January 10, 2011

Red Scarlet prototype shown working

Although not an exhibitor, Red spokesman, Ted Schilowitz was at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, last week, showing off a working prototype of Red's much-delayed Scarlet digital cinema camcorder.

Scarlet can shoot at 120 frames per second (or up to 180fps in short bursts – perhaps even more in the final version), using the "visually lossless" Red Raw codec. It has a 2/3-inch 5-megapixel sensor rated at 3K (more than double the resolution of full HD – probably about 3072 x 1620). It is claimed to offer clean high ISO performance (even as high as 12000ISO) and should come with Red's new HDRx Extended Dynamic Range technology.

The camera should weigh about 3kg, depending on which modules are fitted, and it should work with all the accessories for Red's 5K Epic.

[UPDATED] The 28mm, f2.4 (T2.5) constant aperture, 8x zoom lens shown on the prototype is built in [Ted from Red initially got the f stop wrong (he said 4.0) - He's since corrected himself - thanks to Matt Davis for this update]. Otherwise, the camera is largely modular, so you can add an audio interface with XLR connections (it comes with dual mini jacks) or additional storage. It can record to either Compact Flash memory cards or a solid-state drive (either of which – or even both - will bolt on the side). It can shoot stills or video and comes with HDMI output and synch ports for 3D (the right-hand side handgrip, which also contains a battery, can come off so two Scarlets can be mounted close together). It should be well suited to 3D production, where a larger sensor, such as the APS-C size one on Epic or a mainstream HD DSLR, would give much shallower depth of field when wide open - something that isn't desirable for 3D which looks most realistic when everything is in focus.

It was shown with a touchscreen monitor (allowing touch focus in autofocus mode and touch control of exposure and other settings), but it can be used without one as there are about three or four ways of accessing every control, such as by using the Redmote wireless remote controller (which can click onto its back when not needed and can be used to control multiple cameras).

Exactly when it will ship or at what price, or even the final specification is, like everything Red related, liable to change. However, Red has talked about wanting to be in the $6,000 price range and aiming for introduction before Summer 2011. There should also be a version of Scarlet with interchangeable lenses and one with the 5K Super 35mm-sized sensor from Epic.

[UPDATE: Scarlet-X has finally been launched, costing under $10,000 - you get more but you pay more]

By David Fox

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