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Seeing RED in Montreal: A Creative COW Real Time Report

COW Library : RED Camera : Mathieu Marano : Seeing RED in Montreal: A Creative COW Real Time Report
Seeing RED in Montreal
A Creative COW Real Time Report


Creative COW Real-Time Report: Sony PMW-EX1 XDCAM EX

Mathieu Marano

Mathieu Marano
Montreal Quebec, Canada
CreativeCow.net. All rights reserved.


Article Focus:
None of the RED cameras have yet made their way into an owner's hands in Montreal, so Mathieu Marano helped arrange an introduction for the Final Cut Montreal user group. In this Creative COW Real Time Report, he shares the details of that meeting, as well as his first experiences with RED post-production workflow. Since this is a real time report, stay tuned for updates as Mathieu and the producers of Montreal learn more.


I am the director of post-production at Le Bureau de post, and one of the administrators of Final Cut Montreal, founded by Marc-André in 2003. My collaborators and I helped put together a meeting to introduce the RED camera to Montreal.

Our friends and partners at 3Vis in Montreal specialize in selling professional 3D and video editing solutions. They are also good friends of Graeme Nattress who worked on the RED codec. That is why we expected to have this meeting as soon as possible. They found a new RED camera in Toronto, owned by Vinit Borrison, a DP for Magnet Film in Toronto, and asked him to bring the camera to our meeting.

We then asked Video MTL, one of the most serious and professional camera rental facilities in Montreal to give us a hand for the shooting setup. They were more than happy to get their name associated with RED ONE since they were in the first 500 to order the camera.

Our first task was to contact our 1400 members and spread the news. 3Vis also sent press releases to the AQTIS, Quebec's version of IATSE, important media outlets, and lots of newsletters to their 3000 name mailing list of clients, producers and DPs. We wanted to be sure that all the best DPs of the province were there.

Final Cut Pro user group with RED Camera presentation
RED demo meeting, Espace Del’Arte, Montreal, December 2007. (All photos courtesy of Dominique Bourget, Digital X Media.)

For the camera itself, I was very impressed by the image quality. We had a bunch of Cooke lenses from Video MTL and DPs had the chance to play around with it.

RED Camera shoot in Montreal
 Vinit Borrison, RED ONE owner

We had 3 Cinetal Monitors and a shooting setup with 2 models. The results in 10 different lighting situations were very promising.


Cinetal Monitors with RED Camera footage
Marc-André Ferguson, RED demo artist


But for my part, as I am more of a post guy, I really liked seeing the integrated post workflow. We shot 2 minutes during the presentation and a minute later we were showing the post workflow with that same footage.

The possibility to create proxies instantly and apply a look to it great. The integration with Final Cut is seamless. I opened the 2K proxy in an FCP timeline and applied a 3-Way Color Corrector and it displayed the correction in real time on the Cinema Display through the AJA Kona 3 without any render...real time!

There is only one easy workflow if you want to stay RED-NATIVE all the way.

First you shoot with the RED ONE in 4K 12 bit RAW, the only format available on the camera for now. Then you take the Compact Flash card, and put it in the CF card reader attached to a Mac and transfer the content to a hard drive.

Note that the file structure on the CF card must be preserved. The RAW file (with the .R3D extension) must stay in the same folder as the 3 proxies created by the camera (2K, 1K and .5K). Each proxy file only takes 114k out of the 8GB on the card, but, as reference movies, they can become unlinked from the originals if the file structure changes.

Once the transfer is complete, you can the import the files in REDCINE to manage "one light style" grading during preview. The look you create can be applied to a clip by creating a new proxy in the resolution you want with that look. REDCINE allows you to manage resolutions, and also codecs. If you prefer something besides RAW, you can create files in any codec you have installed on your computer.

The beauty of all this is that it creates proxies instantly and you can the open the "graded" clip in FCP. The grading, at this point, is entirely nondestructive -- like if you had applied a filter that could be disabled. The underlying footage itself is never touched.

So when you are done correcting the shot and creating proxies you can import them in FCP.

If you don't want to grade the shots and are okay with the resolution of the proxies of the camera you can bypass the REDCINE process and import directly in FCP. You will need FCP 6.0.2 and the RED component available, along with REDCINE, both posted for free on the RED website.

In this workflow, FCP is to be used for OFFLINE work. You import the desired RED proxies (which all have the .mov extension) in an FCP project and throw them in a sequence just like any clip. The RED codec runs at 27MB/s so you'll need a good hard drive but no need for a dual-fiber. In FCP, I've been able to roll a 2K proxy with a 3-way CC in real time with render on a Mac octo and a G-Speed XL.

So the FCP part is just seamless. Once you are done with the offline, you export an EDL and open it in Scratch (by Assimilate), reconnect to the 4K .R3D files and grade those RAW files like no other.

It's that simple.

The other workflow is a bit time consuming but just as simple. You shoot, open the files in REDCINE, grade and then export to any format and codec installed on your computer. This is the only workflow that works with PCs and Avid workstations for now.

It is also the way to go if you know you'll be ending on HDCAM. You can export ProRes HQ Quicktime clips straight from RED CINE. To go faster, you can import the HD proxies in Compressor and render all the clips with QMastered MACs.

The RAW images are a pleasure to work with. We did a shoot a couple of weeks earlier and went to Technicolor to grade on the Lustre for a transfer to 35mm. The colorist was just amazed by all the information contained in every frame.

To anyone wishing to use the RED for a project, I would say, try it first.  Most rental facilities here will rent the camera with a Digital Image Technician who knows the camera and the file management.  On a film shoot, such a person manages the reels but on a digital shoot with the RED, the DIT magages the cards, monitors the shot at the preview station and does the backups to disk or to tape. This is no DV point-and-shoot camera.  DOPs who have worked with 35mm film cameras will be more compfortable than the DV rebel. 

RED ONE owners also have to stay in touch with Red Digital Cinema. They release software updates for the camera that enable key features like audio recording capabilities, more frames rate support and various output configurations every couple of weeks. Their dedication and devotion to their production has no equal.



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