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NAB 2012: Day 3 Recap - Thoughts On 4K RAW Data Rates and Letting the Camera Roll

04.19.12 @ 6:58AM Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I had a chance to stop by Atomos, RedRock, ikan, Jag35, Zacuto and had some great conversations with the people there. I will have video updates from all of these companies and more as soon as I can get them uploaded (again hotel WiFi is brutal, I know I am not the only one suffering from this problem). NAB 2012 is flying by and there is enough happening at this show that if it ran for a month it would still be impossible to cover everything in-depth. On a side note, if you’re going to make an app for your show (the NAB 2012 app), why not promote it a little more? This is probably advice for anyone making an app for any type of event like this, but promote it like crazy – from posters to telling people about it when they register.

Something I’ve noticed whilst shooting these interviews is that I tend to let the camera roll and roll (not cutting between stops in talking), mostly because I hate syncing sound in post (even if it’s done for me) – but I’m not using dual system sound – so those habits have stuck with me. Anyway, the really interesting part of this is that letting footage roll is going to have some major consequences going forward. Hard drives are getting cheaper and bigger everyday, but they aren’t keeping pace with the sheer amount of data that us video people are consuming. It won’t be long before we aren’t using very compressed formats anymore – every camera will be expected to have an HDMI or HD-SDI that is recordable, and we’re all going to have recorders doing ProRes HQ or DNxHD 220 available for $100 (or maybe less). That’s if companies decide not to include those formats on-board (which needs to happen sooner rather than later, as there really isn’t an excuse for low-bitrate 4:2:0 recording in camera if a cheap external recorder like the Blackmagic Hyperdeck Shuttle 2 can do DNxHD and it’s less than $400).

But let’s consider that 4K is being pushed hard, very, very hard by a lot of companies that originally had not pushed it in the consumer space (I’m looking at you Sony). For data wranglers and editors (many of us multi-hyphenates are both), 4K at the moment is not fun. Anyone who’s been shooting with RED can tell you that file sizes are large, but RED is a compressed RAW format – so their situation isn’t quite as bad as what’s about to come out from a few companies. Sony and Canon’s 4K RAW is going to be uncompressed, which is just insanity in terms of the data. Let’s do a little math just to see how bad this situation is going to get – this is using the 4K DCP standard of 4096 x 2160 – which equals a 1.9 aspect ratio.

  • 4K RAW (4096 x 2160), 24fps, 10-bit: 253.125 Megabytes per second15.2 Gigabytes per minute – 911.3 Gigabytes per hour
  • 4K RAW (4096 x 2160), 24fps, 12-bit: 303.75 Megabytes per second – 18.2 Gigabytes per minute – 1.093 Terabytes per hour
  • 4K RAW (4096 x 2160), 24fps, 16-bit: 405 Megabytes per second- 24.3 Gigabytes per minute – 1.46 Terabytes per hour

If that doesn’t make your head explode, I don’t know what will. Actually I do, if you’re shooting 3D with any of those camera, double the data. Around 3 Terabytes per hour for 16-bit RAW 4K. You’re going to want that footage backed up in triplicate, so right there you have 9 Terabytes per hour. Consider that Hollywood films are doing 50-150 hours or more of footage, and the numbers are just staggering. If a film were to shoot 150 hours of footage in 4K RAW 3D on a camera like the C500 (that’s a lot, I know, but it’s possible for a bigger film), which does 10-bit 4K, we end up with 273.375 Terabytes. Oh, you’d like to back that up in triplicate? 820.125 Terabytes. Yes, we are going to be getting into Petabyte territory with filmmaking very, very soon. Data management is no joke anymore, and if we all want to be shooting 4K RAW, even at 10-bit, it’s going to take a massive investment to make it work. Moore’s law is still moving technology, but we desperately need larger SSD drives. Spinning disk drives are going to stick around for a long time because of their larger sizes, but backing up in triplicate is going to get even more expensive. Having 1 copy and a backup of your film on SSD drives should be much, much safer than if those drives were the spinning kind. This is because spinning hard drives can’t just sit on a shelf, they need to be running every so often to keep working correctly, or the platters can lose data and be corrupted. SSDs are not perfect, but solid-state is a better long term solution in terms of data safety.

