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Jon Weigand
FCP Redcode workflow
on Feb 20, 2008 at 8:25:47 pm

Hi all,

Long time lurker, second time(?) poster.

Having some trouble with my Red/FCP workflow. Please help if you see something out of order here

"Red" FCP workstation:
Mac Pro 3Ghz 8core, 8Gb ram, mac 4Gb fiber channel card
Ciprico 1.8Tb MediaVault RAID, Kona3 PCIe + Kbox3
Leopard OS X 10.5, FinalCutPro 6, Redcode codec for FCP 1.5
QT 7.3.1

I've copied all the footage over to our RAID. Importing it into FCP, I'm able to see all flavors of the Redcode proxies. So far, I've seen no easy setups for Redcode proxies, so I let FCP conform the timeline to the footage, which matches all characteristics except for the compressor, which sets to ProRes (HQ) rather than REDCODE.

Playback is awful. It strobes, staying in synch with audio, but playing at about 8fps. Also, the timeline render bar is orange. I thought switching the compressor codec to REDCODE would fix that. Instead it goes red (haha!)

After a bunch of trial and error, I finally find that setting the timecode base to 59.94 allows for the timeline to play back smoothly (and the render bar stays orange). But now I have problems with audio synch, and I will have problems with frame accuracy before I conform my edit to a 24fps timeline (footage is natively 24).

I think I would avoid all these problems if I were to process the Red shots through Redcine or (from what I've read) RedAlert/Compressor. BUT, the whole idea of getting a new Mac Pro workstation was to avoid the processing time and be able to jump straight into an edit. So please respond to editing natively please - we've already run the other route for a job before we had the Mac Pro.

Can anyone see steps I'm not taking or places I'm screwing up? I have some other work to try, but any sort of input would help - searching out info on the web is most frustrating.

Thanks,

JonW

p.s. this post is similar to one I posted in the AJA Kona section here: http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/98/869130




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Russell Lasson
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Feb 21, 2008 at 5:09:39 pm

[Jon Weigand] "Can anyone see steps I'm not taking or places I'm screwing up?"

REDCODE is not for editing, at least not yet. It's a nice feature that you can import a REDCODE file into FCP. And I've had it play back without having to render it before, but if you add a transition you can't render in REDCODE. It just gave me green bar.

Until a speedy REDCINE is introduced, the fastest workflow would probably to take the 2K proxies and convert them to PRORES in Compressor. Then edit the PRORES files.

Again, in my opinion, you're just looking for trouble if you try to edit in REDCODE currently. Hopefully someday, but not today.

-Russ

Russell Lasson
Kaleidoscope Pictures
Provo, UT


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Nate Weaver
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Feb 21, 2008 at 11:42:09 pm

Actually Russell, you can edit with the proxies just fine. In fact, it's not a bad way to go at all, depending on your finishing process.

The _P proxies work in FCP quite well, at full frame rate. The _M files work almost as well, and especially well if you turn playback quality to Low. I even get output to my Kona LH this way, full frame rate when video output is set to 720p59.94 8bit.

And the _H files work as well at full frame rate, given you set the playback quality to low as well. A member of the Red team who actually wrote the codec told me about the "Low" trick, he wrote the codec to work this way specifically.

After you have an edit, you can either swap in the _H into a 1080p timeline and online that way, or export an EDL for Scratch. There's even a way to output an XML file from your cut, send it through a parser that will load the shots into RedCine, and bring the RedCine renders back into FCP in order. Not very fast or fun, but editing the proxies in FCP right now is actually very doable and part of a tested flow.

New website, new work online:
http://www.nateweaver.net


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Russell Lasson
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Feb 22, 2008 at 12:26:48 am

It's good to hear that it's working for you.

So you're setting the playback quality to low. What codec is your sequence set to? ProRes? DVCPROHD? And when a proxy is in the timeline, it's not native to the timeline right? You're just using RT Extreme to play it.

What type of hardware are you editing on? Mac Pro 8-core or something less? What graphics card?

