Red Digital Cinema Camera Company

Red Digital Cinema Camera Company

company_name = Red Digital Cinema Camera Company
company_type = Private
foundation = 2005
location = flagicon|USA Lake Forest, California, USA
key_people = Jim Jannard
industry = Digital cinematography

products = Red One
Red Ray
revenue =
operating_income =
net_income =
num_employees =
homepage = []

The Red Digital Cinema Camera Company manufactures digital cinematography cameras and accessories for professional and cinematic use.

Red Digital Cinema Camera Company was founded in 2005 by Jim Jannard, founder of the Oakley company. The company's main product is the Red One, capable of recording at resolutions up to 4096 horizontal by 2304 vertical pixels, directly to flash or hard disk based digital storage. It features a single Super 35-sized CMOS sensor and a cinematography industry standard PL mount.

The camera body is priced far below most comparable products, and as a result it may make high-resolution digital cinematography accessible to many more productions. [ cite web
url =
title = Studios Shift to Digital Movies, but Not Without Resistance
author = Scott Kirsner
date = July 24,2006
work = New York Times
accessdate = 2008-06-07
] This aggressive pricing, and Red's approach of reaching out to potential customers through online forums—unusual in the traditionally very small digital cinematography market—have generated considerable industry attention.

Red One

The Red One was announced in 2006 and released in 2007 as the first camera produced by Red Digital Cinema Camera Company. It has a 12 megapixel bayer pattern CMOS sensor, called the Mysterium. The sensor measures 24.4 mm x 13.7 mm, and has 4520 by 2540 active pixels, though the camera only records data from a 4096 by 2304 pixel area in normal operation. The Mysterium sensor has about the same active area as a Super 35 film frame masked to the 16:9 aspect ratio, allowing the same depth of field to be produced in conjunction with lenses designed to cover the 35 mm film format.

The camera also allows the sensor to be used in a windowed mode in which the sensor can emulate the active area of a Super 16 film frame while capturing 2048 pixel resolution footage. This allows the camera to be used with Super 16 lenses.

Red has measured the sensor's signal to noise ratio at greater than 66 dB, cite web
url =
title = Red One technical specifications
publisher = RED Digital Cinema Camera Company
accessdate = 2008-06-07
] and claims 11.3 stops of total dynamic range. [ cite web
url =
title = support thread: Interview With Peter Jackson's DP
author = Graeme Nattress, RED Problem Solver
date = 04-22-2007
accessdate = 2008-06-07
] However, the dynamic range reported from many cinematographers including Richard Bluck, place the camera's dynamic range significantly lower, at about 8 stops. This difference is probably attributable to the use of different mechanisms for measuring dynamic range. Red rates the sensor at 320 ISO natively.

Lens Mount

The Red One camera has an interchangeable lens mount. It ships with a PL mount, common for modern 35 mm and 16 mm motion picture cameras. The company has also released an adapter for 2/3" B4 lenses, and for Nikon F-mount lenses. [ Birger Engineering] has announced it will soon release a Canon EF lens mount for the Red One, which will provide full electronic control of EF lenses. Other third parties may also have lens mounts in development for the Red One.

Recording formats

The Red One can record at several resolutions. All recording is progressive scan.

The Red One does not natively capture at standard definition or high definition resolutions. However, as part of the process of delivering the raw image data recorded by the camera, the RedCine desktop software can downscale footage to these resolutions. This process yields extremely high-quality output due to significant oversampling.

Red has indicated that a future accessory (replacing an optical raw port that Red originally planned to bring to market) may allow the camera to record data from the sensor's full 4520×2540 active area, although few details about this are currently available. []

Compression and workflow

Redcode RAW is a variable bitrate wavelet codec which allows raw sensor data at resolutions of up to 4096x2304 to be compressed sufficiently for practical on-camera recording. Two variants are offered, one with a maximum data rate of 28MB/s (224 megabits), and one with a maximum data rate of 36 MB/s (288 megabits). Compared with the uncompressed data captured by the sensor, these bitrates represent compression ratios of about 12:1 and 9:1, respectively.

Because Redcode is a wavelet codec, similar to [ CineForm RAW] and JPEG2000, the blocking artifacts associated with other digital video compression algorithms are absent. However, sample images detailing Redcode specific artifacts have been posted on the manufacturer's forum.

