Serial disruptor RED is at it again. While the announcement of a REDRAY player capable of outputting 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) moving images had been expected for some time, the accompanying infrastructure that’s being put in place comes as a major shock. RED, in partnership with new venture Odemax, is setting up an alternative to the highly regulated and protected film distribution networks of the big studios – and anybody can join. If they can pull it off it could be nothing less than a revolution.

Odemax is run by Jon Farhat, an experienced Hollywood visual effects supervisor and long-time RED collaborator. The full details of the service, and some big name early adopters, will be announced at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival in January, but the basic idea is this; Odemax has set up a cloud-based content video delivery network plus a sophisticated web site (not yet online) for obtaining, uploading, promoting, discussing and controlling content. In the U.S. it has leased bandwidth on a nationwide fiber network. So far, so iTunes/YouTube/Vimeo etc.

The genius bit is that the content is encoded using a new, very high quality delivery codec called (shockingly) .RED, that is suitable for 4K movies at up to 60 frames per second – in stereo (3D) if required. The content can be optionally encrypted. Anybody can encode their 4K material using the free Redcine X Pro software with a US$20 Redray encode plug in.

4K eats all the little fishies!

The .RED content will only play on REDRAY players; if encrypted you can specify precisely which machines it will play on from all players down to a specific one. Content can be limited to only playing once or several times and can be limited to a time of day. If you charge money for people to see your content Odemax will handle the billing and take 30 percent, leaving the content producer with 70 percent.

If your content is suitable for an actual cinema presentation then the Odemax software can talk to the box-office system and bill them accordingly. The cinema will take 20 percent, Odemax 30 percent, leaving the producer with 50 percent. The concept completely democratizes the process of distributing very high quality moving pictures all the way from a single home to potentially every cinema in the world.

Odemax fiber network

Of course, it’s still up to you to make a good film and promote it by whatever means necessary.

“Marketing your film has and will not ever change," says Jon Farhat. "This is the responsibility of the producer/distribution company. We are not trying to solve all the world's problems here. Only one of the biggest, and solving the P in P&A (Prints & Advertising) is still huge, and an 'old boy' network that is broken.

"Having said that, you need to market your film. But even the big studios are realizing that the traditional TV buys and billboards are not doing what they used to. And a savvy marketing mind, knows not only how to sell, but what movies to make and sell. RED never said that just because they made cameras better and more affordable at a high resolution was going to solve the problem of still needing talent behind and in front of the lens. We're not saying that here either.

"Odemax does provide however trailer delivery, online and theatrical, analytics and marketing tools that take advantage of what the Internet is good at. But like every movie out there, 'story is king'.”

The .RED codec streams at around 2.5 MB/s (20 Mb/s in internet speak), so not many homes will have that bandwidth available at present. The REDRAY player, however, contains a 1 TB disc and can download and store selected content automatically, no matter what the speed of the internet connection. In addition, the player has USB, SD Card and Ethernet connections so that local content can be easily loaded.

Video is output via four HDMI 1.4 connectors so that, in addition to the new 4K displays from Sony, LG, Samsung etc., four standard HD panels can be connected for advertising/digital signage purposes. Another HDMI connector provides an intriguing normal HD “preview” output and a further HDMI connector is used to output up to 7.1 surround digital audio.

Additional Ethernet, infrared and GPIO ports are provided for remote control, though many people will want the free iPhone/iPad app that will allow you to remotely control the player via the built-in Wi-Fi receiver. The player is available for order via the RED website now for $1,450 with delivery from January 2013 onwards.

There will be many questions to be answered over the next few weeks, but there’s no denying that these announcements stir the imagination and could have profound repercussions.

REDRAY Player specifications:

DIMENSIONS316 × 61mm x 260 mm (12.4 × 2.4 × 10.2″)
NOTABLE FEATURESNetwork based 4K 3D Playback System.
ADDITIONAL NOTESUnique to RED, this product is the only available 4K resolution signal source for Ultra HD flat panel dispays and 4K projectors, may also be used for digital signage applcations to drive up to four 1080p displays.
RESOLUTIONUp to 4096 × 2160 pixels, 2D or 3D
BIT-DEPTH (COLOR)YCbCr 12-bit 4:2:2 or RGB 8-bit 4:4:4
PROGRAM OUTPUT4K DCI, UltraHD, 1080p, 720p
MEDIA SECURITYREDCrypt™ digital media encryption
DRM OPTIONSODEMAX™ digital rights management
REMOTE CONTROLIR, 802.11n, Ethernet
GENLOCKRS170A Tri-level Sync
PLAYBACK FRAME RATES24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60 fps
DIGITAL MEDIAInternet download, SDCard or USB-2 flash media
VIDEO FILE FORMAT.RED (4K), .MP4 (1080p, 720p)
AUDIO FILE FORMAT.RED (up to 7.1 Ch) .MP4 (Stereo)
AUDIO OUTPUTUp to 7.1 channel LPCM, 24-bit 48Khz
OUTPUT CONNECTORS4 x HDMI 1.4 (Program), 2 x HDMI 1.3 (Preview and Audio)
POWER120 – 240V 50 – 60Hz A.C.

Sources: RED, Odemax

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