THE SPACE BETWEEN……..Workflow and Data Footprint

All choices come with consequences.  Some consequences outweigh the benefit and some do not.  When it comes to using RED Digital Cinema there are many things that are the reason that this little camera is taking over Digital Cinema.  For starters capturing a 5K image has spoiled me to the point that I wil never be able to go back to an HD camera for my serious work.  The fact that the camera can push that much data at 120 fps still blows my mind and very soon next year RED will be releasing their Dragon sensor which is a 6K frame!  I’m not going to even start down that road or this post will be immediately sidetracked 🙂  Onwards……..  While all this resolution is amazing it does come with one consequence.  Yes I said ONE because it is the only negative consequence I have come across after six months of usage.  It is a very obvious consequence too.  Capture ultra high resolution = capture ultra large file sizes.  Last year while using DLSR’s for all my work I went through one 4tb hard drive.  It is June and I’m on my fourth already!  Lets just say there isn’t anymore just rolling to see what happens.  To put this in perspective I tracked my data footprint over the course of THE SPACE BETWEEN.  Keep in mind that this is a 5 minute project.  Imagine a feature film

The second topic for this post is the workflow I chose to stay at 4K resolution clear through post to final output.  Just saying that sounds funny.  Studios in Hollywood are just now starting to master films at 4K and because of the advancements in technology I can do the exact same thing in my tiny little studio here in central Kansas.  In fact, The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo was the first widespread release of a 4K film.  Amazing things are happening in the filmmaking world right now.  Filmmaking is being democratized by companies like RED among many others.  For my backwoods 4K workflow I started out using REDCINE X Pro for a first light grade on the R3D’s.  Nothing more than balancing luminance levels and white balance.  Starting out with a perfectly balanced image makes the color grading phase go much smoother in my opinion and with the RAW workflow RED offers this is always a possibility.  RGB codecs that almost every other motion camera in the world uses cannot do this.  If you foul up your white balance during capture then you will already be pushing the codec around just to get back nuetral.  Just set your white balance in the field right?  Well anyone who has done enough work knows that this is not always that easy especially in the heat of the moment.  From REDCINE X I began the editorial process in Premiere.  No transcoding the material.  Premiere accepts the R3D’s and allows you to hang onto your metadata as long as you want.  When I had picture lock it was time to move to Adobe Speedgrade to try out their new flagship coloring suite.  Instead of using an EDL to get into Speedgrade I used Premieres “Send to Speedgrade” option.  While this worked perfectly fine it was a mistake.  This sends a DPX sequence out and each DPX frame was 32mb.  7100 frames at 32 mb a piece is a huge data hit!  Lesson learned.  After grading in Speedgrade which is another post it was time to take the film back to premiere for some final additions like titles and additional sound design.  I went with a Prores 4444 file to get back.  Worked just fine.

I often get asked what kind of machine I am working with to push a 4K project along.  While I call my workflow “backwoods” that’s simply just a geographic designation 🙂  I am running an 8core macpro with 16 gb of ram and two video cards along with a RED Rocket card daisychained into the machine.  That for sure is a great deal of processing power but for sure not the minimum to handle RED files natively.  It probably is to do it with any speed though.  I have though tested my Macbook Pro with a raid drive esata connection through the express34 slot and was able to edit RED files natively in realtime with the playback set to 1/4.  So while my editing bay has many thousands invested in it it can be done for less than $5,000.  If anyone has anymore questions feel free to hit me up.  I’m a NERD through and through and love talking shop!  Hope everyone is having a great summer!


To see the film go here and preferably download the original 4K file




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