If you set your sequence to REDCODE, can you render a dissolve or other effect?

Thanks,

-Russ

Russell Lasson
Kaleidoscope Pictures
Provo, UT


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Russell Lasson
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Feb 22, 2008 at 5:46:38 pm

I did a little testing last night and this is my conclusion.

Like Nate said, it is possible to edit REDCODE proxy files in FCP. There are some major issues to be aware of:

1. If you set the sequence settings to REDCODE, you can't render. You can cut in the timeline and but if you need a title or dissolve, it won't work.

2. You can edit proxies in a timeline if you set it to a different codec, like ProRes. You might also have to change the RT Extreme playback settings to low. This reduces the image quality on playback, which can be annoying, but usable.

3. If you're editing proxies in FCP, you can't use the media manager to move files. It will just mess things up. The reason is that the proxies are just reference movies that point to the R3D file. If the poxies are moved out of the folder that they share with the R3D file, they don't work anymore. Media manager might work to recompress files to a different codec, but if you're going to a different codec, then why to through the hassle of editing with R3D files in the first place? Plus, I don't trust the media managers to compress files. I'd much rather use compressor.

4. Proxies don't work in Color or Motion. So if you have existing workflows that use either of these two programs, then you'll need to edit in a different codec.

All in all, it seems like much more hassle than it's worth. I would much rather compress the QT proxies to ProRes or DVCPROHD for editing than edit with R3D files.

That said, I know that there might be some merit to edit R3D files if you're using Scratch, but someone with some experience with that workflow will have to give more specifics.

-Russ

Russell Lasson
Kaleidoscope Pictures
Provo, UT


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Nate Weaver
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Feb 23, 2008 at 7:02:25 am

I dunno. The only trouble I had was starting with the -M proxies, and then reconnecting everything to -H when I was done for a 1080p finish.

Converting all 2 hours of my raw footage was my original plan, until I realized it was going to take about 50-60 hours to do so.

In the end going the proxy route was pretty painless...this is for a 4 minute music vid I'm just finishing now.

New website, new work online:
http://www.nateweaver.net


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Russell Lasson
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Feb 23, 2008 at 3:32:47 pm

[Nate Weaver] "Converting all 2 hours of my raw footage was my original plan, until I realized it was going to take about 50-60 hours to do so. "

50-60 hours is a very long time to wait. Was that using Compressor or REDCINE?

-Russ

Russell Lasson
Kaleidoscope Pictures
Provo, UT


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Bob Roberts
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Feb 25, 2008 at 3:21:36 pm

Just had a very similar situation last night. A one-day turnaround music video came in and we didn't think we'd have time to convert all the source material to ProRes. So here was our flow:

MacBook Pro, 2.16GHz, 2GB RAM, OS 10.4.1, QT 7.3.1, FCP 6.0.2

1) Create a project with the _M proxies as source footage.

2) Edit*

*Had FCP determine the sequence settings
*set timeline codec to REDCODE, quality to low

With these settings I was able to cut and add one transition per clip. The top bar was orange, and rendering (opacity changes and filters) was impossible. I also had visual glitches...the image looked like it went -8 stops, extremely dark, but it was fixed by refreshing the display (cmd-f12).

3) Used Media Manger to create an offline version of my cut with the intent of reconnecting _H clips in a 1080i/ProRes(HQ) timeline for export. This worked fine...kinda.

The clips that would not properly reconnect were ones that had multiple .R3D files for the shot. I had to manually reconnect despite the warnings and replace those shots in my timeline.

++

Considering my experience, and given the time, for the next project I would definitely convert everything to ProRes first There's some debate about whether Compressor or one of the RED tools is faster (...incidentally I'm a pretty sharp guy, I've read the manual, and I couldn't figure out REDCINE until I saw these - http://www.redcamcentral.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=515&sid=e59c1d987fcf00af...)

I've got a handful more RED jobs coming and will report anything new. Thanks.






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Russell Lasson
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Feb 25, 2008 at 5:07:43 pm

I'd stick with Compressor/ProRes until the next version of REDCINE is released. I've heard rumblings that it should be out in a few weeks. Hopefully it proves to be much faster than the current version.

-Russ

Russell Lasson
Kaleidoscope Pictures
Provo, UT


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Jon Weigand
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Feb 28, 2008 at 6:44:24 pm


OK, I am convinced now that there is no clean way to edit with the proxies. I've been pouring through reduser.net and *everyone* is converting. I will wait until the middle of March to see if the new codec is going to help avoid conversion, but my test proved reasonably painless, so I'll stick to that for now. Here's my numbers:

"Red" FCP workstation:
Mac Pro 3Ghz 8core, 8Gb ram, mac 4Gb fiber channel card
Ciprico 1.8Tb MediaVault RAID, Kona3 PCIe + Kbox3
Leopard OS X 10.5, FinalCutPro 6, Redcode codec for FCP 1.5
QT 7.3.1


90 Red raw clips
compressor droplet takes _H proxies and makes 2048x1024 ProRes(HQ) clips
Raw file size: 56Gb in total
ProRes file size: 56Gb in total (nice coincidence that they ended up about the same file size!)
time it took: 1hr50min


The only issue I see is that compressor desaturates the clips - could be a proxy thing, could be a codec thing. But I can build the droplet to correct for that I think. Does anyone else already have setting they're happy with and want to share?

Yes, I'm a convert.

JonW

fyi, I'm copying this post to reduser.net.


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Russell Lasson
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Feb 28, 2008 at 7:39:50 pm

I've concluded the same. It's better just to convert to ProRes.

One thing to be aware of is the fact that 2K RED proxies, depending on camera settings, are only 1024 pixels high instead of 1080. So an adjustment should be made if you want to use standard broadcast output equipment/workflow.

-Russ

Russell Lasson
Kaleidoscope Pictures
Provo, UT


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Jon Weigand
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Feb 22, 2008 at 6:17:44 pm


Russell, Nate, thanks for the feedback.

I will try the "low" playback and see what happens - we were editing the H proxies so that the image degradation on playback didn't look bad.

Just figured out RedAlert! It's kinda nuts - I can 'Reveal' source on a clip, open it in RedAlert to grade it, 'Save' and immediately use it in my timeline. If I want to finesse it later, RedAlert can save over the other proxy and it updates in Final Cut by the time I tab back.

cheers,

JonW



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Russell Lasson
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Feb 22, 2008 at 6:32:35 pm

[Jon Weigand] "Just figured out RedAlert! It's kinda nuts - I can 'Reveal' source on a clip, open it in RedAlert to grade it, 'Save' and immediately use it in my timeline. If I want to finesse it later, RedAlert can save over the other proxy and it updates in Final Cut by the time I tab back. "

Nice job! That gets creative points for workflow! I guess you'll render your final show out to uncompressed or ProRes?

-Russ


Russell Lasson
Kaleidoscope Pictures
Provo, UT


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Ben Holmes
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Mar 1, 2008 at 3:18:02 pm

As a new RED editor, can I just say that I've learnt more in one short thread about the process than I have from a week trawling through reduser. I'm all for the company's 'open' approach, but it sure takes a while to get something useful out of it.

Very recent postings on there mention a new third party solution that (if I read all the cryptic teasing right *sheesh*) may solve the FCP workflow issue once and for all. I'm off to try the compressor route.

Many many thanks COWdudes.

Ben



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Sean Davison
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Mar 1, 2008 at 3:36:43 pm

I've spent quite a while trying to crack this one - I've concluded that the only way to offline/Online RED footage in FCP to lay off to tape is to Batch convert from the Hi Res Proxies using Compressor and thereby creating a new set of independent quicktime movies that are your Master Material (R3d Clips are no use for Broadcast TV anyway!)

There are Aspect Ratio issues because the Red doesn't shoot at 16x9 (I don't have a Red - this is what a Hire company who shot the footage for me said) So once you get the footage into a 1080x1920 size they'll look a bit stretched and will need Arc'ing at the end (or during the Color Grade) to be true 16.9

Compressor seems to convert at about the same speed as Red Cine - Red Cine is far from reliable at the moment and every time I have tried to convert a series of clips it has rendered out still frames towards the end.

Of course Red Cine is still in Beta format and I'm sure it will get quicker and more reliable as we near the final release - At the moment I think your better off sticking with Compressor. And of course if you're a Rocket scientist you can Q master up a few macs and get faster render speeds.

The problem comes for an EFP production (50 min documentary) where an offline editor can work with around 50 hours of footage - By my Reckoning that would take 2 weeks to process to Pro Res 422.

The other area Im looking at is laying the R3d clips straight off to HDCam SR Dual Link (they will play with Kona FCP apparently) Then Re-digitising off lining and auto conform. I haven't tried this yet. Has any one else?


http://www.twotallmen.co.uk


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Ben Holmes
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Mar 1, 2008 at 4:46:47 pm

[Sean Davison] "The other area Im looking at is laying the R3d clips straight off to HDCam SR Dual Link (they will play with Kona FCP apparently) Then Re-digitising off lining and auto conform. I haven't tried this yet. Has any one else?
"


Everything I have read says this is not the case. Recent tests with high-end BOXX PC systems using Scratch have achieved 24fps sync locked playback to Betacam SR. You cannot achieve this in FCP, to the best of my understanding - unless you have an idea how. A Mac Pro cannot yet keep up with the processing required to play redcode at full frame rate and resolution right off the timeline - not reliably and for a decent amount of footage - as I understand it.

All my tests so far comparing re-rendered proxies and RedCine output show roughly the same image sharpness, but with vast differences in gamma and luminance. The Prores files derived from the proxies (whether generated in FCP or via Compressor) are much more contrasty and blown out in the whites. Tweaking and exporting in Red Cine shows a much cleaner albeit duller image, with much better detail in the blacks and whites. Obviously, you can tweak in RedCine, you can't using the proxies.

Whether that means that all rendered proxies are blown out (I only have a few test files to play with so far - raw footage coming v.soon) or just the ones I have I don't know, but it's obvious that the advantages with RedCine are the ability to tweak and correct the image after the shoot - really the point with a camera like this.

As I said before, I suspect a little patience (a couple of weeks - they promise PRE-NAB) may see this all become a non-issue, as it seems solutions to the conform process are on the way. Of course, the software needs to leave beta as well!

Ben




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Sean Davison
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Mar 1, 2008 at 5:10:07 pm

As I said - I haven't tried it yet!

I love the potential in Red Cine - It will Fix the aspect Ratio issue too as well as giving it a quick tweak (I'd love to be able to use my Tangent Control Surface!). For Commercial work, Promos and shorts it's brilliant - for long form efp stuff I don't see production managers buying the extra time and money it would cost to convert all the footage! It is a much slower process than banging a tape in a machine and hitting the record now button (which is the case with most of the projects I end up finishing!)




http://www.twotallmen.co.uk


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Ben Holmes
Re: FCP Redcode workflow
on Mar 1, 2008 at 6:18:00 pm

I'm not sure I can live with all my footage being the wrong shape, in all honesty - even if it's a small change, you can see it.

Also, the more I play with the proxies, the more noise I see in them - presumably a result of the much rougher debayer used. The REDCINE transfers are just much cleaner. Hopefully the newly hinted Crimson app (see reduser) will solve the problem for both of us. You can't use REDCINE for hours of footage - even if it's reliable.

Not saying I'd never use the proxies (via a prores transfer), they could work in a hurry, and they have a contrasty/noisy film look that reminds me of the Sapphire film filter, so there's always hope. Perhaps I'm being overly critical of them, as I'm viewing on a full-raster 24" JVC LCD, so it shows up everything.

Ben



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