Either way, for us to be shooting a few hours of footage per day on one of these 4K RAW recorders, SSD drives need to come down in price and go up in storage capacity. 3 or 4 Terabytes of footage per day is going to add up. I am excited as anyone for the 4K revolution – and it’s coming, whether it’s here right now or not is certainly debatable – but it cannot be ignored. This year at NAB has been a big one for 4K, as there are more 4K displays in one building than I’ve ever seen before – with Sony, Canon, and others showing off their high-resolution monitors.

It’s always good to talk about the price of certain cameras and recorders, but it is slightly irresponsible not to talk about the amount of storage required to deal with the ridiculous amount of data that comes with 4K RAW. I can see myself taking a more film-like approach to shooting 4K RAW uncompressed footage. On the indie side, digital still makes more sense than film at this scale, but we have to be careful about how much data we are creating, because we all have finite resources, but we will have a huge cost on the back-end for storage. Cameras might be cheaper than they’ve ever been, but at 4K the workflow carries with it some costs that are more attributed to film than to digital. Say you make a feature and you purchase a fully 4K RAW camera like the FS700 and a recorder like the AJA Ki Pro Quad – that’s all going to set you back a little over $15,000 (accessories and media are extra). In the current market a 3TB drive is about $175 (with costs coming down as companies in Japan recover from the tsunami). If you shoot 50 hours of footage for your independent feature, and want that backed up in two other places, it’s going to be 54.65 Terabytes X 3 = 163.95 Terabytes. That means you’ll need 55 3TB drives coming in at a cost of almost $10,000. That doesn’t include any way to actually make those drives work (like a RAID array). So that movie that you thought was free because you bought the camera is now actually costing you almost $10,000 in storage alone. This is a slightly extreme example because costs will come down – but it can’t be ignored.

4K is coming (in many ways it’s already here), but what RED is doing with compression (and you’ll need it for 6K) makes a lot of sense because 3:1 compression on Epic should be visually lossless – even if it’s not technically. It will be interesting to see what sort of compressed RAW formats will be coming out over the next couple of years to try to combat the extreme amount of data that 4K is using (though I still prefer open standards, like what Blackmagic is doing with the Cinema Camera).

In the meantime I’m going to continue shooting interviews on my borrowed 7D (thanks to Nick Novotny) in 1080p 24fps at around 5.625 Megabytes per second. I am still very excited about 4K RAW, but 45 megabits is a data rate I can get behind! (Even though there’s a lot I don’t like about 8-bit H.264)


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 65 COMMENTS

  • Very valid post and I’m glad you posted it because it seems that noone is really addressing this issue. This is something that we as a small production company are currently trying to address since we’ve made the transition to 4k acquisition through purchasing a pair of Scarlets.

    Even though, as you correctly stated, RED footage is compressed, we’re ending up with 100+ gigs worth of data for minute long sequences. As a comparison, a short I shot a year ago on the Mark II (found here – for whoever may be interested) amounted to a little over 100gigs. And we’re talking a 20minute short here.

    So working with 4k footage has been quite a bit of a shock to say the least.

    However, it has taught us certain things which I believe have made us better filmmakers in the process – Primarily, being frugal and precise with our shooting. You don’t NEED to keep every single frame shot. At this point I take an hour to go through a day’s content and I select the material I believe to be worthwhile. Using Redcine-X I can generate smaller r3d sequences using in and out points and thus enabling me to keep the part of the take that I believe to be good. Just doing this can seriously save you some space and it does wonders in managing your content as well. Combine that with well-planned and structured shots and the potential severity of storage is mitigated somewhat.

    Thank you very much for the info and keep up the good work :)

  • hmmm I think it’s time to go back to film I think lol.

    • And how do these costs compare to 35mm film of a similar grade? With triplicate (though non-lossless) backup?

