With today’s file-based workflows, managing data on set has become somewhat of a nightmare. In recent times, many new applications have sprouted up claiming to make your life easier for the following tasks:
- File format support
- Ingest and Logging
- Audio syncing and Conforming
- Checksum and Backups
- Transcoding and Dailies creation
- LUTs and Color Correction
- Metadata support
- Digital Asset Management
- Export options
Do they deliver? That’s for you to find out, ultimately. But let me make your job a bit easier.
Comparison of on-set workflow software
This article compares 15 on-set tools in one big chart, so you can start your investigations (that’s what it is) without pouring over hundreds of pages of features that hide weaknesses. Hopefully, the chart will reduce your workload to only about 50 pages of features and a couple of manuals. No big deal.
The 15 applications are as follows:
- Redcine-X Pro
- Red Giant Bulletproof beta
- Adobe Prelude CC
- Adobe Premiere Pro CC
- Apple Final Cut Pro X
- Sony Vegas Pro
- Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve
- Colorfront On-set Dailies
- Pomfort Silverstack
- Rubber Monkey Software Monkey Extract
- Sony SRPC4 (actually hardware)
- Gamma & Density Co. 3CP
- MTI Film Cortex Control Dailies
I’ve covered some of these applications in detail in the following posts:
- An overview of video backup and checksum software
- The Adobe Prelude workflow guide
- The Red Giant Bulletproof guide
- How to import video into FCP-X
- How to import video into Sony Vegas Pro
- How to import video into Adobe Premiere Pro CC
- The DaVinci Resolve crash course for beginners
So, without further ado, here’s the monster chart (click to enlarge):
- The chart doesn’t claim to be accurate or correct. For the right values, prices, figures and features visit the respective manufacturers’ pages for information. If you do notice any glaring flaws, please bring them to my attention.
- * Not available at the time of this writing; or it’s a beta version with limited support.
- ** Per month pricing, or it’s free with Premiere Pro, Resolve Lite is free.
- *** Approximate or rumored price.
I know the chart is overwhelming. The task of selecting the right tool is overwhelming. All I can offer are words of consolation:
- If you’re using Red cameras, I guess it’s hard to beat the free Redcine-X Pro.
- Most of us can’t afford On-set Dailies.
- The Sony SRPC4 is hardware, and is a special case.
- Monkey Extract has ceased all support and have slashed prices considerably.
- Resolve is actually a strong contender, but its major weakness is that it needs a really fast computer to work smoothly.
- The chart lists which features are supported and which aren’t, but might not be completely accurate. At least, it’s a starting point.
- List which features are important, mark them on the chart, and your choices will boil down to a manageable number.
- Sometimes, the word ‘limited’ or ‘seriously limited’ might not bother you, because that’s exactly (and only) what you need. Don’t let those words get in the way.
What’s my favorite tool?
If I had unlimited money, I might think Colofront On-set Dailies was the way to go. But, that’s not what I really think.
As far as I’m concerned, Adobe Premiere Pro CC is probably the only software that I feel truly comfortable with. It can do everything:
- Ingest any kind of file natively.
- Transcoding via Adobe Media Encoder.
- Audio syncing, editing and conforming.
- Color correction.
- Metadata support.
- All this can be done on a laptop, on both Mac and PC.
- Export to anything.
- Round-trip with anything.
There are two things it can’t do:
- Checksum verification – which Prelude does, and it comes free with Premiere Pro when you purchase the entire CC suite.
- Digital Asset Management – which Bridge does, and it comes free with Premiere Pro CC.
It can do everything.
All this is for $49.99 per month. That’s unbelievable. If a project ran for 60 shooting days, and I needed Adobe CC for five months total, I’d still only spend $250.
Why on earth do I need any other software? Adobe Premiere Pro CC wins my vote for the best on-set ingest, logging, dailies, grading and backup software.