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Author Topic: Color-Grading Workflows for newbie: H264-ProRes-RAW to DPX  (Read 15709 times)
adrjork
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« on: July 23, 2012, 12:52:56 PM »
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PREAMBLE: The Camera

Hi guys, I've found 3 DSLR under 4000$ to make low-light indoor wide angle shots for color-grading porpuse:

1. Canon 5D Mark III
-PROS: I can use 24mm f/1,4 low-light lenses without crop-factor
-CONS: 8bit 4:2:0 H.264 compressed files (is it so bad?)

2. Nikon D800 + Hyperdeck Shuttle2 or Atomos Ninja2
-PROS: Shuttle2 records 10bit 4:2:2 Uncompressed Quicktime files (from the 8bit HDMI Nikon out); or Ninja2 records 8bit 4:2:2 handy ProRes
-CONS: perhaps moiré effects with D800

3. Blackmagic Cinema Camera
-PROS: fine 12bit 4:2:2 CinemaDNG 2,5K files
-CONS: the narrow sensor seems not good for low-light, and the 2,4x crop-factor would require an ultra-wide 10mm f/2,8 lens that is not so fast

Perhaps... 5D Mark III is the best VDSLR with the worst codec; Blackmagic is the worst VDSLR with the best codec; D800+Shuttle/Ninja is in the middle.
But my target is to  make good color-correction (DaVinci or Smoke?). Then I suppose also the codec is very important to me.
(Now I must admit that I'm a newbie in color-correction HD/2K workflow, so be patient!)


FIRST SCENARIO: starting with 8bit 4:2:0 H.264

1st_question: is it true that 8bit 4:2:0 H.264 is inapporpriate for NLE and color-grading (soppose that I use Smoke, so no-steps)?

2nd_question: if so, is it true that converting this native 8bit 4:2:0 compressed file into a bigger 10bit 4:4:4 ProRes/Uncompressed/TIFF improves the color-correction quality/management? (Even when the native is only 8bit 4:2:2?)


SECOND SCENARIO: Shuttle's 10bit 4:2:2 Uncompressed or with Ninja's 8bit 4:2:2 ProRes?

3rd_question: being Nikon's HDMI-out only 8bit 4:2:2, which one is more appropriate between Shuttle's 10bit 4:2:2 Uncompressed and Ninja's 8bit 4:2:2 ProRes?

4th_question: in spite of the dimention of the files, is editing directly with 10bit 4:2:2 Uncompressed Quicktime unhandy? (It requires a lot more GPU power than ProRes?)


THIRD SCENARIO: codec quality vs sensor quality

5th_question: do you think that the fine native 12bit 4:2:2 CinemaDNG 2,5K file is a good enough reason to prefer Blackmagic Cinema Camera over the others for color-grading purpose (in spite of its so-narrow crop sensor and the limit of f/2,8 of the 10mm super wide lenses)?


ULTIMATE QUESTION: HD to 2K-DPX workflow hypothesis

6th_question: which workflow do you prefer for "non-Red-HD-footage to 2K-DPX-film" through Editing + Color-grading softwares (for example Finalcut + DaVinci)?

For example, this is a solution by Saressh:
-Edit Native (NLE edits are non-destructive) with Proxy-and-Relink technique
-Output the edit to TIFF for grading

But when you have finished with DaVinci, it directly export the final DXP, or you have to do this final step into NLE again?

Why don't immediately export DXP from NLE instead of TIFF?

And is it horrible to directly export ProRes 4:4:4 from NLE for grading?

Do you prefer the suite solution (Premiere+Speedgrade) or the all-in-one solution (Autodesk Smoke)? (And which is the differences beetwen AAF vs OMF vs XML vs EDL?)

(As I said, guys, I'm a newbie, so please be patient and detailed Wink and help me! Thanks a lot, I'll appreciate all your replies!)
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 01:03:24 PM by adrjork » Logged
Sareesh Sudhakaran
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2012, 11:11:07 PM »
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PREAMBLE: The Camera

Hi guys, I've found 3 DSLR under 4000$ to make low-light indoor wide angle shots for color-grading porpuse:

1. Canon 5D Mark III
-PROS: I can use 24mm f/1,4 low-light lenses without crop-factor
-CONS: 8bit 4:2:0 H.264 compressed files (is it so bad?)

2. Nikon D800 + Hyperdeck Shuttle2 or Atomos Ninja2
-PROS: Shuttle2 records 10bit 4:2:2 Uncompressed Quicktime files (from the 8bit HDMI Nikon out); or Ninja2 records 8bit 4:2:2 handy ProRes
-CONS: perhaps moiré effects with D800

3. Blackmagic Cinema Camera
-PROS: fine 12bit 4:2:2 CinemaDNG 2,5K files
-CONS: the narrow sensor seems not good for low-light, and the 2,4x crop-factor would require an ultra-wide 10mm f/2,8 lens that is not so fast

Perhaps... 5D Mark III is the best VDSLR with the worst codec; Blackmagic is the worst VDSLR with the best codec; D800+Shuttle/Ninja is in the middle.
But my target is to  make good color-correction (DaVinci or Smoke?). Then I suppose also the codec is very important to me.
(Now I must admit that I'm a newbie in color-correction HD/2K workflow, so be patient!)


FIRST SCENARIO: starting with 8bit 4:2:0 H.264

1st_question: is it true that 8bit 4:2:0 H.264 is inapporpriate for NLE and color-grading (soppose that I use Smoke, so no-steps)?

First of all, I think you're looking at things the wrong way around. Anyway, here's an answer to your first question:

No, it is not true. Broadcast video is 8-bit 4:2:0 but not H.264. However, H.264 is adopted for Blu-ray and web standards. There's nothing wrong with this in theory.

Quote
2nd_question: if so, is it true that converting this native 8bit 4:2:0 compressed file into a bigger 10bit 4:4:4 ProRes/Uncompressed/TIFF improves the color-correction quality/management? (Even when the native is only 8bit 4:2:2?)

Yes and no. It gives you a slightly more 'leeway' for grading but will not 'improve' your footage. It's like chewing gum. Working in 16 or 32 bit can stretch the chewing gum a few more inches but will not improve its taste!