  • This has been a thought on my mind, and one of the reasons I am much more likely to go with a FS100-type camera than the BMD camera this year. Sure, raw is nice… But I cannot justify the cost of storage, nor the extra computing power necessary, with the current work I do. I want to… but this is certainly a need vs. want, and a desire vs. practicality situation. I prefer color work to shooting, so that BMD is a very tempting buy.

    I must admit, though… I am still trying to figure out the math that balances the cheaper price of the BMD vs the cost of storage and media.

    • The Cinema Camera from Blackmagic is only a 2.5K size in RAW – 2432 x 1366 to be exact, and since it’s 12-bit, at 24fps you’re getting 144 Megabytes per second. That comes out to about 6.8 Gigabytes per minute, or 410 Gigabytes per hour. It’s a lot of data, but it’s much more comparable to RED file sizes since the frame size is smaller. But, the big thing with that camera is that you don’t have to shoot RAW if you don’t want to. You can shoot ProRes Log or Rec 709, so you can get a beautiful ProRes Log file that’s very gradable in post and is a much more manageable data rate (about 28 Megabytes per second maximum). That’s what is so great about that camera, RAW when you need it and ProRes or DNxHD when you don’t.

      • James Neuendorf on 04.19.12 @ 8:48AM

        That would make a good post actually, I have been wondering what situations most call for RAW, if I shoot a film in prores 90% of the time, when would I want to fire the big guns and use RAW? Ideally you shoot the whole thing in RAW I get that, but if you can’t, when? Night shots? High contrast situations? I would love a RAW for video 101

        • Yes, anywhere you have to worry about compression ruining a shot or where you might need to do heavy color correction. Night shots and high contrast are both good ideas – green screen work and visual effects also both benefit greatly from RAW. The ProRes and DNxHD should be good for a variety of situations – I mean real feature films have been using ProRes Log on Alexa for a long time now until they all start switching to external recorders and doing ArriRAW. If/when we can get a hold of the camera that would probably be a good thing to go over – when the RAW is necessary and when you can stick to the other compressed formats.

          • Joe, thanks so much for all the in-depth coverage of NAB and all other things DIY filmmaking! I know that most BMD camera questions can only be answered on a speculation basis at this point, but I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on using the BMD cam shooting in Prores alongside, say, a 5DMkIII, in order to get flexibility with focal lengths/lens selection/low light performance, while still being able to switch to RAW when the situation calls for it. Or, on the other hand, shooting predominantly in RAW, and switching to the MkIII for the 20% of shots that the BMD cam isn’t as well suited for. Do you think the aesthetic would be jarring based on your impressions of the two cams when cutting between them?

          • can you edit DnxHD in premier pro (cs5 or 6) on a pc nativly?

          • @kevin
            If the DNxHD is in a Quicktime container (.mov) then absolutely! (You just need Avid’s free Quicktime codec on their website) If it’s MXF, not so much. But you can edit Prores in Premiere as well, both Mac and PC.

      • THIS GUY! Bossing around the forum like a boss! I ‘vel oved reading your responses all through NAB.

        • James Neuendorf on 04.19.12 @ 1:58PM

          Not sure if that was serious, but Ive enjoyed hanging out on this forum dreaming about a new camera on a future project when I should be editing the one I am doing now… Oops.

  • James Neuendorf on 04.19.12 @ 8:44AM

    First thing I googled after seeing that BMD cam was racks of SSDs… It’s almost surreal how the sizes took such a huge step back with SSD, even though its clearly superior technology, you get used to picking up an extra terabyte drive when you need it, for comparatively pennies. I remember when we thought a floppy had lots of space and now we are talking about Petabytes… Did’t they say they were about to have a breakthrouh next year on SSD’s though, to make them 50x bigger?

    • problem is moores law is breaking down (and isnt really applicable to HDDs anyway). We are starting to reach the physical limits of 2D HDD space and it will take the leap into 3D HDD space to really open up the storage needed for the projects we are talking about on a consumer level. Another thing to consider is that SS drives have a limited rewrite lifespan, and when they fail they fail without warning. Still, who really needs to have a wedding shot in 16bit 4K?

