Ok this is a bit far out but as I ponder the October 30th announcement I have to agree that the overall strategy of RED is really great. It makes absolute sense and even the Scarlet miss makes me a bit sad I understand the urge to make it right and its good to know there are people working at RED that are perfectionists - that makes me extremely confident in the overall direction this is going. There is just one side statement Jim made that I really wish he would not have made because that lets slip a bit of a walled in view of the world.
I understand that suppliers and the whole underlying dynamic of the internation electronics market has seen a lot of shifting around in the last 12 month and with a startup that must suck so no problem here but4. Several of our suppliers have gone out of business in the bad economy. It takes time to find replacements.
This is what trips me up slightly. I do not think that the weak empty market is gonna go away - like ever - at least not in the hollywood "doing bussiness as usual". I have written a thesis about the decline of Hollywood 4 years ago and my predictions are fullfilled almost exactly as I have theorized.7. The market has changed. When we announced EPIC and Scarlet, the world was hot. Now it is cold. No reason to rush to an empty market.
Hollywood still makes money but cuts costs where ever because the money givers sitting in NY not in CA looking only at RoI -> means production gets cheaper means the "money" devide between indy film makers and hollywood is closing (paranormal activity anyone?) means hollywood slowly looses its leadership role while indy producers are picking up steam. I base these observations on what I see and have seen in the music industry and yes I think with a delay of about 10 years the same thing is happening with film - monopolies fall - data is free and ubiquitous and freaking cheap - internet distribution is just fastening the pace (pixels want to be free is my motto).
I think that the only thing the 3d hype does is getting theaters back to the point of where they have started - as a rollercoaster ride like attraction (I hope you are all down with film history) on a fairground - the creative storytelling might add 3d ones its so common everywhere and watchable without glasses and postproduced on an iMac. Its not gonna be the "hollywood saver" mr cameroon makes it out to be - unless hollywood wants to go back to the 1910s.
I was more then pleased that recently Mr. Coppolla sees this the same way as me (in more then one regard (hint:last paragraph in the interview - thats what I have written a thesis about - 4 years ago))
Hollywood film numbers fall
There are other quotes from big gun directors & producers going down the same mental route."the cinema as we know it is falling apart".
So what has that to do with jims statement?
Well from my reading Jim is not unhappy with the delay (all fine and dandy) but he also anticipates a market rebound and for that he wants the epics to be ready first (there are other reasons why the epic is done first which I understand as well - like its the most complicated project etc.) and this is where I think the thinking might be a bit wrong - not that much can be done about it anyways but still it would be nice if this post can be a bit thought provoking.
I think betting that the big gun productions are gonna recover and order tons of Epics might not gonna happen. I think a better strategy might have been to go to the bottom of the market and work the way up - making the volume drive down the prices even more in the meantime. I fear a tiny bit that backfire of order numbers for the epic might unrail the bullet train it has been in the last years and the perceived message at large. Its the concentration on the premium market with the low end market as an afterthought has brought down a couple of companies in recent years (SGI fe).
And yes Epic is cheaper better faster - but its still way beyond the massmarket and therefore pretty much in the same territory where it doesn´t matter if you spend 100.000 or 28.000 - the big film biz and that is closing down fast.
So while I agree the general strategy with beta testing the Epic because of low volume and highly talented people wanting to play betatesters and even pay for it (that is the best a company can ever hope for me thinks) pushing the scarlet release way way back (and that is what it seems like) might cost RED a lot of sympathy in a market that has imnsho more potential in the short and long run then the upper end market.
I might have gone heaps and bounds to see if both can be developed side by side - even if it meant hiring more engineers to the team. Recruting (and binding) some "noobs" to the beta testing crowd (because they can have an invaluable different perspective on things then the pros and usually find the more obvious bugs) just not let the idea get through that those without the funds to buy the big guns are any less valuable customers - thats a tiny bit as it comes across now. And then release them both at the same time - at least one version of each. (maybe the 2/3rd cinema and the epic s35) and let the market decide the rest. As it looks now RED is actually loosing some customers to the big guns because they feel cheated and thats very counterproductive to the whole vibe RED is trying to push through and no matter how revolutionary the cameras might be once they are out - there is going a lot of water down the river in the meantime and the wrong public sentiment in the day and age of the internet can (and has) destroy(ed) a company faster then it knows whats happening - in a distressed economy that might even be amplified.
So to close it up - there are two problems that interleaved with each other are imnsho strategic missteps over at RED - partly because they are surrounded by the old hollywood that aint see the change happening in front of their eyes (the constant name dropping of what big director is using red now again is a big hint at that - if I where red I would highlight the small indies having success with a RED one to show that a revolution is happening where the status quo is questioned and not catering to the king that is old and dying) partly because they are overconfident (heck I would be with such great products) and therefore getting a bit blind on one eye.
One of the thing is to hope of a market recovery to the terms it has been for the last 50 years and the other is the perceived treating of scarlet users (or those without the big budgets) as second class citizens - this combined might not be the best way forward for RED - there is an invisible line in Corporate ID that ones its crossed is very very hard to reverse (sony f.e. has crossed that line recently(playforsure was a big reason for that) - so far apple is the only company I know that has crossed that line and has ever recovered from it - took them a near death experience and about 7 years) and while RED is far away from crossing that line its still something nobody is immune and getting overconfident (heck may I say a bit arrogant) with ones strategy is a surefire way to get there.
Just some food for thought. Wishing all the best to the RED team for the future and I am looking forward to the S35 scarlet - whenever its out.
Now flame me away ;)