Quote
SECOND SCENARIO: Shuttle's 10bit 4:2:2 Uncompressed or with Ninja's 8bit 4:2:2 ProRes?

3rd_question: being Nikon's HDMI-out only 8bit 4:2:2, which one is more appropriate between Shuttle's 10bit 4:2:2 Uncompressed and Ninja's 8bit 4:2:2 ProRes?

As far as I know, only the Ninja 2 is officially meant to support the data stream from the D800, but it has not been released yet. Or has it? Read my post here for rigging up a D800: http://wolfcrow.com/blog/master-guide-to-rigging-a-nikon-d800-or-d800e-part-7/

Quote
4th_question: in spite of the dimention of the files, is editing directly with 10bit 4:2:2 Uncompressed Quicktime unhandy? (It requires a lot more GPU power than ProRes?)

I don't recommend apple computers or QT at all - I am a PC guy so my answer is going to be biased on that count. I am also a firm advocate of working uncompressed. It is more complicated than just 'GPU power', I'm afraid.

Quote
THIRD SCENARIO: codec quality vs sensor quality

5th_question: do you think that the fine native 12bit 4:2:2 CinemaDNG 2,5K file is a good enough reason to prefer Blackmagic Cinema Camera over the others for color-grading purpose (in spite of its so-narrow crop sensor and the limit of f/2,8 of the 10mm super wide lenses)?

Yes. No doubt about it. The crop sensor and other limits have no bearing on color grading.

Quote
ULTIMATE QUESTION: HD to 2K-DPX workflow hypothesis

6th_question: which workflow do you prefer for "non-Red-HD-footage to 2K-DPX-film" through Editing + Color-grading softwares (for example Finalcut + DaVinci)?

I fully recommend Adobe CS6.

Quote
For example, this is a solution by Saressh:
-Edit Native (NLE edits are non-destructive) with Proxy-and-Relink technique
-Output the edit to TIFF for grading

But when you have finished with DaVinci, it directly export the final DXP, or you have to do this final step into NLE again?

If you're going to DPX, you will most likely do it from a grading or finishing application. Since I recommend CS6, this is the workflow:

Premiere Pro (native and/or with proxies)--> After Effects (32 bit mode) --> Render to 32-bit TIFF/DPX (choice of color space critical) --> Grade in Speedgrade and export 2K DCP

Quote
Why don't immediately export DXP from NLE instead of TIFF?

Because till CS6 DPX wasn't supported. Speedgrade now supports DPX (and so does AME) but there is no round trip capability. TIFF files are more universal, license-free and are the most universal and simply designed file system - in my opinion.

Quote
And is it horrible to directly export ProRes 4:4:4 from NLE for grading?

Not at all. Prores is a great codec, and so is DNxHD. I don't see the point of intermediate codecs though, as I'm very comfortable working native or uncompressed. Since I've done this for a feature film on a core 2 duo laptop four years ago (I did try Prores and cineform extensively) - I know this is the simplest solution that can give the best results. But you need to know your software and hardware in and out to get such results.

I have to inform you that I am an engineer by education, and have also coded a software program like photoshop for my graduate thesis. I am comfortable building my own machine, websites (of which I have four) and workflow, no matter how complicated it may be. Not everyone can be comfortable looking at things my way. Caveat emptor.

Quote
Do you prefer the suite solution (Premiere+Speedgrade) or the all-in-one solution (Autodesk Smoke)?

Smoke is good, but too convoluted for my taste. It is fundamentally better to choose the right software for each chain in the workflow than be content with a compromise. The quality of the CS6 platform (http://wolfcrow.com/blog/the-adobe-cs6-guide/) is good enough today for a full 2K DCP and TV broadcast pipeline.

Quote
(And which is the differences beetwen AAF vs OMF vs XML vs EDL?)

These are file systems used to transfer data from one software to another. Guess what? If you stick to CS6, you don't need it!! But if you are shifting data between different people and machines, then you need to know more about these.

Now I'll try to offer some advice for:
Quote
...I've found 3 DSLR under 4000$ to make low-light indoor wide angle shots for color-grading porpuse:...I suppose also the codec is very important to me...

If you need 24mm wide angle at f/1.4, forget the Blackmagic Cinema camera. It can give you the angle with a 11 or 14mm lens, but not at that f-stop. That leaves two DSLRs. If a lot of grading is required, you have no choice but to go with the better codec available - in this case the D800.

But the D800 does not have a 'reliable' external recorder that has proven to handshake perfectly with the HDMI stream - nor make the best use of it. The Ninja 1 does have a new firmware update that supposedly makes it better, but I'm not too sure.

What you could do: Rent a D800 with different external recorders: Ki pro mini, shuttle, ninja and pix 240 - and test this against the Canon 5DIII I frame codec. Test it native! If you don't want to rent, download free footage available from the net and do your tests (but unfortunately you don't have control over the test).

There is no easy way, friend. If you had an unlimited budget, I'd recommend the C300 hands down!
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2012, 01:17:45 AM »
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IMO DSLRs are soft with complex wide images, end of.

I have an FS100 that is 4X sharper and not a lot more expensive, used with an 18 or  14 nikon prime the view is pretty wide

There is a growing used market in FS100 with the release of the FS700

You could also consider a canon XF100 - but I dont know how wide it is - seems like a good cam

Also a sony EX1 is sharper than FS100/any DSLR - but the fixed lens is a bit unpleasant on the wide view

A sony EX3 and the right high end lens might provide a very clean wide angle

A GH2 should be on your list as sharper than other photo cameras, I guess you can get a reasonable wide like various 12mm lenses that are around..

As for the BMD - forget it unless someone chops the front down to M4/3 at which point the lens options open up..

The GH2 is the one I would pick on a budget..

S



« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 01:19:23 AM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

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adrjork
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2012, 09:29:13 PM »
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Thanks a lot for your detailed replies, guys.

So, I understand from Mr. Sareesh that converting from native to uncompressed obviously doesn't improve the quality of my footage, but it slightly improves grading possibilities. That is good!

