Going one better: RED editing and what Vegas 9 has under the hood

Broadcast Newsroom By Mike Jones

There's a substantial history of camera technology being released to the public before the technology of post-production has caught up. HDV springs as an obvious example where the long-GOP structure was fantastically efficient for image acquisition and recording but presented considerable issues for non-linear editing systems traditionally reliant on individual frames and not groups-of-pictures. AVCHD presents the same issue where shooting is easy but timeline performance is less than stellar. And Sony's XDCAMEX is a great balance of quality and efficiency but it's wrapping in an Mp4 format initially gave many NLE's considerable trouble.

And of course at the top of this heap is the RED ONE camera. No doubt a paradigm shift in digital cinema - 4k resolution, RAW metadata and all kinds of digital flexibility and power - but wrestling with a brand new format, uncommon resolutions (particularly the RED unique 3k) the new headspace of RAW workflow and tapeless ingest, has made post-production of RED far from simple. All the major NLE developers have moved to accommodate the RED's unique format but to date few filmmakers would attest that any of the available editing options are as good as they could or should be.

Apple was first and seemed embedded in the RED structure itself as the RED camera writes QuickTime native proxy files in-camera along with the R3D RAW files. But the Final Cut Pro RED workflow remains decidedly problematic. The proxy files at lower resolutions work well enough but since a deep down flaw in the QuickTime architecture means that FCP has no native support for a full 4k - 4096px resolution at all, FCP seems to be relegated to a 2k/HD or off-line only solution. Perhaps not a big deal for many RED productions but certainly FCP is not the complete RED solution many would hope it could or would be. Indeed until a recent update, FCP also had no way to read the native RAW R3D files from the RED. The update now allows the R3D's to be re-wrapped to MOV to make them FCP compliant but this too has issues. FCP's playback scaling engine is very far behind the eight-ball of where other NLE's are at so real-time performance of MOV wrapped 4k, or even 2k, R3D's is abysmal even on very powerful MacPros. At the same time, even though FCP can now read R3D files (albeit in MOV skins) it has no internal access to the RAW metadata and so is reliant on one-light processes conducted in third party applications such as RED's own RedAlert and RedCine. read more...

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