      On a side note, people seem to have forgotten that youtube supports 4k resolution, im not sure why these camera tests arnt uploaded in 4K on youtube.

      • Daniel Mimura on 04.22.12 @ 7:00PM

        I haven’t shot in RAW except as just an operator, so I don’t know, but I would think you would in some ways rather shoot the wedding in RAW over a commercial shoot where you can have more control over the lighting (to fit within the latitude of your camera better).

        But, seriously, yeah, I guess with 4k as an option now, it’s more about the budget of the individual project.

        The problem with youtube is the compression is worse than vimeo…4k might just make it worse (although I haven’t seen anything in it yet.)

  • I believe a lot of folks who have been clamoring for 4K will, suddenly, start thinking their little HD camera is just fine for the films they’re making.

  • jordan carr on 04.19.12 @ 11:45AM

    Just imagine if copala shot apocalypse now using todays technology Ames uncompressed 4k raw.

    On a side note, indi film makers should be “crowd sourcing hard drives” for their films.

  • Do you mean cloud sourcing? Maybe there’s a way to do that through thunderbolt?

  • Joe,

    Here’s an app that my friend showed me (his friend’s company developed it).

    Thought this might be useful for people!

  • Another option is to have a blu ray burner on set and back up media to 50 gb discs. There is a little bit of more security with that method as well plus it will save you on costs in the long run. You can buy 6x 50 gb discs for around 20 bucks. Still back up to dual hard drives but use the blu ray as the third storage method.

    • Bluray is not a solution. Look at the data rates above. Those Bluray discs will hold 2-3 minutes of RAW 4K footage each. You’ll need to buy discs by the spindle and have somebody manning the Bluray burner full-time during your shoot, and they’ll probably still be unable to keep up.

      The fact is that storage needs are far outpacing Moore’s law, while hard drives are not even keeping up with Moore. But optical storage has fallen way way behind, and is pretty much impractical as a backup/archival medium at this point.

      Although I’m not confident that tape is going to be commercially viable for much longer, for now an LTO-5 tape drive may not be such a bad solution for large data producers…

  • I would buy the BlackMagic camera as a specialty camera only, not to shoot full features with. It’s a post production camera, first and foremost. In other words, you’d use it for shots that rely on heavy VFX or grading work in post, not for average corporate interviews.

    The price is unbeatable and I really hope that either BMD or some bolg (this one?) has the courtesy to share some raw footage from the camera, so we can all find out in practice how your hardware handles things and how far you can push the image, perhaps with a trial version of Dissolve.

    • does the free version of resolve support raw? i know it “only” supports HD resolution but maybe we can play around with the free version of resolve and some test footage :D

      • James Neuendorf on 04.19.12 @ 4:10PM

        Yeah i would love to download a sample clip to play with… Just 5 seconds or so.

  • I for one was never too excited about shooting in 4k because of the amount of space the footage takes up. Lets be real, Vimeo & YouTube are broadcasting at 1080(max) & I’ve heard nothing about them increasing that and that is where most of our films/shorts will be seen. Not that a 4k image is not superior, but is it worth the extra time, space, money & CPU just to be shown on Vimeo and YouTube to people who have NO clue about the visual difference? Most people still don’t even have a Blueray player which is 1080(max) and we’re here now demanding 4k. The thing is that, “we want to be just like the movie people” but the movie people have and always will have better resources($$$) to incorporate newer technology into their systems. I think the indie push should have been focused more on better 1080 images instead of 4k images. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Sony F3(s-log) at 1080p will be around for a while even with all the new 4k cams coming out. Beautiful image, $13k, throw on an Atmos Samurai and go.

    • James Neuendorf on 04.19.12 @ 4:08PM

      Youtube has 2 and 4k available actually. Just fyi, doesnt change your point really, in the general audience, nobody has the power or bandwidth to watch it on “youtube 2k”

      • @James. Wow. How could I miss that? Thanks. Now I know. I just did a comparison on it from 1080 to 4k and I didn’t notice any obvious difference. I think I’ll wait about a year or so to be enthusiastic about 4k.