But I suppose that exporting TIFFs from NLE to Speedgrade (or others) requires a workstation with a really fast GPU and a really big and fast RAID external storage, because uncompressed 2K-10bit should require about 290MB/s. For this bitrate B&H men recommend an Array with 8 Hot-Swappable Drives that is a lot of money! Wink
While, I suppose that exporting simply a ProRes (or DNxHD) file from NLE to a color-grading-software requires a really less expensive workstation: in fact ProRes 4:4:4 is 40MB/s only, and I suppose (but I'm not an expert) that a single Nvidia Quadro 4000 (2GB) + a cheaper thunderbolt raid like Pegasus R6 should be both sufficient for real-time grading. Could it be?

It seems to me that the problem is just the passage from NLE to the color-grading-software. This passage is the moment when all proxies become TIFFs. So, there are perhaps two solutions for different budgets:

1. Autodesk Smoke eliminates any passage because it is all-in-one. So I could work with ProRes 4:4:4 proxies from the beginning to the end of my workflow, and only at the very end I could export in DPX directly from natives. I suppose that probably this solution requires to me simply a 2GB graphics card and a thunderbolt RAID. The bad thing is that I would grade a proxy, and this is a limit. Right?

2. I don't know the Speedgrade's system requirements, but DaVinci's requirements for uncompressed 2K in real-time are huge: 2GB graphic card for GUI, 6GB graphic cards for GPU, and the SAS Array With 8 Hot-Swappable Drives.

What is your opinion?

---

Mr. Sareesh, you say that you would prefer the Blackmagic Cinema Camera over 5D3 and D800 in spite of the high crop-factor of its sensor. I'm very interested in your opinion about it, because in many webpages almost all people say that the BMCC is unable to work with high ISO, that it requires a lot of light, that the sensor produces a lot of noise. Well, I must say that I was in love with the idea of this cheap camera that produces 12bit uncompressed files! And I could also think to use f/2.8 lenses instead of f/1.4, but if the images are really dark or full of noise, then BMCC would remain a bad camera with a very good format. So not a good choice in any case.

What do you think about it? (Because I must say that at first it seemed to me that BMCC was an elegant solution for a neat workflow and for my budget Wink)
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 09:32:19 PM by adrjork » Logged
Sareesh Sudhakaran
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2012, 10:38:58 PM »
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Mr. Sareesh, you say that you would prefer the Blackmagic Cinema Camera over 5D3 and D800 in spite of the high crop-factor of its sensor.

Did I say that? This is what I said "If you need 24mm wide angle at f/1.4, forget the Blackmagic Cinema camera. It can give you the angle with a 11 or 14mm lens, but not at that f-stop."

For those not wanting to go wide (40mm on a 35mm equiv) it is a great camera - in theory. But very few people know what it is like to work in uncompressed video or RAW.

Actually the GH2 might be a great option for you. Olympus makes a 12mm f/2 lens so that should be good. And the money you save on the body can be used to buy the Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm and 25mm f/0.95 lenses. Scroll down the page for my suggestions here: http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/general-hd-720-1080-acquisition/508838-need-buy-camera-sportscenter.html#post1740791

And here is a discussion with Dan of Convergent Design on RAW shooting: http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/hd-uhd-2k-digital-cinema/508481-shooting-raw-2.html#post1742212
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adrjork
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2012, 10:47:57 PM »
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Thanks a lot, really. I'll read the link for sure.

And what about the two possibilities of workstation? (one based of uncompressed for high-end workstation and the other based on prores proxy on Smoke for cheaper workstation? Is it a realistic option? THX Wink)
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2012, 07:05:27 AM »
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Thanks a lot, really. I'll read the link for sure.

And what about the two possibilities of workstation? (one based of uncompressed for high-end workstation and the other based on prores proxy on Smoke for cheaper workstation? Is it a realistic option? THX Wink)

I'm not sure I fully understand your question. Can you elaborate?

When working with uncompressed images - there are two paths:
  • Working in real-time
  • Working non-real-time

A low-budget production is not done in real-time.

But if you are working in commercials, with a client on your back, you will need real-time editing, finishing and grading. You'll need a custom hardware setup to make it work. E.g., for those grading 4K Redcode in real-time, Red recommends Red Rocket - an expensive hardware solution. On top of that you'll need a NAS/SAN doing multiple RAIDs based on the workflow.

Grading on proxies defeats the purpose. If the proxy is 8-bit 4:2:0 in Rec. 709, then applying the grade while rendering to a 12-bit RAW image (which has its own LUT, color space and gamma curve) is video hara kiri.
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adrjork
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« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2012, 05:17:07 PM »
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I agree. The fact is that I'm not an expert and I'm trying to understand mainly 2 things:
1. do I really need real-time or not?
2. which workstation set could be right for me?

I understand that real-time is an issue for color-grading only (because it's possible to edit proxy).

So my 1st_question is: not having clients on my back, do you think it's possible to do a good color-grading work without real-time?

Because effectively the real-time-workstation budget and the NON-real-time-workstation budget are pretty different and I try to itemise them here in €:

REAL-TIME (PC): 23.900 €
-Puget Genesis II (8core + 64gb-ram + Quadro6000-6gb + 1xSSD + BluRay burner): 14.000 €
-Eizo CG275W: 2.400 €
-2x G-Speed eS Pro 12TB (24TB): 5000 €
-Atto ExpressSAS H680: 1000 €
-Avid Artist Control V2: 1500 €

REAL-TIME (MAC): 24.600 €
-MacPro (6core + 48gb-ram + 1xSSD + Ati5870-1gb): 8.100 €
-Eizo CG275W: 2.400 €
-2x G-Speed eS Pro 12TB (24TB): 5000 €
-Atto ExpressSAS H680: 1000 €
-Cubix GPU-Xpander-Desktop4 + 3xQuadro4000 (3x2gb): 6600 €
-Avid Artist Control V2: 1500 €

NON-REAL-TIME (MAC): 9350 €
-iMac27" (4core + 16gb + 1xSSD + AMD6970-2gb + accessories): 3000 €
-AJA T-Tap: 250 €
-Eizo CG275W: 2.400 €
-RAID R6 Promise Pegasus 12TB (2x6TB) thunderbolt: 2200
-Avid Artist Control V2: 1500 €

Here my 2nd_question: are these setups realistic? Any advice? Something to change?

