The simplest way to start this piece is "you cant please everyone" or rather "you can only ever please some people". Thats the concept behind the new Scarlet in truth because it seems that everyone and their dog is unhappy with it or more so everyone that is unhappy is screaming about it and everyone that is, doesn't care. What can I tell you that would make you think differently? Nothing. In all honesty, I love the new Scarlet because it is exactly what RED promised and in many ways its exactly what I expected from RED. They stuck with their roots and more so they stuck with the way that they were going to promise the future.
Lets head back and present the original idea of the Scarlet and understand the progression. Now I'm not a person that has any inside information, I am in no way speaking on behalf of RED nor do I know anything more than the average person. What I do know is what my business understanding and my understanding of the company is and that has helped me keep my expectations in check as well as what I can expect to see in the future. I've learnt from the start that the slogan "everything changes, count on it and you won't be disappointed' to be the truth, the facts and the only thing that really makes RED different from any other company. Everything changes, they tell you that when you enter the door. The original scarlet had 4 variances, one fixed, three with interchangeable mounts. The main up roar stems from the fact that the fixed was axed as well as the rest. Most people are kicking about and saying that the fixed isn't axed. Let's be real here, Jannard himself, CEO of RED had pointed out that the lens on the fixed had issues. When it was originally announced it was going to be a package coming in under 5K, plus the media etc. I'd estimate you would spend still somewhere around 9K-10K just to be absolutely ok. The fixed lens and the rest of those Scarlet bodies were also meant to be much smaller in some ways and potentially lighter because of that. The same time they were going to be capped off at 3K although the EPIC-S or at the time Scarlet-S was going to be the only one that came in at 5K with a lot less circuit boards. There is still potential for an interchangeable Scarlet but lets remember. The interchangeable scarlet is almost likely to be a solo act compared to the new one. Previously they all had capped frame rates and would have no way of upgrading other than simply selling and buying new brains, the next step up. This would obviously mean that if you followed the progression you would need to buy mini-primes and then sell all that and buy the 5K Scarlet, following that the EPIC and so on. At least thats how the upgrade process for some would go, perhaps even to the extent of skipping a 'brain' or two but still it would happen like that.
The current Scarlet takes out a lot of the past issues and presents some new ideas. Ok lets start with the primary issue everyone has, the price. Well a lot of people were under the impression that when 3K for $3,000 was announced, something which I don't remember but people were under that impression, it was obviously going to change over time. They hadn't actually been dug in long enough in the production of the camera to be able to guarantee that. Its highly different to when a camera is shipping or close to it. The past scarlet was also followed by a crowd that believed that this would be their ability to step into the 4K realm, where all the new age films are leaping to or at least seeming to leap to. This isn't a total lie as, Pirates of the Caribbean, District 9 and many others are being filmed on RED but naturally there are a lot on Alexa and still some on film as well as other cameras that are out there. RED is though the only true low priced solution for the resolution it provides and abilities that come with it. We have a significant issue here now though, all these people have forgot the cost that comes with owning such a camera, even at $3,000 there is a lot of costs that haven't been taken into account.
