One of the best things about being the Technology Editor here at ProductionHUB is having the ability to connect with a lot of really smart people (the best and brightest) throughout our industry.
Shortly after the Hydrogen story broke, I got together with a few RED owners via online and asked them to give me their take on the Hydrogen and the perceived impact it might have on our business. All I can say is that I got some straight up really refreshing honesty, which I thought was great. So that being said, I am posting up one response (unedited in any way) that I received. It pretty much summed up what the others that I spoke to said about RED and Hydrogen. I am honoring a request, and not posting the person's name. But I can tell you that if I can trust this person, you should. So here goes.
The entire tech industry is buzzing about the release of a new “smart phone.” The interesting thing is, this new product wasn’t announced by Apple or Samsung, it was brought to light by a company known for making digital cinema cameras! RED Digital Cinema announced the new Hydrogen smart phone. Details are in limited supply at the moment. However, what is known is that it will be based on the Android platform, it will be modular (allowing for future “multi-dimensional media” add ons or accessories), and will have a 5.7-inch “Hydrogen Holographic Display.” This last detail is the most attention grabbing. RED Digital Cinema promises the ability to view holographic multi-view content, 2D and 3D content, and interactive games, as well as the ability to view VR, AR and MR material without the need for glasses!
Other companies have promised new staples in technology only to have failed. Therefore, there are many skeptics, if not “haters” out there boasting that this is nothing more than a publicity stunt for the digital cinema camera company.
The reactions to the announcement are divided. There are those that disbelieve the claims by RED Digital Cinema, and there are those that believe in the company to the point that even with little information, they’re willing to pay for the Hydrogen, up front, at a cost of either $1195 for the Aluminum version or $1595 for the Titanium version.
It basically boils down to whether or not one believes RED can once again shake the foundation of the tech industry. When they announced their first digital cinema camera in 2006, there were skeptics that didn’t believe they could offer a feature set at the price they promised. In 2007, they shocked the cinema world by delivering everything they promised. Sure there were some “issues” with the initial firmware, but RED essentially pulled off the impossible. This camera changed the way images were captured. In fact, many in Hollywood adopted the Red system for the largest television and cinema offerings. For a "first effort," they sure delivered.
They continued to shock the world when they released the sophomore effort to the RED One, the RED Epic. It approved upon all the "shortcomings" of their first effort in a much smaller, and lighter camera body at an even higher resolution and greater feature set.
RED isn’t a company that is content with the status quo. They always seem to push the envelope. They released another round of cameras, their DSMC2 (Digital Stills & Motion Camera) in a variety of price levels and resolution sizes. They now cover products and price ranges from the lower end to the supreme.
It is this reputation that has so many clamoring to get their hands on the latest offering from RED. These folks are those that enjoy living on the cutting edge of technology. They love being the first on the block with the latest and greatest. They’re risk takers. They’re gamblers.
When they win, they win big! They’re betting not only on the product itself but the reputation of the company and the man behind the company. Jim Jannard is a self-made man. He created Oakley. He’s a self-professed lover of creating images and decided there had to be a better way to create high-end content; thus the creation of RED Digital Cinema. Jannard and his team have been rumored to be toiling away on this product for the last three years. Those who have been lucky enough to speak to him about the Hydrogen know he’s more than excited about it. It’s his passion.
However, those willing to shell out for Hydrogen as early adopters will have to wait until the first quarter of 2018, when deliveries are said to roll out. If one is already a RED camera user, the Hydrogen will be the “command central” and have the ability to be the user interface, as well as a monitor (many speculating that it will be wireless) for the current camera line up: Scarlet, Epic and Weapon.
The skeptics point to a few other products introduced by RED that never came to fruition, or fell short in the design of their implementation. For starters, the “RED Ray Player” comes to mind for some. It promised the “ODEMAX” a platform in which all RED content could be shared and distributed. While ODEMAX hasn’t come to fruition, it was a third party entity and not a RED Platform. RED actually held up their end of the bargain and released the RED Ray Player. It works! To this day, one can still display content, created by RED cameras on the media player. Another product the naysayers mention is the “Meizler Module.” This was to be a module for the Epic cameras that had wireless FIZ (focus/iris/zoom control) wireless video, timecode and wireless audio. Orders were taken at NAB 2012 for $13,000. However, this product never made it to market. In fact, it’s not really known what happened to the project; it just kind of went away. Or did it? RED did manage to make limited quantity cameras that included all of these products or modules in them for the likes of David Fincher, Michael Bay and now Panavision. So to say the products never made it to market might not be fair. Instead, RED changed how it was delivered to the marketplace.
When you review what a small company with rogue intentions has done in just 10 years, it’s truly astounding. They’ve shaken the foundation of a business that generally was very conservative and very set in its ways. Now, RED Digital Cinema is a dominant force in film making and high-end television. They’re now branching out to create products for other companies, like Panavision. Why not branch out even further and create products for folks that aren’t even in the cinema business? It’s obvious that RED has set its sights squarely on the general populous, even if the tech comes with a high price tag.
Some Analysis and Final Thoughts
So, there you go. Words directly from a person that has an intimate knowledge of the industry and one of my trusted sources for all things RED and a whole bunch of other stuff. Again my own professional and personal take is two fold. The first being is that any person (or company) that wants to wade into new markets, well God Bless. Why not? Advances in technology are full of risk and reward. The second point is that the marketplace will decide the future. If there is enough demand, away we go. If not, then Hydrogen will be another great idea that was maybe too far ahead of its time or deemed too expensive by the people who would buy it. Time will tell, will it not?
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? If you would like to add to the discussion, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh, and for the sake of argument, this is the drama free zone. Please keep your response(s) professional and on point. Thanks.
Find more information here: http://www.red.com/hydrogen.
About Mark J. Foley
Mark J. Foley is the Technology Editor for ProductionHUB.com. He is currently in production on his next documentary.