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By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

These days, it takes a lot to get RED founder Jim Jannard to come back into the spotlight. But when the company you created is about to celebrate its tenth anniversary, well, that’s the perfect opportunity to do so.

“Almost 10 years ago to the day, I knew I wanted something I could not have – because it simply did not exist. I wanted a digital cinema camera that was a worthy successor to film.” – Jim Jannard, Letter to friends and family

Back in 2005, Jannard writes, he wanted to create a camera that could go beyond film. He set the bar high and created a digital revolution based on a camera platform that was relatively low in cost, but that pushed the boundaries of the digital image, always striving to make it better than film.

“I knew 2K and 1080p were not good enough, it had to be 4K,” Jannard wrote, celebrating the occasion. “It had to be priced where people who used to not be able to rent a professional camera could buy it.”

This wasn’t the first company that Jannard had started, he created Oakley sunglasses, which began with the similar goal of creating high performance, high-end sunglasses, but at a relatively affordable price. And it worked, with sales so brisk that Jannard expanded Oakley to create sunglasses, sports visors, ski/snowboard goggles, watches, apparel, backpacks, shoes, optical frames, and other accessories. The company holds over 600 patents in eyewear, materials and performance gear.

“… a few of us started researching to see if we could build that digital camera from the ground up. We set up tables in a storage space full of Oakley vintage product and funny car bodies. And we got to work.” – Jannard

Not wanting to rest on his laurels, Jannard wanted more. He wanted to push the boundaries of digital video, which was languishing with standard definition cameras that simply couldn’t reach the resolution of film, and emerging HD cameras that weren’t yet up to snuff.

The “state-of-the-art” was in dire need of some new, out-of-the box thinking, and Jannard knew he could do that. Setting up shop in any available space he could at the Oakley factory, he got together some camera designers, software experts, and shooters, and started planning out a new sensor and codecs.

He even got some input from directors Peter Jackson and Steven Soderbergh. Jackson and a then-unknown Neil Blomkamp would go and make a short film with prototype RED ONEs, about a World War I battle which is visually stunning; you can see it below.

“These past years have seemed like a lifetime. They have also been a blur. Looking back, Jarred and the rest of the RED team are doing exactly what I dreamt of 10 years ago.” – Jannard

Before you knew it, Jannard had the RED ONE and a propietary codec called REDCODE. Then REDCINE, accessories, lenses, and one of the first major features, District 9. From there, we got the Mysterium X, RED EPIC, and, after a long development effort, RED SCARLET.

Now, we’re enjoying RED DRAGON, with 6K resolution that most experts agree is better than film. All in ten years. RED has reached a point that Jannard could hand it off to his right hand man, Jared Land, who can take the company, and the “state-of-the-art” to the next level.

Jannard says thanks to all those who took RED to where it is today. And to the naysayers who thought he was nuts… well, Jannard can’t help but lob one more taunt… “To everyone who called RED a “sham” and “vaporware” back at that first NAB in 2005, sorry to disappoint you, but… We are just getting started.”

You can read Jannard’s letter to RED’s friends and family below:

RED friends and family,

Almost 10 years ago to the day, I knew I wanted something I could not have – because it simply did not exist.

I wanted a digital cinema camera that was a worthy successor to film. I knew 2K and 1080p were not good enough, it had to be 4K. It had to be priced where people who used to not be able to rent a professional camera could buy it.

So, in January 2005, a few of us started researching to see if we could build that digital camera from the ground up. We set up tables in a storage space full of Oakley vintage product and funny car bodies. And we got to work.

Breadbox and Frankie. Boris and Natasha. Peter Jackson and Steven Soderbergh. RED ONE and REDCODE. RED Alert! and REDCINE. Build 16 and “District 9”.

We lived in dog years where each day, we had to do 7 days of work.

Then came MYSTERIUM-X, EPIC, and SCARLET. DSMC. DRAGON. Don Burgess. David Fincher and Jeff Cronenweth. Darius Wolski and Ridley Scott. Jim Cameron. Matty Libatique.

These past years have seemed like a lifetime. They have also been a blur. Looking back, Jarred and the rest of the RED team are doing exactly what I dreamt of 10 years ago.

Happy 10 year anniversary, RED Digital Cinema. To all our customers, thank you. To everyone who called RED a “sham” and “vaporware” back at that first NAB in 2005, sorry to disappoint you, but…

We are just getting started.

– Jim

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