Sunday, January 4, 2015

Re-linking Red Footage, Or Not, In Premiere *UPDATED 3/20/15*

With it's Mercury playback engine Adobe likes to push the idea of a fully online/native workflow fairy hard. For the most part, if you've got the hardware, it actually works pretty well. I recently discovered the hard way that, in certain circumstances,deviating from this model could mean you're going to be in for some chop.

This is all in Premiere CC 2014.1 so if Adobe ever fixes this you don't read this and think it's still broken. I do hope they fix this.


UPDATES

3/20/15 - See the Further Thoughts section of this post for a solution!


THE CONTEXT

We were expecting a drive full of Red footage. It was decided by those who decide such things that editing needed to start yesterday. So I'm told (not asked) that we'll be receiving H.264 proxies of all the footage via the web to start the edit with, and can online to the r3d files when we receive the drives. The proxies had matching timecode and filenames. So what's the problem?

THE PROBLEM


Premiere Doesn't Reconnect to r3d files properly. I wish I was wrong about this, but unfortunately I'm not.

So the media browser in Premiere generally autodetects the type of media you're looking at and adjusts appropriately. For instance when opening up a dump of a Red card it sees .RDC folders as clips with scrubbable thumbnails...


A day at the beach this project was not.

...except when you access it via the reconnect media dialogue. It remains resolutely stupid, and if you don't know any better you'll be looking at a bunch of folders wondering how this is gonna work.

The same folder viewed through the media browser while re-linking assets.

You have to manually switch the browsing mode to RED via the eyeball. This is inconsequential to the bigger issue here, but it really bothers me nonetheless.



You clearly know this is RED footage. Are you just messing with me now?

Either way you can relink to the clip in RED eyeball mode, or if browsing as directory you can go inside and relink to the clipname_001.r3d. Doing this works and brings the clip online as expected. The catch is neither of these methods work if you're trying to batch reconnect multiple clips. Premiere will just hang indefinitely, and that will be that. (Trust me, I've waited hours while trying to reconnect 3 sub 1 minute clips.)

THE SOLUTION

Don't plan to do an offline-online workflow of Red footage in Premiere?

It seems absurd such a prominent NLE could fail at such a simple task. I'm not the only one to think so. This is what has been suggested as a workaround, or this

Personally I don't feel great about modifying the directory structure of master footage, particularly with spanned clips and the metadata that gets associated with Red stuff. Nor do I feel great about cracking open my project file and editing it. While both these options should technically no cause any trouble, it's a bit too risky for me.

The proper solution would be to bounce an XMl of the edit out to whatever software you're finishing in and bring things online there. I tested this with Resolve and Redcine-X, both worked as expected.

FURTHER THOUGHTS

There are a number of reasons why waiting till picture lock and on-lining in another program may be an issue. In our situation we needed access to the r3d source controls to balance color and exposure between shots, because the footage was shot so mismatched the producer refused to approve client review of the rough cut. The H.264 proxies were also quarter res, which didn't look to great on our 4K client monitor.

I'm not going to detail how we went about bringing it online because at that point things depend on so many of the project's factors such as audio source/organization, if there's footage from other cameras, how far along in the edit things are, etc. There's no right answer because this functionally is simply broken in Premiere so it's gonna be messy regardless of how you do it. Most likely the answer will involve several XML exchanges between software that actually works. Or if you're brave, moving all your source files around as outlined in the workaround I linked to above. What worked in this case, may not necessarily work in others due to previously mentioned variables.

I can't suggest strongly enough that you don't try to edit an offline Red project in Premiere, unless you are fine with keeping it offline until you get it out of Premiere. Or relinking every clip by hand.

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