Three Colours Red: Scarlet, Epic and 3D for Red cameras and camcorders

Red is back with characteristically grand claims for its new Scarlet, Epic and 3-D systems. We don't know when we'll see them, but we're excited by the modular concepts

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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We've heard some pretty grand claims from Red head Jim Jannard, and the performance of the Red One video camera seemed to back him up: Peter Jackson loves it, apparently, while demented Crankactionmeisters Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have shot their latest opus, Game, with it. Now Red are cranking things up with the somewhat unorthodox announcement of the Scarlet and Epic systems. Is it a camera? Is it a camcorder? Is it 3D? Or all three?

Scarlet and Epic are the 'DNA' of the Red Digital Stills and Motion Camera (DSMC) system. You start with a Scarlet or Epic 'brain' -- like a no-frills camera back, or like a dSLR body that's just a sensor in a box -- to which you add modular bits to build the camera you want. Lens mounts compatible with Canon and Nikon as well as Red's own glass, 61mm (2.4-inch) or 122mm (4.8-inch) viewfinders, handles, battery packs, recording modules for CompactFlash or solid-state memory, 21 own-brand lenses... the list goes on.

The cameras are built around the intriguingly named Mysterium-X and Mysterium Monstro sensors. These range in size from 2/3-inch to 186x56mm. Yes, you read that right. The 2/3-inch Scarlet will go up to 120 frames per second, while the 186x56mm Epic will give 28K resolution and 261-megapixel stills.

Red reckons the modular design will bring about the obsolescence of obsolescence, as each individual component can be swapped out if it's superceded.

Details have been published on the Red forums, in the form of large images with text included. Presumably that's to stop hackneyed hacks like ourselves copying and pasting the specs for our own rapacious ends. Instead we have to type them out. Blimey -- like we've got nothing better to do!

The news is littered with the statement "specifications and delivery dates are subject to drastic changes", and those flexible dates are already touted as being summer 2009 through to spring 2010, for different brains. So as of now these are just so many grandiose claims -- expecially as the Scarlet was initially planned to be a consumer-level camcorder. We're still unfeasibly excited -- but we'll believe it when we see it.

For now we have to settle with the images leaked on the forums. Click 'Continue' to see some of the possible configurations, compare brains and go 3-D.

This image shows possible configurations of the assorted modular components.

Here we see just how adaptable the modular system is.

Here are the assorted Scarlet brains, with different resolution sensors and lens mounts.

These are the various Epic brains.

This is the monster Epic 617 brain, with a sensor measuring 186x56mm for 28K resolution.

Channeling Steve Jobs' famous "one more thing" trick -- which the Apple chief cribbed from shabby 'tec Columbo -- Red ends the post with a glimpse of something even more potentially mind-blowing. See those two lenses? 3D, baby. 3-blinkin'-D. But like we said, we'll believe it when we see it.