RED slammed for “DESTROYING the camera industry” with patent trolling

Jan 26, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Jan 26, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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RED seems to have been fraught with controversy pretty much since they first launched way back in 2005. The big issue at the moment – and for most of the last few years – has been their patents covering raw video. It’s a long drawn out topic that’s currently being fought out between RED and Nikon after Nikon’s inclusion of N-RAW in the Nikon Z9. Nikon’s disputing it, seemingly arguing that RED shouldn’t have been granted in the first place.

Well, now another voice has entered the fray, Theo Browne from t3.gg, with his opinion on what’s going on. He posted the video on his second channel, Theo Rants, stating that while RED was one of the early pioneers of 4K digital video, they’re now actively in the process of destroying the camera industry. A pretty strong accusation!

Theor talks about what compressed raw is and how RED essentially pioneered it back in the early days of digital cinema. He also explains how this is a vital feature on today’s cameras and that RED’s patent enforcement – patents that Nikon says shouldn’t have been granted in the first place (although Apple tried that tactic in the past, too) – is essentially stifling innovation in the space as a whole.

The entire industry is being held back by RED’s bullshit

– Theo Browne

We all know RED’s a little harsh in enforcing their patents, having gone after Sony in the past and seeming to have forced DJI and Kinefinity to abandon their RAW plans in the Ronin 4D. And while it’s pure speculation, I suspect this might have had a hand in Blackmagic removing CinemaDNG from the Pocket 4K. As a side note, the only reason Blackmagic “gets away with” offering Blackmagic RAW is that it’s not truly a raw format, but a partially debayered format that’s already had some processing done to it.

But do you think Theo’s assessment is fair? It probably doesn’t help the cause that RED was granted another patent in November on the subject of compressed raw This time covering all video-capable devices, including smartphones.

[via PetaPixel]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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6 responses to “RED slammed for “DESTROYING the camera industry” with patent trolling”

  1. H.264 Fan Avatar
    H.264 Fan

    Not sure how a patent could be permitted for a “video camera that can be configured to highly compress video data in a visually lossless manner” if we do not include details about how that mysterious compression algorithm works and whether Nikon, Sony, DJI, etc. have copied important aspects of it.

    Just to make sure what we are talking about: Nikon’s “visually lossless” NEF codec exists at least since the D100 still camera which was introduced around 2002. The RED Digital Cinema Camera Company was founded 2005.

    When it comes to a “camera [that] can be configured to transform blue and red image [to] enhance the compressibility of the data” allowing “a user to reconstruct the red and blue data to obtain the original raw data for a modified version of the original raw data that is visually lossless when demosaiced” with the benefit of “the green image elements [being] demosaiced first, and then the red and blue elements are reconstructed based on values of the demosaiced green image element” experts probably need to find out if RED’s invention is genuine enough to distinguish it from well known standards as H.264 and the chroma subsampling approach it takes.

    If yes, it is not “destroying the camera industry” but protecting intellectual property.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      Yeah, the thing with Nikon NEF, though, is that it’s for stills, not 4K+ video. I think it’s this similar justification that caused CinemaDNG to be a thing – for a while. It allowed the original Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera to shoot CinemaDNG but then it was pulled from the Pocket 4K shortly after release. They said at the time that it was due to patent infringement claims but they didn’t point any fingers. I suspect it was probably RED – due to the resolution being 4K. The original Pocket still offers 1080p CinemaDNG as a format.

      https://ymcinema.com/2019/03/19/the-obsolescence-of-cinemadng-from-digital-negative-to-blackmagic-raw/

      As far as comparisons to h.264, etc. They’re not raw storage formats. That’s what the patent is about. True raw. Not partially or completely debayered, but compressed raw files that still largely retain the original data. h.264, etc. have already gotten rid of 99% of it.

      1. H.264 Fan Avatar
        H.264 Fan

        Re. H.264: Sure, I understand the debayering argument.

        However I was talking more about the technology behind H.264, i. e. color space transformation, motion prediction/compensation, chroma subsampling (which includes exploiting the fact that a Bayer pattern has two times the spatial information in the red channel in comparison to any other which was literally Bayer’s idea when he invented it), quantization, tranformation into the frequency domain, leaving out higher frequency coefficients as necessary, entropy encoding, etc.

        So if you tell me that there is more ingenuity in the RED Raw codec than just applying it to a 4K+ resolution, then, yes, I’d say it’s worth protecting intellectual properties.

        But if it’s just that, I wonder why no patents were assigned to 2K/4K LCD monitors and everyone pays royalties to Sony as they have invented the first 4K projector back then in 2004, entering the home theater market 2014 and holding the CinemaWide trademark by the European Union Intellectual Property Office since 2019.

        To be honest: My gut feeling is that this is more a case of patent trolling by a company that somehow has lost traction in the innovation process.

        1. Kaouthia Avatar
          Kaouthia

          I’m not saying there’s more ingenuity. Just that RED’s patent is irrelevant to h.264. It’s definitely patent trolling. :)

        2. H.264 Fan Avatar
          H.264 Fan

          Of course it’s not the red channel (pun intended) but the green one. Just sayin’.

  2. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    Here we go with product wars….Coke…..tif….