Editing Conundrum for Red footage on Macbook Pro
Hello. I am a film student out in California, and over summer break, I will be co-editing a musical shot by a fellow colleague of mine. The film is being shot on the RED, and I own a 15" Unibody Macbook Pro with a 2.8GHZ Dual Core Processor, 4GB of RAM, and the NVIDA 9600 Graphics Card. I will be editing on Final Cut 7, preferably from an external SeaGate HDD connected to the computer via Firewire 800.
Most of what I edit of break will simply be that: editing, with little to no effects renderings.
I have two main questions. First of all, I have never used RED footage before on my Macbook. Any display monitors I have at home will not be more than 1080P, so 1K resolution is fine, but what codec would be recommended for my Macbook to still maintain at least a 1080p resolution? I am just now learning about the different types of ProRes codecs. I know that 422 proxy is recommended, but do you think my system could handle anything higher?
The second question is this: while I am editing on a Macbook pro, my co-editor, who will be editing in a different state over break, owns a MacPro quadcore and will be editing with the original RD3 files. We hope to compare our different edits via iChat theater preview and simply email each other our FCP files, but what will the relinking compatibility be like between our two systems? Will it be hard to relink for me to relink my footage or for me to relink his?
Please post any thoughts, ideas, or concerns, and thanks for taking the time to read.
If you're new to RED, here are some pain points you might want to watch out for.
Once you've shot your project, there are two main ways to edit:
1) By Proxy: You use the lower resolution proxy files that are generated automatically by your RED camera to edit your project. There are several people on the COW forums that use this workflow, so you can find lots of advice by doing a search for something along the lines of "red proxy edit".
2) By Transcoding: You transcode your 4K R3D files to the codec of your choice and edit from those. Since you mention ProRes, my guess is this is what you were thinking of doing.
If you are editing in FCP, ProRes HQ is hard to beat. It looks outstanding, and is pretty much indistinguishable from Uncompressed HD in difference tests. Many people use 1920x1080, since that's what they want to output at. ProRes HQ 422 1920x1080 is 27.5 MB/s, so you'll be able to reliably play back a couple of streams from an external FW800 HD. I'd suggest you get a G-Tech Graid3 4TB. You will need the space to cut a project the size of a musical (90-120 mins?), as once a drive gets to about 1/2 full it will start to slow considerably, resulting in dropped frames, and longer render times.
There's no need for you to worry about "anything higher." Actually, I'd seriously consider standard ProRes or even ProRes LT, depending on where your final project will be viewed. You're using a laptop and a quad core Mac Pro; I would make it as easy on your equipment as you can. You can always online to higher quality later using your EDL and original 4K files.
The other (and much bigger) issue is transcoding your R3Ds to ProRes. There are two popular options:
-REDRushes: A free app from RED that will allow you to transcode your R3D files to ProRes.
Using Rushes, a "good" Mac Pro (3.0Ghz, 8 Core, 8GB of ram) can transcode about 3 frames of Raw RED to ProRes per second. This equates to about 8 hours of transcoding for every hour of footage you shoot, and won't include the time you'll spend organizing, experimenting, or dealing with technical problems (crashing, freezing, etc).
If they ask you to use your MacBook Pro for transcoding, be prepared to do without it for several days, possibly longer. Seriously. Do not underestimate this. Making it through transcoding a large RED project using Rushes on a laptop will probably be akin to making it through Navy SEAL boot camp. But, hey, adversity builds character. Your co-editor on the Mac Pro will not be faring much better.
-REDRocket via RocketCINE-X: A $5,000 PCI-E hardware encoding card from RED that, with the appropriate Mac Pro and storage (i.e. RAID array), will transcode R3D to ProRes at about 20 frames a second. Or about 7x faster than RedRushes. 8 hours of transcoding with Rushes will become about 1 1/2 hours with RocketCINE-X and a RedRocket. If you don't have the budget to purchase one, you can rent one, or pay for transcoding service. If you are anywhere near LA or SF, you will have options. Even if you aren't, you can mail your footage. If your time is valuable, this will not be money wasted.
Oh, and one last thing, if you want your project to be successful, do a full camera test. Shoot an hour of test footage using the exact same camera set-up you will be using on your shoot (firmware, aspect ratio, frame size, etc). Then get that footage into FCP via proxy, Rushes, RocketCINE-X, whatever you decide. Do a rough edit, and then output to your final format. The problems and limitations you will encounter in your camera test will play a huge part in your decision making later on during your actual shoot. This will be especially important if you are going into this with no experience and a limited budget.
You shooting straight 4K or 4K HD? 2 hours of full 4K equals out to a little over 300 GB so you don't need a 4TB drive. It would be better for you to get multiple smaller drives so you have your R3D's backed up at least twice. I usually go for 3 times.
If you're just doing an offline edit and don't care about quality, using FCP for the transcode is fine. If you want to set up a batch and forget about it, just use RED Rushes and pick the right options.
Coming from a colorist standpoint, I like using REDCINE-X now because of the grading tools and the ability to trim your clips before export.
I know for a fact that you can track down R3D's for download over on the RED User forums. Get those and start experimenting and see what works for you.
Motion Design, Color, Editing
Simulated Wood Grain Cabinet Inc.
(Seriously though, that's the name on the paycheck)