Monday, October 1, 2012

Adobe CS6: Update #2

Well, it's now been a few weeks since getting my new CS6 system, and I'm still working a few issues out. Regardless, here's an update:

- My "Render" RAID 0 array (for exporting DVD and Blu-Ray files, as well as gigantic uncompressed files) has crapped out two more times, but each time I've been able to rebuild it and verify that no hard disk errors are (apparently) present. Since my other array has been just fine, I'm not quite sure what the issue is. If it fails another time, I'll call the ADK guys and see what we can figure out.

- I've started using Adobe Prelude for footage ingest, and it works great. If I was doing another "Data Wrangler" job (capture and backup, but no on-set image processing), I would be using it. However, bit-for-bit verification takes significantly longer than a straight copy, so it may not be appropriate for every shoot. Since I ingest for the current project at my home machine with no time pressure, I enable bit-for-bit verification and then do other things until the copying is done.

- I've gone back and forth on what I should do about Cineform. I finally decided to transfer my Cineform NEO license from my old machine to the new one, which has had the unexpected benefit of installing project presets for Premiere Pro. I also don't see a "gamma shift and pause after starting playback" issue like on my old system. The earlier issues with Cineform clips rendering out as random noise is now gone as well.

- As a side note, I've started an After Effects project where I render out a clip in different codecs/quality levels, then import them back into the project so I can A/B them for differences. So far, I can see that Blackmagic Uncompressed Quicktime files have a color shift from my original file, and that the size difference between Cineform High and Cineform Low is not nearly large enough to justify using Cineform Low. Cineform Film Scan 1 is my preferred format at the moment, although DNxHD 220 10-bit is pretty good, too. Oddly enough, the filesize difference between 422 and 444 colorspace appears to be nonexistent on Film Scan 1 and High HD Optimized Cineform files. Since I'm using de-noised DSLR footage for this test, I won't draw any conclusions until I re-test with more detailed footage.

- I installed DaVinci Resolve Lite, and while it has its own quirks, I definitely prefer it to SpeedGrade. Resolve has a much better interface, a ton of options, and a node-based workflow that's easier to figure out. Unlike SpeedGrade, LUTs can also be applied on a per-node basis, so I can easily A/B the change and remove quickly if it looks wrong.

- The current version of Resolve was designed to work well with Cinema DNG files, and after playing around with a test clip, I'm now sold on DNG as a format for uncompressed recording (although the hard drive space required by it is a real issue). At the moment, no Arri or Red camera uses Cinema DNG, but the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, the Kineraw cameras, and Aaton's Penelope Delta all use it. Two of those are cameras that indie filmmakers could potentially afford...

- Another side note: I just noticed that the Kineraw can record to Cineform RAW. Nifty, although the test clips from the Kineraw haven't really impressed me so far. Cineform RAW, however, looks like some hot stuff (compressed RAW sensor data, significantly lighter processor and storage requirements than Redcode). I wonder if I could compress Cinema DNG files into Cineform RAW. If they offered it as an in-camera option for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, I think even more people would buy said camera.

- When it comes to footage management, I tend to import all the footage for a project into one Premiere Pro project file. This has the disadvantage of making projects take a long time to load, but once they're loaded, I have a huge amount of options. To be fair, 16GB of memory and a RAID 0 array are significant contributing factors as well. I've decided that I'll wait on a 16GB memory upgrade until Premiere Pro can address more than 12GB of RAM.

- My only complaint with Premiere Pro so far is that sped-up footage tends to choke playback for both the sped-up footage and the following footage, unless you stop playback after the sped-up footage and then resume playing. This could just be an issue because I'm editing in a native DSLR timeline, but I would still like to have the option to pre-render the footage so I could have consistently smooth playback without having to render out the whole sequence.