Now with everything RED, all their products are built with quality that is unmatched by many of their competitors, this isn't talking about third party manufacturers but rather about a company providing parts for the equipment that it sells, such as the DSMC Side Handle or EVF and even lenses. Lets break this down though, the fixed lens was going to apparently use CF Cards, RED CF cards aren't cheap and if they didn't open it up before on the 4K they weren't about to do the same on the 3K just in order to keep a lot of the expectations that come with buying loads of consumer CF Cards and them not working down. This is simply due to the fact that RED CF Cards, much like all their media, is tested and manufactured by trusted suppliers who must adhere to the standards that RED sets and be consistent. If a RED CF Card says that it runs at, for example, 45Mb/s then it runs at that constantly without any drops, same with the drives and the RED rams. The beauty of all this is that when you purchase the equipment you know it works but the problem comes with the cost. None of those options mentioned is cheap and nor is the new SSDs. What is one to do? Well you have to take into account that CF Cards use to be able to record anywhere between 9-12minutes I believe of 4K footage on the REDOne and then it took you around 12-15mins to download it. This meant that it was always best to have 4 Cards at hand just incase any of you cards were taking longer or something happened, you had at least one spare and you could keep rotating. The cost however is high on buying 4 RED CF Cards, each costing you $300, a total amount of $900 then just for your minimum recording options. Now you can get any card reader to use them but your best off with the fastest and those aren't cheap, the RED CF reader goes for $250. This works with any CF Card but was built and tested for speed of offloading cards which is highly demanded in any production environment. The total cost? $1150 on media alone though you always want a spare incase your CF Card reader fails so to be safe, $1400. Now this isn't taking into account any of the storage required to keep this data and make it redundant, you'll want to mirror the media recorded at least twice if not three times but this really depends on how much your recordings matter to you. Then there is render times, is your laptop able to handle it? Some people have noted around anywhere from 2 hours (not a lot of footage) to even 11-12 hours. This is all dependent on your computers abilities to render and also the speed of the drives its reading and writing to. All very well known but time is money is it not? So factor that into it and you'll really be looking forward to a REDRocket which is $4,750. Now we are discussing the past Scarlet so Premier Pro, at least the new one, isn't being taken into account here right now. When you've looked through all this the package that people dreamed of, $3,000 which turned to $4,750 and then was noted somewhere later around the $6,000 region is easily going to add up close to $9,000-$10,000 on infrastructure and accessories included, assuming that this isn't already in place.
Into the present with the Scarlet that everyone seems to have an issue with. This Scarlet first off is nothing close to any of the ones discussed in the past its closer aligned with EPIC-S, in fact it is EPIC-S in many respects butjust named Scarlet-X.A wolf in sheep's clothing? Perhaps. A Scarlet that films at 4K and does stills at 5K, does HDRX and drops down to 1K to give you some nice slow-motion. It's in every respect better than the interchangeable. The problem that was noted with the fixed lens Scarlet was its inability to hold focus through the range hence an interchangeable made sense, if the optics provided is fixed, they can't be changed right? So if they can't be changed then people would have to live with that issue that the key function of a lens, being able to hold focus from the minimum to infinity is highly important and people wouldn't want to live with an issue like that. For as much as people complain and say that the current Scarlet being interchangeable poses problems of purchasing lenses and all this is hardly much of an issue when one considers that its probably safer not to have such an issue then attempt to live with it. Sure lots of people wanted the fixed for the fact that it was small and could potentially do the job of multiple lenses in one small tightly metal wrapped nuclear box filming at 3K. When a company has to release a camera though they aren't going to hope that everyone lives with that issue, in fact they are staking their reputation on every major piece of equipment that goes out the door and is announced, if on arrival it is DOA for a majority of customers it could be a PR nightmare. Something people forget is how easily the media can blow things out of proportion and sure people say they won't listen but they are being selfish and thinking about themselves, a company isn't thinking of the individual but rather the group that will purchase. Its a fact that if your going to sell a product you would want to sell to the largest group to turn the best profit. This may or may not be the fixed scarlet group but it certainly seemed to be the interchangeable lens group and thats who won out in the end, especially since the optics are not RED's issue anymore. The other issue is that people believe that it is made from scraps that wasn't good enough for the EPIC.
