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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 December 2007 - 01:09 PM

Some advice to some of the younger people out there.

If you plan on entering into a career as a filmmaking professional, as opposed to an independent artist working out in the fringes, you are entering a career-long process of interacting with vendors, manufacturers, post houses, rental companies, whatnot.

You may develop your own private opinions about which product or service is better than another, which will inform your renting and purchasing decisions, but you are essentially forming a public partnership with all of the companies in your industry, and interactive process involving human contacts to exchange ideas (and perhaps money). You are all "in it" together.

So when dealing with these companies, think of it like talking to a fellow office worker -- you want to maintain a comfortable working relationship despite whatever private opinions you have for that particular person. You don't walk into the office every morning and complain about the tie another person picked to wear, or how their latest haircut. It serves no real practical purpose.

RED is a new but serious player in this industry and they will be around for a long time, I suspect. It is to the benefit of any working cinematographer to keep abreast of their developments because their camera, or something similiar, will be very commonplace on movie sets over time.

I know that RED is a bit of the rock star in a room full of barbershop quartets, folk singers, and soft jazz musicians... and sometimes their complaints that they get undue criticism ring a bit false because they ask for a lot of attention to be paid to what they are up to. It's a little like the club-hopping celebrity who complains that they don't have any privacy.

I've never seen a company so open about the development process between the customers and the developers while trying to be so secretive about aspects of that process. Do you see the developers of the Sony cameras spending months online publically talking to users about what improvements they'd like to see implemented? Where the typical owner knows the names of the people involved at Sony in designing the camera? Yet on the other hand, there are niggling things like what exactly is a Mysterium sensor and who actually makes the RED lenses, etc. that give the company a cloak-and-dagger tone at times. That's the contradiction, the simultaneous openess and secretiveness of RED that drives some people to distraction.

But they are making a serious digital camera product that is at the forefront of a major transition in the movie industry away from film (though I'm not one of those who paint such a gloomy picture for film, the transition will be longer than many think). It behooves no one to strike an antagonistic tone with them when the opportunity exists to be a part of the development process. That goes for all the vendors -- Dalsa, Phantom, Arri, etc. You have a chance of having real input into how these cameras develop over time by maintaining a working professional demeanor with these companies.
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#2 Sam Kim

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 01:48 PM

very well said.
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#3 Mitch Gross

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 01:49 PM

Yes, and I'm glad you said it, not me!
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#4 Ruairi Robinson

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 02:44 PM

Some advice to some of the younger people out there.

If you plan on entering into a career as a filmmaking professional, as opposed to an independent artist working out in the fringes, you are entering a career-long process of interacting with vendors, manufacturers, post houses, rental companies, whatnot.

You may develop your own private opinions about which product or service is better than another, which will inform your renting and purchasing decisions, but you are essentially forming a public partnership with all of the companies in your industry, and interactive process involving human contacts to exchange ideas (and perhaps money). You are all "in it" together.

So when dealing with these companies, think of it like talking to a fellow office worker -- you want to maintain a comfortable working relationship despite whatever private opinions you have for that particular person. You don't walk into the office every morning and complain about the tie another person picked to wear, or how their latest haircut. It serves no real practical purpose.

RED is a new but serious player in this industry and they will be around for a long time, I suspect. It is to the benefit of any working cinematographer to keep abreast of their developments because their camera, or something similiar, will be very commonplace on movie sets over time.

I know that RED is a bit of the rock star in a room full of barbershop quartets, folk singers, and soft jazz musicians... and sometimes their complaints that they get undue criticism ring a bit false because they ask for a lot of attention to be paid to what they are up to. It's a little like the club-hopping celebrity who complains that they don't have any privacy.

I've never seen a company so open about the development process between the customers and the developers while trying to be so secretive about aspects of that process. Do you see the developers of the Sony cameras spending months online publically talking to users about what improvements they'd like to see implemented? Where the typical owner knows the names of the people involved at Sony in designing the camera? Yet on the other hand, there are niggling things like what exactly is a Mysterium sensor and who actually makes the RED lenses, etc. that give the company a cloak-and-dagger tone at times. That's the contradiction, the simultaneous openess and secretiveness of RED that drives some people to distraction.

But they are making a serious digital camera product that is at the forefront of a major transition in the movie industry away from film (though I'm not one of those who paint such a gloomy picture for film, the transition will be longer than many think). It behooves no one to strike an antagonistic tone with them when the opportunity exists to be a part of the development process. That goes for all the vendors -- Dalsa, Phantom, Arri, etc. You have a chance of having real input into how these cameras develop over time by maintaining a working professional demeanor with these companies.


Certainly you make logical points, as always.