    • Thank you, ProwiaMan. Well stated. 4K is not something most of us are going to be embracing, whether you think you want it or not. Joe’s post here is overdue and a wake-up call to the guys that have cried so loud for a 4K camera… and a RAW 4K, to boot. Files sizes will be MASSIVE! Did you hear that? M-A-S-S-I-V-E!!!

      As I said up above, I think a lot of people will decide that their HD cam is, actually, pretty damned OK for most of what they do. If you read Joe’s post you would have to concur. 4K is a big boys (rich boys) game and if you’re wealthy, I am happy for you. Blaze on!

      And, thanks ProwiaMan, for the mention of the F3. I can’t understand why this camera has not gotten the attention it deserves. Even without S-log, the images are incredible, with S-log… astounding. It is far superior to the C300 and anything else in it’s price category. I’ve evangelized this camera for months and, it seems, all has fallen on deaf ears… as if, when people see the name Sony, their eyes glaze over. The camera is nothing short of amazing yet has little following… I just don’t get it.

      Anyway, to all those that can’t wait to get into 4K, all the best but, don’t come knockin’ when your next production grinds to a halt for lack of sufficient storage for all that glorious 4K footage.

      • Daniel Mimura on 04.22.12 @ 7:36PM

        I’m totally sold on the F3. Gorgeous, especially in low light. I can’t wait to see some stuff we shot with it on a big screen next month.

        With a technical and spec oriented general filmmaking populous (b/c of forums and the wealth of data/knowledge available to everyone, instantly, as soon as a PDF of a camera manual comes out…etc…), everyone has gotten into a more is better mentality. I think a lot of it is everyone shooting features is still hoping for that theatrical release, which spurs this desire to have something that holds up to the films the big boys make—this is basically most filmmakers’ desire (whether they care to admit it or realize it or not), b/c to do so means you’ve somehow “made it”, that you’re doing the big professional movies like your favorite directors/cinematographers make. (I’ve been guilty of this same trend with older technology. You shoot super8 cuz you don’t wanna shoot video anymore. Then 16mm.. Then you don’t ever wanna have to do 16mm b/c you can shoot in super16 and finish on HDcam…and then there’s HD…It never ends.)

        The pixel race has been going on with still cameras forever in both professional and amateur cameras and it’s just heating up with all the 4K stuff at NAB with motion cameras now.

        But the threshold level has really already been there, for most users…yes, 4K is “better” for certain sized screens at certain viewing distances…but overall, color space, different types of compression and codecs, better low light capability…these are things (in 1080, 2K, 2.5K) that probably should be taking precedence over 4K for most people (and can be appreciated from 480 up to infinityK.)

        • Daniel Mimura on 04.22.12 @ 7:40PM

          when I mentioned better color space, better compression, low light…I forgot to mention inputs. No HDMI! It’s too limited…HD- or 3G- SDI.

  • The FS700 will probably NOT have uncompressed Raw out of the camera. For one thing, it only has 1 HD-SDI 3G port. But folks at the Sony booth at NAB said that it’s too early to say, but most likely not uncompressed.

    Thanks for the many great posts.

  • (with costs coming down as companies in Thailand recover from the floods)

    minor error corrected

  • Data compression (a la zip) reduces data to around 1/3 for archival purposes. No point in keeping bits that aren’t even good enough for the cutting room floor, especially if you’re going 4k raw for an indie documentary with a 20:1 shooting ratio.

    How about comparing the worst case scenario for 4k raw with the cost of shooting S35mm in a more realistic scenario?

  • shaun wilson on 04.19.12 @ 7:33PM

    You think you got data problems? wait till the BBC 8K standard coming this year.

  • So what happens when the Normal Frame Rate goes from 24 FPS to 48 FPS ??? Storage takes another big leap, that’s what happens.

    Before you tell me I don’t understand, remember that Peter Jackson is shooting the “The Hobbit” at 48 FPS AND 3D James Cameron will be using either 48 FPS or 60 FPS for “Avatar 2.” These two “no-nothing-n00bs” ;-) see 48 FPS in our future, so do I.

