RED Post workflow first film
I’ve just finished editing my first film and have some questions about the RED post workflow. I’m looking for answers as the post supervisor has recently been decommissioned and I’ve been handed the reigns. I’m the sole editor, no assistants. I’ve read many of the forum topics and I’m coming to those who possess the knowledge. Excuse me if I don’t use all the correct terms. This is the first digital film for our small company and budgets are tight as you would expect.
The film was shot 4k with a few 3k shots at higher frame rates. There are also 2 shots on16mm film. We transcoded all the R3d media with Clipfinder and the rsx data to ProRes HD retaining all the original file names. The Final Cut edit was smooth as silk. The Kona 3 card has been fantastic. We now have a locked film but here is where my questions begin.
There are a number of shots with variable speed on them. There are also at least a dozen shots needing stabilization. We have an overseas company handling the CGI work. We sent them the Final Cut project, a dvd of the film and the original R3d files along with the different resolution quicktimes in the folder for each shot. I’m now hearing they need DPX files to proceed.
This will eventually be a film out. Talk is that we’d like to finish it in 4k. I’m hearing 2k is what seems to be being done most places. Going through this step by step, what would be the most cost effective way to finish this film from this point forward? We are planning on having color timing done out of house.
First, creating DPX files. Are we able to do this in house? I’m hearing RedCine or Monkey Extract can handle this. What are your opinions? Do we apply the rsx data to these files or are we better off creating flat files? How do I feed these programs the edl and get a cut list with handles? I know I need to do my research and explore more about these programs.
Second, conforming. The color timing crew needs a conformed DPX sequence. Are there any programs out there for the Mac that can handle conforming DPX files from an edl? We also have an Avid Nitris but I know we’re not current. Anyone know what version of Nitris would best serve us if Nitris can conform? This stage scares the hell out of me.
Third, the variable speed and stabilization shots. Are these shots that we process when creating the DPX files or are these handled by the GGI team or color timing crew? I’ve stabilized the few shots that we needed in FCP but they certainly could use a better program. Where should this happen in the process and by whom?
If we send the CGI team individual DPX files and they conform the sequence themselves, do we need to send them files already color corrected or if not, are we painting ourselves in a corner come color correction time?
Sorry for the long post but time is of the essence for us as I just found out CGI has stopped work until they receive what they need. I’m swimming for answers and I’d appreciate any help you all can give me. I have lots to learn but we all start somewhere. Many thanks!
If you have someone with an assimilate scratch system near you they can take an EDL from the project and a ref quicktime and conform to the R3D originals, grade to the required LUT for filmout, stabilize (excellent tool) reframe, output various formats, basically do it all. Most scratchers can take the FCP project if you have difficulty with the EDL
you'll want a clear path thru conform/DI to lab laid out Before you commit to anyone so the lab the DI and the personnel involved know who in the chain is taking care of what and what their responsibilities are.
Editor / Engineer
Rock Creative Images
Sorry for the delay in the response. I just finished an overnight. We had a meeting today about how to proceed in all this and Assimilate Scratch was a major topic of discussion. I stressed that since this is our first foray with RED. instead of fumbling through the process to save a few bucks which could most likely drag into additional weeks, lets give it to a team of experienced pros. I'm all for learning the ins and outs but we're finding time is serious money. I hope to shadow the project from this point forward to see what steps we might be able to handle in the future.
Great suggestion on laying out a path from here on out and clearly defining roles. We found out the hard way when CGI came back to us with unforeseen requests.
I appreciate your valuable input.
I agree with Doug. Overall, don't try to tackle everything at once. Break it down into stages, small bite sized chunks that you can handle without stressing out. The most important advice I can give you is to get your final deliverable requirements IN WRITING and create a plan to reach those specific requirements. Hopefully the rest of this helps too...
Who wants to finish in 4k and why? Unless there's a really good, legitimate reason (rare), tell this person to stop making things more expensive and more difficult. Based on what you've said in your post, I'm guessing this project doesn't have the budget or the experience to properly do a 4k finish. Of course, I could be wrong...again.
I recommend, if possible, having whoever does the Red conform (and I also recommend a Scratch system for cost and functional reasons although there are plenty of other viable solutions available) create your 2k DPX files. They should be able to handle the speed changes and create 2k DPX files easily. They should also be able to do the stabilization at this point. Package deal. However the stabilization is something where the director will need to proof each shot, similar to a pan & scan session. Typically this is done in a theater and isn't cheap. It will also require that the shot be blown up a bit which, as long as it's 4k source material, should be fine.
If the 16mm footage was properly digitized for offline using flex files, you can create a "pull list" which can be used to scan in the shots you've used. Scan at 2k. If it wasn't properly captured for offline, then this could be a much more tricky part of the process.
Once you get all of the 2k DPX files into a single sequential "list", you can easily use the Aja DPX to QT translator to create a Quicktime reference movie to verify that everything is where it should be and is ready for DI, CGI, sound mix, etc.
Your CGI provider may require color corrected DPX files, un-color corrected DPX files, or both (common). So the DI process may start and stop in order to handle the CGI requirements. This could be a benefit if you're shooting for a cheap finish as it might allow the DI facility to work at a slower pace so they can charge less.
During DI color correction, the sound mix is typically occurring. Depending on how you offlined and who you're using for sound mix, this can be simple or painful, cheap or expensive. Eventually, the sound mix needs Dolby certification in a Dolby certified mix stage. Trailers need TASA certification. Sound needs to go to an optical soundtrack negative and must be sync'd at film out.
Once everyone approves the final, final, final digital screening, the DPX files will be recorded to film in reels no longer than 20 minutes. Keep this in mind as you "lock picture". Your reel break points may be better at 15 minutes than 20. Obviously you don't want to create a reel break point in the middle of a scene. If there's going to be more than one film print made (usually the case), you have to process that print into inter-positive and inter-negative prints, then check prints, requiring more screenings and tweaking.
Opening credits, end credits, textless versions, subtitled versions, 100% QC for domestic and international...all of this stuff needs to happen. You will also want HDCamSR masters and most likely digibeta SD downconversions. You will want to create LTO-4 backups of ALL R3D source material, project files, CGI work, Protools sessions, OMF's, AE projects, Illustrator files, FCP projects, EVERYTHING!!!
Basically, this is not an easy process, especially for a novice or a first timer. All of this should be handled by a team of professionals headed up by a Post Supervisor that knows each step of the way.
If you'd like more advice, shoot me an email and we'll talk about it. There are a million things in here that I have not included and there's always at least a dozen NEW land mines that I discover on each project.
Wow! is the first thing I'd say. Thanks for the tips. I agree that we should hand this off to a team of professionals. Since it looks like I've inherited at least a co-post supervisor position for the moment I agree even more. The other post supervisor is saying its a necessity to color correct with 4k and downconvert to 2k. I can see his point somewhat but it seems like overkill to me. Aren't 2k DPX files more than adequate for color correction?
We counted 55 shots for speed changes, plus 8 or 9 stabilization shots. They were shot 4k in a very small copter on a windy day. Why do the stabilization shots need to be proofed in a theater? Sound is being done in-house and the room is Dolby certified. This is their 4th film for sound, so my worries there are light. I see CGI stopping the process here and there so thats good news that the DI facility may work with us on price. From what the post super told me today, CGI gets un-corrected DPX files and their effects are layered on top. How color correction is done after this I don't fully understand.
We do have a locked film at this point and preliminary reel breaks have been determined but we won't know them exactly until sound gives us their notes as to where music and sfx will fall. Can we determine those breaks later after the DPX files have been created before being sent to film?
Opening and closing credits are still being worked out and we do know this will also hit an international market. So much to think of. The devil is in the details.
I'll be passing all this information on today and I'd love to shoot you some more questions in the future once I get my head wrapped around the whole thing. The Cow is a great resource and many thanks to professionals like you who help decipher and enlighten for us novices.
