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Is raw on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera worth it? Dispelling the myths


Andrew Reid
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[url="http://www.eoshd.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/BMD2-1.jpg"][img]http://www.eoshd.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/BMD2-1.jpg[/img][/url]

There's some debate at the moment around the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and how useful the raw recording mode is. For me it is ground-breaking at this price point but it seems not everyone sees it with the same enthusiasm because of the workflow and storage requirements. "It is time consuming. It is not practical. My clients don't need it".

Well let me begin this article by being very clear - there is no single answer that suits everyone, or every shoot. If someone says that their current clients don't need raw and they don't see an advantage to working with raw video - then they are absolutely right to believe that. If someone tries to tell you that their opinion on this is the ultimate and final voice on the matter, they are wrong. Personally I am in favour of raw for what I do (this opinion is based on my own needs, yours may differ).

But part of the reason I am coming down so heavily in favour of raw myself is not just because of me - but because I can see some less obvious benefits to work that many would be inclined to 'shoot the easy way' with ProRes in-camera.
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+1 to you Andrew. I agree with everything here. Funny thing is, indie filmmakers such as myself seem to be [i]less [/i]worried about new workflows - heck, technology - than the industry itself. Why is that? Because we are not tied down to a mindset of "this is how we have always done it." We know the world is growing, changing and the better, often harder, choices are more beneficial in the long run.

We will look back in two years and see ProRes used mainly as a proxy or web quality - the real stuff will all be RAW in some form. Technology will help in compressing the math in the files - but RAW is here to stay.
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IT IS WORTH!!!

100%....
i work now 23 hours for one background in matte and maybee it will be seen only for 4 seconds
and many other things fly round in front and all the smoke from fume and the other things
it beginns to fit tougher and lights my eys...

so LEONARDO...( not the boy in holly) painted a halfe live On ONE PICTURE
TARKOWSKI used to think weeks about one scene and the light
hmm..

for fast things that go fast back to nowhere we need fast garbage...
but for this one mOMENT when i was a boy in CINEMA and RUDGER HAUER looked till he fades out...

its like if somebody asks me why i work 3 years on a script?

BECAUSE IF I DO I AM I GET A PICE OF THIS...
IT IS MORE


and if the BMC works in RAW YES if they would pot PRO RES in a second channel in it.. DO YOU SAY NO?

CRIXUS
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[quote name='peederj' timestamp='1346458693' post='17050']
Can you get an Atomos Samurai and record the ProRes externally while you record RAW internally on the BMCC? If you can, then you have both with no transcode time, and an external monitor for the focus puller or director.
[/quote]

This is a damned good point. Certainly worth investigating. Also good to have that backup too. Some SSDs not famed for their total reliability.
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i am a still shooter and so i find the discussion funny....raw is a no brainer....yes, it has drawbacks but the advantages more then make up for it....afaik the only people shooting jpegs are journalists whi have to beam the image back as the event is still going on...everybody else shoots raw....for good reason...

one of the reasons the red is so popular in commercial settings is that each raw frame is also a possible still photo for advertising/promotional/web/who knows....add to this that by taking one (or more) frames out, the look of the still and moving image is the same...huge advantage....

the BMCC should provide the same advantage...the frames aren't 4K (and not having EPIC frame rates slows down exposure times which makes each frame less crisp)...but for many commercial applications, especially web material, each raw video shoot will also provide 1000s of perfectly useable stills....

for still shooters this is also a much easier transition into grading....we are all used to using adobe or other raw developers to make the adjustments.....now we can stay within lightroom or aperture (or even phase one?) to get what we are used to from our stills...not to mention being able to use every single PS plug in....
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[quote name='peederj' timestamp='1346458693' post='17050']
Can you get an Atomos Samurai and record the ProRes externally while you record RAW internally on the BMCC? If you can, then you have both with no transcode time, and an external monitor for the focus puller or director.
[/quote]

[quote name='EOSHD' timestamp='1346460276' post='17052']
This is a damned good point. Certainly worth investigating. Also good to have that backup too. Some SSDs not famed for their total reliability.
[/quote]

A add-on "proxy-recorder" from blackmagic could be pretty cool... 4:2:0 50mb/s footage for offline editing. Who knows? Something like this might be available in the future. Black Magic left allot of 3rd party development options availbe for this camera. Where companies like canon are still charging an arm and a leg for cameras that basically only shoot "proxy-quality" footage in the first place.

