need is for Jim Jannard to stop dreaming!

  • George Escobar

    Jim Jannard should be a HERO to every filmmaker henceforth. He shook up the movie-making establishment and forced manufacturers to truly innovate and become price-competitive. And with his pioneering technology, enabled creatives to push the envelope on storytelling. Thank you, Mr. Jannard, for being you. FYI – We used RED for two of our feature films: HERO and ALONE YET NOT ALONE.

  • Jeff H

    The attitude over at RedUser is the one thing that convinced me to hold off on applying for sufficient financing to purchase one of their cameras.

    And after being made aware of the experience of several RED owners who had the temerity and the nerve to make objective comments about the equipment I now realize I made the right decision.
    If I pay money to purchase a piece of kit, and decide to comment on it in something other than a tone of wildly effusive praise and the result is getting banned from the user forum, then I am done with that company forever.

    If you make something, be good enough to take the brickbats along with the bouquets. If you can’t, you will not get my business. I won’t purchase from a company that makes ownership a political issue. I get into enough politics in my personal life. I don’t need it in my cameras.

  • link

    Several in the community say there is a curse on Red until the leaders make right all of the wrongs they have committed against the real inventors of the products. He indeed changed it up a bit. Some say no more than a common theif.