Making a bleeding edge, 8K cinema camera is hard. Being a small company competing with the big boys, it can be even harder. So when Cinemartin announced this week it was declaring bankruptcy and going out of business, it came as no real surprise.
Bad news, we are about to close due to bankrupt. Our tie mother company leaves us with no other option. End of Cinemartin probably by 1 April, the joke day, but our end as a filmmaking company. Thank you for all your efforts and grattittude. Soon we will make the public announcement. – Cinemartin, Facebook
Cinemartin was hoping to get more attention for their Fran 8K Cinema Camera, by promising a fifty mega pixel image sensor, RAW recording, Dual ISO, a Vista Vision option, and global shutter. All for sticker price starting at around $8,000. But it didn’t take long for that price to leap up to around $14,000, and up to nearly $30,000 for a model with more options.
That’s a huge jump, and with its launch deadline slipping, it soon became obvious that Cinemartin was in trouble. So much trouble, in fact, that when Red Shark News was sent an evaluation model to review, it was apparent that they got their hands on an unfinished prototype and not one that was nearly ready to ship. The camera suffered from frame duplication problems, and other glitches that don’t make potential clients want to invest their money in.
“The camera we were shown wasn’t something that a lot of people would have let out of the lab for review, but that’s not entirely unusual either,” wrote Phil Rhodes of RSN. “Fran, though, was certainly not ready for the big time, and stands as a signal example of why manufacturers tend not to talk about things until they’re really good and ready to.”
The RSN article goes on to hint that Cinemartin may have fallen victim to a project that was commissioned to be built by a company around the globe, which would inevitably end up with production delays and cost overruns. It may also be that the company was pressured to ship a working product, even if it wasn’t ready, and at the end of the day, they decided to just pack it in. Or, and I think more likely, it’s a combination of all those factors, plus Cinemartin dove into the deep end of the 8K pool, where few, like Blackmagic, have successfully managed to wade.
Going up against the likes of RED, Panasonic, ARRI, and even Canon with their new 8K camera, would require any company to play a perfect set of downs by picking the right manufacturer, suppliers, and design. At the end of the day, technology is a fickle mistress, and problems when you’re just getting started will inevitably rear their ugly heads.
And when that happens, the company has to have plenty of runway to weather the storm. Even RED and Blackmagic ran into trouble with their first Cinema Cameras, but were able to push through with solid designs. But what befell Cinemartin and their Fran 8K camera may have been a case of doing too much, too quickly, and not taking into account the pitfalls along the way.
Technology is hard. Making a cinema camera, even harder.