This theory that it wasn't good enough for the EPIC therefore Scarlet-X is just a scrap machine for RED to reuse bits is rather harsh and total garbage. It's common business practice to try and reduce waste and reuse parts as much in order to minimise cost in production. This is only partly the case here because the Scarlet-X also had to come in at a cheaper price, so if your buying in bulk for the EPIC and you could that parts that previously weren't good enough but were cheaper are suddenly much better for the Scarlet-X.These parts are there in order to reduce the price or more so keep it down and further allow it to gain similar functionality giving people a very helpful standing when entering into the RED realm or the beyond HD realm. They in no way impair the abilities of the Scarlet since "each and every camera gets a high quality sensor. Just because you buy a Scarlet doesn't mean your sensor is any less worthy than if you bought an Epic. What is different on the Scarlet is the processing speed of the ASICs. That limits functionality (high fps, high redcode), not sensor image quality." - Graeme (Reduser). Going through this method it meant that RED could keep to its idea of being able to upgrade, the easiest route and the cheapest route to the next generation. No need to keep buying a new body, no need to keep buying parts for a camera you own just because a company decided to adjust and take a different direction. The box the Scarlet lives in will be good for the next generation but the upside is that the Scarlet-X is in fact good for the next 5-10years of any filmmakers life time. Why? Well if 1080p has been good for the last 5 years or less then 4K being more than twice that of 1080p is good for at least double. Considering its the direction in which marketing TV sets to consumers will go its the natural progression and filmmakers will no need to invest in new equipment. In fact the method of the Scarlet-X presents itself as true heart of RED where nothing is obsolete. The RED One was of course the start but they quickly realised that such a route would not make much sense as the body wasn't upgradable or expandable depending on every individuals needs. Scarlet-X is where this comes into play obviously since it be modded and changed to how someones filming style is and progress with that style. One can create different adaptable parts for it, expanding beyond the RED system much like how Brook Willard has made a Top Mount well before RED brought their one out in order to be used for Spider-Man and other feature films he was on that required such a part to be made for the camera, although yes he was on an EPIC the same applies to Scarlet-X. The expandability and use of the current EPIC parts also makes servicing the almost equal so training on the RED team side is less of an issue. The upgrading process means that its exchanging chip set boards but not requiring to gut the entire machine. The fixed Scarlet would have meant the requirement to continuously upgrade to what was even better, at some point it would not be able to gain the great features that the EPIC would have an people would complain. In any circumstance people will complain and it was a decision made to go for a method in which people would complain the least. The complaint right now is the cost and as I have pointed out this cost is a non-issue purely because of the way in which this camera will pay for itself.
The cost that people are looking at is assuming this is for everyone. This is not a camera that you would by your mum to use for your football games or anything like that, this is a camera that was built for professionals. RED started adding PRO into their name so that people may understand their pricing but at the same time present the idea of the quality that one would be receiving. Yes its a marketing method but never the less its one that helps create the divide further with their previous endeavours and their new ones. The whole new line could be considered leaps and bounds ahead of what the RED One was. In any case the pricing represents the same and this is the issue people have. Though once again, 3K for $3,000 would be an impossible dream and for those that think RED is killing people by pricing a package at $14,015, you clearly aren't reading the pricing on the other solutions out there. RED believes in competition, they want it, they thrive on it, as does any good company, it helps them make better products. This is the case with RED and their pricing, they have presented 5K at $14,015 but really its 4K, since 4K is what is useable for filming. In many ways this is a replacement for the RED One line but in others it isn't since the RED One has more FPS ability then the Scarlet-X but obviously is capped at 4.5K rather than giving the full 5K. The problem here is that most people think 3K is good enough, this is rather like going up to a shop keeper and telling them that instead of selling pepsi they should sell coke. If the person owning the shop believes the Pepsi is better than Coke then who are you to force him into changing? These are his values and he will stick to them, people vote with their wallets and this is what matters. Voicing yourself that a camera is too expensive is pointless, a company isn't going to make it cheaper just because you kick up a fuss. Since that method won't work most have gone to the idea that 3K or even 2K is enough, this is still beside the point. The thing not considered is the after purchase costs of providing the machine to edit the footage as well as storing the footage and accessorising the camera to a workable condition. Below is an idea of the cost savings that RED provides on a full shootable package versus the potentially shootable package of the Scarlet-X Ai Canon mount.
The choice of this was obviously to start with the cheaper package but then go on to create a package that would be shootable out of the box. The problem being that this price is already the cost of a RED One or almost, pre-mx. This is without taking into account RED Rocket or even the PC that is to edit and the backup for the footage (who would want to lose their footage?). Fact is that the true cost is probably closer to that of a current RED One MX, $25,000. Canon's new 500 model camera is $20,000 and only shoots 1080p. What people seem to be missing here is that a camera that will be smaller and even more DSLR like is going to film at 4K. If that is the case and the 1080p costs around $20,000 can anyone imagine the pricing of a 4K DSLR like camera? No. The reason being that everyone is fixated on the idea of a past promise that wasn't fulfilled because an even better one was presented. Funny thing being that many people complain that they were waiting for the fixed because thats what they saved up for. Well if you started saving up in 2009 and came 2010 and you had the amount for the fixed but the fixed never presented itself so one should've kept saving till 2011 and even then beyond. The point being that the uproar in the price shouldn't be happening because the camera that was brought forward wasn't entirely aimed at the 'indie' crowd or more so 'starving artists'. It was aimed at those that intend to either A. Make money from the camera or B. have enough to purchase the camera and support the backend. The fact being that in the end one would always need to support the backend and the cost of the backend is anywhere between 50%-80% of the purchase of the camera, which would obviously place the amount near $21,000 and up. Comparing it against the RED One for example, this is a better deal in every way.
