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Red 4K Camera Makes Initial Shipment

The words were in big bold letters on the Red Web site: Red Delivers First 25 Cameras. Smaller text beneath the headline said the much-anticipated event had taken place Friday, 31 August.

At press time, a further batch of cameras was set to launch on Friday, 7 September. Red's Ted Schilowitz said that six months was the engineering target to deliver the approximately 1,500 reserved cameras. He added that many more units had been ordered since NAB, but that number is not public information.

"Everything we do is based on engineering targets, not sales/marketing targets", Schilowitz said.

The shipment is a significant step for the company, which only announced its intent to deliver an operational 4K/2K/HD camera at NAB2006. That bold announcement was greeted with scepticism by some, who said the camera would cost far more than the promised US$20,000, a figure far below the price point of any other 4K or 2K camera and even lower than any 2/3-inch CCD HD camera.

At NAB2007, however, the lines at the Red booth were long, as attendees lined up to see "Crossing the Line", a 12-minute film shot with Red One prototype cameras. The feature was the brainchild of Peter Jackson, director of "King Kong" and the "The Lord of Rings" trilogy.

"Crossing the Line" was shot in 4K using two alpha versions of Red One nicknamed "Boris" and "Natasha". The finished film was projected in 4K in the Red Theatre at NAB with Sony's 4K projector and made Red Digital Cinema's exhibit one of the hottest booths at the show. The short featured compelling cinematography, and many viewers reacted with enthusiasm.

"Crossing the Line" proved that the Red Camera was technologically feasible, and the next question became a shipping date. The initially hoped-for May date was shifted partly due to the lessons learned in making the short.