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Forums Cinematography RED Komodo.. What’s the catch?

  • RED Komodo.. What’s the catch?

  • Geoff Johnston

    October 19, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    So RED just released their cheapest 6k “cinema” camera ever, and I only have one question.. What’s the catch?

    Why has RED, a company known for luring people into buying tens of thousands of dollars of equipment all of a sudden gifted us this run’n gun option?

    Why does red still sell the more expensive Monstro, Gemini and Dragon cameras? Why do studios continue to use their more expensive cameras if the Komodo has the same great sensor, high data rates and 16 stops of latitude?

    Can a few extra SDI outputs really be worth that much?

    What do you guys think?

  • Tim Wilson

    October 19, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    Why do studios continue to use their more expensive cameras if the Komodo has the same great sensor, high data rates and 16 stops of latitude?

    I’m a little behind on cameras, so I’ll let other people speak to the specs, but I’m very up on pricing in production, and can speak to the studios question.

    They rent. They don’t buy. Film production companies tend to last only as long as it takes to write the last check, so there’s no time to amortize big purchases. They rent everything they possibly can, including computers and NLEs, so that they always have the latest and greatest of everything, can do a real-time straight writeoff of expenses as tax deductions, and not have to worry about a bunch of gear that they need to store or sell at the end.

    This also extends to lights, sets, you name it. Hollywood has been an all-rental town since the 40s.

    For cameras today, you can get a RED with accessories delivered to your doorstep in LA for a few hundred bucks a day, up to maybe $1000-1500/day, depending on the accessories you need and the specific model. You’d be shocked by the number of dealers who will FedEx gear to you, included in the rental cost, across the country.

    (I know this, because I was just googling the price of RED rental, and I myself was shocked by the number of people who include FedEx delivery in the rental price. Rofl)

    And again, these productions write off rental expenses as tax deductions. If the rental price goes up, that can be a GOOD thing for a production with the budget to accommodate it, because they write off the expenses directly in the same tax year that the expense is incurred. Paying rental fees helps them make money.

    Camera companies don’t just price their gear accordingly, they build their whole business around this. ARRI builds Alexa to be rented for a few thousand a week, from a small number of rental houses, NOT bought by individuals. They can support a smaller number of rental houses around the world, each of which has their own technical staff already, much more easily than they could support a much larger group of individuals who need much more help.

    Panavision does the same thing with everything from lenses to TechnoCranes. They have individual lenses that would cost millions if you tried to buy them, but can easily recover their costs in rentals over the rental life of the lens, which can go for decades. And even if you could buy a crane for the four shots you need it in your movie, what are you going to do then? Sell it? To whom? Because everybody else in town is renting cranes and deducting the expenses from their taxes.

    This is also why “but Final Cut is cheaper” was never a persuasive argument in film production. Productions weren’t buying their Avid seats or the computers running them. They rented them, and wrote off the expenses on their taxes.

    Not to go down a rabbit hole here, especially because a lot of people do in fact buy REDs as individuals, but nothing about the economics of gear and studios makes sense until you wrap your head around the profound tax advantages around rental.

  • Geoff Johnston

    October 19, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    I had no clue about rentals being FedEx-ed, that’s amusing and disconcerting at the same time. No one offers delivery in my country, there’s always a camera tech that comes bundled with a cinema camera. Most of the time they just sit around staring at their phones, but unfortunately vendors are mostly very distrustful.

    I appreciate you time, and I’m sure some aspiring cinematographers here will benefit from the the useful information in your post.

    My question was, why is the Komodo retail price so much lower than the DSMC2.

    The tech specs seem to be the same, according to the specifications RED has on their website.

    So why are buyers saving so much money?

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