Thread: My (somewhat sad) Scarlet-W Experience

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  1. #1 My (somewhat sad) Scarlet-W Experience 
    Senior Member Tim Milgram's Avatar
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    Hey guys! First and foremost I'd like to say that the Scarlet-W has helped me create some really beautiful videos in the past 2 years since I got it. It's my first pro level camera and I am blown away by how much better the footage looks than my DSLR/Mirrorless stuff before it.

    That said, I'd like to share my experience with this camera, because I would really like to know if other people have had the kind of quality control issues I have had, and possibly get the attention of someone at RED who can help me/us upgrade to a more reliable camera.

    When I first received the Scarlet-W, it showed up (virtually) DOA. For whatever reason, no battery source could power it on. Strangely, the power cable you plug into an outlet was the only way to get it to turn on. I brought it in to the RED store in Hollywood and they sent it away for repair. A few weeks later I got it back and it seemed to be working.

    I then purchased the Foolcontrol app for pulling focus, and in theory the tech is really cool. In practice, the Scarlet-W has Wifi dropout issues (which I wrote about it an unresolved thread here on RedUser) which result in Foolcontrol disconnecting and requiring the Scarlet-W to be rebooted in order for Foolcontrol to connect again, at which point all the focus points are gone and need to be reset. On set, this would happen about 15-20 times in the span of a 8 hour shoot. Not fun when you have a client there and have to explain to them that the Wifi keeps disconnecting which is slowing us down. (I no longer use Foolcontrol and have purchased a dedicated follow focus system)

    A few months later I was using the Scarlet-W on a shoot where I needed to monitor audio via the headphone jack on the Base Expander. There was a weird high pitched static sound in my headphones similar to loud radio interference, which rendered this camera unusable on that shoot. I had to apologize to the client and shoot with my A7s since it was so last minute. I dropped off the camera again and they fixed the issue after a week or two.

    A few months after that I had a corporate shoot in San Francisco which I had to travel for. I brought my A7s as a backup just in case, given my lack of confidence in the Scarlet-W. Glad I did! It was a 2 day shoot, and at the beginning of our second day, the camera decided that it would randomly power off and then not start back up. Seriously. The screen would turn on and there were some random lines across it, but the camera was bricked. I talked to RED phone support and they guided me through every possible solution but nothing worked. I shot the rest of the shoot with the A7s and apologized to the client. When I got back to LA, I dropped off my camera for repair again. 3-4 weeks later I got it back, except they replaced the Brain entirely because they couldn't fix whatever was wrong with it.

    The next couple shoots seemed fine, but then I started having problems again. Sometimes it was in the form of randomly shutting off *mid-take* (happened rarely enough that I didn't take it in for service again), and other times it was in the form of getting stuck powering on and requiring a hard shut off and another power on to get it to work. I didn't take it in for repair until the next thing happened...

    9 days ago I was directing/producing commercial content for a major clothing brand. There were about 35 people on set, 10 of them being clients from the company. When I arrived on set, after the camera was built and we were ready to do some test shots, the camera wouldn't power on at all. I was seriously stressed out as the first shot was in 1 hour and I have a very specific light-weight setup which allows me to fly this camera on the Letus Helix JR gimbal. After 30 minutes of trying everything, I got my producer to send someone to pick up another camera from a rental house to rent a hopefully identical setup that would work with my gimbal. This would set us back about an extra hour and a half, which was rough because we were chasing the sun. During that time I called RED who also sent a technician all the way from Orange County to our shoot in LA to bring another Scarlet-W just in case and pick up my freshly bricked camera (extremely awesome of them, thanks RED). By the time we had a working solution, I had already had to push our start time back almost 2 hours and the client was not happy about it. I very much appreciate RED for sending someone to our shoot, which I did not expect, but by the time they arrived we were already testing the camera we had to rent for $500 which came out of my rate.