Obvioulsy I'd like the iMac27" option for budget reason (and because I'm a Logic Pro user Wink), even if I know that this solution can't give me real-time grading option.

But my 3rd_question is: is the iMac27" option anyway sufficient to grade HD/2K uncompressed clips even if in NON-real-time?

This doubt comes from the DaVinci manual that says that with an iMac27" you can't simply grade 2K/HD even if slowly, because with iMac solution many tools are inhibited (for example noise-reduction)!
So, I know that I'm only a poor indie who doesn't deserve real-time, but at least I'd like to have the same tools! Wink

Now my 4th_question: my dirty (and compressed) workflow hypothesis:
-H.264 is the beginning;
-I convert H.264 into 10bit 4:4:4 Uncompressed;
-Then I convert H.264 also into 10bit 4:4:4 ProRes proxy;
-using Smoke I can edit and also color-grade the 4:4:4 proxy in a single step;
-at the very end I replace the 4:4:4 proxy with the 4:4:4 Uncompressed for rendering.

Now you'll probably say that grading directly a 4:4:4 ProRes proxy only to replace it with a 4:4:4 Uncompressed clip just at the very end is like to buy a pair of shoes for a friend using my own foot as model Wink. That's true! But perhaps (this is my question!) could a 4:4:4 proxy be similar enough to the 4:4:4 uncompressed as two pairs of shoes with the same size? Could it be?

If so, we would have a great advantage: we would use a cheap workstation (like the iMac27") to do two things:
1. editing (Premiere) proxies + grading (Speedgrade) re-linked uncompressed clips in NON-real-time;
2. editing + grading (Smoke) big-444-proxies (re-linking uncompressed clips at the very end) in real-time! (Because 16gb-ram and 2gb-gpu should be sufficient for 10bit 4:4:4 ProRes grading, do you confirm it?)

Naturally this is only a theory in my mind, waiting for your replies and confirmations Wink. Thanks.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2012, 05:41:29 PM by adrjork » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2012, 11:48:30 PM »
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I agree. The fact is that I'm not an expert and I'm trying to understand mainly 2 things:
1. do I really need real-time or not?

What are you making and what is your delivery format(s)? It would depend on that.

Quote
2. which workstation set could be right for me?

I understand that real-time is an issue for color-grading only (because it's possible to edit proxy).

So my 1st_question is: not having clients on my back, do you think it's possible to do a good color-grading work without real-time?

Yes. The quality of the color grade does not depend on it being real-time or not. However, editing does need perfect real-time feedback.

Quote
Here my 2nd_question: are these setups realistic? Any advice? Something to change?

No, they are not realistic - not if you're shooting DSLR footage and grading it. For 1080p24 uncompressed I don't think you'll need a machine more expensive than about $2,000 (excluding the monitor).

Look at it this way:
Shoot H.264.
Log and archive footage in H.264 (@45Mbps with a shooting ratio of 8:1 for a 2 hour feature, you have a total of approx. 350 GB)
Ingest and edit native - real-time - no need for proxies -
  • If no major effects, etc - (If using CS6) port to AE for finishing, etc - work in 32 float
  • If major effects, chroma, etc needs to be carried out, export 16-bit TIFF sequence (only required scenes) from AME and then import to AE for finishing, etc - work in 32 float

Export/Render DPX or TIFF, 10-bit/16-bit (You will only be grading 2 hours of locked edit - (9 MB per frame (10-bit), about 225-300 MB/s, total 1.6 - 2.5 TB))
Import in SpeedGrade and grade - export master to DPX (and TIFF).
From TIFF master - import into Premiere and
  • Author in Encore to Blu-ray, DVD, etc
  • Export from AME to various web/mobile formats
  • export from AME to HDCAM SR/D5 (for broadcast)

Quote
Obvioulsy I'd like the iMac27" option for budget reason (and because I'm a Logic Pro user Wink), even if I know that this solution can't give me real-time grading option.

But my 3rd_question is: is the iMac27" option anyway sufficient to grade HD/2K uncompressed clips even if in NON-real-time?

It's more than enough.

Quote
This doubt comes from the DaVinci manual that says that with an iMac27" you can't simply grade 2K/HD even if slowly, because with iMac solution many tools are inhibited (for example noise-reduction)!
So, I know that I'm only a poor indie who doesn't deserve real-time, but at least I'd like to have the same tools! Wink

Why not try your own tests? Create (or download) uncompressed images using photoshop/AE or whatever program you have right now. Download the trial version of resolve, speedgrade, color, etc and try to grade in real time. You'll get your answer free of cost, before you make major investments.

Quote
Now my 4th_question: my dirty (and compressed) workflow hypothesis:
-H.264 is the beginning;
-I convert H.264 into 10bit 4:4:4 Uncompressed;

See my answer above. There is no point in 4:4:4 from H.264. And 10-bit is Log DPX- if you're linear (TIFF) you'll need 16-bit.

Quote
-Then I convert H.264 also into 10bit 4:4:4 ProRes proxy;
The key to getting the best results is zero transcoding. This is the second time you are transcoding. Look at my answer above - only one render to final master from native - no transcoding.

Quote
-using Smoke I can edit and also color-grade the 4:4:4 proxy in a single step;
-at the very end I replace the 4:4:4 proxy with the 4:4:4 Uncompressed for rendering.

Now you'll probably say that grading directly a 4:4:4 ProRes proxy only to replace it with a 4:4:4 Uncompressed clip just at the very end is like to buy a pair of shoes for a friend using my own foot as model Wink. That's true! But perhaps (this is my question!) could a 4:4:4 proxy be similar enough to the 4:4:4 uncompressed as two pairs of shoes with the same size? Could it be?

4:4:4 doesn't mean anything. It's just a color model. Once you've converted your footage into TIFF or DPX chroma sampling doesn't make sense. There is enough computer power in most consumer machines (even core i3) to edit and grade uncompressed HD footage.

And I don't like Smoke or macs - it's too limiting for my workflow.

The best way to know for sure is to try your own tests with uncompressed footage - without intermediary codecs - once you learn uncompressed you'll love it, and never go back.