    I first heard of Doug Trumble’s 60 FPS Show Scan way back in 1979. Unfortunately, it never made it to the movie theater. Going from 24 to 60 FPS would have used a lot more film/money. Now 40 plus years later, digital high frame rate will finally appear at the Multi-plex.

    Forget 4K, I think that 48 FPS 2K will become the new standard. Better looking picture, and no need for expensive 4K projectors. 2K 48 FPS will only need an inexpensive software up-grade to existing equipment.

    • 48fps 2K may become the new distribution standard for 3D but I’m sure Cameron and Jackson are shooting 5k.

      The higher illumination required for 3D is what’s driving the framerate change. Even if the 24fps standard was the tradeoff for smooth motion with early projectors there’s no reason to increase illumination or framerate for 2D work.

      • Sure there is. 24 FPS pretty much sucks — the wheels on the stagecoach turn backwards, fast motion is jerky, a lot of things would be better at 48 FPS.

        Here’s a quote from Panavision’s Senior Vice President of Advanced Digital Imaging, John Galt, “… we would get much better image quality by doubling the frame rate than by adding more pixel resolution.” And another. “… I honestly think that in the future, one direction we’re going to have to go is to higher frame rates, not more pixels.”

        • Agreed! I also think 48fps will be the next standard frame rate.

        • 48fps with a 270 deg shutter allows screen brightness to be increased for 3D. The point of 4k is to match the resolution of 35mm celluloid shot 24fps with 180 deg shutter. I’ve not once sat in a cinema and become irritated by the motion blur or relative dilation of my pupils, whereas I have walked out of a 3D viewing. We all know about the wheel example, that’s solvable so no reason to be putting the cart before the horse.

      • Daniel Mimura on 04.22.12 @ 8:14PM

        Higher illumination is NOT the reason for upping the fps. (It’s actually the consequence.)

        Very few people want 48fps besides Cameron and Jackson and 3D people. The reason is that with the modern polarization method of doing 3D, the image strobes (to people that can see it—we all have different thresholds for persistence of vision—mine is quite high, and Avatar was almost unwatchable whenever there was action.) With current 3D movies, you are only seeing 12fps per eye! (that being said, the projector flashes between frames the way a fan blade would chop up a 24fps 35mm image 2-3 times per frame to make persistence of vision work better—smoothing it out for most people.)

        Both Jackson and Cameron are aware of this problem amongst many viewers, hence the push for the change. Very few other people give a sh-t. (Douglas Trumball is one).

        I saw his Showscan format at Showbiz pizza as a kid twice. I had no idea what I was watching…I wish I could revisit it with my trained eye…but it was so stunning, I honestly didn’t understanding what i was watching! I thought it was a hologram or something. It was like 3D without glasses, like what was beyond the screen was inside it, like a window, not even a window ’cause a window is glass, which is a layer between you and the other side. It just looked…REAL.

        Higher frame rate is good…especially to avoid strobing in the highlights, or in snow scenes…etc… Just this afternoon I saw a brand new 70mm print of 2001 (speaking of Trumball)…and although it’s a totally gorgeous image…I forgot how much highlights strobe, over digital projection.

        24fps is “the norm”, and any film buff has seen this so many times, that it’s normal and “filmic” to us. It’s like how the smell of things can remind you of things from your past…etc… or the beauty of cinemascope, even taking away that you had a bigger negative. 24fps (or 24p) is what you’ve been seeing (except sports, live tv, and (some) reality tv) for most of your life, no matter if you watch old films or only newer digital ones…no matter your age either, if you’re 15 or 55. (If you’re 90, maybe 16-18fps seems “normal” to you.)

        Yes, you get blurs at 24fps…but that’s okay! That actually allows us to see fast motion better without strobing. Motion blurs are good (note: not greater than 180º like Michael Mann’s movies.)

        Pause or play in slow-mo an 80′s or 90′s jackie chan movie (when he used to be fast)…he’s just a blur…but it looks gorgeous at 24fps.

