Avid Demonstrates Support for RED Camera

Updated on March 7, 2009

Avid support for RED is now available to customers.

Avid has demonstrated the much anticipated support for RED camera files at a gathering at Hollywood Roosevelt hotel on November 5th. Avid’s Michael Phillips walked a group editors through a full RED workflow from Media Composer to Avid DS.

The core of the presentation focused on the existing Avid workflow documented at Avid.com/red. Although this process is fully operational and flexible in terms of available workflow options, it depends on multiple steps through third party applications.

Towards the end of the gathering Michael presented the Avid/RED technology demo that everyone has been eagerly awaiting. The Avid support for RED is still in development and the shipping date has not been announced.

What’s New in the Avid RED workflow?

Although there are RED projects that have been fully finished using Avid tools and existing workflows  the new Avid RED workflow greatly simplifies the necessary steps. In order to understand it we need to take a brief look at how the current support for RED in Media Composer and Avid DS work.

All existing solutions revolve around bridging the Media Composer’s inability to read time code from Quicktime files. While it is possible to edit in Media Composer using the RED proxy Quicktime files (or DNxHD wrapped inside Quicktime), the difficulty lies with translating the final sequence into an Edit Decision List or other type of file that a DI workstation can understand. No time code on the input means no time code on the output.

MetaCheater or REDrushes can output Avid ALE files which contain time code and other metadata needed for offline edit.

Once the cut is locked the RED .R3D files must be converted to DPX files for conform and color timing in Avid DS. This is can be achieved through REDcine or REDline using a handful of other applications such as Crimson, CineXML, or Monkey Extract. All of them work as translators from one application to another.

In the nutshell this workflow does the job but it’s not as straightforward as finishing most other file based sources. A much simpler Avid RED workflow is currently in development. It is divided in two parts. The first part focuses on offline editing and the second part focuses on DI or tape finishing.

Avid RED Offline Editing

In preparation for RED editing in Media Composer, the RED .R3D files are converted to DNxHD MXF media using Avid MetaFuze. The process is simple and similar to the existing workflow using DPX film scans.

Avid MetaFuze MXF files take into consideration color metadata settings dialed into the camera at the time of the shoot. The color rendered into the MXF media reflects the cinematographer’s choice.

Avid MetaFuze supports LUTs for work in color managed environments and can burn in time code making it a good choice for preparation of dailies.

CPU scalability is an added advantage. Avid MetaFuze is multithreaded and supports remote CPUs. This opens the doors for distributed network rendering which will become an important part of any future RED workflow due to intense debayering computation requirements.

The Avid MetaFuze conversions can be done on a daily basis if the production requires on-set editing or can be done in one batch at the end of principal photography.

The DNxHD encoded MXF media is imported to Avid Media Composer and edited as any other film based project.

Once the picture is locked the editor can create AFE files of the locked sequences for export to Avid DS.

Avid DS RED Digital Intermediate

While Avid technology preview did not include an entire step-by-step demonstration of the new Avid DS RED importer it certainly suggested what the process may look like in the near future.

The RED conform in Avid DS will resemble the file based conform via AFE introduced in version 10. A Media Composer AFE will create clips that link to the the original RED .R3D files.

The Avid DS RED importer will allow the full range of RED based adjustments like the parameters in REDcine or REDrushes. Color temperature, ISO speed, OLPF processing, curve adjustments, etc. will all be available in the new importer along with an option to use the .RSX color metadata from REDalert.

At present time any DNxHD MXF files from Media Composer can be linked and shared in an Avid DS sequence. Although the visual quality of these files may be insufficient for final delivery, they offer a picture reference for cross checking of the conform accuracy. This functionality could be used in a RED based DI in place of a typical Quicktime picture reference.

Avid DS has the ability to export finished sequences as 10-bit log DPX files for film output or can record to SD and HD tape formats including 4:4:4 HDCAM SR.

The Advantages of Avid RED Workflow

The new Avid RED workflow will give an opportunity to editors to work in a familiar environment without having to learn the intricacies of XLM file structure, third party tools and multiple step workflows.

The Media Composers unmatched ability to track all kinds of metadata and it’s connectivity with Avid DS via Avid’s AFE file format is a step ahead from the typical EDL based transfer between offline edit systems and DI workstations. This will allow facilities to work faster having to rebuild fewer effects and timeline tracks.

Igor Ridanovic is a co-founder of RED Los Angeles User Group