See, I have edited, chroma-keyed and graded uncompressed 16-bit 1080p25 TIFF on a core 2 duo machine with 4GB RAM (only 3GB, because I was on a 32-bit OS), without the mercury playback engine, in CS3, using only Firewire 400 drives (no RAID). It's like working with a very demanding mistress!

If your pipeline is data centric - i.e. you have footage coming in day in and day out - to edit and grade - and your business model supports the expense - you should invest in workstation class machines - time is critical.

But if you're on a one-off or irregular project - then you are on a budget, and non-real time is fine. You'll have to start eliminating variables to get to your workflow.
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2012, 11:48:13 PM »
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You are a guru, Mr. Sareesh! Your reply is very detailed and you are a very patient guy!

I'm very happy because I understand that an iMac27"-like config (4-core; 16gb-ram; GPU-2gb) is «more than enough» for 2K uncompressed grading!

I'm just curios about a thing: thunderbolt storage: a lot of people say that Pegasus R6 thunderbolt raid (6x 2TB) is not good for 2K workflow, and they prefer SAS solution like two G-Speed eS Pro with ATTO 680 card. Well, Pegasus declares 800MB/s with R6 (perhaps raid5 or raid0 I don't know), and 800MB/s is enough for 2K@24fps 16bit linear that should be 440MB/s, isn't it?

So, here my 1st_question: why should a 2k-guy prefer an expensive SAS solution instead of this cheaper thunderbolt raid? Is R6 a bottleneck?

My 2nd_question: about the iMac27"+PegasusR6+AvidArtistColor+Eizo setup, working with CS6, do I need something else like an external device? I don't know... AJA T-Tap or Blackmagic UltraStudio 3D to connect the Eizo CG275W? Something missing?

Now, this is your suggested workflow:
Shoot H.264.
Log and archive footage in H.264 (@45Mbps with a shooting ratio of 8:1 for a 2 hour feature, you have a total of approx. 350 GB)
Ingest and edit native - real-time - no need for proxies -
  • If no major effects, etc - (If using CS6) port to AE for finishing, etc - work in 32 float
  • If major effects, chroma, etc needs to be carried out, export 16-bit TIFF sequence (only required scenes) from AME and then import to AE for finishing, etc - work in 32 float

Export/Render DPX or TIFF, 10-bit/16-bit (You will only be grading 2 hours of locked edit - (9 MB per frame (10-bit), about 225-300 MB/s, total 1.6 - 2.5 TB))
Import in SpeedGrade and grade - export master to DPX (and TIFF).
From TIFF master - import into Premiere and
  • Author in Encore to Blu-ray, DVD, etc
  • Export from AME to various web/mobile formats
  • export from AME to HDCAM SR/D5 (for broadcast)

And here my 3rd_question: if I want to magnify HD native to 2K-size, in which step should I change the size? Before or after grading? AME at the very end?

4th_question: out of curiosity: which is in your opinion the workstation specs and devices to color-grade uncompressed 2K in real-time:
-core? gpu? ram?
-cards?
-storage?
-monitor?
-other?

Thanks really a lot!
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2012, 06:00:54 AM »
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I'm just curios about a thing: thunderbolt storage: a lot of people say that Pegasus R6 thunderbolt raid (6x 2TB) is not good for 2K workflow, and they prefer SAS solution like two G-Speed eS Pro with ATTO 680 card. Well, Pegasus declares 800MB/s with R6 (perhaps raid5 or raid0 I don't know), and 800MB/s is enough for 2K@24fps 16bit linear that should be 440MB/s, isn't it?

So, here my 1st_question: why should a 2k-guy prefer an expensive SAS solution instead of this cheaper thunderbolt raid? Is R6 a bottleneck?

Different people mean different things when they say 'workflow'. You should understand how a studio pipeline is built - it is not built for one-off projects, but for heavy duty data transfer - sometimes in faster than real time. If I'm running a studio handling very demanding clients - I'll invest in the best equipment possible and I won't take risks.

SAS (SCSI) 6Gbps is the high end version of SATA 6 Gbps - it is designed to work for years - can take a longer cable length (which is useful for big facilities), and it's error recovery system is more robust - it is built to run on servers. It's similar to how people (including many professionals) use personal computers instead of servers - i7 vs xeon, coke vs red bull... you get the point.

And personally, Thunderbolt is a proprietary technology similar to Firewire, which, due to Apple's crappy relationships with other vendors, took its own sweet time to get famous. Even then most manufacturers preferred to use USB over it. To make matters worse, Apple killed firewire, while USB has been upgraded to 3.0. Will the same happen to thunderbolt? I don't know and I don't care. I'll avoid it like the plague.

2K can be expected to give about 360 MB/s at 24fps 16-bit. This is one stream only. What if you want to grade multiple streams on separate timelines? What if you're grading while editing is in progress? What if you are still getting VFX shots while you are grading? On high end movies this goes on and on till the very last minute. A professional grading facility must cater to multiple data streams. Nobody has time to wait while 2K is being transferred - it must happen faster than real time.

Even if this wasn't the case, I'll have to know under what exact circumstances somebody made the comment. And you haven't mentioned whether yours is a one-off project or are you planning a facility?

Quote
My 2nd_question: about the iMac27"+PegasusR6+AvidArtistColor+Eizo setup, working with CS6, do I need something else like an external device? I don't know... AJA T-Tap or Blackmagic UltraStudio 3D to connect the Eizo CG275W? Something missing?

When connecting monitors, aim for this sequence: HD-SDI, Display Port, HDMI, dual-link DVI (I advise to stay clear from the last two). If your Eizo is 10-bit (make sure it's true 10-bit!), then you'll need a GPU that outputs true 10-bit, mostly via Display Port. The Nvidia Quadro series does this, for example. You'll need a GPU that can handle at least 2x 2K monitors. I recommend a Dell Ultrasharp for the work monitor - it goes well with the Eizo.

Depending on the color space you are working in, you'll need a good calibration device (Eizo's have hardware calibration but you'll still need a good calibrator), a dark room (for cinema grading) or an 18% gray room (for broadcast grading). If you are grading for cinema, you'll also need a 2K projector with CIE XYZ capability - without this you cannot conform to DCI specs.

Quote
And here my 3rd_question: if I want to magnify HD native to 2K-size, in which step should I change the size? Before or after grading? AME at the very end?

