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David Tarleton
RED / Final Cut / greenscreen workflow questions
on Aug 12, 2010 at 9:09:58 pm

Hello all,

So, I've just finished up principal photography on my first film shot with the RED, and before I start cutting, I just want to double check with this forum that I'm doing my workflow correctly. A mistake at the beginning is going to be an enormous headache later on.

So, the film was shot all greenscreen at 4K, 23.98fps, REDCODE 42, for a finish at 1080p. I intentionally oversampled so that I can build the world in 2 1/2D in After Effects, and be able to do virtual moves in the scenes. Because of the resolution, I ought to be able to virtually dolly mediums into close-ups, etc., which seems like a big bonus. So, because of the blow-ups, image quality is even more important than usual.

I've run the dailies through REDCine-X, and so I have offline footage to cut with. Does this make sense? Should I be using Log and Transfer? Proxies?

Once individual scenes are locked, I'm going to want to up-res the footage, pull it into After Effects with the maximum quality, and then render out 1080p ProRes 4444 footage for the finish. Should I XML out to RED Cine-X? Re-Log and Transfer?

The big question here seems to be what's the best (and simplest) way to do the upres, and where should I do the debayering? I need the 4K image that I'm compositing with to be as perfect as I can, and I've read that Color doesn't handle debayering as well as some other applications.

I've also been thinking about color correction, and I've had some thoughts, and would love to hear feedback. One idea I had was to do the conversion from the Red Raw file in REDCine-X, where I'd do a simple preliminary best light - white balancing, etc, into ProRes 4444 at 4k. This would give me a better debayering. Then, out of FCP, I'd pull the whole show into Color, doing shot-to-shot color correction, to balance the look across shots. Then, do the composites in After Effects (since I can't color correct simply across multiple shots in AE, running through Color first would allow me to have a more consistent look in the scenes), and probably do a tiny bit more correction there. Then, when the show's all finished, do one final overall pass in Color.

Is this a crazy approach? Usually I wouldn't want to render out an image so many times, but it seems like I need to in this case to keep a consistent overall look. The show was shot unfiltered with tungsten light (I just didn't have enough depth of field with the 80A on), would it make more sense to leave the image un-white balanced until after pulling the key, so that I have the most color information? Would it better to have After Effects itself do the debayering, and comp from the raw files? Since every single shot in the film is going to be composited, should I just work with the native files all the way through After Effects? How good is the AE debayering?

Has anyone on here run a show through this exact workflow? What's going to end up with the most pristine image?

Thank you so much,

David Tarleton
Producer/Director/Editor
Tarleton/Dawn Productions


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Russell Lasson
Re: RED / Final Cut / greenscreen workflow questions
on Aug 14, 2010 at 12:23:14 am

First, how long if the finished piece. Is the a five minute short or a feature?

One option I might suggest is to find someone with a REDRocket and use REDCINE-X to render out 4K ProRes 444 files. Do a basic color pass in this step. Then using compressor, create 1080P ProRes LT versions do edit with. Or create 1080P ProRes 444 versions from After Effects with a basic key applied so you can edit with the ProRes 4444 files in FCP with the alpha channel. Might help.

-Russ

Russell Lasson
Colorist/Digital Cinema Specialist
Color Mill
Salt Lake City, UT
http://www.colormill.net


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David Tarleton
Re: RED / Final Cut / greenscreen workflow questions
on Aug 14, 2010 at 12:35:34 am

The film will end up being around 15 minutes. I want to make sure that I have the best quality I can have in compositing. I don't want to do the cut at 4K, it seems to make more sense to me to do an off-line edit, and then upres just the shots I'm going to use when I move into compositing, for speed of offline cutting.

I guess my big question is, will I end up with a better picture to use REDCine-X to convert the raw footage to ProRes 4444, or will compositing in After Effects with the .R3D files end up compositing better? Doing some tests in AE, it appeared to me that the un-white balanced footage was actually comping better than when I was white balancing in REDCine-X. I think there was just more color information there.

I've already transcoded everything into ProRes at 1080p for offline, what's the easiest workflow to get back to the raw footage? I think that I'm going to have trouble with playback in FCP with 4K ProRes 4444 files.

Is there a usual workflow that people use in this situation?


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Russell Lasson
Re: RED / Final Cut / greenscreen workflow questions
on Aug 14, 2010 at 2:23:06 pm

[David Tarleton] " I think that I'm going to have trouble with playback in FCP with 4K ProRes 4444 files.
"


For sure. If you went that route, I suggest you create 1080P versions from the 4K files through compressor.

Processing is the big question in my mind. AE can work with RED files, but it can be a beast to render. We've tried a couple of different options, but ultimately, I don't think there is a "standard solution". I think it depends on the footage. If you have the render power, then working directly with the R3D files in AE is probably the best option. That way you can always go back and change metadata in the interpret menu.

One word of caution though is that if the show was shot with an MX sensor, then I don't think the RED plug-in for AE has been updated to interpret the MX R3D files correctly.

Also, when you did your 4K REDCine-X vs. AE R3D test, in REDCine-X, did you render with a full debayer? That would make a difference.

Russ

Russell Lasson
Colorist/Digital Cinema Specialist
Color Mill
Salt Lake City, UT
http://www.colormill.net


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David Tarleton
Re: RED / Final Cut / greenscreen workflow questions
on Aug 16, 2010 at 6:18:24 pm

I'm going to do some more tests to A/B compare the ProRes 4444 vs. the R3D files, and see.

Is there an automated way to do matchback? If I'm working with proxies (I've already made some using REDCine-X, or I could make some with compressor, or just log-and-transfer everything), is there any kind of automated way to match back to the .R3D files to pull into After Effects? Say, make a copy of the selects of the .R3Ds with 1 second handles, which could then be Automatic Ducked into AE? Or am I just going to have to get totally manual, and write down time code for each element in each shot? Would Log-and-Transfer do this better? I'm used to a pipeline that just feels a little more automated than what I'm sensing from these RED workflows.

Thanks so much for your help.


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Uli Plank
Re: RED / Final Cut / greenscreen workflow questions
on Aug 16, 2010 at 9:18:49 pm

Have a look at Clipfinder.

Director of the Institute of Media Research (IMF) at Braunschweig University of Arts


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