RED at NAB 2009

The NAB 2009 has come and gone leaving us with a range of new RED ONE products that enhance the RED workflow.

Powerful things come in small packages as demonstrated by RED Rocket, probably the least anticipated RED announcement this year.

RED Digital Cinema at the NAB

RED Rocket will add real time 4K playback capability to any RED application like RED Alert! and all applications that use the RED SDK to access RED RAW files. The under $5,000 priced PCI-E card will feature Quad-DVI and Quad-HD SDI connections and Windows/Mac/Linux compatibility. The delivery date is not set.

RED Digital Cinema demonstrated the new set of Pro Prime lenses during the Reduser Supermeet on April 22nd. The low cost PL mount 25mm, 35m, 50mm, 85mm 100mm and 300mm primes are designed specifically with the RED in mind.

RED Editing and DI Solutions

DVS Clipster muscled its way onto the RED scene as the most powerful NLE device up to date. Using native, non-SDK access to REDCODE and application specific hardware Clipster delivers full quality, 4k, 12 bit real time debayering and playback of RED files.

Clipster is a fast prep, conform and versioning workstation often used in tandem with other DI boxes although it has a color grading and effects tool set of its own.

Iridas demonstrated full premium quality debayering and real time 2k playback in SpeedGrade. The Iridas’ products have offered a wide ranging RAW camera file support including REDCODE for some time but the NAB announcement of support for CinemaDNG promises to turn a new page in processing and storage of RAW files.

The Iridas RealTime RAW 3.0 enables playback of 4k CinemaDNG files in real time. Iridas products can now transcode the REDCODE and other RAW formats to CinemaDNG.

CinemaDNG is the product of the Adobe lead Digital Negative Specification intended to standardize RAW camera file storage, streamline workflows and file exchange. Iridas is the first manufacturer to announce the implementation of this standard.

The recent release of RED SDK for Linux has enabled Linux based systems like Autodesk Smoke and Flame to add RED capabilities. The Autodesk RED workflow utilizes the company’s powerful Backburner render system.

The Backburner can debayer RED files in the background and save them in a variety of file formats. The converted files are immediately accessible in Smoke or Flame. The Backburner is fully scalable and can deliver high frame throughput depending on the number of available nodes.

Da Vinci, another Linux based DI workstation unveiled support for RED in Resolve R-series. Using a new hardware and software bundle called Digital PowerHouse, Resolve is able to debayer and play back 4k RED sources up to 24 frames per second. The playback speed depends on the available system options.

Avid’s RED workflow took a prominent part at their NAB booth. In this workflow a free Avid software called MetaFuze is used to prepare dailies and encode DNxHD media for use in Media Composer. Once the offline edit is complete the sequence with all the video layers and effects is sent to Avid DS for final DI and versioning. DS can directly link or capture RED RAW files.

Adobe recently retooled their Creative Suite to deliver high performance in 64 bit operating systems. The speed gains in After Effects, Premiere and Encore allow quick and simple use of native RED RAW files in these applications.

The new features presented at NAB include the full set of RED debayering and color adjustment controls. Adobe’s implementation of REDCODE delivers high throughput because it does not depend on the RED SDK.

New RED Accessories and Utilities

AJA the maker of high quality digital video interfaces announced the Ki Pro tapeless video recorder. Ki Pro works with RED ONE and other digital cameras by capturing 10 bit ProRes files from camera.

While RED ONE is recording 4k RAW files, Ki Pro captures QuickTime ProRes equivalents of the master footage that can be used in Final Cut Pro immediately without any additional transcoding. The product which is priced at $3,995 is shipping in June of 2009.

Another useful and lightweight utility comes from RED Lightning Software. On set logging for RED allows creation of clip logs on the set. The logs which contain scene description, comments, circle take and other information are linked to RED Proxy files in Final Cut Pro using time and date stamps. Once linked, all the location based data is available to the editor in Final Cut Pro.

Frantic Films’ Deadline 3.1 render farm software is now integrated with REDLine. The distributed rendering software which supports major industry standard project files can generate RED dailies. Deadline 3.1 is free for use with up to two processing nodes and can be licensed for any number of additional nodes.

PF Plate showed a low cost RED ONE breakout adapter. The plate which attaches to the camera body comes with two BNC and 2 XLR connectors. The future configurations will include additional connectors like HDMI out.

Cache-A’s new LTO-4A tape backup drive Prime-Cache makes Red archiving faster and easier than ever. The price for the new LTO drive is $7,995 with first units shipping in May of 2009.

GearNex Gearhed is a precision machined camera support available from CineToysOnline. The quality of pan and tilt motion rivals much more expensive camera support systems and is perfect for RED ONE.

The NAB 2009 Aftermath

Although the attendance at NAB 2009 was 17% down from the previous year according to the show organizers, more RED oriented products and software packages were released than the ever before.

Almost all high end editing finishing and editing systems now support REDCODE, some natively, some directly through the SDK.

There is also an upswing of software utilities and accessories for RED ONE. These are all good indicators of the RED’s maturity as an acquisition medium.

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