Re: the celebrity thing - I think people can sometimes they have some kind of entitlement into the private lives of celebrities, because, since this person is regularly in THEIR living room, they somehow feel it's their god given right to pry into the celebrities private business - they feel like they know them already. I don't see how people have any right to pry into someone's private affairs just because they go to a bloody nightclub! Guess what, lots of people do that for jollies, and don't expect butts shoving a camera in their face when they are at their least dignified.

Just because red is open about asking for feedback, doesn't mean they are open to telling everyone about their patented technology, and that anyone expects that they SHOULD reveal what amounts to trade secrets strikes me as very silly indeed.

On another thread here, someone expressed an opinion that filmmakers should have to explain their creative choices because, you know, we paid nine bucks to see their movie. It's the same sense of false entitlement at play. Nobody owes you a damn thing. Especially if you are not even a customer. And if you are a customer, they are under no obligation to reveal trade secrets about HOW a product works, as long as the products works as intended.

Just my opinion.

R.

Edited by Ruairi Robinson, 07 December 2007 - 02:46 PM.

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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 05:02 PM

If Red were talking about new features and user suggestions on this forum, I wouldn't have a problem with it. They're not - they're just here for free advertising. Most recently they've been here to spin what would, for any other company, be a highly embarrassing product recall into a second-coming-of-christ piece of corporate propaganda.

> the opportunity exists to be a part of the development process.... You have a chance of having real input

I'm sorry, David, but I think that's incredibly naive. You may be a big enough player to get those things. All they're interested in with the rest of us is selling it to us, damage-limiting their problems, and using my time and my bandwidth to paint their product in a good light. They're not even contributing to the forum. They couldn't give a short poop about my opinion of their product; I am not a director of multimillion dollar feature films, why would they?

Either way I refuse to sell out. If I can do nothing more than stand for cutting the crap on this little corner of the internet, then that's what I'm going to do. I have absolutely nothing left to lose; the industry has been fully convinced I'm a worthless incompetent for months anyway - which in some ways is incredibly liberating.

Phil
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 05:43 PM

I've never seen a company so ....

Yes, Red is a very unusual case. I don't know of anything like it anywhere in maufacturing since Howard Hughes stopped making airplanes. Replacing all 100 cameras in the field would simply never happen at any other company. The cameras were working, the customers were happy. Scrap them all to get a little closer to perfection? The bean counters would never even consider it.

But Red is a labor of love, undertaken by a guy who has enough beans of his own that he doesn't have to answer to any bean counters. That combination of passion and cash in one individual is what makes this story interesting. Watch carefully, like Halley's comet, you're not likely to see anything like it again.




-- J.S.
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#7 Max Jacoby

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 06:04 PM

The cameras were working, the customers were happy.

I think a false impression is being created about the camera by some in their overly positive public comments as in private I've been hearing quite a different story. Now I don't doubt that Red is a labor of love and that they really want to make the best camera possible, but the cameras as they were released were quite simply not ready yet, so they did not have a choice but to recall them if they wanted to keep the customers happy.
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 06:07 PM

God almighty, what on earth is this!?

Is there a lengthy period of standing in line to fellate Jim Jannard, or what?

There is not an ice-cube's chance in hell any company would recall a product unless it was either unsafe or very likely to fail. This, ladies and gents, is what we call a product recall, and it's usually done because the food companies are worried there's bits of broken glass in the microwaveable lasagne. The unavoidable conclusion here - god, do I really have to spell this out - is that the camera was rushed together, badly, and has serious problems. Remember we still have no worthwhile test results, no technical analysis of the thing, because they have ruthlessly suppressed any such endeavour. We have no idea how good or bad it was, or how good or bad it will be after this fix has been applied. We don't know what they're fixing or why. All we have is one guy leaping up and down saying it's great. That's all. We have absolutely no information other than breathless advertising literature.

Is there some form of collective insanity going on round here? This is a corporation we're talking about here - it exists to make money. It does not give money away out of the goodness of it's little heart, because ordinarily corporations have neither goodness or heart and it will take something pretty damned spectacular to convince me otherwise.

Phil
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#9 Stephen Williams

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 06:10 PM

Replacing all 100 cameras in the field would simply never happen at any other company. The cameras were working, the customers were happy. Scrap them all to get a little closer to perfection? The bean counters would never even consider it.
-- J.S.


Hi John,

Apparently the screws on some of the cameras were going rusty.

Stephen
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 07:22 PM

We're not talking about an SUV whose wheels fall off on the highway, hence a product recall. The camera isn't liable to explode and kill someone.

It's just a case of the fact that since September, there have been enough changes to the camera that it is simpler to give the first 100 customers a whole new body then to make the changes piecemeal. RED would do either for the customer, but if you're going to be swapping out the boards, the lens mount, the OLPF, screws, whatever, etc. it would be faster to just swap out the camera at that point.

It is possible for a commercial enterprise to also be a labor of love for the entrepreneur, you know... almost anyone who decides to open a restaurant or a bookstore can tell you that.