    My camera is currently in for service once more, but I am frankly no longer excited to get it back. Either I am just extremely unlucky, or the Scarlet-W line happens to have some unfortunate quality control issues since this is the 2nd brain that died on me. Keep in mind, I didn't use the camera that often to begin with. Maybe 15 shoots during the course of the 2 years I had it. Either way, I am twiddling my thumbs hoping that Jarred announces a reasonable upgrade path from Scarlet-W to the Gemini. I really love the images that I create with RED, and would like to stay in the ecosystem if I could get a more reliable camera moving forward.

    Anyone else having trouble with Scarlet-W?
    Last edited by Tim Milgram; 04-22-2018 at 12:10 AM.
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  2. #2  
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    Have to say those experiences aren't too different from my own with different RED cameras I've owned. Makes me feel a little crazy for still owning one in some ways. I would be a major advocate for RED if it weren't for their terrible QC and stability/design I've experienced. It appears to be a luck of the draw since I know plenty of people with no issues. My old scarlet-x went down twice on jobs (power issue, then HDMI/sdi issue) requiring me to source and shoot on backup cameras. I swore off RED for years after that until my epic-w which went down once so far (sensor issue), fortunately on a lower pressure job but it was still very stressful to have my expensive camera go down on location on a multi-day job.

    Sometimes I wonder if it comes down to how often we use our cameras. You'll likely get many responses here who use their cameras a lot and have rock solid stability. I own several cameras and RED is always the only one that goes down. I did lose a Sony to a laser which was fixed for free out of warranty but it's hard to hold that against them since that's user error and still fixed free versus red who has charged me for issues that seem to be manufacturer defects. But perhaps with red cameras you need to use new bodies a lot early on to beta test out all the possible issues. Not good cameras to buy and keep on a shelf until a big job comes along it seems...

    I don't imagine your issues would be isolated to Scatlet-w since it uses many of the same dsmc2 components as their other cameras. Sounds like you've had tons of issues, that's really rough. Sorry for that.

    Btw are you the Tim milgram that shoots all those great dance videos?
    Noah Yuan-Vogel | noahyv.com
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  3. #3  
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    Worth noting that I think these posts are important because RED actually listens and can improve. And that's the only reason I came back to RED after my issues. They actually have improved to some degree. One of my old DSMC1 gripes was that power or monitor issues I had required taking my whole brain out of commission while it got repaired and the repair was very expensive compared to the value of the camera. With DSMC2 both those issues now would be isolated to the I/O module which could be user-replaced and rented and even complerely repurchased for less than the cost of one of those DSMC1 brain repairs. And now such items can be purchased at highly available 3rd party vendors instead of only through RED.
    Noah Yuan-Vogel | noahyv.com
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  4. #4  
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    Well damn. That is not fun. I just picked up a SW last week. Thanks for sharing your experiences....
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member Audy Erel's Avatar
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    Interesting that you said DOA, it makes me remember of my first RED (the Scarlet-W) that failed to show any image from the sensor on day one when I was going to pick it up at the dealer abroad. Thank goodness they finally decided to replace it with a different unit after many failed rescue attempt procedure (many thanks, because that unit was looking a little bit dirty after all), it was a somewhat embarassing and sad first impression too because the dealer is located in a different country and I've waited so many months, feeling pumped to finally flown there but had to come home empty handed.. (the replacement unit came 2 weeks later, yes, another international return flights must be flown). RED responded very promptly and offered me a loaner unit while I waited (a more expensive Epic-W loaner unit was available at the dealer that time, which I don't feel comfortable to take so I didn't) and they even want to reimburse the additional airplane tickets.. Very highly respectable gesture from RED. World class. 5-Star.

    Then I finally received the new unit and wow, the camera was really flying, it's the most beautiful cinema imaging machine like no other I've used before. The pictures from the 5K DRAGON sensor were just insanely great (coming from DSLR world) and REDCODE raw is really amazing, I don't want to go back to the baked-in codec world anymore ever since! (Even today, I still feel amazed by the HDR imagery of the Dragons + IPP2, despite of many RED new sensors).

