Yesterday Apple announced an update to Final Cut Pro X that included as a main feature a new flavour of ProRes, ProRes RAW. This is claiming to combine the flexibility and visual benefits of RAW video files with the performance benefits of ProRes, all in a file format that is smaller than ProRes 4444, the previous highest quality version of the Codec.
As with RAW still images, RAW video offers more latitude for making adjustments to colour in post, capturing greater dynamic range and more bit depth than consumer formats like H264. Unlike other RAW formats, ProRes RAW uses a form compression to keep storage requirements minimal. It supports multiple resolutions in 12-bit color and a data rate of 80 to 140 megabytes per second. 4K video can be recorded up to 120 frames per second, and can record 2K up to 240 fps.
DJI has been one of the first companies to announce compatibility for the new format, with new firmware announced for the Inspire 2/X7 combo to enable use from May 2018. The Zenmuse X7 already has fantastic image quality, and this upgrade will make the workflow on higher quality files a lot more efficient.
Cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, Panasonic and Canon will also be able to take advantage, as Atomos has announced that it will add the capability to use the new format via a free upgrade to it’s shogun inferno and Sumo 19 recorders within days. This means that most cameras with the ability to output RAW over SDI, like our own main production camera the FS5, will be able to take advantage of the new codec. The list also includes cameras such as the Canon C300k Mark II/C500, FS7/FS7 II/FS700 and the Panasonic AU-EVA1 and the Varicam LT – in case of the EVA1, that means ProRes RAW with a hugely impressive 5.7K resolution is supported.
ProRes RAW could be a really big step forward in the general usability of RAW footage. While the quality benefits have always been there, the increased complexity and computer power requirements of the workflow have been off putting for many. Bringing together the flexibility in post of RAW and the easier workflows of ProRes could be an amazing combo – it really depends though how much of the RAW flexibility is retained by the ProRes compression, and that is something that won’t be seen until people start getting their hands on footage. The other aspect is that it is currently only a FCPX feature – how long will it take Adobe to add compatibility for ProRes RAW in Premiere, given it takes them a while to update lightroom for new still RAW formats? Let us know what you think.