I'm sure RED didn't plan on the camera exchange, so this is just a case of higher-than-anticipated development costs. Whether or not it becomes profitable ultimately is Jim Jannard's problem, not the customers'. He's already said that this is a moneymaking venture for him, so I doubt he cares if Phil thinks he's out to make a buck, when he never said he wasn't. But clearly there are less stressful ways to make a living and I doubt Jannard would be going through this if the invention of this camera itself wasn't of personal interest to him.

The point of my post still stands -- if you want to be a professional in this industry over the long haul, form good working relationships with the vendors in the industry, unless you're committing yourself up-front to never using certain company's products. Personally, I'm not a psychic, so I'm not going to try and guess which product I will or won't be using next decade.
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#11 John Sprung

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 08:36 PM

This is a corporation we're talking about here - ....

That's the fundamental error. A nominal corporation may exist for legal purposes, like Summa Corp. or Hughes Aircraft. But unlike all the other corporations, in this case, there's one very rich guy who owns and controls the whole thing.

Back in the 1960's, we had a neighbor who had been a machinist for Hughes. He used to get phone calls from Howard at 2 or 3 AM to go in and make some changes that Howard had dreamed up. Howard did things his own way, no matter what the cost. Jim Jannard is the only guy I know of since Howard Hughes to be in a position to run a manufacturing endeavor like that.

Given the stuff I saw at HD Expo from the various Red users, it doesn't look like there was any massively disastrous thing wrong with the first hundred cameras. It looks a lot more likely that Jim is just finding ways to have fun with a billion bucks. I'd like to try that some time. ;-)




-- J.S.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 09:13 PM

There's a limit to how much I want to get into an argument over the importance of cordiality... ;)
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#13 Gavin Greenwalt

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 09:44 PM

Well.. if you never point one of the first 100 cameras at a bright light you're fine. I'll leave it to the reader to go look for examples on reduser--the consequences are well known. Both are being corrected in the first 100 which in my mind clears the real "shot killing" deal breakers. I actually like the OLPF flare, I think it looks pretty cool and unique but I could certainly see where someone wouldn't want it.

This REDOne(B) replacement is certainly in the best interest of the financial bottom line of RED. With two versions on the market with such differing qualities the first 100 cameras would suddenly become pariahs and the first thing every producer would ask when shooting RED would be "Is this a 1-100 camera?" RED wants their product to stick around for some time and absorbing the cost of some priceless-in-the-field-R&D is just the cost of business in order to maintain a consistent reputation of quality. After all this is only the very first two batches of cameras with thousands more to come, it would be pretty early in the game to splinter your user base. Even the first 100 are already a mishmash of varying stages of development and pretty eclectic in construction. In my opinion the action is a strong statement that they're in the game for the long haul and not the quick buck which is more laudable and reassuring to me than viewing it as them swooping in and being the hero to save the day... from themselves.

Phil, you're right that no company deserves a free ride and I don't think that's what David Mullen was suggesting. There is a bit of cult of personality in action here and RED is very clearly playing the field as best it can in order to sell a product. But at the same time the aren't treating their customers badly. I wouldn't go so far as to celebrate this latest action as anything more than doing what needs to be done myself but it's certainly not something that deserves derision and scorn. The RED One is certainly not a disaster, it's a work in progress and I for one am relieved to see that RED is willing to bite the bullet and do what it takes to get it right because when they profit, we profit.

Keep harping on them on the problems you have (*cough* Jim, ensuring it operates in below 0*c weather *cough*). I do feel as if RED has been an itsy bitsy too defensive creating a pretty polarized and unfriendly environment for criticism. But Phil, I know you've got thick skin. There can be a lot of frustration because RED is so transparent in some areas but completely opaque in others that it's tough to tell if they've actually acknowledged the problem and are working on it or are just ignoring you. Which is why reaching out and trying to communicate is so important.

There is a danger to treating a company like a friend, they aren't, they can't and they shouldn't be. But that doesn't mean they don't want to take care of you as best they can. It's worth repeating that it's in their best interest to take care of their customers and a company who spites their customers usually pays dearly and is run by incompetence--something that RED is clearly not.

Treat every company with respect because if it returns the favor it'll stick around and you'll be glad you gave them a chance. If they don't, then they often get what they deserve very shortly.

Edited by Gavin Greenwalt, 07 December 2007 - 09:48 PM.

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#14 Hal Smith

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 09:48 PM

Apparently the screws on some of the cameras were going rusty.
Stephen

Really? Jim's engineers don't know that you ALWAYS use stainless steel hardware on high end equipment??? It's really not that much more expensive in quantity lots and in small quantities you can get it at Lowes, many Ace Hardware stores, etc.
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#15 Richard Boddington

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 12:14 AM

"I have absolutely nothing left to lose; the industry has been fully convinced I'm a worthless incompetent for months anyway - which in some ways is incredibly liberating."

