As April’s NAB
4K is here in all its
We can shoot it, distribute
it, and display it; but
how about editing it?
Last month we looked at three NLEs
that can tackle a 4K workflow (Avid’s
Media Composer, Autodesk’s Smoke and
Sony Creative Software’s Vegas Pro). This
month and next we’ll look at a spectrum
of other edit systems valiantly climbing
the 4K summit.
Al Mooney, product manager of video
editing for Adobe, tells us that ever since
Adobe Creative Suite 5 was released in
May 2010, the Mercury Playback Engine
supporting GPU-accelerated rendering in
their Premiere Pro editing software has
future-proofed its format capabilities.
Now, having moved their video post-production
software to Adobe Creative
Cloud a year ago, Premiere Pro has gained
even more capabilities in the 4K realm.
Premiere Pro benefits from an Adobe
concept called “fractional resolution”
when editing with wavelet-based codecs
like Red uses, which means even at half
resolution, the whole 4K file can be read
natively without transcoding. Then when
the final master is rendered out, usually as
a sequence of DPX images, it is built with
4K files from the original source.
|Adobe President and Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Narayen discusses updates to Adobe Creative Cloud at Adobe MAX, The Creativity Conference, in May.
“In fact, if needed, our systems could
go beyond 9K,” Mooney said. “We’ve been
working closely with Red Digital Cinema
to ingest Red’s R3D files natively right from
the beginning, and now, after the June 17
update of Adobe Creative Cloud, what is
dubbed ‘Premiere Pro CC’ is also able to
handle Sony’s XAVC files natively.”
Premiere Pro CC includes the Lumetri
Deep Color Engine along with all-new versions
of Adobe SpeedGrade CC, Audition
CC, Prelude CC and Adobe Story CC Plus.
“In addition, since you need a rather
robust workstation to handle 4K editing,”
Mooney said, “we have given Premiere
Pro CC support for more GPUs, including
those from AMD and Nvidia on both Mac
and Windows platforms.”
On July 8, Grass Valley released version
7 of their Edius software, which can now
cut projects shot at 4K at 60p with Red’s
R3D format, DPX sequences, Panasonic’s
AVC-Ultra or several flavors of Sony’s XAVC,
including XAVC Intra. Next year, it will be
ready for XAVC Long-GOP when Sony releases
its camcorder in 2014.
“Edius 7 supports any mix of SD, HD, 2K and 4K resolution on the timeline in real
time,” said Atsushi (Alex) Kataoka, director
of product management for Grass Valley.
“Since Edius relies on a very open architecture,
we call on CPU power to process
the video. With more cores becoming available,
it’s really just a matter of expanding
our software’s capabilities.”
Edius does not support mastering in the
digital cinema format (DCP), but can export
in H.264 (mp4), QuickTime, and also
in uncompressed YUV (.avi). Edius 7 supports
a new workflow with DaVinci that
would involve exchanging projects using
an EDL to allow finishing the project in
DaVinci and then exporting to DCP. However,
Kataoka tells us the more common
4K workflow in Edius will be ingesting 4K
files, but mastering in HD.
“This is facilitated by the region filter
built into the Edius software that lets you
select an area of the 4K video to use as an
HD file,” Kataoka said. “We think this will
be the mastering process used by productions
originated in 4K for the near future.”
Media 100 Suite v2 NLE software from
Boris FX supports 4K and 2K video in 16:9
and 2:1 frame aspect ratios and at frame
rates from 23.98 to 59.94 fps. This latest release
has a special integration with Red’s
R3D file format using Red Rocket acceleration,
but needs other 4K files to be converted
into a QuickTime format by a third-party
software, according to Boris Yamnitsky,
founder and CEO of Boris FX.
|Version 7 of Grass Valley’s Edius supports any mix of SD, HD, 2K and 4K resolution on the timeline in real time.
Media 100 Suite v2 includes a new
metadata window that can manipulate
metadata settings for R3D media, including
color space, ISO speed and color temperature,
although video clips of any size, standard
and frame rate can be dropped into
any program with automatic scaling and
aspect ratio correction.
“Once they are ingested using Red
Rocket acceleration, Media 100 editors
can cut the 4K files directly,” Yamnitsky
said. “Then you need to output in 4K using
Red Rocket. Or, if they were ingested
as QuickTime files, you can output in that
Another handy feature is that Media
100 Suite’s Catch Frame window includes
a pixel-accurate option that allows you to
examine any image, even 4K video, at full
size on a Mac monitor.
Apple did not provide a spokesperson
to be interviewed on the record, but their
representative assured me that Final Cut
Pro X is ready to handle 4K files natively
as easily as it cuts HD. Once the 4K files
are ingested, including Red Raw or Canon’s
C500 Raw and with a free plug-in for
Sony’s XAVC, FCP X’s ability to mix and
match formats lets you put any resolution
or frame size on its timeline.
The high-quality rescaler built into the
FCP X software enables selecting specific
areas of a 4K image if you want to use it in
an HD production.
You can edit in Red Raw directly, or
have FCP X automatically translate the
files into Apple’s ProRes 4444 format that
includes a mathematically lossless alpha
channel for true 4:4:4:4 support. Of course,
the AJA Ki Pro Quad recorder mentioned
in last month’s column can translate many
camera formats into ProRes and blast it
into your edit system’s storage at 10 Gbps
over a Thunderbolt connection.
There have even been projects edited
with Red Raw natively on an Apple laptop
with SSD storage, a high-quality graphics
card and the visual enchantment of its retina
display. You can find examples of projects
shot on Red and edited in FCP X on
the fcp.co website, and when Blackmagic
Design releases its Blackmagic Production
Camera this month, it will be recording its
4K images directly in ProRes.
As you would expect, whether laptop
or desktop, you’ll need a powerful and
up-to-date Apple computer to take advantage
of FCP X’s native 4K capabilities, but
that is true for any 4K editing system. If
needed, Apple’s NLE easily lets you create
1/4-frame 1080 proxy files from any media
in the background and those can even be
edited on yesterday’s system. Then, once
the project is finished, you link the proxies
back to the original media and export the
project in 4K.
Next month we’ll look at both the highest
and lowest cost 4K editing systems.
Jay Ankeney is a freelance editor and
post-production consultant based in Los
Angeles. Write him at JayAnkeney@mac.com.