I worked in production about 5 years ago, and during that time i became obsessed with camera technology. Some shoots i worked on required cameras that resembled small tanks, just to shoot a super high res fps 30″ edit. I remember chatting to one of the crew on a shoot about a camera that had been produced by Oakley, the eyewear frame / lens specialist. He was telling me how a couple of his mates had recently bought one of the limited edition Oakley RED cameras, and since their purchase they subsequently spent most of their everyday life travelling around the world to lease their recent purchase to independent film studios for a tidy profit. The limited edition nature meant the demand massively outstripped supply.  The original Oakley RED was the brainchild of Oakley founder Jim Jannard , and is a great way of enforcing the Oakley brand at the forefront of innovation, and more importantly, lens technology.

Below is an example from 3 years ago, shot in Oakley RED HD. (Might have to go to Vimeo to switch HD on)

skate – shot on red #1347 – 120 fps from Raphaël Aupy on Vimeo.

The Oakley RED effectively compressed a huge camera rig into one small (relatively) transportable camera. Budding film directors around the globe were gagging to get their hands on the camera, which led to thousands of produced video content being branded with ‘Shot in Oakley RED’ .

3D Camera

The above 3D camera is just another example of innovation in design and technology under the Oakley RED portfolio. Oakley’s strategy to invest in technology hardware may just be to fulfil the passion of the founder , but in doing so Oakley have built a global content network other brands would pay millions for. It’s not just consumers that are producing high quality / creative content around the globe, Oakley are using the platform to create branded content / documentaries showcasing talent to push other products (Goggles, Lifestyle ) within the franchise.

Oakley have obviously invested millions into the design and production of the hardware device, but they also recoup a lot of that back through sales and ‘earned’ media . I personally think it’s a genius bit of business strategy establish Oakley as the global gatekeeper of one of our most important assets; our eyes. This strategy encapsulates the theme that runs through a book I read a while back by Bogusky and Winsor called ‘Baked-In’ , which essentially stated that by getting it ‘right’ in the first place and baking in the right ingredients of product design/advertising who fair a much better chance of being successful. Such is the quality of their products, James Cameron reportedly ordered 5o of the new Oakley EPIC camera that takes high-spec HD portability to another level. See Below:

I’m sure I read something a while back that suggested that many of these cameras where actually produced at a loss, so that the entry point was accessible to those in the film industry that weren’t millionaires. What I do know for sure is that Oakley are going to be a dominant player in the mediation of consumer visual experience now and for the future.

If you have a spare $58k knocking around. Buy a Oakley RED Epic M here


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