Nothing more dangerous than a guy with nothing to lose ;)

R,
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#16 Josh Gannon

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 01:42 AM

I Don't understand this argument!

The RED camera is just a camera, a capture medium. It has it's uses and for what it is and the cost, it's pretty damn good and will only get better.

Regardless, I thought the point of being a cinematographer was to master the art of lighting, so why argue about the format which ultimately decided by a producer (of course on the cinematographers advice).


I relatively new to the industry but I would never right off a camera system, in my opinion its better to learn as much as possible about as many different formats as you possibly can, understand the pros and cons so when it comes down to making a decision on how to shoot something, you are educated enough to make that decision.
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#17 Max Jacoby

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 04:12 AM

Jim Jannard is the only guy I know of since Howard Hughes to be in a position to run a manufacturing endeavor like that.

Howard Hughes? Nice compliment John ;)
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#18 Max Jacoby

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 05:01 AM

The point of my post still stands -- if you want to be a professional in this industry over the long haul, form good working relationships with the vendors in the industry, unless you're committing yourself up-front to never using certain company's products.

Personally I find dealing with Red very different from dealing with all other manufacturers I have encountered. Red projects this image of openness and involvement of the user, but in reality I can't help having the feeling they only use this tactic to help promote their product. I am sorry, but there is something wrong if the CEO of a company keeps on defending his product on a public forum, in my mind this makes him look very bad. All other manufacturers are happy to let their product do the talking, as they should. I am certainly not the only one who does not appreciate being constantly told how great something is, before it is even released yet for all to test. Like their new mount for instance. It's just a camera mount for fu**'s sake, something that has been around for ages and is supposed to work, so please don't publicly jerk off about it like you reinvented the wheel, because it just makes me wonder how much you screwed it up the first time around.

Red should not be surprised there are so many controversial discussions/reactions on their subject, in my mind they only encouraged them in the first place. Other manufacturers chose to go a different route and avoid all this negative backlash.
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#19 Jim Jannard

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 05:39 AM

Let me be clear here... for those of you that need to hear it more than once. We have offered to replace every camera Serial #1-100. We told each customer that the 1st cameras were not finished when they took delivery and they had a chance to wait for delivery if they wished. No big secret. Yet we hear stories of complete satisfaction from most of them in there current state. There have been issues... just as we warned from day one. We had fans issues- fixed with a firmware upgrade two months ago. We had a black spot show up in the middle of the sun or extreme bright headlight if you pointed directly at it- fixed with firmware upgrade. We sent some cameras out where the back focus was not set properly. We fixed them. Our EVFs were not performing properly. We held back shipping them. That has been fixed. And so on. Yet people are shooting major motion pictures with these cameras (and earlier prototypes) with complete success. The 1st 100 were not terminal or a big mistake. They were early and not finished. What is missing from this so-called "big mistake" discussion are the questions we are now getting from our customers. Several have asked if it is mandatory to have their cameras replaced! Several have asked if they can send their original camera in for the upgrades instead of a complete replacement. Just so you know, we are offering to upgrade the original cameras if our customer chooses. It just will take longer to get that done. Which is why we chose to offer a new replacement camera. We did not want our customers to be down for a week while we did the upgrades. I have said before that we will upgrade any returned original cameras to the new spec and put them in the demo/service pool. But we can do it on our schedule rather than force our customers wait.

The things that are different on this next batch of cameras are:

A new adjustable lens mount. It is one of the best pieces of engineering we have done so far.
Improved DSP
New sensor settings
A new IR/LP filter in a new location... a bit further from the sensor than the original.
A new firmware build (which would work with any of the cameras- original or new) with more features enabled.

It is easy for us to upgrade an original camera to the new spec. And that was the plan until we realized it would be faster for our customers to replace them. We need the extra cameras anyway, so it is the same in the end either way we do it.

Phil is just wrong. And Max can think and say anything he wants. But nothing they believe or say will change our course. We started out to make a great camera and take care of our customers. It is that simple. We are in development. We probably always will be. Everything can be made better. And when we do, we will make sure our customers get the new stuff without having to buy a new camera. It doesn't point to anything except the continual improvement of our program.

If someone put down a deposit on a RED ONE and changed their minds for any reason whatsoever, we have offered their money back plus interest... no questions asked. I don't remember any company ever making this type of offer. It points to our commitment to take care of our customers for the long haul.

Think what you may. This stuff is pretty easy to understand and pretty hard to twist around.

Jim
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#20 Seung Han

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 07:09 AM

Why are people so upset?

The only people who should get upset is somebody who actually bought the camera and is unhappy about it.

David is right. Try the camera out and decide how you feel about it. If you like it, great. If not, move on. No big deal.
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