KOMODO: RED’s new digital cinema camera arrives this Spring

RED has been silent in recent weeks, but the first days of February saw a lot of agitation in the users forum, all because of the Komodo footage now available and some specifications.

KOMODO: RED’s new camera arrives this Spring

The publication of the Komodo Dimensional Drawings is a clear sign that the machines are starting to build the parts for the new camera from RED, as users discuss specs, lenses, and adapters.

Since August 2019, when first news about the RED Komodo camera were published, RED has been mostly – officially – silent about the camera, despite the fact that the REDUser.net forum grew, page after page, with rumors, dreams and some bits of information. It’s moving faster now, as the first available footage shows what the camera can do – or some of what the camera can do – and Jarred Land, from RED, shared a file with the “Komodo Dimensional Drawings”.

KOMODO: RED’s new camera arrives this Spring

Sharing the file with the exact dimensions of the camera is a clear invitation to all those who want to start thinking about building their kits around the Komodo. As Jarred Land wrote in his blog post, “Hope this helps all of you curious about size fitting into / onto / over things and those of you that want to start building stuff for Komodo.”

So, while not a complete image of the final product, the drawings give essential information about placement of controls and connections, while also creating some new questions that, to a certain extent, have been answered online, at the forums. It’s not always easy to follow the conversation, though, as it continues to grow – it’s 373 pages long now, with a lots of posts  – and even the fact that a new Komodo thread was opened does not help to get the whole picture. So, and because there is no official press-release – yet – from RED, we’ve looked through the multiple posts at REDUser.net to publish this summary of Komodo’s developments.

KOMODO: RED’s new camera arrives this Spring

The first footage from the Komodo

Jarred land wrote, recently, that users would “start seeing finished Komodo footage very soon” and so they did. The video now available on YouTube,  “Hard Rock | Big Game Commercial 2020 “ Starring JLo, Arod, DJ Khaled, Pitbull and Steven Van Zandt has shot with the Komodo. “Yes… Shot on Komodo Bayhems, Helium Bayhems and Monstro” says Jarred Land, adding, to those worried about the burn highlights, that “Its an aggressive grade. I was in the DI and they pushed the raw color 200%. And it was an equal opportunity heavy hand across all sensors 🙂 ”

One movie alone does not give the whole story, so users want to see more footage. One user noted that “it’s hard to really assess with the horrible compression artifacts compliments of YouTube, but honestly, all the cameras seemed to match very well. Quality seems on par across the board so that is definitely a positive” while others say that “I wouldn’t judge Komodo solely on that commercial either as Michael Bay has a pretty extreme style. I would wait for more footage.”

Still, the community has now a new reason to discuss the Komodo. And they have more information, as the images shared also give some hints about what the camera offers. External antennas are now confirmed, and Jarred Land confirmed that “wireless is a pretty important part of Komodo… and the flush little internal antenna we had just wasn’t cutting it. The SMA connector lets you put longer ones if needed as well. We tucked it in the side so its a bit protected. Was a bit of a pain in the ass to change that side panel to accommodate but there is nothing I hate more than those stupid right angle antennas that just always seem floppy and always stick out to far and always get broken off.”

KOMODO: RED’s new camera arrives this Spring

External antennas with 300ft reach

It’s not just about getting the design right, though, and Jarred Land adds that “anyways the range increase is significant. Our engineers put the range increase to 300 feet. But they literally test in a perfect field in the middle of nowhere away from any other RF signals and no metal and no walls and no animals or people in the way and I am pretty sure they even cut the grass a little shorter on testing day to get that 300ft” to continue sharing his own experience, saying, “I’ve been testing this all week in my office ( a sound stage ) which is an absolute warzone… worst possible environment ever for wireless and I am getting anywhere between 80-100 feet with this short little stubby antenna. That is direct connection to a phone, Using a router will (obviously) dramatically improve things.”

With a new fresh thread and more news about the camera, users at REDUser.net are also starting to discuss lenses, and the advantages of using Canon’s RF or EF lenses. Jarred Land noted that “we are doing the EF protocol first since that is the majority of lenses out there right now. It will take us time to get those all EF lenses programmed in and the new autofocus on top of that, so native support for RF lenses will most likely not be there at launch.”

Time to start up the machines

While some users appear to prefer the smaller size of some of the new RF lenses, others appreciate the fact that the EF mount is present. The new discussion created around the optional mounts for the Komodo lead RED to open new threads, one about lenses the other about adapters, and the number of messages there is growing, both with questions and some answers that point toward more options users will like to explore. Like when Jarred Land states this: “Just did a “test” for a feature with the Leica M mount adapter on Komodo today with that insane pancake Japanese lens and I wish I could show you the test. It blew my mind. One of those “there is no way this is possible” moments….”

So, it is apparent, the Komodo is on the way to become something users can touch. On the first day of February Jarred Land posted that “this morning I just approved the last mechanical update to Komodo and it was an important one. Time to start up the machines, kick-off tooling and start narrowing in on a date. Lots to still do… but this was an important week for Komodo”, adding that “early next week we will be releasing mechanical drawings and 3D models to our approved 3rd party partners so everyone can start making their own bits and pieces and be ready when we are.”

KOMODO: RED’s new camera arrives this Spring

Find more at REDUser.net

The drawings are here, too, so if the original schedule is to be followed, the Komodo may be available soon. When asked, in the forums, if the spread of the Coronavirus could delay production, Jared Land replied that “… we do use some Chinese components and some of our vendors do have factories in China so it could definitely cause some turbulence.”

“As of yesterday though China is saying all is back to normal come next monday… so we need to wait to see what happens Monday ” he said, adding that “obviously the workers safety should (hopefully) be the priority. But even if the shut down extends, our manufacturing and sourcing team has done a great job already making a backup plan, and most of our external vendors have done an incredible job spinning up alternative paths for the stuff we don’t do here in the USA in Mexico, Japan, Europe and Singapore. Mexico is really impressing us right now… we may do a lot more there down the road.”

Jarred Land also added to his reply, published on February 4, this: “So.. lets wait till next week to see what happens. We just put up the 12 week target calendar up on the weekend after we locked mechanicals, and everything is still in the green. If China needs to shut down for another week or two, then we will just pivot to somewhere else with minimal delay. Stormtroopers might end up costing a few hundred dollars more if we do need to relocate those parts, but the normal production cameras should be unaffected, even if China goes completely sideways. “

If you want to find more about the Komodo, pay a visit to the REDUser.net forums, which are packed with users searching for answers, eager to see more details about the newest RED camera.

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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…