REDCine-X, REDRocket, 5K Time Tests

CLAi are fortunate to not only have been there at the start of the Digital Cinema revolution, but to be heavily involved in post-production and pre-production as well as the physical shooting side of the equation… making us one of the few companies around who really understand the whole process when working with Digital Cinema cameras and footage.

As RED and their software partners introduce new technologies and endless updates on a weekly basis, the adventures in RED Digital Cinema are certainly never ending. At the same time our industry has been in tremendous flux, with new cameras that seem to appear and die within months of their launch, and groundbreaking new roles for on-set and post-production professionals.

From our perspective all of this has meant constantly evolving and developing techniques and workflows to handle cutting edge cameras on set, on location and through pre-post (a part of the process that harkens back to processing 35mm) and post-production  – and not just RED, we have developed workflows that are as happy with an Alexa or F65 as they are with a Canon 5D.

Of all the questions we get about RED Digital Cinema, the biggest mystery and confusion is always the same – the scary unknown of RED R3D files and what to do with them.  And if it is an unknown, how do you allocate budget and time for it?

Well, we recently got called in on a project as “The RED Experts” to not only provide and manage between 6 and 10 RED Epic cameras and crews for a multiple day shoot, but also to handle the masses of footage through on-location color grading, rendering and edit.  It’s the sort of gig that we really get excited about…

Shot in 5K this amount of data still won’t touch The Hobbit’s 30 camera RED Epic shoot, but we are getting close – so to estimate the amount of storage space and time to allow for rendering and editing, our starting point was to run some tests, get out the calculators and crunch numbers – and after all of that we thought we would pass our knowledge on to you…

All of these tests were done with a 1 min RED Epic clip at 24fps, with a basic correction done in REDCine-X, reading from an On-Board hard drive, and writing to an eSATA raid drive all output through a REDRocket on a MacPro 8 core.

format type (shot)

shot/output dimensions

R3D size

ProRes444   same size output time

ProRes444 same size file size

ProRes422 HQ same size output time

ProRes 422 same size file size



5.33 GB


16.6 GB


9.95 GB

5k HD


5.01 GB


15.18 GB


9.33 GB

5k WS


4.33 GB


12.82 GB


8.26 GB

4k HD


3.24 GB


9.28 GB


6.21 GB



3.44 GB


10.07 GB


6.59 GB

(a fun fact we learned was that by creating a preset for this first batch of tests that defined output clip size as “same as source” it cut down on output times quite a lot compared to inputting the exact numbers)

format type (shot)

output dimensions

output equivalency

ProRes422 HQ output time

output file size



4k full


5.63 GB

5k full




1.37 GB

5k HD


4k 16:9


6.03 GB

5k HD




1.46 GB

4k HD




1.37 GB

So one hour of footage shot at 5K widescreen (our setting of choice) will take about 6 hours to output and probably need about 1 TB of hard drive space… a good thing to plan for before you shoot!

What is super interesting and good to know is that a 1920×1080 ProRes422 HQ file is very nearly a real time render on a REDRocket – that’s huge, and a key piece of information for any RED DIT or Colorist to know. For us at CLAi, that’s a piece of cake, and we can do it with our On-Location Colorist or back in our studio all on our REDRocket Mac Pro, but for most people this will take much longer! A standard 8 Core MacPro will take about 30x more than our estimate, and for any DIT working on-set with our favorite MacBookPros… well… good luck is the best I can say!

At the end of the day the important thing to remember is that a Digital Cinema workflow is not scary or unimaginable, you just need to hire the right people to guide you through the adventure. You wouldn’t hire a DP that has only shot on HDV for your 35mm film, so why rent out a RED camera without a good RED DIT and RED Editor? It’s not impossible, you just need the right people on your team.

Hope this helps!