The RED One was the start of the RED line, it was the birth of the company and it was what a lot of great movies have been shot on. Its a shame that I bought my RED One to allow me to enter the EPIC-X program but that was purely because no one knew the game plan back then, not even RED by the looks of things. The change in what has happened to Scarlet all the way to what happened to the EPIC is major in every way. The Scarlet people that should be hurt and complaining are the RED One owners that were going to take the offer of the discount on the Scarlet line, this is no longer available. The upside though is they can take the choice of the RED One trade in and end up with the EPIC-X package at around the price for a Scarlet-X. The Scarlet-X equipped with the same sensor at the RED One outputs higher image quality because it can run at 16bits compared to the 12bits of the RED One, its 14 megapixels just like the RED One but the throughput of the board and the sensor allow it to produce images with a lot better range in colours and clarity, a magically touch and an opening of the sensors true abilities. The RED One still has an edge being able to do 2K at 120fps whilst the Scarlet can only do 120fps at 1K (Tech Specs from www.red.com)but this all accounts for the cheaper price. So in some ways my RED One is better than the Scarlet but in many more ways the Scarlet is better and for a price somewhat cheaper, yes I keep repeating the price because people need to learn that it is all about the price and the images that come with that price.
In the end I think this is where I shall be quite frank and you may or may not want to switch off here. The people that are complaining that RED should've informed them clearly should realise that had RED said anything Canon and every other company would instantly change their game plan. I've heard from the Canon conference that they said the industry wasn't ready for 4K, they probably then realised the unhappy side of the announcement being that the camera was 1080p with an apparent 4K sensor, so they announced they were coming out with a 4K camera. There is other offerings and those offerings towards 4K have been driven by RED but if every company is looking to see what the price of a RED product will be in the future and what resolution they can easily position themselves, marketing wise, and avoid a major loss to their loyal fans. Canon buyers would be foolish to purchase the C300 when they could easily purchase a Scarlet and if you have $20,000 to toss on a 1080p camera you must have the money to also store the footage. I mean I can see the Canon being used for TV and Studio work now but only for TV or web delivery, anything theatrically and I'd suspect that the Scarlet is probably the best bet. Heres the thing though, even editing at 2K or 3K is demanding but more than that its releasing these things at 2K or 3K to really present ones work. There is no point slaving away at a 2K image and colouring it then dropping it to 1080p and uploading it to the web, you might as well have gone into post with the 1K image file and edit from there, 2K would've just been overkill. No one will notice the difference on todays monitors between 1K,2K or 3K on a video site or on TV. The dynamic range maybe something people are after but a good DoP can take care of that. Notice though, all the above is taxing on time and understanding of the workflows. This no matter what Scarlet you would've chosen would need to be taken into account. Nothing comes free, nothing comes cheap to some. When you break what the Scarlet announcement is down to its roots, it sucked for many people that wanted a 3K for $3,000 camera. Didn't happen so they complained. Get a camera, go out, film, shoot do whatever but get some images. "There is no point in having sharp images when you've fuzzy ideas." - Jean-Luc Goddard, your first short or feature may not be amazing so you keep working at it and training your skills, by the time the Scarlets in reach you'll have amazing ideas hopefully and images. More than that one should note that RED works much like the theory of Ford had, "If I had asked my customers what they wanted,they would have said a faster horse" - Henry Ford. Customers act on the present and inform on what is being developed in the present. Example of which would be the expansion of interfaces and so forth, these would be evolutions of the current iterations not revolutions, this isn't to say there aren't people that know how to revolutionise things but the majority work on evolution. RED has brought 4K cheaper to more people then previously in a smaller package, I suspect this means in the next 5 years we'll see 4K options closer to what people are dreaming of right now whilst RED moves ahead to provide 6,9 and 28K solutions. So sit tight, relax, maybe you won't get 4K for $4,000 this year or even 2K or 3K. This is especially likely as TV manufacturers begin to push 4K and market it.