That was quick. Just two days to the hour after RED challenged the world with a 4K camera showdown on June 4th, the company is pulling the plug on the competition. RED’s founder and CEO Jim Jannard announced the cancellation on his company’s site, saying "several companies have refused to participate" and "the grief and complication don’t warrant the effort."
It turns out the RED shootout was inspired in part by a disagreement over whether camera comparison footage ought to be presented in 2K or 4K resolution. Equipment renter/retailer Zacuto is behind a series of documentaries called The Great Camera Shootout that pit professional and prosumer cameras from RED, Canon, Sony, and others against one another. The final comparisons are based on 2K footage, something Jannard took issue with, claiming "going to a race where you have to ride the brakes isn’t much fun," in reference to RED’s superior 4K performance. In the same April 30th forum thread he invites Zacuto to do a 4K finish as well, on the grounds that "4K is the future and the future is now." In response, Steve Weiss from Zacuto took to the RED site with a lengthy reply, disagreeing with Jannard’s assessment.
"The passion on this website is incredible and I admire everyone for it but I will take one exception with a conclusion that has been made that 4K is here in 2012. In fact, the numbers do not pan that out in worldwide theaters today, see our shootout page for statistics on that. Most theater owners have already bought 2K projectors making it the defacto standard in 2012 but if that changes in 2013 or 2014 then we will do our shootout in 4K, 5K or 10K, whatever the reality that theatergoers are really going to be seeing in that day."
While we can see Weiss’s point that 2K is the way that most moviegoers are going to experience films, we have to agree with Jannard, even if it makes us spec geeks. The footage you shoot today is going to be around for a long time, and a 4K comparison is a worthwhile idea, regardless of the difficulty in finding a place to screen the footage.