Why Didn't Breakthrough Ship My Stuff?
Cine Gear is coming up, at which point we're likely to announce a number of completely new products for filmmakers.
I’m sure you’re probably wondering “why the hell are you announcing new stuff if you haven’t shipped my EF RF photography drop-in mount yet?”
What started out as a straightforward drop-in filter product launch for photographers for the Canon R (before the R5 was announced) got e-braked when a few filmmakers said they couldn’t hit infinity focus on cinema lenses with hard stop infinity.
And down the rabbit hole to Alice & Wonderland we went. But the result became an elegant solution to the problem, plus an entirely new system specific to filmmakers.
Why didn’t you keep me in the loop throughout the process?
I don’t speak to or know either RED or Canon, but I respect these companies, and being transparent about anything I’m about to say which relates to any problems with the Canon EF/RF drop-in mount (without a solution) would be equivalent to throwing them under the bus, which I would never do.
Bad communication is better than zero communication, I agree to that. And I also think it’s reasonable that if you’ve given Breakthrough money you should either get updates so you know what’s going on or you should get your money back.
Why didn’t you ship drop-in filters on time? Is it really that hard to make small glass circles?
The first issue I discovered was something about the Canon glass was incorrect, which resulted in a slight loss of critical sharpness on my R5, using Canon’s drop-in mount + filter combination. I only noticed this by split testing Canon’s glass with 3-4 prototypes we made for a different project.
If we made the glass just like Canon, photographers like myself may notice a slight sharpness loss on hi-res sensors like R5. On S35 sensors it’s probably visually indiscernible. Either way, the issue was completely unacceptable.
30+ prototypes = problem solved. Time to manufacture new glass 4x times = 3 months
Result: images now resolve sharper with our new drop-in glass than Canon’s. Awesome.
After the critical sharpness problem was solved on R5 I started hearing about cinema lenses with hard stop infinity couldn’t hit infinity with the Canon’s drop-in mount + filter combination.
Autofocus on photography lenses rely on going past infinity, so this was a new one for me. Especially since only some cinema lenses had the issue, others not.
We already had a head start on the EF RF drop-in mount for photographers by finishing the electronics, but couldn’t ship filters until we figured this one out, otherwise we’d risk doing a recall on the photography side of things.
I only wanted to make drop-in filters. Drop-in mounts? No thanks.
But when I noticed that the thin silicone weather-sealing simply falls off onto the ground around the drop-in filter slot, it was the first reason were forced into making a new mount for photographers. If we didn’t make a new mount, landscape photographers would render our drop-in filters useless without a properly weather-sealed system.
The second reason that forced us into making mounts was the infinity focus problem.
Where’s my EF/RF drop-in adapter that I paid for a long time ago?
We discovered there to be a variance in the Canon EF RF drop-in mounts. It was small, but resulted in a big problem. Something like 50% had it, and therefore some filmmakers couldn’t hit infinity. In the end it only affected some cinema lenses with hard stop infinity.
Canon made the thing for photographers, so you can’t blame Canon unless photographers see this issue, and they don’t.
This is why we started a “Canon Drop-In Adapter Buyback”. When our units get delivered we will buy them back from you for 100% of what you paid for it. The objective is to get them out of circulation. There’s no money to be made doing that, but if we don’t do that the glass we make for filmmakers is compromised, similar to the weather-sealing issue with landscape photographers.
Nevertheless, we solved the mount, which resulted in re-creating the entire drop-in mount from scratch.
EF to RF, PL to RF, PL to DSMC2, EF to DSMC2, PL to Arri etc… whatever the combination you can think of, if we solved one, we solve them all.
We decided to do the PL DSMC2 VV drop-in first since the sensor size was relatively similar to 35mm CMOS which was our original objective, knowing that by solving that one we nailed the others. Many birds, one stone.
Something like 100+ machined prototypes = 4-5 months
A few other interesting things I won’t even mention = 3-4 months
And here we are today.
As an industrial designer, product development, making things, machining, it’s really fun, only to begin all over again with a new product.
But to a filmmaker or photographer who paid for something and hasn’t gotten it yet, product development looks like a chaos leaving only one question: “I don’t care about reasons, just give me what I paid for.”
I get that. Personally, after a few weeks I’d be like “give me my money back”.
This isn’t “The Negotiator”, throughout this entire period never has there been a hostage situation with anyones money, we provide refunds at anytime for any reason. Has anyone ever not gotten their money back if they asked for it?
At one point I considered refunding everyone, but then nuking everyone’s place in line didn’t make sense, considering we were happy to give refunds at any point.
Great story, now when do I get my stuff?
- PL DSMC2 VV DFM
- PL to RF DFM for Komodo & Raptor
- EF to RF DFM for filmmakers
- EF to RF DFM for photographers
- DFMs for Canon cameras
1-3 are pretty much same timeline, 4 and 5 are after, weeks not months.
We’ll probably be delivering the first units at Cine Gear.
When the timeline was equal for EF to RF photography mount vs. PL drop-in filmmaker mount, we had to choose which to ship first.
Canon was already shipping tons of EF/RF photography mounts, and PL drop-in had never been done before, so I went with PL drop-in filter mount (DFM). If you want a photography EF/RF drop-in mount, go to www.red.com and buy one, and then take us up on our buyback program once your unit is delivered.
During the time that it took us to re-create the drop-in mount from scratch, we created an entirely new drop-in filter system for filmmakers.
Sounds like a bait-and-switch to me.
Even though the cinema drop-in filters bear no resemblance to the photography drop-in filters, we kept the price the same. The EF to RF DFM for photographers is now rock solid, and after the rollercoaster through hell it’s still only $199.
I think it’s great that what started out as a photographer drop-in filter turned into a fully realized Cinema DFM.
Now one drop-in filter will work across multiple camera systems, DSMC2, Komodo, Raptor, Canon etc.
How fast can you make things?
Because we also make tripods and ballheads for photographers (Colorado Tripod, unrelated to Breakthrough), we operate out of a 5-axis CNC manufacturing facility.
If we put only one CNC on Cinema VNDs, for example, we can make 32x VNDs every 12 hours, or 64x per day, or 320x Monday to Friday, or 1,280 per month.
Making glass circles or machining things was never the roadblock, it was product development.
Cine Gear & NAB (now canceled)
If I didn’t have to pull my machinists and industrial designers away from our manufacturing facility to attend Cine Gear the Cinema DFMs may be done a a week earlier, but it’s important for user experience for them to meet and interact with filmmakers before thousands of units start flying off the machines.
And now that NAB is canceled it does move delivery to be 1 week sooner, so that's a plus.
We still haven’t officially announced the Cinema DFM, but you can learn more by visiting CinemaDFM.com