Tackling The 8K Workflow With RED

When RED first shipped a 4K camera, most of the production world was still tackling the HD workflow, which put the company—and customers—on the bleeding edge of technology. As with any pioneers, those that jumped into 4K production did so with a bit of blind faith, and in the case of many production departments, a very light wallet. 

The industry is moving quickly past 4K, with cameras that capture up to 8K regularly part of the production chain. Even for those that plan to deliver only in 4K, the advantages of working in a higher resolution and downsampling are plentiful. The image-quality benefits to shooting above 8K and outputting in 4K were the primary point of several of the talks I saw at NAB, with manufacturers from Sony to Canon to RED discussing the benefits of large sensors and high resolutions.

Monstro 8K VV

I sat with RED’s Graeme Nattress to discuss the 8K workflow and several other topics pressing upon today’s video production teams. 

One thing seems clear—the early days of 4K video production were much more problematic for creatives than the move to 8K is today. Partially, Nattress explained, computing power and storage capacities have scaled at a faster rate than the data scales between 4K and 8K. 

I talked with RED staff in their meeting rooms, where the company’s cameras and editing tools were connected for hands-on demonstrations, and they explained that a second factor has made the high-resolution workflow easier to manage despite much bigger files is the power of today’s editing systems. I’ve used the iMac Pro and have edited 8K footage in Final Cut Pro in real time. 

Helium 8K S35

The biggest time-suck during the workflow comes when decoding the original footage. Once that’s done, the workflow process speeds up, and editing proxy video and rendering 4K final output is relatively quick comparatively. Even without an iMac Pro—or a top-shelf PC—for example, it’s simple to work with 8K footage because the work is done with proxy media. RED cameras can record to dual storage devices—as can many pro cameras—and this ability to record full-resolution to one card and proxy footage to another saves massive amounts of time. 

In any case, the demands of video production will always head upwards, it’s smart to think of scaling towards tomorrow when purchasing equipment today.