The History & Rise of Red Digital Cinema Camera

The History & Rise of Red Digital Cinema Camera

The film industry has seen many changes over the last 100 years. From black and white pictures to 3D pictures, everything has come by holding the hand of the camera. Film Camera companies are many even though they are prominent as well. But major changes came after the revolution of the Red cinema company. For the first time, they introduced the 4k film camera at an affordable price for the filmmaker. Moreover, they brought out the film industry from the traditional 35-millimeter film cameras. They did many more things in the film camera Industry. In this article, we are going to discuss the History of the Red camera. So without further delay let’s jump in.


With the dream of delivering affordable 4K digital cinema cameras, Jim Jannard founded Red Cinema in 2005. Basically, he got this idea when he first brought a Sony HDR-FX1 video camera, there he found two major problems. Number one files needed to be converted with software from Lumiere HD and Number two is that it was not viewable on Mac OS.

That’s why he collaborated with Lumiere HD’s owner Frederic Lumiere to develop an alternative solution of 35-millimeter film cameras in the cinema camera. Frederic Lumiere introduced him to Ted Schilowitz who was the first employee of Red Cinema.

The early team members were involved in research on how to make digital cameras for Hollywood. They wanted to replace the traditional 2k version with 4k. This unconventional idea was not easily executed. Because along with 4k development; they had to consider the focusing quality of DSLR cameras without sacrificing frame rate. Which was quite tough.

Meanwhile, people started criticizing their unrealistic projects. But overlooking all the criticism and difficulties In 2006 at NAB Show Jannard announced that Red would build a cinema camera, called the Red One.

Revolution of Digital Cinema Camera

After a year of undisclosed research, Red cinema was able to make RED one. This camera brought a revolution in the industry. At that time, it was able to capture up to 120 frames per second at 2K resolution and 60 frames per second at 4K resolution. Moreover, for making the post-production process easier, this camera was equipped with a sensor named “Mysterium” which can capture RAW. Though it’s currently very common, back in 2007 it was an unconventional invention that changed the whole cinema Industry. Many popular movies like The Amazing Spider-Man, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Great Gatsby were used to shoot with this Camera.

The History & Rise of Red Digital Cinema Camera

Impact of RED in the Cinema Camera Industry

Beginning of RED, Many directors did not want to come into their system. Because they were already used to their traditional 35-millimeter film cameras. That’s why Red started educating directors about the importance and the benefits of digital films. Flexible post-production of raw and higher resolution videos was central to the Red Philosophy. 

After approaching lots of directors, In March 2007, director Peter Jackson completed a camera test of two prototype Red One cameras, which became the 12-minute World War I film Crossing the Line. After watching this, director Steven Soderbergh was also interested in RED cameras and he shot his film named Che and Red camera technology was used in the film’s production. And this Digital Revolution changed the whole industry.

As a result, In 2011 Prominent film camera brands like Panavision, Arri and Aaton announced that they would no longer be producing analog cameras. 

Another aspect is, like other film camera makers, RED did not want to maintain supremacy in their industry. As a result, while ARRI, Panavision, and Aton were focusing on high-profile filmmakers, RED understood the huge market of low-budget indie-filmmakers and started making cameras for them. RED thought that Indie-filmmakers have a great possibility to work in different formats of video production and in the future they have a great chance to work with RED. In this way, they became the talk of the town in the cinema camera industry. 

Early Adopter

Red became more popular with both high-profiled directors and indie-filmmakers who wanted to digitize in their production workflow. Moreover, great filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh, Peter Jackson show their trust in RED. The glorious event came in 2021 when David Fincher shot Mank’s movie using the Red ranger helium 8k camera and this movie got Oscar in the best cinematography category in 2021.

Apart from that, Red makes an Eco-system. Recently, they launched Komodo 6k which is featured with a super 35 sensor. When users use this piece of camera they not only use the camera but also other accessories. Red started a trend of new technology adaptation that other brands are following. Z cam is another great brand that is totally inspired by the RED Camera.

The History & Rise of Red Digital Cinema Camera

Red Camera Innovation

Though early adoption is hardly seen in the film camera industry, Red camera constantly changes their technology every year. They not only brought a change in their camera but also in their chipsets. They introduced multiple types of chipset such as MYSTERIUM, MYSTERIUM-X, RED DRAGON, etc.

Getting still images or video with multiple mounting set up, red debuted Digital Stills and Motion Capture system in 2009 and Introduced Epic-X first digital still motion camera with interchangeable lens.

Six years later in 2015 Red became more aggressive in their inventions and introduced the DSMC2 family of cameras. Under this line, they launched Weapon 8K VV and Weapon 6K which were followed by the Red Raven 4.5K and Scarlet-W 5K.

In 2016, For the first time, they installed an 8k sensor named “Helium” in their two top-notch cameras Red Epic-W and Weapon 8K S35. This Weapon was used in making Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. In this way, they continue their march of success in the film camera Industry.

But innovation is still going on, recently they announced the Red V-Raptor camera. This camera belongs to one of the latest DSMC3 families of cameras. Red V-Raptor can capture the video 8K full sensor video at up to 120 frames per second and 6k up to 160 frames per second. And this one of the latest cameras of Red Digital cinema.

Failure of Red Camera

In 2017 Red showed their intention to enter the Smartphone market and in August 2018 they introduced their first smart Hydrogen One. Featuring a 5.7 Inches holographic display and integration with existing camera products this phone showed many hopes. However, the smartphone was a critical disappointment. Because the hardware was outdated and features were not industry standard. So, with a lack of capability, the phone commercially flopped. In 2019 they decided to discontinue this product line.


In short, the Red Cinema company changed the whole Scenario of the film camera industry.\ The Red camera is the first brand that always prefers customer experience rather than maintaining supremacy. Despite that, they always belong to the upper section than most competitions. However, the Red camera is not an affordable option for most people but It’s the kind of camera that makes you fall in love with it. If you are planning to get a Red camera, we will highly appreciate your thoughts and suggest you see how far the love takes you.

Joe Pfeffer

Joe Pfeffer

What started off as just a dream for Joe Pfeffer, turned into his passion and livelihood. He started his career as a wildlife photographer and then transitioned into becoming a cinematographer. With a decade of raw on-the-field experience, Joe Pfeffer has all the technical knowledge about the ins and outs of cameras. Now, he uses his vast experience to educate others about photography.