For this I recommend Photoshop. Import the image sequence into PS and use its great bicubic algorithm with a slight sharpening based on output delivery - automate for entire sequence. You can also use this for cropping to the final aspect ratio.

If you don't prefer PS, I recommend changing size as the last step, after grading, because you'll need to sharpen as well. I do not prefer to do it while encoding. I use After Effects for this.

Quote
4th_question: out of curiosity: which is in your opinion the workstation specs and devices to color-grade uncompressed 2K in real-time:

Too many variables. I'll need more specific information: how much data is expected to flow, which software is going to be used, what delivery standards are being served, etc. Grading can get quite complicated with plug-ins, masks, multiple streams, etc.

To answer your question generally, though - your bottleneck is RAM and Hard disks - primarily the latter. Take a look at the OCZ PCI flash drive for your scratch disk. If you are starting out, I recommend testing with a JBOD and RAID 5 on cheap 7,200 internal drives before you think about custom solutions. SATA 3 Gbps can just about handle 2K, so try SATA 6 Gbps.

Save money on the processor (if you are only grading uncompressed, then even an i3 is fine). But after grading, are you rendering on the same machine? If yes, then you'll need 8-core xeons (or you might be buying a new workstation every 2 years) - in fact, you'll need a render farm if you are rendering on a daily basis but that is a totally different topic. Are you editing and finishing? Then you'll need i7 or xeons.

For RAM my general rule of thumb is each stream of 2K will need 2GB of its own. Four streams? 8GB, and so on. You will need to add extra for OS and software overhead, etc.
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« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2012, 11:04:29 PM »
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Well, I need simply a single computer for one color-grading-timeline only. This single computer has to do all: editing, color-grading, finishing, rendering, so the entire workflow of a single project on a single computer, but with calm, step-by-step.

1st_question: Mr Sareesh, you say that a 4-core i7 is enough for editing H.264 in realt-time, but with all NLEs or only with Premiere?

2nd_question: you say that 4-core i7 is «more than enough» for non-real-time color-grading, but you also say that for rendering I need an 8-core Xeon or I might expect to change computer every two years! And it scares me! (I want a long-life computer!) So it's better to specify that I haven't an intense rendering activity... just a 30'-long video per week. So my question is: 4-core i7 could be damaged by this activity? Your advice remains anyway to prefer an 8-core Xeon?

3rd_question: a doubt about the AMD 6970M 2gb: can this card handle two 2K/HD monitors? And if so, can it do the same when it is in a iMac27" (where the editing monitor is the iMac-27"-LED and the preview monitor will be the Eizo 2K CG275W)?

4th_question: it seems that the iMac27-mini-DisplayPort outputs only 8bit video signal - so not very good for 10bit preview - but AJA T-Tap declares to output 10bit video signal from thunderbolt connection. Could it be a solution for the Eizo and for a 10bit grading preview?

5th_question: maybe this is a silly question: when I grade linear uncompressed 16bit tiffs, is 10bit preview monitor enough? Or I need 16bit connection to 16bit monitor?

6th_question: for scratch disk, is a single internal 7200rpm sata sufficient? Or could I simply use a folder in the Pegasus R6 thunderbolt RAID? (Or simply could I use a folder in the same internal SSD of the operative system?)

P.S. Your advice about Photoshop's bicubic algorithm is PERFECT! Thanks!!!
« Last Edit: July 28, 2012, 11:13:10 PM by adrjork » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2012, 06:00:17 AM »
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Well, I need simply a single computer for one color-grading-timeline only. This single computer has to do all: editing, color-grading, finishing, rendering, so the entire workflow of a single project on a single computer, but with calm, step-by-step.

1st_question: Mr Sareesh, you say that a 4-core i7 is enough for editing H.264 in realt-time, but with all NLEs or only with Premiere?

Any professional NLE. Premiere has the added benefit of using the GPU with the mercury playback engine.

Quote
2nd_question: you say that 4-core i7 is «more than enough» for non-real-time color-grading, but you also say that for rendering I need an 8-core Xeon or I might expect to change computer every two years! And it scares me! (I want a long-life computer!) So it's better to specify that I haven't an intense rendering activity... just a 30'-long video per week. So my question is: 4-core i7 could be damaged by this activity? Your advice remains anyway to prefer an 8-core Xeon?

Rendering is a processor intensive activity. The more you render, the lower your CPU life-span gets, and the more risk of it failing. The i series is not built for intensive rendering - only the xeons are. Yet, many people who don't have the budget for a xeon use an i7 - but no professional computer engineer will recommend an i7 for critical applications. It's like somebody saying an electronic keyboard is as good as a grand piano. A genius can make the keyboard sound divine.

For 30 minute rendering per week, I think an i7 should be fine.

Quote
3rd_question: a doubt about the AMD 6970M 2gb: can this card handle two 2K/HD monitors? And if so, can it do the same when it is in a iMac27" (where the editing monitor is the iMac-27"-LED and the preview monitor will be the Eizo 2K CG275W)?

Don't know about ATI cards. But they have the advantage of supporting 10-bit on some of their higher end consumer grade cads. I cannot answer unless I've taken a good look at the specs. Assuming it can handle to 2K displays, then you can use the mac 27" with the Eizo - but also need to check if it is true 10-bit.

Since I use Premiere, and the mercury playback engine is phenomenal, I recommend a GTX card - but GTX does not support 10-bit so for that you might want a 10-bit video card just for your monitor. Premiere does not support SLI.

Quote
4th_question: it seems that the iMac27-mini-DisplayPort outputs only 8bit video signal - so not very good for 10bit preview - but AJA T-Tap declares to output 10bit video signal from thunderbolt connection. Could it be a solution for the Eizo and for a 10bit grading preview?

No idea about macs.

Quote

5th_question: maybe this is a silly question: when I grade linear uncompressed 16bit tiffs, is 10bit preview monitor enough? Or I need 16bit connection to 16bit monitor?

Good question. The answer is: you don't have a choice. There are two high-end delivery requirements for 2K - Cinema and HDTV. The former needs CIE XYZ (a projector with CIE XYZ space, a dark auditorium - expensive). The latter needs Rec. 709 (10-bit monitor is fine). What is your delivery format?