Redcode is a mathematically lossy codec, meaning that decompression does not fully restore the original image data captured by the camera. Red does claim the codec is "visually lossless", meaning that the information loss is not visible to the naked eye when images are viewed, however this is a subjective statement.

Unlike cameras that record RGB data, the camera records raw data similar to the DALSA Origin and Silicon Imaging SI-2K. Recording raw data allows white balance, gamma and other image processing parameters like sharpening to be set during post production. Adjusting these settings directly on camera does not impact the raw data that is actually recorded. Such adjustments only influence live monitoring outputs, but are attached to the recorded data as metadata.

Another consequence of the Red's RAW-based workflow is that footage must be processed through a demosaicing algorithm before it can be viewed. Red has provided a QuickTime component which allows a fast demosaic to occur in real-time so the footage can be used in applications that support QuickTime without transcoding. Higher quality output can be achieved by transcoding the footage through Red's RedCine or RedAlert! desktop software, although this process is much slower than real-time. Currently the Quicktime component is only available for Mac OS X and not Windows.


Red has announced several Red-branded PL mount lenses. The company is currently shipping a 300 mm f2.8 telephoto prime and an 18-50mm T*3 zoom. Red has plans to introduce a 50-150mm T*3 zoom, an 18-85mm T*3 zoom, and a full set of prime lenses. Several third party vendors have opened up to Red, such as the Cooke Optics lenses, which is in development of a lens set for Red. []

Recording media

The Red One records footage to data files on disk or flash based digital storage.

The Red Drive is a 320 GB external hard-drive based digital magazine, containing two 2.5" hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration. It can record over two hours of 4K footage. A Red Drive is usually mounted in a cradle attached to the camera's rod support system. The drive connects to the camera via a specialty locking connector, though the camera and the drive communicate using the standard SATA protocol. The drive has FireWire 800, FireWire 400 and USB2 ports, and can be directly connected to a computer via any of those interfaces, at which point it appears as a standard external hard drive, and files containing the footage can be copied off like any other computer files. Red also offers a Compact Flash module for the camera, as well as 8 and 16 GB flash cards. An 8 GB card can hold around 6 minutes of 4K footage and 20 minutes of 2K footage. Compact flash is preferable for cases where the camera rig needs to be as light as possible or in situations where sudden motion or intense vibration could cause dropped frames with hard drive based recording due to the mechanical nature of hard drives. While the camera can use industry standard flash cards, most are presently not fast enough to maintain the necessary data rates.

The company has announced plans to introduce a version of the Red Drive based around solid state disks, which should allow for significantly longer recording times than compact flash cards while eliminating the issues related to recording to mechanical hard drives. This "Red Flash Drive" will be significantly more expensive than the mechanical Red Drive, however.


Red offers three on-camera monitoring options for the Red One, a 5.6" LCD screen, a 7" LCD screen and an electronic viewfinder. The screens have a native resolution of 1024 by 600, while the electronic viewfinder has a native resolution of 1280 by 848. Both the screens and the viewfinder connect through proprietary interfaces and rely on in-camera processing to generate their data displays, so they are only compatible with the Red One.

The camera also has HD-SDI and HDMI outputs for connection to external monitors. These presently operate at 720p.

The Red One can generate a variety of data overlays which can be displayed on its video outputs, including histograms, waveform plots, false color exposure aids, and two different "focus assist" displays.

Unlike virtually all HD video cameras, the Red One does not generate a video stream in-camera which represents its final product. Its real-time monitoring outputs do not reflect the resolution and dynamic range captured in the raw files it records. The camera's live outputs are intended to be used only for on-set monitoring, similarly to the way a video tap is often used with film-based acquisition.


The camera has four TA3 ("mini XLR") connectors, and can record up to four channels of 24-bit 48 kHz digital audio.

Physical characteristics

The Red One camera body weighs around ten pounds. Dimensions are12.02" long x 6.34" tall x 5.2" wide. The camera is based around a modular design concept. It has many mounting points, and accessories like recording devices, viewfinders, "etc." are mounted to the camera, rather than being integral parts of the body.

Performance issues

Like many CMOS-based cameras, images captured by the Red One show rolling shutter artifacts. These occur because data is read from the sensor line by line over a short period of time, rather than all at once, so each frame in an image sequence does not actually represent a single instant in time. Rolling shutter artifacts can cause vertical objects to appear to lean as they move or as the camera pans past them, and can cause strobe effects like camera flashes or lighting strikes to appear only on portions of frames, creating a "tearing" effect. Also, in some shots with heavily overexposed highlights (often seen when the camera is pointed into the sun, for example), the brightest parts of highlights are rendered as purple or gray (one would expect them to be white). This is apparently related to some sort of self-protection feature in the sensor. Red has indicated that they are working on resolving this issue.

