Jim Jannard, the colorful founder of RED Digital Cinema, said this week he is giving up his role as the public face at the pioneering camera company he founded in 2005 and handing over that role to Jarred Land, RED’s current president and a co-owner.
On Monday, August 19, in a supposed final message posted in the “Recon” section of the RedUser forum titled “My Final Post,”Jannard began by stating, “I have said before... I'm tired. I really am.”
He then goes on to recite some accomplishments while also chiding his detractors. He noted his 2006 goal of making “obsolescence obsolete” in releasing the Mysterium-X sensor as an upgrade option to earlier RED customers who wanted to purchase the next-generation sensor without taking a major economic hit. The RED EPIC camera followed in 2011, which includes the company’s next-generation “Dragon” sensor—delivered this year—that’s capable of 6K-resolution acquisition (or over 9 times more resolution than HD), according to the company.
“With the release of the Dragon sensor” last month, Jannard wrote, “I have finished my mission. I am done posting. I will no longer be the face of Red. Mercifully, Jarred [Land] will take my place and he is worthy times forever.”
However, Jannard, a man whose energy and passion has revolutionized the camera industry and literally shaken up the competition, gave a hint of his reasoning for working behind the scenes by letting bitterness come through when he attacked “idiotic” Internet forums and “incredibly stupid posts” that he said described him unfairly as a “hypester” and “scam artist.”
“In 2005, I could see that the powers that be (Sony, Arri, Panavision) were going to attempt to persuade the film industry that 1080P was going to be the digital replacement for film,” he wrote. “The F900, F23, Genesis, D20. I did not agree. As a film fanatic, I knew that digital would replace film, but I wanted that replacement to be respectful to film. 1080P or 2K was [sic] not respectful.”
Jannard also recalled an encounter he had at RED’s first NAB show in 2006 (when it introduced the RED ONE for $16,000, then an unheard of price for a 4K digital cinema camera). He recalled that he “almost got into a fist fight” with a cinematographer who accused him of promising things his company couldn’t possibly deliver. “This is the first time anyone had ever questioned my integrity,” he wrote. “Ever.”
The RED ONE was actually released (with its “Mysterium” CMOS sensor in 2007 for $17,500. It recorded 4K REDCODE to a Compact Flash card. “The only way we could do that was through incredible compression technology,” he wrote.
From the cryptic post, which came without an official news release, it wasn’t clear whether Jannard was doing anything more than simply reducing his role on the company’s public forum. Some say he is the kind of guy that can't stay away for long.
“My final thoughts...” he concluded, “I have done my best. I saw a fatal flaw in the camera industry. We did our best to address it. I will now sink into the background, I hope with my reputation intact. I will work on the future of digital cinema... behind the scenes. God love us all.”
Jannard’s company has begun to expand its influence beyond cameras. The company has released the REDRAY PLAYERa set top box capable of playing 4K files as well as upscaling HD files to Ultra High-Definition resolution (4096×2160) for the new generation of TV sets now being sold. REDRAY connects to 4K displays using 1x 1.4 HDMI output or 4x HDMI 1.3 outputs, with an additional HDMI output for 7.1 channel audio (for HD displays, REDRAY uses 1x HDMI 1.3 output). REDRAY also supports 3-D playback at high frame rates (48-60fps) — more than twice that of traditional HD plug-and-play 3-D devices.