In case some of you don’t follow the on-going saga that is RED Digital Cinema, there were a couple of announcements yesterday on the #1 Internet forum for all things RED, It seems there was an announcement of an announcement. No, not that announce date of an announcement that announced the redesigned Scarlet and Epic cameras and ushered in the age of the modular DSMC system but another announcement date for even another announcement. Whew! That’s a lot of announcements.

If you’ll recall, it was just a couple weeks ago on November 13 that RED finally let the design for their Digital Still and Motion Camera, or DSMC, out into the world. This wasn’t shipping camera units or even working prototypes for users to fondle but computer renders of a unique and quite revolutionary system that let the user build a dizzying array of combinations. This concept has the potential to change the market the way the RED ONE has done … maybe even more-so. But all did not sit well in the online RED-watching community. A lot of people didn’t see that perfect, lower-cost camera that I think most everyone expected RED to deliver. It all seems to have boiled over a bit with a conversation that transpired on scarletuser where RED founder Jim Jannard chimed in and eventually closed a discussion thread where people were talking about the camera they wanted that RED didn’t offer. This post from Jannard seems especially telling. So here we are a couple of weeks after the big November 3rd announcements and word comes that there have been some “breakthroughs” and another announcement will come on December 3. From Jim’s reduser posts on November 23:

We had several nice breakthroughs today that will translate into Scarlet and EPIC. Details shortly…
As we stated… drastic changes, expect it and you won’t be disappointed.

New announcement on Dec. 3rd. Everything has changed… just as we promised. 🙂

If all this makes your head spin then you are not alone. A few of yesterday’s quotes from Twitter sum it up well: “sometimes i wish Jim/RED would just spit it out.. or not announce new announcement dates… just for a change,” “ I think I’m still tired after the 13th or should I say the night of the 12th!” and “I picture Jannard as the mad scientist yelling “More Power!” Pretty erratic” are all things I think a lot of people feel. Of course those mad scientists are often the ones who come up with the best results from their experiments!

As an indie filmmaker and post-production guy I almost hate to admit it but I’ve kind of taken to watching all this RED maddness almost as a spectator’s sport. I won’t be buying one of the DSMC cameras unless the entry level model comes in at the right price point and performance level. But I will be studying the codecs and data rates and file formats so we are ready to post whatever media comes off of these cameras. But the truth is that these rapidly elvolving and changing specs in the RED world are just as exciting and scary for us in post-production as it is for the people who might be buying the cameras. From the day they hit the streets we’ll be seeing footage and getting requests to pull the best possible image from the files and deliver it at the lowest possible prices all the while having quick turn-arounds with virtually no hiccups in workflow. If you follow the post side of the RED camera very closely you know that things are changing very rapidly there too. Final Cut Pro and Color get native R3D support, Adobe is adding it soon and everyone from Quantel to Autodesk are figuring out how to work with and conform the native files. The cameras may change a bit more rapidly than the file formats used in the digital image but it’s just as important that we in post follow what’s going on as closly as those who might be buying the camera. After all, this stuff may be the future.