Jannard Redirects Another Industry His Way

by The Editors on August 25, 2008

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It could be argued that Red Digital Cinema is 59-year-old Oakley founder Jim Jannard’s third lightening strike. He completely rearranged the way motorcycle/BMX grips were made, then moved on and revolutionized action sports eyewear. It would seem that selling Oakley to Luxottica for $2.1 billion would have been a nice place to pause and maybe buy an island in the South Pacific, spend a few years painting nude island girls, and call it a life. Not Jannard.

Red One-1Instead, he decided to completely re-wire the image capture business with a revolutionary camera designed from the ground up to digitally do what no one had ever done before. Jannard seems driven by an ability to look at stagnate industries and ask, “Why are they still doing things the old way?”

His team of engineers and scientists have created the first digital movie camera that matches the detail and richness of analog film. The Red One records motion in a whopping 4,096 lines of horizontal resolution—”4K” in filmmaker lingo—and 2,304 of vertical. For comparison, hi-def digital movies like Sin City and the Star Wars prequels top out at 1,920 by 1,080, just like your HDTV. (There’s also a slightly higher-resolution option called 2K that reaches 2,048 lines by 1,080.) Film doesn’t have pixels, but the industry-standard 35-millimeter stock has a visual resolution roughly equivalent to 4K. And that’s what makes the Red so exciting: It delivers all the dazzle of analog, but it’s easier to use and cheaper—by orders of magnitude—than a film camera. In other words, Jannard’s creation threatens to make 35-mm movie film obsolete.

Early on camera experts were treating the Red One like some kind of hoax. But most of them had no idea who was behind the camera and that he literally was capable of creating the impossible. Wired magazine’s Michael Behar breaks down the story, which makes us realize that Jim Jannard is probably the most incredible mind to ever work in the action sports business. He never competes. He simply moves the entire industry his way.

“I’m passionate about this because I’m building the camera I’ve always wanted to shoot with,” he says. “When my grandkids and great-grandkids look back, they’re going to say I was a camera builder. I did handgrips and then goggles and then sunglasses to prepare myself. But cameras are magic.”

[Link: Wired Magazine]

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