NOTE: I have noticed that many people have been clicking on this article. This article is just about two years old. RED workflows have changed a lot since then.
Spilling the Beans on the RED ONE
Well, if you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few years you would know that a 10 pound 4K camera has been lurking around for under $18,000. This camera, RED has been stirring up frenzy. Low budget features are either blowing the budget on shooting with the RED or they are still skeptical on whether or not to use it. The most daunting question is, “What the hell am I suppose to do with .r3d files?” Sure Indie features are afraid of the new technology, but how do you think the Post-Production team and more importantly the Assistant Editors feel about it. After all, the Assistant Editor is the one that needs to know the workflow and create a nice cozy environment for the Editor to work on creative brilliance. As an Assistant Editor I have worked with the RED, it’s footage and it’s workflow for both The Avid Media Composer 3.0 and Final Cut Studio 2.
Before you start you may want to download a few programs that are cheap (free) and will help the process greatly:
All RED Post Production workflows:
RED Operations Guide (Release Build)
RED Camera Operations Guide, this is a good thing to have laying around and I have personally used it to troubleshoot post problems
RED Quicktime Codec
REDCODE RAW codec for Intel Macs. This allows you to play REDCODE RAW files directly through quicktime and will also help with final output.
RED ALERT! (BETA)
This also allows you to read REDCODE RAW files, but it can do a bit more too. With this you can perform on the spot white balance, color correction and contrast then export to DPX, TIFF or Quicktime
Open .R3D files and export to a bunch of different settings
Enables Native Processing at full 4k resolution for dailies, Conform, Color Grading and Finishing
For Final Cut/ ProRes Workflows:
RED Log and Transfer Plugin
Provides Log and Transfer mode to import REDCODE RAW files and transcode them directly to Apple’s ProRes Codec in Final Cut Pro Studio 2.
For Avid Media Composer Workflows:
MetaCheater RED16 Avid EDL Template
Helps track entire name of .R3D file and works hand in hand with Avid’s EDL Manager.
Final Cut Studio 2 Instructions will be highlighted in BLUE
Avid Media Composer 3.0 Instructions will be highlighted in PURPLE
So, first things first…Lets start at the beginning of the chain:
After the footage is shot and the digital negative is copied to three different hard drives (two of which should be directly put in storage). We connect the hard drive pack or firewire storage device to the computer and we can Begin.
In either case I can start by explaining the .R3D files and show you how they need to be read:
RED Raw footage file
A(black): Camera ID (this can be from A to Z, but mostly for an A team and B team)
001(orange): CF Card Number, this increases with every card inserted
C001(brown): Shot or Take Number on CF Card, this increases by 1 for every new shot
071206(green): Creation or Shoot Date, This is in Military Style (YYMMDD)
001(red): Number Indicates Sequence Order
.R3D(yellow): File Type
Avid Media Composer Adrenaline 3.0:
Okay, the workflow between Avid and RED is not hard to master, but not that easy as well.
1. Copy All Media to the hard drive you intend on editing with
2. Using one of the Free Downloadable programs listed above to create a nice Quicktime Reference file at the size and resolution you prefer to work with. Place these all in a single directory.
3. Next, Download and use the MetaCheater Program listed above to read all-important information from the RED files and create an Avid Log Exchange File (ALE) of all the data.
4. Setup your new Avid Project file and import your Avid ALE. Now, you have all your clips/takes in the bin found in your Avid Project. Keep in mind the media in not linked yet.
5. Select all the clips and Choose Batch Import. Point it at the QT Reference movies your created. So, now all the media is connected but you have no sound. Don’t freak out. Use the DNxHD36 through DNxHD175 (new online codec) for import
6. The last trick and your ready to cut. Take the Quicktime proxy from each RED clip and use Apple’s Compressor to extract a 48KHz/16bit AIFF file.
7. Once the files are done being extracted you then have to sync the sound file with the appropriate clip. This sounds hard, but just use the Avid AutoSync tool.
This sounds hard right? But if your not such a neophyte at the Avid and a decent Assistant Editor this doesn’t actually take that long. My advice is to practice before the job. I hit up a RED Camera owner on Craigslist.com just to grab his old RED files to practice my workflow before a gig. It was a sleepless night, but it ultimately gave me three more RED editing jobs within a 50mile radius.
Final Cut Studio 2 w/ProRes:
1. Copy all RED-FLASH CF Card or RED-DRIVE data to the hard drive you intend on editing with. I would recommend a firewire 800 drive or Express Card Drive (What I use), but of course it you have the money RAID works the best.
2. Locate the Quicktime Reference Movies
3. Create a new Final Cut Pro Project
4. Import the Quicktime References into the new Final Cut Pro project. Here you can use either 2k or 1K sized reference files. If I were using my Laptop on site, I would probably select 1K. Select 2K if on a decent postproduction setup Mac.
5. Select the ProRes HQ 1080p easy setup in Final Cut Pro Studio 2 to render files and ultimately create an online quality project.
Final Cut Pro Looks to be the faster route, but like most things that look too good to be true…there are some downfalls to using it.
Final Cut Pro Cons:
1. Render Times will kill you. These are “Take a Lunch break” render times. It takes 3 hours for every one hour of footage in ProRes, just to give you an idea.
2. Also there seems to be a problem with Full Quality playback in real time.
So, there you have it. Everything I have learned about the RED ONE 4k Camera on site and on the job at these past three RED post production jobs I have worked on. Though the resolution is beautiful I would stick with the P2 cards for now. We need to give the NLE (Non-Linear Editing) Systems a chance to make our lives a bit easier. Avid is in the testing stages of making a new codec that will solve a lot of problems. Apple is already on it’s way with Final Cut 6.0.2. Welcome to the future.Enjoy,
Robert J. Williams
Final Cut Pro Resources: