Red released their image processing tools RedAlert and RedCine to the public on Wednesday. I took note, downloaded the required files, and added it to my to-do list. I was not ready to experiment with all of that just yet. Then today, Cineform released a beta of Neo4K. That got me ready in a hurry. I immediately downloaded the new Cineform build, and installed Neo4K and RedCine on my workstation to start testing.
The current Neo4K workflow is to use RedCine to export Cineform4K MOV files from the RedOne camera’s native R3D files. These compressed files can be played in realtime, usually at 2K display resolution, in Premiere, AfterEffects, and a variety of other programs. Filmout is the primary application for 4K finishing, and most filmout facilities are still going to require DPX files as the final step, but Cineform can be used for all of the steps prior to that point. If they optimize their downsampled playback correctly, realtime CCR in Speedgrade should be possible in the near future, with 2K live playback and 4K renders. Iridas needs to get Speedgrade working correctly in HD and 2K first though, before we get too far ahead of ourselves.
I Updated/Rewrote the following section Saturday morning after further testing and research:
I was able to download 2K and 4K R3D demo files directly from Red, and successfully imported them into RedCine. I then was able to export them to Cineform2K and Cineform4K MOV files. The 4K files took 4-6 seconds per frame to render, and the 2K took about 1 second per frame, on my dual 3.2Ghz Xeon workstation with my new 8800GTX GPU. There is a known error in RedCine that prevents the encoding of files at exactly 4096 pixels wide, so testing is being done at 4088 pixels width instead. I also converted the resulting MOV files to AVI, so I had four files to test, AVIs and MOVs at 2K and 4K. After updating Quicktime at David Newman’s suggestion, all my files worked in both Premiere Pro (Prospect2K project) and in AfterEffects. The 4K files do not really playback in Premiere, but you can scrub them. In AE, I get 2fps at 4K in full quality. At half quality (4K->2K) I get 6fps, which is the same as I get when playing back 2K footage at full. All these AE tests were done at 8bpp, since I foresee doing work at 2K-8bit, and rendering at 4K-16bit.
Clearly there is still work to be done, but the software was all released in the last couple of days, in first public beta form. Regardless, it is amazing that I am now able to edit 4K video footage in my bedroom on my Xeon workstation from 2005. Once it is working correctly in AE, I will be all set, because that is where I like to do most of my online work. It is much more precise than Premiere Pro, and the type of work I do rarely requires much realtime playback. I am looking forward to getting a chance to do some “real” work with Red footage, but given the current performance, I am hoping that my first steps can be with a shorter project. It also reassures me of my recent decision to invest in a new workstation, since 4K is a lot of data to be manipulating, no matter how you compress it.