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Confusion on the RED Rocket


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#1 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 27 May 2016 - 06:32 AM

Currently I'm running a GTX 660 ti. Obviously, a RED rocket card would make playback of footage a much smoother process. My main concern about the card is; is it capable in other aspects (gaming/other codecs) or JUST the playback of RED footage?

I'm split between getting a Rocket and the new GTX 1080.

 

Which direction should I head if I own a RED camera?


Edited by Macks Fiiod, 27 May 2016 - 06:35 AM.

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#2 Freya Black

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Posted 27 May 2016 - 07:02 AM

Currently I'm running a GTX 660 ti. Obviously, a RED rocket card would make playback of footage a much smoother process. My main concern about the card is; is it capable in other aspects (gaming/other codecs) or JUST the playback of RED footage?

I'm split between getting a Rocket and the new GTX 1080.

 

Which direction should I head if I own a RED camera?

 

 

It's just a JPEG 2000 encoder/decoder board so it's very different to a GPU card and will have a very different effect...

It's very useful in terms of transcoding footage or producing edit proxies etc etc. Very fast in that context.

 

Freya


Edited by Freya Black, 27 May 2016 - 07:02 AM.

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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 27 May 2016 - 04:41 PM

There are two RED Rocket cards. The standard Red Rocket and the Red Rocket X.

The standard Red Rocket is for the Mysterium imager. The Rocket X is for Dragon.

The Red Rocket cards are only compatible with certain software, so it won't magically make the files playback smoothly at the finder level or in your editing software. It would be used to transcode your material in DaVinci and/or Red Cine X to Pro Res for editing. It's great however for finishing in DaVinci, makes a huge difference.

Standard Rocket cards are $150 - $200 on ebay.
Red Rocket X cards are $3000 - $5000 on ebay.

I have two Red Rocket cards in my bay right now and they work great with Red footage. Prior I was encoding around 9 - 12 FPS. With the Rocket, my speed is more than real-time, around 30fps. That includes scaling to 1080p from 4k and doing mattes per shot. If all you're doing is scaling and you have fast drives, it should be even faster. Pro Res is a very CPU intensive codec, so if you're converting to Pro Res you need power. If you have a PC, you're kinda screwed because Pro Res on PC's is 32bit vs 64bit on Mac's. Plus, there are lots of driver issues with RED material on PC's which drag the whole process down.

The GTX680 Classified I have does help with the scaling, I noticed a marketable bump in performance with that card, plus it helps with the payback of material that has effects. It also helps with the Red decoding. In fact, with the GTX680 alone, RED can be played back at half res no problem. It's only when you start playing back in 4k that things go a bit haywire and that Rocket card is so important. Most of the DIT's I know run higher end Mac Pro systems and they don't have any problems using RED material of any kind without a rocket card. The newer double AMD D700 6GB graphics cards in the Mac Pro's, are fast enough to playback Red without any special hardware/software. It's native all the way around, which is quite impressive. My friends can encode RED material at 48 - 60fps! OUCH!!!! But it's very powerful processor wise as well.
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#4 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 28 May 2016 - 01:36 AM

 Pro Res is a very CPU intensive codec, so if you're converting to Pro Res you need power. If you have a PC, you're kinda screwed because Pro Res on PC's is 32bit vs 64bit on Mac's. Plus, there are lots of driver issues with RED material on PC's which drag the whole process down.

 

Which is why I'd always suggest DNxHD/HR for PC editing. ProRes is fickle on PC, as you say - and PC's cannot natively write ProRes (yes I know software exists, but I'm talking officially). Let's face it - Apple HATES PC, and has only made Quicktime and iTunes available to take advantage of the additional income. 

 

DNx is also less processor intensive than ProRes, though this could have to do with ProRes's crippled windows environment. 

