RED CEO Jannard Says Dragon Processor Greater than 65mm Film

Says Canon has lost its edge on Sensors

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

RED CEO Jim Jannard is pretty thrilled with the development of his new Dragon processor. Taking to the RED User Forums yesterday, Jannard crowed that the Dragon upgrade for both the RED Epic and RED Scarlet cameras will provide greater resolution at 4K than 65mm film. As a fan who would rather watch a movie in 70mm than any other format, I must confess that I’m intrigued. But is Jannard giving us bonafide results or is just cheerleading to the faithful with some overdue news?

OK. This is the final frontier.  The Dragon has more resolution than 65mm film when scanned at 4K.   The Dragon has more dynamic range than film… by a lot.  Cost to shoot the RED Dragon vs. 65mm film… ridiculously not close.  Dragon should never be compared to 35mm film. It should only be spoken in reference to 65mm film from here on out. – Jim Jannard, RED User Forums

We’ve become quite used to Jannard’s bravado when it comes to RED products.  But he always tends to back it up with some hard numbers, and this time is no different, even though we haven’t really gotten any details about the Dragon processor for while.  But now we have a few  details of Jannard from REDs recent testing of the Dragon – “65mm film has about 14.5 stops. The Dragon has an easy 16 stops… without sweating.  The EPIC Dragon will shoot nearly 100fps. 65mm film cameras… not so much.”

Not exactly earth shattering new news.  When Jannard announced the Dragon upgrade earlier this year, he pretty much said the same thing, back then it was 15 stops of dynamic range and 5K 120fps.  But this is the first time RED has said it can truly give large format 65mm film cameras a run for it’s money.   And that’s pretty exciting.  It shows that going larger doesn’t degrade the resolution or dynamic range all that much, if at all.   And fire chief Jared Land chimed in later and pointed out that the 100fps figure was preliminary. “Jim said Nearly… we wont know till the exact FPS until the entire system is complete”

But if you look at the picture to the left, you can really see the REAL bonus of a RED Epic keeping pace with a 65mm camera … size.  Shooting 65mmfilm isn’t exactly a mobile affair, but more akin to setting up a tent city and locking down to get a shot.  Additionally, as one in the forums noted, shooting audio with a large format camera was darn near impossible since the cameras themselves make so much noise.   Being able to grab the same resolution and dynamic range in a smaller package gives action oriented shooters a ton of serious options for an epic scale image capture.

Course, the faithful have provided their usual praise, including one saying “Thank you Jim, allowing me to find how a teenage girl feels while screaming front row at a Justin Bieber concert. :)”  I’d say that’s pretty giddy.

Jannard went on to comment that for digital filmmaking, sensors are essentially everything.  ANd he believes that Canon is starting to fall behind because of an outmoded adhereance to the CMOS platform, while others like Arri, SONY and, of course RED themselves, are innovating with faster processors that can handle wider dynamic range.

How is it that RED could enter the cinema camera market 7 years ago and now about 50% of the released features are “Shot on RED”?  How is it that Canon owned the professional stills market 3 years ago and now Nikon is handing them their @ss? How did Arri convert all the old-school film guys to the Alexa?

Sensors, baby. Sensors.


Jannard pulls out a few numbers to show that Nikon’s D800 score higher on the DXO Sensor scale than Canon’s 5D MK. III, and that evolve or die really should be the slogan of Canon at this point, even though they have a vast array of digital camera offerings for shooters that are enjoying brisk rental business.  But No Film School postulates that this may be due to the relatively gradual learning curve with Canon’s C Series, as opposed to that of RED or the Arri Alexa.

 A lot of it comes down to ease of use and the look, as I mentioned above. If a camera is easy to use, and gets you most of the way there, it’s going to be enticing to more people than a camera that gives you unlimited options but requires a little more care to actually shoot with. – No Film School

In other RED news, Jared Land hopped into the forums to say that RED has decided to discontinue making their own lenses.  “When we started making lenses there wasn’t many options out there,” wrote Land. “We came in and shook things up a bit with some great product. Now there are what seems to be 100s of companies offering everything from cheap to spectacular. It is not a game you need us to be in right now.”

Meanwhile, as for Epic users considering Dragon, Jannard has but one thing to say … “So you own an EPIC? You upgrade.”

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.