What is IPP2? you may be wondering. IPP2 is the acronym for Image Processing Pipeline 2 and, with IPP2, RED claims that it has separated the technical adjustments from the creative adjustments. What’s the big deal, you say? How good could it be? Imagine all the candy, from all the candy stores, in all the world—at your fingertips. It isn’t quite as good as that, but it is close.
IPP2 is a new color-processing system that RED has devised, available in-camera in the DSMC2 MONSTRO, DSMC2 HELIUM, and DSMC2 GEMINI, WEAPON and RED EPIC-W camera BRAINs. I’ll begin by discussing the advantages of RED’s IPP2 in camera, but don’t worry if you have a different RED camera than those previously mentioned. You can still reap the benefits of IPP2 in post.
IPP2 streamlines image processing from the raw sensor information to an SDR or an HDR finish. It starts by working with all the captured footage in RED’s Wide Gamut Color Space (REDWideGamutRGB), and then encoding it in RED’s IPP2 Log format (Log3G10). RWGRGB is a new color space that encompasses all colors that all RED cameras can generate without clipping. Log3G10 encoding maintains 10 stops of dynamic range over middle gray to protect your highlights. This is important, because IPP2 appears to handle highlight roll-off better than the legacy image processing, able to display detail in highlights that were previously not visible. This is easily controlled with the in-camera highlight roll-off options, so you can have a better idea of what you are capturing while shooting. Adjustments in post seem to work well, including the ability to recover some clipped highlights in post using the new highlight extension algorithm.
How important is it to have these features built into the camera? That depends on whether you have one of the IPP2 compatible cameras or not, because the key functions are also available in both REDCINE-X PRO and popular post software that runs RED’s SDK. However, per RED, IPP2 has been designed for HDR from the ground up, and as far as monitoring in the field, the added control over your image processing and display would seem to be a boon because you can have a better idea of what you are capturing. If you have an IPP2-compatible camera, then downloading the firmware is a no-brainer, because the ISO has been calibrated to match a light meter better and improve overall exposure quality. Compared to prior sensors, the MONSTRO, HELIUM, and GEMINI sensors now depict a one-stop-brighter image when set to identical ISO, T-stop, and shutter speed. Thus, ISO 400 captured on an in-camera IPP2-enabled camera will appear as bright as ISO 800 did before. Plus, IPP2 replaces RED’s previous independent camera color settings (DragonColor and REDGamma) with industry standards, making matching footage from different cameras a much simpler task.
But what if you don’t have one of those three, but aren’t ready to get a new camera, you ask? Not to worry.
Whether you have a camera capable of utilizing IPP2 within the camera, or an older RED camera that cannot, the raw sensor data of all RED cameras is easily handled by REDWideGamutRGB, and can be encoded into Log3G10. What does that mean to you? It means that you can “reprocess” your raw camera data files and get a better image. Remember Kodak, and how you could always scan camera negative to the newest video standard and get a new and better image? It is like that with the raw camera data. IPP2 lets you take your legacy footage and process it again, and, with the new tools and new demosaicing algorithm, potentially, you can get more out of your older images than before. Plus, with the standardized color space and gamma, it becomes simpler to match different RED cameras, because they are sharing the same color space and gamma.
Upstart Camera Company No More
Although RED itself seems to revel in being the industry disruptor, the maverick days that ushered in 4K digital cinema cameras have calmed a bit, and RED has matured. Standardizing the manner in which they handle image capture, processing, and display will only make things easier for their users. According to RED, with REDCINE-X PRO and the R3D SDK, the software has moved toward standards that are more familiar to the industry, which is convenient. IPP2 provides many benefits, such as better handling of problematic colors, improved shadow detail, smoother highlight roll-off, more accurate mid-tone hues—all of which lead to more control and creative possibility with your images.
How it Works
Bringing in your raw camera data to REDCINE-X PRO puts it into the “pipeline,” where you can choose from “legacy” or “IPP2.” IPP2 provides you with a standardized color gamut, where you adjust exposure and color balance (Primary adjustment). Then, in the image grading section, you use the creative as opposed to technical adjustments, with the ability to add both LUTs and make CDL metadata adjustments. Outputting your finished color adjustments is what RED refers to as Image Output Transform, and enables a standard dynamic range (SDR) or high dynamic range (HDR) finish.
IPP2 is a big thing for RED and its users. Standardizing the way your raw camera data is processed is huge, saving you time in post, and time saved can be used toward creative purposes. It also shows RED’s commitment to constantly improving the images you can make with its cameras, without abandoning those that don’t have the newest offering.