Quote
6th_question: for scratch disk, is a single internal 7200rpm sata sufficient? Or could I simply use a folder in the Pegasus R6 thunderbolt RAID? (Or simply could I use a folder in the same internal SSD of the operative system?)

Different programs in your pipeline use different resources. Premiere does not use CPU/GPU/RAM/HDD as AE does. AE is different from Photoshop or Speedgrade and so on. Your scratch disk should ideally be able to have twice the data rate, which is why I recommended the OCZ PCI drives.

Here are a couple of resources for further research: http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?64747-Building-a-new-quot-Ultimate-PC-quot-for-Adobe-5K-editing!-(circa-Oct-2011) and http://ppbm5.com.

My general recommendations for a 2K editing, grading, finishing and rendering to a DPX/TIFF master:

i7 970 (6-core single CPU)
24 GB RAM
Quadro 4000 (or Nvidia GTX 580 + Decklink)
160 GB internal SSD Intel for OS + Adobe Production Premium CS6

7,200 rpm SATA 6 Gbps drives - WD:
500GB (or 1 TB) x 2 in RAID 0 for scratch disk/cache OR OCZ PCI drive if you have the budget
1TB x 2 in RAID 5/10 for Ingest and reading (or 2TB x2)
1TB x 2 in RAID 5/10 for rendering output (or 2TB x2)
2TB x 1 for backup, project files, etc.
Areca ARC RAID controller

Archival HDDs - as many as you can afford!
Windows 64-bit professional



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« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2012, 11:52:07 PM »
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I'm terrified... day by day this setup question seems to be alternately solvable and unsolvable (i.e. cheap vs expensive).
My general recommendations for a 2K editing, grading, finishing and rendering to a DPX/TIFF master:
i7 970 (6-core single CPU)
24 GB RAM
Quadro 4000 (or Nvidia GTX 580 + Decklink)
160 GB internal SSD Intel for OS + Adobe Production Premium CS6
7,200 rpm SATA 6 Gbps drives - WD:
500GB (or 1 TB) x 2 in RAID 0 for scratch disk/cache OR OCZ PCI drive if you have the budget
1TB x 2 in RAID 5/10 for Ingest and reading (or 2TB x2)
1TB x 2 in RAID 5/10 for rendering output (or 2TB x2)
2TB x 1 for backup, project files, etc.
Areca ARC RAID controller
Archival HDDs - as many as you can afford!

1. Why do you advice to use two different raids for reading and for rendering? Because if I use the speed of the raid to read the native-clips, I haven't speed to write the rendering on the same raid? So if I use a 4slot G-Speed es Pro (that declares HERE 432MB/s for both write and read speed in raid5), really I can use it only to read the native, while I'd need another 4slot G-Speed for rendering? But if I join the two boxes into a unique raid (G-technology declares HERE about 1000MB/s for both write and read speed in raid5) I should have the speed to both read and write at the same time on the same raid, isn't it? (And the same thing could be said for thunderbolt R6 raid that declares 800MB/s?)

2. OCZ PCI is very expensive, but it's an excellent solution as scratch disk. Anyway there are several models, which model do you recommend?

3. You say OCZ PCI or two 6Gbps-SATA raid. And could a single SSD be a solution in the middle? (Or two SSD raid0? You know, I don't think to use AE intensively, perhaps only Premiere+Photoshop+Speedgrade.)

4. I'll try to itemize a compromise iMac27" setup following your hard-disk configuration advices:
-iMac27" with 4-core i7
-16gb-ram
-1x internal 2tb-SATA-II (3Gbps) for OS, CS6, project-files
-1x internal 256gb-SSD for scratch/cache
-Pegasus R6 thunderbolt raid-5 for ingest / reading / archive, but ALSO for rendering output
-Lacie Quadra 12TB firewire 800 raid-5 as archive copy

Could this setup be sufficient to avoid harddisk-speed bottlenecks? (Because I try to find the most convenient solution - and you know that I try to remain with Apple for Logic and other mac-only apps - but if you say that this compromise is not sufficient I definitely will avoid this unnecessary investment even if small! The compromise must be acceptable: no evident bottleneck.)

5. Could the following variant be better: 1x internal 256gb-SSD parted (100gb for OS, CS6, projects and 150gb for scratch/cache)? (You know that iMac27" can have only one SSD and one SATA-II.)

6. I've read your link about the ideal workstation (HERE) and I must say that it's so complicated for me. Anyway I found in the discussion the website avadirect where it's possible to customize a workstation. So trying to image a pc-solution xeon-based, starting from HERE, which xeon-machine could you choice for the purpose of editing(real-time)-colorgrade-rendering 2k uncompressed?

7. Now - I know that it's boring for you - HERE there are all the items to build the most well-balanced and efficient machine for the purpose of 2k...etc. Which could be your detailed choices for:
-Socket Xeon Processors?
-DDR3-1333 ECC Unbuffered DIMM Memory?
-PCI Express x16 Video Cards?
-HPC Processor Units?
-SATA Hard Drives?
-Storage Drives?
-SATA RAID Controllers?
-Storage Subsystem Configuration?
-Server Hot-Swap Kits and Backplanes?

(For you it's just a piece of cake, Mr. Sareesh, but your help is very important for me, and I think also for all newbies like me Wink)

So, with this pc-xeon-config, could we remain around 6.000$ budget? (max 7...Huh)

Again... thanks a lot for your help!
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« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2012, 04:07:41 AM »
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I'm terrified... day by day this setup question seems to be alternately solvable and unsolvable (i.e. cheap vs expensive).

Start with a single step and go one by one - you are trying to do too much at the beginning. Keep it simple.

Quote
1. Why do you advice to use two different raids for reading and for rendering?

Each drive becomes cheaper. And I have always designed my workflows in isolated hard drive environments - OS, Reading, Writing and Cache - at least 4 systems sharing different connections. The downside is that you need a hardware RAID controller and be on top of things - no problem for a one person editing setup.

Quote
2. OCZ PCI is very expensive, but it's an excellent solution as scratch disk. Anyway there are several models, which model do you recommend?