 

Can't speak for anything RED or Rocket related, just pointing out that Avid's DNx format is much better for PC users than ProRes, at least in my opinion. DNx is also cross platform and works well with pretty much any editing platform, something ProRes is lacking in a few departments.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 28 May 2016 - 01:44 AM.

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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 28 May 2016 - 02:55 PM

DNx in itself is a great codec actually, I've been told it's JPEG2000 based which means it requires specialized hardware to playback. This is the reason why Avid has always been a hardware based editor. Today however, with super fast GPU's available, it's less of a problem. The only real issue is with people who don't have fast GPU's. The GUI tends to gobble up all the system resources and the first thing to stop working is the DNx playback engine. On systems with fast GPU's, this isn't an issue and DNxHR is really a great codec for those people. One small side note, it does require 3rd party plugins to work in the OS properly. 

 

Very much unlike DNx, Pro Res is a CPU based codec. The whole reason it works well is because it's multithreaded. This splits the tasks against multiple threads and cores within each of the processors. This requires a 64 bit operating system and multiple cores, which is actually easier to deal with then fast graphics cards, which eat up power. Apple wanted Pro Res to be workable on all their computers, including laptops, without the necessity of having a super fast GPU. 

 

Bit rate vs bit rate, Pro Res and DNxHR are identical quality wise. The only difference is how they used by the system. 

 

From my experience, DNx works a lot better on windows computers then Pro Res. It's visa versa on Mac's, where most people prefer Pro Res because it's 100% native without 3rd party plugin's like DNx has. Another kinda important side note is that, I don't believe you can render effects to DNx with any non-avid editor. That's one of the limitations that Avid put on licensing DNx. This means, when you render effects on your sequence, you are most likely going to working with a different codec. This isn't an issue in Avid, where DNx native, but it's something to think about. Obviously DaVinci only renders on the fly, so there is no reason for an intermediary codec like other editors.

 

I'm glad Pro Res doesn't work good on Windows, it separates the platforms even better. Keep the professionals using the Mac OS. 


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#6 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 28 May 2016 - 03:38 PM

From my experience, DNx works a lot better on windows computers then Pro Res. It's visa versa on Mac's, where most people prefer Pro Res because it's 100% native without 3rd party plugin's like DNx has. Another kinda important side note is that, I don't believe you can render effects to DNx with any non-avid editor. That's one of the limitations that Avid put on licensing DNx. This means, when you render effects on your sequence, you are most likely going to working with a different codec. This isn't an issue in Avid, where DNx native, but it's something to think about.

 

I work with DNx all the time in a non-avid environment. It's native in media encoder, and you can read or write DNx from pretty much any Adobe application. DaVinci can also read and write DNx on a windows pc. DNx is a very good format if you have a fast graphics card, and lets face it - it's much cheaper to get a faster graphics card than it is a CPU, cost to performance ratio anyway. My 390x decodes and encodes DNx at at least twice real-time, averaging around 60-75 frames per second when converting from C4K H264 to 2K in Resolve, with similar performance in Media Encoder. It's around 120 FPS when doing a straight scaling from DNx to DNx. 

 

In fact, I store ALL my archive in DNxHR 444 12-bit format, and never had any trouble exporting/encoding DNxHD/HR is any of the professional apps I use. If only Hitfilm would work with it, I'd probably switch to Hitfilm entirely. 

 

 

I'm glad Pro Res doesn't work good on Windows, it separates the platforms even better. Keep the professionals using the Mac OS. 

 

Well, I'd hardly say that ProRes is any more professional than DNx codec. In fact, DNx, being an Avid format, I would consider it 'more' professional than something from Apple - which is mainly a consumer-driven company. Even Avid on the MAC would prefer to work with DNx over ProRes, and since Avid is about the top of the line you can get... 

 

Let's say we were both working on a project, and we needed to share files. I could send you a DNx file and you could open it and export it back to me and I could open and export it back to you... If you where to send me ProRes filed, I'd have to work with it and then transcode to another format since Windows does not natively write ProRes. Since both codecs are pretty similar other than that, that gives the edge to DNx in my opinion. Full cross-platform compatibility is a hallmark of professional in my opinion. 

