Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Should We Be Waiting for the Scarlet?

It's been quite a while now since RED announced their 3K prosummer priced Scarlet camera after the very successful introduction of their RED One camera. I've worked with the RED One, and it truly is as amazing as all the hype. That's hard to find in this world. But here we are, three years out from first hearing about plans for the Scarlet and still no sign of it. By all reports, it sounds like the camera is still being worked on. And there are some prototypes out there being used. However, RED has pushed back and pushed back their release date of the camera. They made the choice to delay release and go back to the drawing board to be able to compete with DSLR cameras that can shoot HD video when the Canon 5D Mark II first took off as a new tool for digital cinematographers. Ironically, this might have been the first stept toward the failure of the Scarlet as so much time as gone by, and more HDSLRs continue to hit the market.

I count myself as one who was once in line for a Scarlet, eager to get my hands on one once released. Now ... well, I'm shooting more and more these days on DSLRs. I own a Canon T2i, and while there are loads of limitations to these cameras, its not like any camera is free of limitations or issues. On the other hand, for a fraction of the price of a Scarlet, I can shoot some pretty cinematic material. I'll let this reel I put together speak for itself.

Now certainly, if given the option, I would prefer to shoot most projects on a RED One or Epic. But let's face it, most projects do not have that kind of budget! At this point, most people I know have given up on the Scarlet. There's no point waiting any more. One of three things will happen. Either the Scarlet camera will be abandoned and never released, or the Scarlet will be released but not make nearly the splash RED hoped it would, or they will go to the drawing board yet again and create something new that really blows us away (if Sony, Canon, or Panasonic don't beat them to it first).

The last one, while a possibility, seems unlikely. My gut feeling at this point is that the Scarlet is destined for abandonment. From the perspective of the indie filmmakers that have been hoping to shoot their projects on a Scarlet for the past three years, we'll only believe the Scarlet will be released when we're holding one. And even then ... we might be too busy shooting our films with something else just as good or better.

The evolution of camera technology is happening so fast these days, that delays like the Scarlet has faced, while potentially reasonable, also allow for other companies to seise the opportunity to introduce a new product that pulls the rug out from under a delayed product. HDSLRs have done just this to the Scarlet. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate RED's inovation and the Epic looks absolutely amazing. And when it comes to shooting a feature film, I have to admit I'm quite leery of doing so with HDSLRs. Yet, when on a micro-budgets, we all have to work within our limitations. But as for the race between the Scarlet and Canon for the HDSLR market ... I have to go with Canon as the clear winner. If you want any more details on all of this, I recommend reading:

And for those who are still skeptical about the image quality of DSLR cameras when compared to higher end cameras like the RED One, I'll leave you with this video:


Ryan Dunlap said...

A close friend of mine was the first person to shoot on a Scarlet outside of the RED team, and even walked around with it on the floor of NAB (with security escorting him).

It's real... I don't know when it'll be available, but it exists in the real world.

Ryan Dunlap said...!/hutson/status/58375967294492673

(figured I'd post proof ;) )

Mikel J. Wisler said...

Right on! Thanks Ryan. That's wicked cool.