Manufacturers Line Up for RED SDK

Since August, when RED announced the release of a Software Developer Kit (SDK) that would enable other manufacturers to work with the company’s Redcode RAW (.R3D) file format natively, there has been a rush of postproduction equipment manufacturers signing up for the SDK—namely those with editing and grading systems.

It’s not surprising, since there are over 4,000 cameras out there in the market, as well as a huge pool of potential users who may have shied away from RED’s “closed workflow,” or at least, a clumsy workflow just to get the footage into a usable format for editing and grading.

Until the release of the SDK, there were only four applications that could work with native R3D footage—the company’s free transcoding applications— RedCine and RED Alert, as well as Assimilate’s Scratch (DI and post tools) and Apple’s Final Cut Pro 6.02 editing system.

Redcode RAW is a variable bitrate wavelet codec, which captures raw sensor data at resolutions up to 4096 x 2304 (16×9). There are two versions of the codec, recording at approximately 28 MBps or 36 MBps (compression rates of about 12:1 and 9:1 respectively).

But users who wanted to edit on an Avid or color grade on a Quantel had to transcode the files using either RedCine or RED Alert.

RedCine and RED Alert act as a virtual telecine, converting the R3D raw data files into RGB video which can be used on almost every system, providing basic one-light image processing and color correction in the process.

RedCine is available for both Mac and PC Intel-based computer platforms, while RED Alert is Intel Mac OS only.

RED Alert has the ability to adjust color temperature, saturation, contrast, brightness, and RGB gain, and can also generate QuickTime proxies from the R3D files. RedCine can crop, resize and reposition footage, as well as offering a much more comprehensive list of compression and export file choices.

The advantages of working in R3D are that files are much smaller than RGB formats, and R3D saves the actual sensor data, providing maximum image latitude for postproduction.

With the release of the SDK giving other manufacturers the ability to import those R3D files natively, the workflow possibilities for RED owners are expanding dramatically.

Digital Vision is integrating R3D decoding directly into all of its software products. Digital Vision’s Film Master will be able to grade native Redcode RAW files, and users will benefit from the system’s floating point, high dynamic range processing, as well as Film Master’s DVO tools that can enhance definition and detail as part of the grading and finishing process.

According to Simon Cuff, president and COO, Digital Vision, “We are offering an advanced workflow for RED, which has proven to be one of the most in-demand acquisition tools and one that will continue to be of great interest to the creative community. We have taken RED productions one step further and fine tuned our DVO tools to improve postproduction workflows even more.”

At IBC, in Amsterdam in September, Quantel demonstrated support for RED camera R3D files on its eQ, iQ and Pablo. RED support will be added free of charge to V4.0 software expected to be released in October. Quantel’s R3D implementation enables users to preview R3D files before importing; import partial files by setting in and out points, and import at 4K, 2K or 1K resolution with different quality options.

“We have moved quickly to implement support for the newly-published R3D format,” said Steve Owen, Quantel director of marketing. “This is our first implementation of RED support; we plan to add further features in future as we gain customer feedback.”

Also at IBC, Autodesk announced that it had signed up for the Software Developer’s Kit, but the company wasn’t very specify about its plans.

“The RED Camera is creating a revolution in digital cinematography,” said Stig Gruman, Digital Entertainment Group vice president, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. “Autodesk recognizes the impact to the industry and to our customers. Now that the agreement between RED and Autodesk is signed, we look forward to investigating ways in which we can empower our customers with more tools and workflows that make them the most in-demand creative professionals in the industry.”

In late September, Avid announced that it had also signed the R3D SDK License Agreement.

“Many of our customers have already completed RED projects using Avid systems—as we have developed solutions in the interim that enable them to work with Media Composer, Symphony and Avid DS,” said Kirk Arnold, executive vice-president of Customer Operations, Avid Technology. “We look forward to streamlining this workflow even further with the RED SDK.”

FilmLight demonstrated a version of its Baselight grading system processing R3D files at IBC. The company is promising that RED support will be added to Baselight through a software upgrade to be released shortly.

Da Vinci Systems also plans to support the format in its Resolve systems. This will enable colorists to grade native RED files directly from a SAN and other storage devices for nonlinear, real-time color finishing.

Iridas has added R3D to its SpeedGrade XR system, which offers GPU-based de-Bayering for playback and grading of basically all available digital cinema RAW formats, including ARRI D20/D21, DALSA 4K, Phantom HD and Phantom 65, Silicon Imaging SI-2K (CineForm RAW), and the WEISSCAM.

Lightworks will be offering an optional HD Codec pack for its new Lightworks 1.3, which allows Lightworks users to edit R3D raw files as well as ProRES422 files from Final Cut Pro. Meanwhile, at press time, Adobe Systems, released Adobe CS4 (without RED support). The company had previously announced that it was collaborating with RED “to develop a native raw workflow that keeps filmmakers close to the lens, so that you’re always working with the sensor data the camera captured.”

A statement from the company read: “Native support for RED R3D files in Production Premium CS4 will be available to our customers later in an update. RED is making the beta plug-in available as early as possible to provide customers a more flexible workflow immediately, and in order to obtain feedback from the community on how best to develop this workflow.”

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