Wednesday, January 16, 2008

CineForm's Red One Footage Convertor

This post has been revised to reflect the current status.

If you haven't heard the news, here are the direct links to various online announcements :, and the CineForm page for this new R3D file conversion utility. So I won't need to repeat myself.

On the blog, which really needs some more posts, I will focus on why we created this new tool.

As many of you are aware, CineForm has been using Wavelets to compress RAW bayer images longer than anyone. We starting in RAW encoding over four years ago now, and have to continued to refine the compression and post production work-flow through our integration within Silicon Imaging SI-2K camera and new partners like Iridas and Weisscam. Yet there are about to be more Red cameras than any other 4:4:4 HD+ cameras on the market, so there is a lot of interest at CineForm (and from many customers) to support our work-flow with the Red camera. We waited for RedCine release just like everyone else, hoping to find good support for CineForm's work-flow. Fortunately RedCine was pretty cool, as it supported 16-bit per channel color through the QuickTime API, we feared it might be only 8-bit. The problem is that it didn't work reliably for many of are customers, likely because their PC are too old and/or the graphic cards in not sufficient. But some issues where in RedCine itself, as we weren't the only compression type impacted. We do expect these glitches to be fixed at some point, but we couldn't wait.

In addition to our impatience, there was one feature missing within RedCine that we had requested nearly a year ago (we hoped to get it while their product was under development.) That was a RAW mode out of RedCine, through the Quicktime API would have been fine. The RAW mode would decompress the camera's wavelet, but not do a demosaic to RGB, which is slow and increases the data-rate 3 times without adding anything to the image. Through our own tool we can do this direct conversion from camera wavelet RAW to CineForm RAW. This is a significant saver on disk space and conversion time.

We still hope that RedCine upgrades and/or Red's upcoming SDK will allow for this type of flexibility, but as a small company it is really hard to wait for the big guys and Red is big compared to us.

Update: CineForm has agreed with Red to withhold distribution of the R3D2DPX utility we previously released until such time as Red makes its SDK available to others in the industry. Our understanding is that these "hooks" (as referred to by Red) should be available around the NAB 2008 timeframe. CineForm intends to offer compelling workflows for Red users, so all feedback is welcome.