Footage has an extensive gallery of high-quality Red footage in various formats available for download [] . Red itself also has some footage on its web site [] , although it is primarily older material shot on prototype cameras.


Red ran a reservation for the Red One camera, requiring a $1000 deposit, between April 24,2006 and October 31,2006. Around 1000 cameras were reserved during that time. Reservations were reopened from January 21,2007 until January 24,2007. [ cite web
url =
title = Reservations: One last chance...
author = Jim Jannard
date = January 2,2007
] The first 1080 reservation holders each received a machined titanium "R" with their future camera serial number engraved on it. Subsequently the camera became available for general ordering, although as of March 2008, there is still a wait time of several months, as Red fills an order backlog for over 3000 units.

Starting early on, the company involved itself in online discussion boards, primarily and later This policy of taking reservations well before the camera was available, and of involving potential customers in the design and development process through online forum interactions, helped to build a strong online community for the camera well before it shipped. It also generated some controversy among those who were critical of enthusiasm for a product that was not yet available and that some even considered technically unfeasible calling it "vaporware" or a "scam". These were ultimately proven false.


On August 31,2007, Red shipped the first 25 Red One cameras to pre-order customers. As of April 2008, Red is shipping up to serial number 1750 (though because of the way serial numbers are assigned, there is no way to know how many of those cameras have actually been shipped to customers), and over 4,000 cameras have been ordered.Fact|date=August 2008

Firmware updates

Red began shipping cameras with on-board software capable of adding additional features and bug fixes over time, via the camera's software updating mechanism. The current release build is 16 (v3.2.5). Since the initial release of the camera, new firmware releases have enabled sound, higher frame rates and better image quality, among other features. As with Red's policy of conducting so much of the camera's development out in the open, Red's policy of shipping the camera early and updating the software over time, a practice seen far more often in the computer industry than the film and video production world, has created some controversy.

NAB 2007

At the National Association of Broadcasters 2007 show in Las Vegas, Nevada, three working Red One cameras were on display as well as all-day screenings of a recent 12-minute short entitled "Crossing the Line" directed by Peter Jackson using two "alpha" versions of the Red camera nicknamed Boris and Natasha. The alpha versions had nothing but a record/stop button and shot at 4K/24 frame/s and a 180 degree shutter. All other features were unavailable. Initially expecting a standard camera test, when Jim Jannard, Jarred Land, and Deanan Dasilva from Red arrived in New Zealand, they were surprised to learn that Peter Jackson intended to shoot a ten minute short set in World War I featuring battles in trenches and in the air. The film was used to showcase the capabilities of the Red One camera in action rather than in controlled test environments. [Jackson opted not to use the Red lenses in favor of the Angenieux Zoom and Cooke S4 lenses with which he was more familiar.] [ cite web
url =
title = Eyes-On the Red Camera: Real and Beautiful, 4K Support Promised on Launch
author = Stephen Schleicher
date = June 8,2007
publisher = Gizmodo
accessdate = 2008-06-07
] The film was shot in 2 days.

Despite being feature-incomplete, Red assured booth visitors the camera would start shipping before the end of the year.

At NAB 2007, Red announced that Redcode RAW data generated by the camera can be converted using propriety software called Red Cine into a range of formats, including DPX. Redcode RAW is also supported in Adobe Production Suite CS3. A new set of prime Red lenses was released which includes f2.8 15 mm, f1.9 25 mm, f1.9 35 mm, f1.9 50 mm and f1.9 85 mm lenses for $19,975 as well as a new 18 mm-50 mm (f2.8) zoom for $6,500. The previously announced 18-80 mm zoom has been slightly delayed. [ cite web
url =
title = fxguide - tips and training - NAB podcast: RED camera at NAB & roundtable
date = April 17,2007
author = mseymour7
accessdate = 2008-06-07

Also at NAB 2007, during the Final Cut Pro User Group Supermeet, the Red team appeared on stage. Although they were scheduled to show footage from the camera, they declined, citing copyright concerns. They also used the venue to announce that they would be developing a "Professional Pocket Cam" and their own 4k projector, but declined to give any more details.


