On-set 4K Post with the Mac Pro

November 17, 2014 Tags: , ,
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Was on a commercial shoot this weekend. The traditional setup people normally use is to have a DIT copy the footage onto a drive and then either have a lab transcode dailies, or just send a drive back to have editorial deal with it later.

If you happen to have a Mac Pro and can get your editor to come to set, you can do what we did instead, which is save time, money, and have a fully prepped library ready to go for editorial when you’re done shooting.

It’s ridiculously simple.

Working with RED Dragon footage, we copied each RED mag to separate drives (which over USB 3.0 only took a few minutes) and once that was done, I just dragged the Dragon footage into FCPX, quickly batch renamed the clips as they came in, and just started putting the edit together.

If the camera department had a question, I was able to figure out if there was a problem/make sure everything would cut together, and I was even able to transcode the footage down to proxy in the background while I was doing it (which didn’t take that long either because of the Mac Pro).

I was able to monitor in 4k with a 31” Eizo monitor (see an upcoming blog for more on that), and basically, I was able to work with my footage as I normally would if I was at home.

Because the Mac Pro is so portable, transporting the gear and getting set up for this wasn’t a big deal, and the truth of the matter is that I have absolutely no idea why more people aren’t doing this.

4k is easy. RED is easy. Getting the Mac Pro editing on set with FCPX is really straightforward.

Why wouldn’t you want your editor on set? Who wouldn’t want a fully prepped library going back to post when the shoot is over? Why would you want to wait? If you have someone whose job already is to work off a computer handling footage (the DIT)… wouldn’t it make more sense if that person could also be doing work with that footage that’s actually going to save you time in post later?

Post Production becoming a larger part of the production process is inevitable. The workflow is straightforward, all the tools are there, and there just isn’t a good reason that people aren’t already doing it. It’s just a matter of time before producers start connecting the dots, and start saving themselves a bunch of headaches.


Sam Mestman

Sam Mestman, FCPWORKS.

This blog post contains the personal musings of FCPWORKS’ Workflow Architect, Sam Mestman. Sam’s also a regular writer for and MovieMaker Magazine, teaches post workflow at RED’s REDucation classes, and is the founder and CEO of We Make Movies, a film collective in Los Angeles and Toronto which is dedicated to making the movie industry not suck. If you’ve got any FCP X questions or need some help putting together a system, drop him an email at and you can follow him on Facebook or Twitter at @FCPWORKS.


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