Maxx Digital Enclosure for Red Rocket - Follow Up
TCS in Manhattan has one of these enclosures for the Red Rocket card that I tested out. Theirs is a little bigger than the one in this picture as it has the option to add additional boards. I was really impressed with how solidly it ran as I was expecting it to be much more fickle. I tested it with my 15" MBP and their 17" and it worked great with both. The realtime playback and color correction over SDI off the 4K R3D files was rock solid. The main difference between having the Red Rocket card in a tower workstation and in an enclosure like this is the render times which I was expecting to be a much bigger difference than I actually found. On a well equipped Mac Pro tower with at least a Quad Core and 8 GB RAM, the Red Rocket should give you real time, full quality de-bayering of R3D files. This Rocket Enclosure run by a 17" MBP with a 2.8 GHz processor and 8GB RAM, renders at 50% of the speed of a tower. For example, a 45 sec R3D that would transcode to ProRes422 HQ in about 45 sec on a rocket-equipped tower takes 1 minute 30 seconds with this equipment. Compared to the PAINFUL render times on any system without the rocket or a dedicated render farm, this is a massive improvement and in situations where having a tower on-set is less than ideal, I think the Maxx Box is definitely a viable option.
One more thought regarding the Rocket and transcoding. I'm noticing far less color and gamma shift when rendering through the Rocket as opposed to doing it through Red software sans dedicated hardware. If you do your color correction over SDI with the Rocket card and then compare the renders to what you were seeing in Red Cine-X, it's very close. Close enough to warrant making it a necessity on all RED jobs in my mind. If you're the one creating the dailies, there's no excuse to not have them fully in line with the look the DP sets. To be able to do this on-set with a laptop and some relatively lightweight additional hardware is pretty huge.