    Fast forward to 8 months later. It started to show some signs of error. The camera is like having a mind of it's own and decided to randomly thrown error codes so many times with "SHUTDOWN" as the only option available [ERROR 0x0000001d] and this also happened during a take! Support ticket issued and the log files indicated that the camera must be sent in to RED HQ for further inspection, which will not be practical for me and must be a time consuming process.. I honestly felt hesitant to take that course (was also in the middle of on going job and can't entertain the idea of not having the camera for many days to come while it's being repaired). So, I waited for the right time to send the camera and just keep on using it.

    Strangely out of the blue, the error subsides from popping out for 3 times a day to once every week and finally it's gone by itself! Cured! Like it's capable of self healing electronics! (must be a classified RED's nano technology at play). It's been 2 months without any error now and going strong. Rock solid (once more)!.

    Until when, only God knows.. my camera 1-year warranty is about to expire soon, that's what i know for sure.
    Last edited by Audy Erel; 04-22-2018 at 07:56 AM.
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  6. #6  
    I winced every time you mentioned the cam going down in front of clients. Worst feeling. Hope you get back to shooting soon, love your work.
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member Luca Perin's Avatar
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    I can say the same about my RED Raven. The body itself works like a charm, almost. Same problem with foolcontrol, it drops connection, focus not working but that's not RED related maybe so I won't talk about that. I had plenty of problems with my dsmc2 sidehandle, I had to send it back 4 times and finally they were so nice to trade it in for a DSMC2 Base I/O V-Lock Expander that I had to send back immediately because my camera couldn't turn ON. I was lucky to have the redvolt XL module (rock solid). I often have the split monitor problem, I have to reboot the camera everytime to make it disappear. Red is innovating A LOT and I love it really, and they do things a normal company would NEVER do (like trading in my sidehandle) but reliability is a crucial aspect to consider.
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member Tim Milgram's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noah Yuan-Vogel View Post
    Have to say those experiences aren't too different from my own with different RED cameras I've owned. Makes me feel a little crazy for still owning one in some ways. I would be a major advocate for RED if it weren't for their terrible QC and stability/design I've experienced. It appears to be a luck of the draw since I know plenty of people with no issues. My old scarlet-x went down twice on jobs (power issue, then HDMI/sdi issue) requiring me to source and shoot on backup cameras. I swore off RED for years after that until my epic-w which went down once so far (sensor issue), fortunately on a lower pressure job but it was still very stressful to have my expensive camera go down on location on a multi-day job.

    Sometimes I wonder if it comes down to how often we use our cameras. You'll likely get many responses here who use their cameras a lot and have rock solid stability. I own several cameras and RED is always the only one that goes down. I did lose a Sony to a laser which was fixed for free out of warranty but it's hard to hold that against them since that's user error and still fixed free versus red who has charged me for issues that seem to be manufacturer defects. But perhaps with red cameras you need to use new bodies a lot early on to beta test out all the possible issues. Not good cameras to buy and keep on a shelf until a big job comes along it seems...

    I don't imagine your issues would be isolated to Scatlet-w since it uses many of the same dsmc2 components as their other cameras. Sounds like you've had tons of issues, that's really rough. Sorry for that.

    Btw are you the Tim milgram that shoots all those great dance videos?
    This is he! LOL. Appreciate the kind words. But yea it seems like it's just hit and miss, and that I'm on the far end of the "always breaking down" spectrum.
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  9. #9  
    Funny that you mention the foolcontrol issue. I talked to the developer several times about it and each time he flat out denied the problem and blamed it on the camera. I find it hard to believe so many people received brand new cameras (Scarlet-W, Epic-W) with faulty WiFi. If there really was a widespread WiFi issue, wouldn't RED have acknowledged this by now? It's been over a year since the release of DSMC2 cameras and the foolcontrol app (both mobile and MacOS) is still completely useless.
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  10. #10  
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    This is concerning for sure but I will say my RAVEN outside of the occasionally screen tear has been a workhorse with no real problems. I also used fool control extensively a week ago with no dropouts and it has worked just fine each time I have used it over the past two years. So i guess unfortunately its the luck of the draw.
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