It's not a simple choice, I like the Raptor series - but I haven't used all of them!

Quote
... And could a single SSD be a solution in the middle? (Or two SSD raid0? You know, I don't think to use AE intensively, perhaps only Premiere+Photoshop+Speedgrade.)

Yes, if it is a high-end SSD. I like the Intel brand.

Quote
4. I'll try to itemize a compromise iMac27" setup following your hard-disk configuration advices:
-iMac27" with 4-core i7
-16gb-ram
-1x internal 2tb-SATA-II (3Gbps) for OS, CS6, project-files
-1x internal 256gb-SSD for scratch/cache
-Pegasus R6 thunderbolt raid-5 for ingest / reading / archive, but ALSO for rendering output
-Lacie Quadra 12TB firewire 800 raid-5 as archive copy

Could this setup be sufficient to avoid harddisk-speed bottlenecks?

If you are going to use a mac you need to understand that if you're using an ATI GPU, the mercury playback engine won't work as well as it would if you had an nVidia Card. CS6 supports Open CL and a few ATI cards, but it's not good enough. And the mercury engine is a HUGE advantage to have.

Quote
(Because I try to find the most convenient solution - and you know that I try to remain with Apple for Logic and other mac-only apps - but if you say that this compromise is not sufficient I definitely will avoid this unnecessary investment even if small! The compromise must be acceptable: no evident bottleneck.)

You shouldn't only take my advice. And I will never recommend a Mac to anybody. For half the price you can assemble a PC with twice the power and freedom to choose which software and hardware you need.

Quote
5. Could the following variant be better: 1x internal 256gb-SSD parted (100gb for OS, CS6, projects and 150gb for scratch/cache)? (You know that iMac27" can have only one SSD and one SATA-II.)

No partitions. Period.

Quote
6. I've read your link about the ideal workstation (HERE) and I must say that it's so complicated for me. Anyway I found in the discussion the website avadirect where it's possible to customize a workstation. So trying to image a pc-solution xeon-based, starting from HERE, which xeon-machine could you choice for the purpose of editing(real-time)-colorgrade-rendering 2k uncompressed?

7. Now - I know that it's boring for you - HERE there are all the items to build the most well-balanced and efficient machine for the purpose of 2k...etc. Which could be your detailed choices for:
-Socket Xeon Processors?
-DDR3-1333 ECC Unbuffered DIMM Memory?
-PCI Express x16 Video Cards?
-HPC Processor Units?
-SATA Hard Drives?
-Storage Drives?
-SATA RAID Controllers?
-Storage Subsystem Configuration?
-Server Hot-Swap Kits and Backplanes?

(For you it's just a piece of cake, Mr. Sareesh, but your help is very important for me, and I think also for all newbies like me Wink)

So, with this pc-xeon-config, could we remain around 6.000$ budget? (max 7...Huh)

Again... thanks a lot for your help!

I have already given you my specs. I think all that should come in under $2,000. Check this out: http://www.videoguys.com/Guide/C/DIY+Systems/Videoguys+DIY8+Hex+Core/0x094b1737e0a06c495e5178a167fbdbd7.aspx

Start with what you really need and add stuff as you go along.
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« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2012, 09:17:14 PM »
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I'll follow your advice.

Just curious: you say:

Different programs in your pipeline use different resources. Premiere does not use CPU/GPU/RAM/HDD as AE does. AE is different from Photoshop or Speedgrade and so on.

I'm very curious about it: in which way AE uses CPU/GPU/RAM/HDD? Is there a scheme (or something similar) that itemizes the differents between AE/PR/SG's behavior with the computer's resources?

If my target wasn't 2K/HD video footage to be edited/graded/rendered, but if the target was a super-live-animation 2K film? (You know, The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters by Mamoru Oshii: HERE a sample.) I suppose that this kind of photo-collage layering is made with AE+PS or similar. So, for this kind of 2K AE project - handling native 6K RAW photos together with PS - which is the ideal computer? (CPU/GPU/RAM/HDD?)

Thx a lot!
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« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2012, 09:54:48 PM »
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I'm very curious about it: in which way AE uses CPU/GPU/RAM/HDD? Is there a scheme (or something similar) that itemizes the differents between AE/PR/SG's behavior with the computer's resources?

The manufacturers don't give out such details. And computer systems change every month - who can keep track? For general info:

AE uses RAM previews - that's the way it is designed. It needs a lot of RAM and Hard disk speed to work with 2K files while working with many layers. Also, you should ideally be working in a 32-bit float environment.
Premiere uses CPU+GPU for mercury playback, and it needs hard disk speeds to work in real time.

Both programs can be used in 1/2 or 1/4 or more resolution view mode, which makes it even easier. There are many ways to work with heavy files in low cost computers - proxies are the best option. You can theoretically work with 4K images on a $1,000 computer. It all depends on quality, time and money.

Quote
If my target wasn't 2K/HD video footage to be edited/graded/rendered, but if the target was a super-live-animation 2K film? (You know, The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters by Mamoru Oshii: HERE a sample.) I suppose that this kind of photo-collage layering is made with AE+PS or similar. So, for this kind of 2K AE project - handling native 6K RAW photos together with PS - which is the ideal computer? (CPU/GPU/RAM/HDD?)

Thx a lot!

There are many programs for animation as there are techniques - it's a whole different ball game. If you are just talking about AE+PS, then you'll need a system with a good amount of RAM as priority. For heavy compositing though, I prefer Nuke.

Unless you learn software it is hard to explain how each program works. It takes years of expertise to become good at something. By now you should know there is no such thing as an ideal computer.
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« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2012, 10:36:59 PM »
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Great Sareesh! Thx!
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« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2012, 06:16:22 AM »
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Came across this recently - it should answer 99% of all your questions:

Da Vinci configuration guide for Mac: http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/media/4662727/Resolve%20Mac%20Config%20Guide%202012-07-31.pdf

For PC: http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/media/4662759/Resolve%20Win%20Config%20Guide%202012-07-31.pdf

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« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2012, 10:03:44 PM »
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Very useful docs!!!
Now I have clearer ideas.
Camera equipment remains to solve... but I think it's better to open a new topic for this.
So... this is my topic about camera equipment: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=69453.0
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