25 Oct 2019

Jim Jannard retires from RED; shuts down Hydrogen smartphone project

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Jim Jannard retires from RED; shuts down Hydrogen smartphone project RED

Citing health reasons, and his age (70) Jannard, founder of RED cameras, is retiring. There will be no Hydrogen II

I only met Jim Jannard once, at Cinegear. I already knew Jarred Land, and he introduced me to Jim. The two of them were clearly in a rush to get somewhere, but Jim was polite, unhurried, and seemed interested in what I had to say.

So I won't claim that I really know him. But what I do know is that if he hadn't pivoted from sunglasses to digital video cameras, our world would be very different.

That career move, with only the most tenuous of links between them - products that modify light passing through them - is probably the single most important event in the history of modern cinema technology and in the rise of higher-than-HD resolutions generally.

We'll have more coverage of this later, but for now, what matters is that Jim is free to enjoy his retirement, away from business pressures, and that RED will continue in its current form.

That smartphone

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Hydrogen - the plucky, if flawed, smartphone, is now dead. There will be no mark II. Existing Hydrogen phones will continue to be actively supported.

I know that the phone had a mixed reception, to say the least. I know users that love the huge phone with the 3D display, and I know users that regret buying it. It's hard to say that it was commercial success.

But while hindsight is a wonderful thing, I'm glad that Hydrogen existed. Jannard blamed Hydrogen's chinese ODM, which he said said had "significantly underperformed". It was a moonshot that didn't succeed - like most of them. But we need moonshots and we need people like Jim to make them possible.

RED was the company that broke the mould of broadcast video formats. It's hard to overstate the importance of that. RED was a moonshot too. And that landed, square on target. 

Here's Jim's note, posted on RedUser.

"I have spent the past 45 years building “inventions wrapped in art”.

Just now turning 70 and having a few health issues, it is now time for me to retire.

I will be shutting down the HYDROGEN project, ending a career that has included Oakley, RED Digital Cinema and HYDROGEN. I am very proud to have worked with many great people over the years who have signed on to the vision.

RED Digital Cinema will continue stronger than ever with Jarred, Tommy and Jamin at the controls. Komodo is about to be launched… and the HYDROGEN One will continue to be supported in the future.

I want to thank everyone for the support I have felt over the years…

Jim"

And here's Jarred Land's response

"Jim is one of the greatest visionaries of our time… and he has accomplished more than most leaders do in a lifetime. Over and Over again. He taught me everything I know, and as sad of a day as this initially may be, I am filled with joy that he finally is taking time to enjoy life.

For RED CAMERA owners/users and fans, nothing changes over here. Jim will continue to smack me on the side of the head when I need it, and his ideas and direction will still flow into this company for years to come. We have prepared for this, and we are stronger than ever.

Thanks Jim, for everything."


David Shapton

David is the Editor In Chief of RedShark Publications. He's been a professional columnist and author since 1998, when he started writing for the European Music Technology magazine Sound on Sound. David has worked with professional digital audio and video for the last 25 years.

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