        Then…take something shot at 30p, with a short shutter (like DV era skate videos)…yes, the short shutter allows you to do post production slow mo (and actually see things), but it doesn’t look good. It doesn’t look “filmic”. The same people that think 48fps is going to be good (b/c a couple geeky hollywood A list 3D shooters think it’s “the future” b/c of their personal motive$ as 3D film makers) are probably the same people that don’t notice how incredibly weird and ugly motion is with their 7Ds shot at 60p, played back at 60p.

        Even shooting 720/60p (for slow mo), always looks weird to me as I’m shooting it. It’s just not right.

        • It’s not just 48fps, it’s increasing the shutter to compensate for the motion being different. Peter Jackson is shooting the new Hobbit film at 48fps and a 270 degree shutter (as compared to a normal 24fps and 180 degree shutter). This should make the motion more closely match the normal shutter but without the strobing. I originally thought that 48fps was a ridiculous idea, but motion should look exactly the same at 360 degrees and 48fps as it does at 180 degrees and 24fps, except for less blurring (because you’re adding more frames in between).

          If we all shot our 48fps films at a 360 degree shutter it cancels out the light loss, still looks like film, but gets rid of most of the strobing since frames are added in between. I haven’t done any tests with this yet (since I don’t have a RED), but some day I’d like to see for myself if 48fps at 360 degree shutter (or 270) still feels like traditional movies or hurts the image in a bad way.

        • Daniel Mimura on 04.25.12 @ 1:27AM

          Thanks for posting those, nobody!

          I’m curious about a couple things…one, maybe they didn’t use the greater than 180º shutter…and also, maybe 48fps just isn’t fast enough to hit that threshold level for some people. I know I see flicker and strobing in things many people don’t—just like everyone has drastically different abilities to hear different frequencies (despite the norm being considered 20Hz-20kHz)…so maybe the 60fps Cameron is aiming for will hit this threshold if that is indeed the problem for myself and reviewers like these two who think it looks bad.

          I’m withholding judgement until I see for myself, but I suspect that 48fps and greater is still just perfect for videogames, live action sports, and skate videos.

          Despite the Kool-Aid™ Cameron and Jackson are expecting us to swallow that it’s more realistic or otherwise “better”, it’s really about making better 3D (or in my personal opinion, making 3D less bad.). So says Cameron himself:

          “The reason I went down that path is because I believe it makes for better 3D…”


  • I actually talked to the DP who shot the f65 footage in Hawaii. He showed me a 1 Terabyte SSD, which did about one hour of footage for the F65. They transferred & backed everything up on a multi-Terabyte RAID array, and shot about 9 hours of footage or so.

  • Thanks, this is a great article. All the pipes are going to have to get way bigger. Imagine rendering a minor color correction on 4k RAW with standard cheap indie video editing equipment. Hit start and let a month roll by, I guess, lol. Now I want to see some comparisons, money-wise, between shooting 4k RAW and shooting, lets say, Super16mm on rented equipment (cheap to rent…for now), getting it processed, cut it by hand the old fashioned way with glorified scotch tape and all, then doing a 4k scan of the finished film. At least you’ll have an archival image at the end. Maybe you can get a supervised transfer for some digital color correction and maybe some simple effects, God knows doing effects in 4k RAW will be an expensive proposition on home equipment. What would be a comparison of costs?

  • Information about the Sony F65 is wrong. F65 RAW IS compressed. Ratio is 1 : 3.2.

    There is also new soptional F65 RAW format; “RAW LIGHT”, which is even slightly more compressed, coming in new firmware about two weeks time.

    Apart from the RAW support there is also HDCAM SR Codec with bitrates of 220 mbit/s, 440 mbit/s and 880 mbit/s.

    • Yes, my mistake. For some reason I was thinking it was uncompressed, but uncompressed 16-bit RAW 8K from that sensor is a ridiculous 2.375 Gigabytes per second. For clarification the F65 records RAW to the SR deck at 5Gbps – which is 648 Megabytes per second. So all those people who complained about RED recording compressed should take a look at the fact that Sony is doing it too. But that’s another conversation.

