RED Founder Steps Down and Kills the Hydrogen Project

RED Founder Steps Down and Kills the Hydrogen Project

Jim Jannard has announced his retirement from RED Digital Cinema, due to health reasons. In the same post, he announced that RED is killing the Hydrogen One project.

Hydrogen was RED's venture into mobile. The Hydrogen One was supposed to be a phone, a powerful tool for filmmakers, and at the same time, an innovative new content creation platform. The Hydrogen One has a holographic screen and a camera that shoots 4-view 3D content. This phone was not very well reviewed when it came out. It seemed hard to market because the holographic effect did not photograph well. Mashable named it the worst tech product of 2018.

Early in 2019, RED fired their Chinese ODM (original design manufacturer) for having "significantly under-performed." The plan was to take the design in house to ensure better quality. The rumor was that there would be a DSLR type attachment for the phone. The Hydrogen is a carbon fiber tank with connections on the outside of the body for additional high tech accessories. But nothing like that ever materialized. Failure by the ODM to produce these accessories was a big reason for the firing. 

RED was also hoping to start a new social media platform based on sharing 4-view content. My guess is this ambition will not get anywhere now because there won't be any new users unless another company continues down the 4-view road. There could be Hydrogen One users out in the world posting 4-view​​​​​​​ selfies.  However, I haven’t seen it yet.

Honestly, I am saddened by this news. Jim Jannard is a very innovative guy who changed the media industry by creating video cameras that produce moving images very close to still photography. I hope he gets back to being healthy soon. Also, I was excited about the possibility of holographic screens and cameras. I hope this technology goes somewhere, but I'm not holding my breath. I hope someone picks up Jannard's mantel because our industry needs people like him to push the boundaries of images. For now, I will turn my Hydrogen 2 Google alert off. 

RED will continue to service Hydrogen One users.

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14 Comments

I'm surprised this phone lasted as long as it did. It's hard to compete with Apple, Google, and Samsung.

Martin Van Londen's picture

True. I guess getting one brand new phone to market is impressive by itself.

Perry Harrington's picture

With all of the well documented BS that RED has posted in their forums, there is probably more to the death of this product.

Martin Van Londen's picture

I would not be surprised.

Rob Mitchell's picture

Just bizarre they even tried.

Marc Perino's picture

That was my thought when they announced the first RED camera. ;) But it worked and some "crazy" person tried to build a digital camera from scratch.

But this is completely different market with too much competition. And I never understood the additional value of this product.

Martin Van Londen's picture

I had high hopes about it being a tool.. perhaps a good control device. But the problem is they already have an app for that so you can do it on any device.

Marcus Joyce's picture

I suppose jinni mag and his onslaught of YouTube videos had absolutely nothing to do with it...

Nicolas Thulliez's picture

the idea of merging phones and cameras is a good idea I think...
It makes wonder about that Zeiss ZX1, when will we be able to buy one ?

Martin Van Londen's picture

I forgot about that camera. The zx1 is an interesting concept. So you are telling me it’s still not out?!

Nicolas Thulliez's picture

apparently not... in France at least...

Martin Van Londen's picture

In a perfect world I would ditch my smart phone and use an iPad and a camera like that for BTS and social posts. So I was really interested in it... I’m going to look into it again. Maybe I can find out what happened to it.

C Fisher's picture

They probably did the same thing they do with HDDs, buy cheap generic Korean clones and slap the Red name on them. I'd bet money those phones with a slightly different case could be found on alibaba today.