Even Lord of the Rings was shot in 2k, 4k is way overkill in my opinion, too expensive and too unnoticable.
[Bill Williams] "First, creating DPX files. Are we able to do this in house? I’m hearing RedCine or Monkey Extract can handle this. What are your opinions? Do we apply the rsx data to these files or are we better off creating flat files? How do I feed these programs the edl and get a cut list with handles? I know I need to do my research and explore more about these programs."
We are selling this service but since you are across the globe from us I'll tell you how to do it. Get Monkey Extract. Prepare an EDL of each of you reels. CMX 3600 will do. Tell Monkey to copy all the footage used in your cut to a separate directory. Then go to RedAlert and open each shot there. Don't look at the picture, look at histogram instead. Start with as much settings from metadata of each shot as possible and adjust only if it gives you more information on histogram. The RSX files are created automatically. Then go to Monkey again and this time render to DPX. You will have to point Monkey to the selects, not the original files. Tell Monkey to use RSX of each shot for input settings and RED log for output. Tell it to render all frames into a single folder and name them sequentially. Monkey will not bake in any speed changes or motion effects. If there are a lot of them it might make more sense to render each shot into a separate folder. That would make it easier to pull them out for sending to VFX guys.
Looks like we'll hand this whole process off to a team of professionals but your response is intriguing. I've heard mixed reviews of Monkey Extract. So, we would need to determine reel breaks before proceeding? That is somewhat up in the air until we hear from audio where music and sfx will fall. When you prepare your CMX edl, does Monkey Extract include handles on the media used that you copy?
So what you're saying is we would do a preliminary color correct of the copied media. When we created the ProRes files for edit we used Clipfinder and it did a similar process in creating Rsx files as we did some quick shading.
What is the purpose of setting Red log for output? And lastly, are you saying we would have a separate render folder for each shot or a master folder that includes every DPX file in the film? Thats where my handles question comes into play.
Thanks for your excellent input across the globe. The COW brings together a lot of talent that helps us all, especially us novices.
[Bill Williams] "Looks like we'll hand this whole process off to a team of professionals"
Then I'd like to bid too.
[Bill Williams] "So, we would need to determine reel breaks before proceeding?"
Absolutely. When there are several contractors on the project it is important they all have the same reference to look at. It will save time down the road.
[Bill Williams] "When you prepare your CMX edl, does Monkey Extract include handles on the media used that you copy? "
Monkey can read R3D but cannot write the codec. So when it copies, it copies whole clips. When it renders to DPX or QuickTime you can specify whatever handles you need.
[Bill Williams] "So what you're saying is we would do a preliminary color correct of the copied media."
Not really. What I'm saying is more like doing push/pull developing of the negative. R3D contains data about exposure the camera was set to during the shot. Monkey can read and use it. It is important to remember however that RED One monitoring output is designed to produce nice picture no matter what. It can easily happen that there is ISO320 in a shot metadata but you need to set it to ISO640 to get good DPX.
[Bill Williams] "When we created the ProRes files for edit we used Clipfinder and it did a similar process in creating Rsx files as we did some quick shading. "
Those were your workprints. Now you need to make an interpositive. Different purpose. Different color space.
[Bill Williams] "What is the purpose of setting Red log for output?"
To fit 12-bit RAW into 10-bit RGB. To create a distribution of shades a grading software expects to see in a frame. Log would be closer to what a colorist usually see in film scans than Rec.709 or other color spaces.
[Bill Williams] "And lastly, are you saying we would have a separate render folder for each shot or a master folder that includes every DPX file in the film? "
It depends on the number of VFX shots. The more of them you have in a cut the more time you spend looking for them in a DPX sequence. For a colorist though it is much easier just to load up a single sequence and have all shots line up in order. Editing and media management capabilities of different grading vary considerably. That's why there are many combinations of clip name/folder name Monkey can produce. Some will suit Nucoda, some Lustre, some Baselight.