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RED Digital announces delays in Epic and Scarlet cameras

RED Digital Cinema’s Epic and Scarlet digital data recording cameras have been dealt double blows that have set deliveries back — a firmware bug and the loss of a manufacturer — company founder Jim Jannard confirmed last week.

A significant firmware bug is now known to have been holding up both of the camera models for at least two months. Jannard wouldn’t describe the bug but was determined to have it fixed. “Trust me when I tell you that we have been humbled. I have questioned our aggressive goals every day,” he said.

“Epic and Scarlet are complicated cameras. Probably the most complicated cameras ever attempted,” Jannard continued. “We have a crack team on it. The amount of development for this program is unprecedented. But somewhere in the complication ... we have a bug. It has held us up now for two months. We have working cameras, as you know. But we aren’t going to release anything until the cameras are done and bug free. And we have stumbled on an issue that has caused us considerable grief. It is unexpected, and it has us baffled. The fix could be tomorrow... or not.”

The CEO also warned that the issue was compounded by manufacturer problems. He wouldn’t name the company but said it had “significant issues” and that an attempt to build the Epic camera in the United States wasn’t working. RED is now looking for a new partner and may see additional delays without a replacement arriving in time.

He hinted that the contractor was Foxconn, the Chinese company recently hit with a rash of suicides that led it to raise wages. Now there is talk of the company leaving mainland China.

Epic and Scarlet are both considered the successors to the original RED One camera. Scarlet is designed as a camcorder-sized platform with a 3K resolution and optional modules that could turn it into a pseudo-DSLR. Epic shoots at 5K or higher, depending on the sensor module, and is intended for traditional pro video shooting with options like stereoscopic 3-D capture.