By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
When you think about milestones and RED, you’d expect to see great fanfare. But they didn’t even put out a press release. Instead, in celebrating the tenth anniversary of their MYSTERIUM sensor and the RED ONE Cinema Camera, it was a largely quiet affair with those who were there when it all began, and Jarred Land hints of more to come.
“10 years ago we tucked away a handful of our first MYSTERIUM sensor wafers deep inside the vault. Today I was honored to hand those wafers out to some very incredible men and women that were there when it all went down. … The dedication and passion of a few relentless souls helped change history. Thank you Jim for your dream and thank all of you that dropped your everything to make that dream a reality.” – Jarred Land, Facebook
Technically, RED began twelve years ago when Oakley sunglasses magnate Jim Jannard decided there had to be a better way to get the industry to move towards a digital platform. It was in 2007, however, that their first digital cinema camera, the RED ONE, was launched at NAB, with the 4K MYSTERIUM sensor. And it was director Peter Jackson’s (with Neill Blomkamp) World War One short film, Crossing the Line, that was shown in Las Vegas and caused jaws to drop. They filmed it with two prototype RED cameras known as Boris and Natasha. Our own Editor-In-Chief got to see the film at NAB in 4K, which he said was incredible.
The film looked so good to director Steven Soderbergh, that he sought out Jannard to say he was “all in” in shooting on digital and had to get his hands on the camera and use it for his next film Che.
It’s easy to see why looking back. Even a decade later the RED ONE can stand up to the competition with the ability to shoot in 4K at 30p in 12-bit REDCODE RAW, while going up to 120 frames per second at 2K. RED didn’t stop there, of course, as a few years later they would make good on the RED ONE’s promise to be upgradable by expanding to the 14 megapixel MYSTERIUM-X sensor, which offered greater dynamic range, a higher ISO, and it could achieve 5K in the EPIC (check out Peter Jackson’s original MYSTERIUM Camera tests here).
From there, the sky has been the limit as RED has expanded its line, and along the way brought in a the smaller SCARLET (both of which included MYSTERIUM-X sensors) before moving to the next level with the 6K DRAGON EPIC and SCARLET, 8K WEAPON Vista Vision, RAVEN, SCARLET-W with DRAGON sensor, and WEAPON and EPIC-W with the Super 35 HELIUM sensor.
And while this week has been about looking back, and honoring those who are still with the company with a very nice memento, a plaque made of original Mysterium chips (see above), RED Fire Chief Jarred Land may be giving us a small glimpse of what they could have planned for later this year.
Taking to Facebook yesterday to honor Jannard’s vision and those who were part of it, Land hinted that later this year, they will “remind everyone just how important the sensor is to the camera.”
So is RED getting ready to rock the cinematic world again? What could be coming over the horizon, sensor-wise? I rather doubt it’s going to be outside of the 8K envelope, so perhaps, like the MYSTERIUM-X, the WEAPON will get an incremental boost, which will see improved dynamic range and higher frame rates. But RED lives over the horizon, so who knows? Maybe we’ll get a 10K or 12K sensor, and we’ll be drooling all over again.
Meanwhile, here’s to a decade of the RED ONE and its MYSTERIUM sensor. I’d shoot on it today in a heartbeat.