Director Steven Soderbergh has shot his two features recently screened at the Cannes Film Festival: "Guerrilla" and "The Argentine" entirely with the Red One camera. Soderbergh is very enthusiastic about the camera, saying that "this is the camera I've been waiting for my whole career: jaw-dropping imagery recorded onboard a camera light enough to hold with one hand. I don't know how Jim and the Red team did it—and they won't tell me—but I know this: Red is going to change everything." [ cite web
url =
title = Steven Soderbergh to shoot "The Argentine" and "Guerrilla", starring Benecio del Toro, exclusively with RED cameras
work = Red News
date = 2007-07-5
accessdate = 2008-06-07

The upcoming motion picture "Game" is also to be shot on the Red One. []

The feature "Sensored", starring Robert Picardo, currently in post-production, was shot using the Red One camera. [] []

The upcoming feature by Matthew Leutwyler The River Why, starring Zach Gilford, Amber Heard, and William Hurt was shot on the RED.

'"The Last Dragon"', an official Australian-Chinese Co-production, will also be shot entirely on RED by director Mario Andreacchio in October 2008 in China.

Achachamundu! Achachamundu!- A Tamil Motion Picture starring Prasanna, Sneha and John Shea and filmed in US is shot completely using Red Camera. Movie is awaiting a worldwide release. []

eptember 2006 theft

On September 24,2006, the Red offices in Lake Forest, California were broken into. No sensors or sensor information were stolen. [ cite web
url =
title = What Happened at Red
] Some of the stolen items, including a prototype camera shell, have since been recovered, and some items such as computers containing in-detail information on the Red One have not been recovered. Red has not revealed the circumstances of the recovery, due to the existence of an ongoing investigation. [ cite web
url =
title = Recovery... mostly
] Red has offered a $100,000 reward for any information leading to the apprehension of those responsible. [ cite web
url =
title = Break-in...

Other Cameras

The following two cameras were announced at NAB '08:


A 5K camera called "Epic" has been announced, the flagship of the Red family. It will have a S35mm Mysterium X sensor. Although scheduled to ship with the Mysterium X sensor, Red has announced that there will be a free upgrade to Red's newest sensor, called Monstro, which is still in development and scheduled for release in 2010. The new image sensor will maximize resolution, dynamic range and low light capacity. In the words of owner Jim Jannard, Monstro represents, "the final frontier in the digital vs. film struggle". Current Red One users will also have the option of the Monstro upgrade, but at a cost.


Red also announced a pocket professional camcorder to be called Red Scarlet. [ cite web
url =
title = 3K For Under 3 Grand: The Red Scarlet is Here
] The camera's purposed resolution is set at 3K. Other specifications are currently unknown. On the 22nd September 2008 Jim Jannard announced on the Scarlet User forum that specs are changing:

"We have changed everything about Scarlet because the market has changed and we have discovered a lot of things in the process. We have a new vision.

Wipe you minds of the past announced Scarlet. Forget the design and forget the price. It is all different now. We think you will be surprised. Glad we didn't take any deposits... :-)"


Announced in their public forums without specifications is a Digital Still Motion Camera (DSMC). [] Specifications are to be announced in January 2009 and available at the end of 2009. This camera will be a hybrid motion camera and DSLR.


Red has few competitors at its resolution; most have a resolution of 1080 vertical pixels. Resolution aside, the competitors have very similar features and some are already in wide use by the film industry.

* Arriflex D-20 (35mm sensor size, 1080p output)
* Genesis (Panavision) (35mm, 1080p)
* F-23 (Sony CineAlta) (2/3", 1080p)
* Dalsa Origin (35mm, 4K)
* Thomson Viper FilmStream (2/3", 1080p)
* Silicon Imaging (2/3", 2K)
* Vision Research Phantom65 (65mm, 4K, 125 fps)
* Vision Research PhantomHD (35mm, 2K, 1000 fps)

In development

* Kinetta Camera (2/3", 1080p)
* Aaton Penelope DigiMag (35mm, 6K)
* Nox 2k by Gs Vitec



* on the Movie Making Manual

External links

* [ Official Site]
* [ Official Discussion Forum]
* [ RedRelay | A Collection of Red Camera Footage]
* [ | A Collection of Red Camera How To Video]
* [ Red Scarlet Interview with Ted Schilowitz] [ NAB 2008: 2]

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