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Table of contents for Is The Future Of Independent Film RED?

  1. Is the RED Camera the Future of Independent Film?
  2. RED Camera Set Report
  3. RED Camera Post-Production Workflow

So you’re interested in learning about the RED camera? After finishing production on a short film using two RED cameras, it’s time to talk about the post-production workflow for this camera system.

Red Camera side

When we were in production, we had a person on set dedicated to transferring the footage we shot off of the CF cards and RAID drive onto an external hard drive. Once the footage was copied onto the external hard drive, we copied the footage over to two more external hard drives. Then we used an Apple Mac Pro and Apple’s Compressor software to down-res the copies of the RED camera footage.

Apple Mac Pro

The reason we had to down -res the footage was that raw 4k files were too big and unwieldy to work with. We ended up converting one copy of the RED footage into Apple’s ProRes format and the other copy into DVC Pro HD format. The reason for this is that the editor would first do an offline edit of the DVC Pro HD footage using Final Cut Pro.

Once a satisfactory cut was created, the editor would then export an EDL (Edit Decision List) of the cut and use that EDL to online edit the ProRes footage. The ProRes cut is then used for mastering to DVD or other formats.

If the movie needs to be projected for theatrical distribution, then we would need to take the EDL and the original RED footage to a post production house so that they could online edit the 4k files. Now the 4k cut is ready for 4k digital projection. For 2k digital production, we would need the post production house to convert a copy of the 4k footage to 2k for digital 2k projection. And if the movie were to be projected theatrically on a traditional film projector, the 4k cut would need to be kinescoped onto film.

This post-production workflow varies from the workflow posted on the Red Digital Cinema Camera Company‘s website. Our editor, who has shot several projects already on the RED camera, advised us to use this workflow instead.

At the end of the day, I found the RED post-production workflow both tiresome and convoluted. While the image quality is similar or better than other high end digital HD camera, the post-production process could easily turn into a nightmare compared to the relatively easy and straightforward workflows for other camera systems. Yes, the RED camera saves you some money up front in production. But until the post-production kinks are worked out, you lose a lot of those savings in post. The early adapters of this camera system are the guinea pigs for the rest of us.

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