red

big deal: the founder of Oakley (as in Sun Glasses) decided to bless the world with a new camera. Super 35 sized CMOS sensor, 2K @ 120fps, 4K @ 60fps, 17,500 US$ price, done by the end of the year.

So they say.

I say: Bullshit.

Naked Emperor number 1.

Absolutely ridicolous. Of course it would be nice if such a device would exist within these parameters. People want to believe it in, hence the hype. The hardcore fans can get a serial number reservation for a mere 1000 US$.

I find it amazing how quickly clever marketing can get you such a fanboy following. As of today there is a cad model of the body of the camera. Which also happens to be where the core competence of the company behind the thing (sunglasses!) ends. They say they will have a lens for 4,500. Of course sunglass -> lens. About the same, right?

The core of the red-1 is the ‘mysterium sensor’ capable of shooting 4K and having full super 35 size. Not much more is known about this. Real life problem is, that it is very hard to make a chip that works at this size. Yield becomes a real problem. Nikon just abandoned full size chips in favor for the ASP ones. That means that they more or less left 40 years of lens buyers lying in the dust. If they could have avoided that, they would have. But the owner of Oakley has a 1000 cameras, so that qualifies, right? Well, actually, it’s the other round: What do you need that many cameras for? Oh, well.

Next phase: 4K @ 60 fps or 2K @ 120fps. Whoa. First of all those are big numbers. Secondly: they don’t make sense: 4K is not twice as much resolution, but 4 times more than 2k. So the 4k mode has double the bandwidth needs than the 2K one. If bandwidth should be the bottleneck then 2K might run @ 240fps. I think this little oversight shows how much the red camera is vapor. And within 7 months it has to work? Laughable!

The Mysterium Sensor (there words not mine) is supposed to have 4520 by 2540 resolution. There are bigger and higher res chips around. But this one can generate -so they say- 60 images a second. Let’s assume that they use 14 bit per channel. The data flow would be 4520 (width) * 2540 (height) * 3 (rgb?) * 14 (bits) * 60 (fps) = 28931616000 or 3.6 Gigabytes per second.
‘Red’ is quick to say that you can compress this data. But at some point you have to handle this amount of data, within that little cage. Great. Mysterirum DSP? In comparsion a HD 12bit stream at 1080 24p results in 223 Megabytes/second. So “RED” can handle 16 times more data than the cameras used on major features right now. Cameras that cost 8 times more.
Great. Maybe “Red” should have started out with something easier, like a flying car or something.

The third area is equally odd: A camera never lives alone. Lot’s of equipment makes it a system. Stuff goes in and out. Like sync, like timecode, like audio. Red performs a mircale again: Every option conceivable is available. From a “red raid” the can capture those 3.8GB/s of data to a intnernal drive that operates compressed. It’s all just there. Or, ahem, will be by the end of the year. Of course the camera supports all existing lenses. Not just a few one, no, all.

“Red” is applied wishfull thinking. If somebody would be able to pull of such a leap ahead, then maybe they should have chosen another area to do so. After all the “Red” team knows as much about cameras as they do about any other topic you might pick.

Just for the record:
There will be no working sellable red camera operating at 4520 * 2540 * 60 fps in the promised 11-15 f stops uncompressed ‘444′ by the end of the year 2006. You would need 8 4Gb Fibrechannel interface to transport that amount of data.

Crazy how gullible people are. I hope you come back here in 2007 and read this and compare it to the red-realities that will unfold.

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