  • Excellent post. The data rates really are incredible, thus making 4K a stretch until real SSDs take off, something IBM is working on as we speak (atomic scale magnetic memory). Once this, or similar tech comes on line, the 4k revolution will take off as rotational memory is not fast enough to do the intense I/O required to do real time editing. (Discs are millions of times slower then processors, which has been the bane of computing for years.)

    Thanks for the article. It makes one think, something all to rare in these uncertain times.

  • With 4k capture, the discipline of shooting 16/35mm film will have to be rediscovered. Whenever I rolled the camera, I knew it was costing me $25/min to get to the edit. Think about that when shooting and you will not let your camera “roll” needlessly. Being able to delete parts of a clip would be a huge benefit to storage, I can only do this when transcoding my “raw H.264″ files into Cineform by selecting only part of a clip I want to use, this saves me some storage space. I am also seeing the overall costs go up for storage and will have to dump my cineform files and archive the h.264 on my projects. With 4k acquisition, this will be even more important as a standard procedure. When shooting film, not all the negative was developed, or printed, only “select takes” were sent to the lab for workprint and that saved a lot of money. Similar procedures will have to be brought back for 4K, you can’t afford to keep everything.

    For the moment I am using a lot of 1tb bare drives and a dock for archiving, soon I’ll migrate to LTO-5,6,7 whatever, for archival storage. Though I went “tapeless” in acquisition, and I thought I would never see it again!, tape will be part of my future in post.

    • Daniel Mimura on 04.22.12 @ 8:31PM

      This is exactly what I was thinking when reading this article… that due to the huge space, the way people have been shooting digital will have to change (for most projects).

      It’s always been sacrilege to erase anything on any digital shoot I’ve ever been on…but realistically, what do need out of most of takes 1-7 of an 8 take shot? You might get stuff to edit in (if you’re not shooting masters), but we basically need to go back to “circled takes” (or even just deleting some of it)…and maybe doing 1 back up of non-circled takes and having only circled takes in triplicate.

      I remember on a low budget 16mm feature where we had a long take—a 6 minute take or something…and we blew a take. I cut the film (saving a short end that was not long enough for this particular take), and taking the exposed reel, opening the mag in broad daylight, and just spinning it down the street, unwinding the whole thing. People were shocked…but really…we couldn’t afford to process it—it was a master shot, it was either a circled take, or unusable nothingness. (I directed that one—as a DP, I wouldn’t have been so obvious, even if I knew it would never be used.)

  • I think Solid State Hybrid drive may be another option. SSHD is more affordable and slight faster than normal Hard drive and SSHD have 750 GB to 1TB version. The following is the video to compare SSD, HD and SSHD. What do you think.

  • Joe I was thinking exactly what you have put out in
    the post.
    Costs of postproduction + storage become
    huge with 4k, so at present it is not a viable option.

    • Well RAW uncompressed 4K is a bit unwieldy, that was more my point. Compressed 4K is a little more manageable – like what RED and Sony are doing.

      • I just finished cutting a 4K-RED feature, and data management was/is a pain. Not a huge pain, mind you, but getting the drives from the DP and copying to my local RAID’s (I keep one 4-way RAID0 with 2TB 7,200 RPM drives, as well as a back-up local copy in case my “working RAID” dies) — can take literally days. Once I’m loaded up though, management is a snap, and with the RAID I get great throughput for cutting R3D’s directly in PP 5.5.

        Digital can and SHOULD be deleted at acquisition. I frequently “undo” bad vocal takes or audio takes in my DAW, and if it’s faster to just cut and go again in a new take, I do it. In my case on this job, the takes were a ridiculous 3-minutes long. And these weren’t walk-and-talk — they were locked-off close-ups! That alone tells me that better management and planning can go a long way to avoiding a data-management apocalypse.

        Treat 4K like film, and you won’t have the unnecessary bloat.

  • Hopefully solutions like ISILON ( exist to store all these datas.