It also helps that all Atomos recorders now record with either ProRes or DNx formats - I just wish Blackmagic would catch up to that. That is one of the reasons I am looking at other options, because I'd have to transcode ProRes to DNx. With my Atomos, I get native DNx in recorder.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 28 May 2016 - 03:44 PM.

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#7 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 28 May 2016 - 06:10 PM

Well it all comes down to the fact Pro Res is native to mac's AND quicktime on every single operating system dating back more than 10 years. So no special 3rd party drivers/plugin's necessary to work with Pro Res on a mac. 

 

DNx by contrast doesn't work at all on a mac without special drivers. In fact, DNx codec wrapped in MXF is one of the most incompatible professional formats for a mac. It requires different driver combo's to work and SOME editing software is very slow when using because the drivers translate the codec for quicktime. This is so every application on the mac (including finder level) can use the DNx codec, which is nice, but slow. 

 

On windows, you still need those drivers, but you can't just hit the spacebar and preview the DNx files, like you can on mac. You need to open them up in a program to watch them. The ability to quick preview anything that works with the quicktime engine, is so nice. I'm not sure if Windows has fixed that issue with 10 service packs, but on the few windows 10 Avid bay's I've installed, the DNx files were not playable by the operating system without an application to view them. 

 

So if all you do is use specialized programs all day long, DNx works fine on both mac and windows. The problem is, a lot of an editors time is spent organizing and watching files at the file level. Without the computers ability to natively playback files at that level, it makes organizing very challenging and a real pain in the ass. This is why handing DNx files to random clients to work with, isn't such a smart idea. In most cases, non-Avid clients will never have seen an MXF wrapped DNx file in their entire life. They aren't going to visit Avid's website to download a driver because most industry clients who use business computers, don't have the ability to install new software. This is very common place in the film/broadcast industry. At the same time, Pro Res has been around for quite a while, so most clients already have the driver on their machine and most IT departments, install quicktime as a default. I send pro res files to random people on mac's and windows machines on a regular basis and rarely have a problem. Sure, you get the occasional non-industry client who can't play it back, but if you install iTunes, you have quicktime and the ability to playback pro res. 

 

The other problem is laptops. The vast majority of people in the film/broadcast industry, use laptops. Not for just for editing on the go, but also for viewing clips their editors send them. In this case, they can't upgrade the graphics card so it's powerful enough to handle the very GPU intensive DNx codec. Where Pro Res works great, even on 10 year old mac laptops, because it's designed to work properly on multithreaded 64 bit systems. At the same time, the vast majority of computer owners, don't even know what a GPU is. Educating all of them is impossible, most of them just buy a new computer when it gets slow, instead of upgrading at the component level. So you can say; buy a better GPU all you want. The reality is, very few of them will. On the Mac side of things, nobody does. The vast majority of computers I work with, have stock graphics cards. This is because the clients buy 10 at a time and they don't spurge for the higher end computers. 

 

DNx is great for people who understand computers, and have put in the time and effort to make those computers work well. For everyone else, Pro Res is a far better format, not just because it's native to mac's (most of the post production industry is mac) but also because it's CPU based, which means you don't need to go out and find a special graphics card to make it work. This is especially a problem with laptops which have junky Intel built-in graphics. 


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#8 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 28 May 2016 - 07:17 PM

On windows, you still need those drivers, but you can't just hit the spacebar and preview the DNx files, like you can on mac. You need to open them up in a program to watch them.

 

True, you need an application that can playback DNx files. I have never tried to play back a DNx file from file explorer, so not saying it isn't possible. I think it is with VLC media player, though Windows Media Center probably won't. But then again Windows Media Center is about worthless in every regard anyway, and no one really uses it.

