Simple RED Workflow

You’ve shot on the RED and would like to start editing but don’t know where to begin?

The range of options and RED workflows can make your head spin. If your project’s budget doesn’t allow finishing on a high end system you may consider offline editing and finishing in Final Cut Pro.

Note: since this article was written in 2008, all major NLEs have introduced RED support and no longer require working with proxy files.  HD sized dailies are still viable approach when offline editing RED projects.

The Most Simple RED Workflow

This method uses RED camera proxy QuickTime files loaded straight to Final Cut Pro (for explanation of “RED proxies” read RED Camera Workflow Basics).

Final Cut Pro or any other Macintosh based editing software including Avid Media Composer can read RED proxy files. To make this happen you need an Intel based Macintosh and the RED QuickTime Codec.

RED File Organization

If you look at your RED hard disc you will see folders named similar to these:


Each time you shoot and press stop RED creates a folder. Inside a folder you may find:

A001_C001_090115 _P.MOV
A001_C001_090115 .RSX

The .MOV files are the proxies. Each RED RAW (.R3D) clip has four matching uniquely sized proxies. Since 2010, the camera no longer generated the proxy files, but they can be quickly created with free Redcine-X application.

“F” is the full resolution proxy, “H” is half of the original resolution, “M” is medium size and “P” stands for “proxy.” Proxy of a proxy makes little sense. Just think of the “P” size as the smallest of the four.

Pick the size that fits your project. If your intent is to finish HD in Final Cut Pro, the “P” size is too small. Use the size that’s a little bigger than your final output so you don’t sacrifice quality.

You can determine the size and other attributes of proxy files if you look up the clip information inside QuickTime player.

RED Editing in Final Cut Pro

Drag and drop all the proxies of the same size into Final Cut Pro. Do not move the proxy QuickTimes out of their original folders. They need to reside in the same location with corresponding RAW files.

Your sequence settings must reflect the size of your final output and in some cases the frame rate of the RED files. For example, if the goal is to deliver an HDCAM tape, your sequence size should be 1920×1080 and if the RED material was shot at 23.98 fps you should select 23.98PsF.

Edit your project, color correct it, title it, do what you normally do. When done you can output it to tape or to files.

Quality Matters

The quality of proxy files is not as high the quality of the original RAW files. The color settings of the proxies may yield too dark or overexposed image that can not be adjusted to your liking. On top of that, Final Cut Pro will degrade resolution of the video each time you play the sequence.

However, if you like what you’re seeing on the screen, nothing should prevent you from using the proxies for the final delivery.

Just remember that using RED proxies for the final delivery is like driving a Ferrari in a school zone. The RED can give you much more but not through the proxies.

What About Media Composer?

Macintosh version of Avid Media Composer can read RED proxies too but there is an inherent disadvantage. Since Media Composer does not use QuickTime natively all proxy files must first be imported. The importing process can be very time consuming. Since version 6, Media Composer can AMA link proxy files, as well as read R3D files directly.

Once the media is imported there will be fewer performance problems and there will be no playback resolution degradation like in Final Cut Pro.

What About Windows?

At this time the RED QuickTime codec is available for Mac OSX only. Sorry, no Windows, no Linux.

Proxy Pros

Fast turnaround
Simple Workflow

Proxy Cons

Poor Quality
Performance Problems

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