updated 12:50 pm EST, Sun November 28, 2010
RED Epic-M to sell early and shoot The Hobbit
RED founder Jim Jannard this weekend revealed that his company would deliver the Epic camera early in the form of a limited pre-production run. The Epic-M will use the new 5K Mysterium-X sensor in a hand-built chassis with a bomb electronic viewfinder, a five-inch touchscreen, an SSD module, a remote and four 128GB SSD cards. Each bundle will cost $58,000 and, with less than 100 to be made, won't necessarily guarantee that every order is fulfilled.
The units should be made between December and January, Jannard added. Regular production should start in February and scale up by April, although the executive as always has warned that schedules might slip.
As an endorsement of the plan, director Peter Jackson has also confirmed that he will take "at least" 30 Epic cameras to shoot The Hobbit. The camera was chosen both for its core specs, including the 5K resolution, 120FPS peak frame rate and higher dynamic range, but also for the practical aspects of shooting in 3D. Epic is relatively light compared to other 4K and beyond cameras, letting two of the cameras sit side-by-side on a special rig without creating as much of a burden. It's also more independent and can work much more effectively in the field.
"Many competing digital systems require the cameras to be tethered to large cumbersome VTR [video tape recorder] machines," Jackson explained. "The Epic gives us back the ability to be totally cable free, even when working in stereo."
The director plans to start shooting The Hobbit at the start of the year, suggesting that he will get his cameras roughly at the same time as Epic-M buyers.