There is a lot of new hype out there about RED footage. But what is it? And how can you use it? Here is a quick briefing on the key concepts of the RED world.

What is RED?

RED is a new brand of cameras that was started by Oakley’s founder Jim Jannard. His idea was to revolutionize the video industry by offering a camera with the ability to capture resolution far superior to today’s HD cameras.

The company offers a variety of cameras and accessories, but the most common is the RED One camera. The camera has a special sensor that allows it to capture a huge amount of data. When buying stock footage, you may see the RED One logo if it was shot on this type of camera.

Is there really much of a difference between RED and HD Footage?

Yes. The picture on RED will be a lot sharper. A high end regular HD camera typically shoots video with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. The RED camera, however, shoots video with a resolution of 4520 x 2540. That is 5 times better than an HD camera!

What are .R3D files?

The .R3D files are the original source files from the RED camera. These are the files that have not been compressed at all.

.R3D files are considered “raw” from the camera and preserve all metadata recorded into the camera such as color temperature and ISO settings that can be manipulated after the footage has been shot. This allows for greater flexibility in a post-production environment.

Can I use RED?

Yes! And you should! This is really the most high quality video that’s out there right now. Many distributors of RED footage are making it really easy for consumers by converting the raw RED files (which are huge) to easy to use, universal formats like Quicktime Photo-JPegs. Using this method will cause some loss in quality, but according to the RED company the difference is not visible by the human eye.

What if I don’t buy it in a universal format and have to use the raw RED footage?

Most of the major professional video editing platforms are compatible with RED footage. Check out some of the platforms below:

Final Cut Pro can use REDCODE files (via Quicktime wrapper) when the Red QuickTime Codecs are installed.

Adobe‘s video products (Premiere and After Effects) have been able to work with the native REDCODE files (.R3D file extension) as of version CS4, and the plugins to do so are officially supported by RED.

Sony‘s video editing product Vegas Pro can natively edit .R3D files as of version 9.0, and allows full access to raw decode metadata with real-time preview.

If you’re trying to use these huge files in a program like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, you’re probably going to be out of luck.