 

Honestly, if I was going to send someone a file to preview outside of an editing / effects pipeline, I'd probably export a quick H264 for maximum compatibility and playback, given that most computers not designed with higher end specs will have a hard time playing back either ProRes or DNx. Myself, I never use file explorer to watch clips I'm editing.

 

the point I'm making is that DNx is a professional codec from the top name in editing for many, many years. ProRes is an apple invention that was designed to work well with Apple and with Final Cut. Unless you're using final cut, I see little reason to stick with that native codec. I guess it depends on what your on.

 

Just to make myself clear: I did say that DNx was the best option for Windows, not Mac. If you're on a Mac, by all means use an apple codec. DNx on Windows just works, and it does so pretty well. Probably not if your trying to edit on an old laptop, but then again I doubt too many old laptops would even playback ProRes or DNx anyway - so it's a moot point. Modern laptops almost all have the latest generation graphics card - some of the higher end ones even have dedicated graphics with it's own memory.

 

I can't speak for DNx performance on a Mac, but can it be any worse than ProRes performance on a PC? And most all Mac-based editing suites should have the drivers to handle DNx (Adobe and Resolve on the Mac does, and I am willing to bet Final Cut does as well), and most Macs have plenty of graphics power to drive more than real-time decoding and encoding. 

Like I said, the few times I used ProRes on my Windows machine, it was a bad experience. I switched to DNx and never looked back. DNx does not take any special graphics card to playback.... My $300 Radeon R9 390x plays and encodes DNx is at least twice real time.

 

So, what I am saying is that in my personal experience, working with both ProRes and DNx on a Window 10 environment, is that DNx has performed much better. Your mileage may vary


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 28 May 2016 - 07:20 PM.

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#9 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 29 May 2016 - 02:16 AM

I can't speak for DNx performance on a Mac, but can it be any worse than ProRes performance on a PC? And most all Mac-based editing suites should have the drivers to handle DNx (Adobe and Resolve on the Mac does, and I am willing to bet Final Cut does as well), and most Macs have plenty of graphics power to drive more than real-time decoding and encoding.


The problem is, unlike PC's which don't have any sub-system for media, you have to add it with plugins, apple has a built-in media plugin system called Quicktime. Almost all editing programs use quicktime as the base for decoding media.

Since DNx is NOT native to quicktime, you have to install a special plugin to get DNx to work at all in your editing program. So the DNx is translated into something quicktime understands and then you can playback.

That translation is slow, it's not really "native". Similar to Pro Res on windows.

Some programs like Avid and DaVinci, don't use the quicktime engine, so they don't care. They can take DNx files without any 3rd party plugins. Of course, if you have 4500 media clips and you want to watch them before importing, it's nice to have file level viewing capabilities, so that's where being quicktime native is nice.

Like I said, the few times I used ProRes on my Windows machine, it was a bad experience. I switched to DNx and never looked back. DNx does not take any special graphics card to playback.... My $300 Radeon R9 390x plays and encodes DNx is at least twice real time.


I do a lot of work on Windows systems, reading pro res works fine. Exporting is a problem because it's only 32 bit. DaVinci supposedly has a 64 bit Pro Res export tool, but I don't know anyone who would run DaVinci on windows besides yourself. Everyone I know uses Linux or Mac OS to run a coloring solution. Partially because they're far more stable operating systems that can run for 24/7 without needing a reboot.

In terms of graphics cards, your card is pretty powerful. Most computers have Intel onboard graphics, with shared RAM as video memory. The rest of them, have super low-end mobile graphics units, either on PCI boards or soldered onto the motherboards. So the vast majority of computer owners, don't understand why their DNx files don't playback fine. So they simply don't play them back.

You are 100% accurate that DNx will perform better on your windows 10 machine. The problem is, the rest of the computers in the world with $19 graphics cards, will need to understand that they need upgrades. Easy for a computer person to understand, but not easy for a consumer, someone who can barely keep a portable phone working, let alone a complex editing environment.
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