This would also be great because I like to somtimes do on-site scene edits to show the actors how it's all looking. Then if we see somthing we'd like to change... it's easier to nail it.
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[quote name='pss' timestamp='1346461061' post='17054']
i am a still shooter and so i find the discussion funny....raw is a no brainer....yes, it has drawbacks but the advantages more then make up for it....afaik the only people shooting jpegs are journalists whi have to beam the image back as the event is still going on...everybody else shoots raw....for good reason...

for still shooters this is also a much easier transition into grading....we are all used to using adobe or other raw developers to make the adjustments.....now we can stay within lightroom or aperture (or even phase one?) to get what we are used to from our stills...not to mention being able to use every single PS plug in....
[/quote]

Yes I agree totally, all this blubbing about raw workflows being unworkable is coming from people who haven't got their workflow figured out yet. It will take time, and they will come round to it.

I'm quite happy flattening the raw file (full recovery of highlights and recover all the shadows) then doing some grading in Premiere on the H.264 or ProRes I transcode from the raw files in After Effects.

It is SO easy to do.

And I am learning DaVinci Resolve.

It is a new camera, I will give it the time and effort it deserves.

And a crop sensor really suits my shooting style, I am so used to it and it worked great for me with the GH2.

Everyone is CONSTANTLY going on about how difficult a wide angle is at 2.3x crop. What about how much more easy it is to get a very fast aperture telephoto shot? People never mention that, yet it is really cool.
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Hey guys, I wanted to chime in on this BMC discussion.

As a hobby I shoot documentaries mainly on geek and nerd culture, and professionally I create motion graphics and color correct. I will focus on the documentary side of what I do.

The other day my co-worker and I were marveling over the idea of working raw. But then I started thinking about the disk space issue.
For my last documentary I created, I shot about 13.5 hours for a 22 min product. Those that create documentaries typically have a very high shooting ratio, and while I want to shoot raw it is really cost prohibitive for me. I was crunching the numbers and here is how they break down:

I shot 267 GB with my 7D which comes to be about 13.5 hours of content.

In Prorez 422 1.22 TB

Raw 6.9bTB

When I crunched the numbers I had a hard time justifying the the space required for what I do if I shoot in the raw format. I think the one thing that users will need to think about is the data rate. It looks like the data rate for raw will be about 145MB/s which is near the theoretical limit of a single 7200rpm hard drive. So that moves you in to the RAID territory and the expense that one of those systems entails.

For companies who shoot single camera cinematic style where projects are scripted, and acted, I think raw is the next logical step. For long form corporate or documentaries then raw will be tough at least for now. 2 years from now then it will be a bit easier to swallow as long as SSD get cheaper and hard drives also become cheaper.

As for my personal projects, I know for a fact that I will be shooting ProRez/DnxHD, because It is a good compromise between quality and disk space.

[url="https://vimeo.com/user745412"]https://vimeo.com/user745412[/url]
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The answers are simple.
A. people claiming that RAW is unecessary haven't worked in RAW before. Ask professional photographers if they'd rather work in jpeg mode for serious projects rather than RAW. The reaction will be awesomely fun to watch.
B. people claiming RAW is unecessary are used to the investment they've put into their current camera and unless they gain access to a RAW camera workflow outside of coming out of their own pockets, will downplay its benefits to protect the "integrity" of their own purchased gear.
C. they're flat out lazy.

Most people who HAVE worked in RAW on a regular basis don't even have these problems/gripes. They simply see it as the advantageous choice. Prores/DNxHD are quick options for fast turnarounds and less important projects. Much like the jpeg option in your DSLR for stills. :)
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[quote name='madaspy' timestamp='1346463425' post='17058']
Hey guys, I wanted to chime in on this BMC discussion.

As a hobby I shoot documentaries mainly on geek and nerd culture, and professionally I create motion graphics and color correct. I will focus on the documentary side of what I do.

The other day my co-worker and I were marveling over the idea of working raw. But then I started thinking about the disk space issue.
For my last documentary I created, I shot about 13.5 hours for a 22 min product. Those that create documentaries typically have a very high shooting ratio, and while I want to shoot raw it is really cost prohibitive for me. I was crunching the numbers and here is how they break down:

I shot 267 GB with my 7D which comes to be about 13.5 hours of content.

In Prorez 422 1.22 TB

Raw 6.9bTB

When I crunched the numbers I had a hard time justifying the the space required for what I do if I shoot in the raw format. I think the one thing that users will need to think about is the data rate. It looks like the data rate for raw will be about 145MB/s which is near the theoretical limit of a single 7200rpm hard drive. So that moves you in to the RAID territory and the expense that one of those systems entails.

For companies who shoot single camera cinematic style where projects are scripted, and acted, I think raw is the next logical step. For long form corporate or documentaries then raw will be tough at least for now. 2 years from now then it will be a bit easier to swallow as long as SSD get cheaper and hard drives also become cheaper.

As for my personal projects, I know for a fact that I will be shooting ProRez/DnxHD, because It is a good compromise between quality and disk space.

[url="https://vimeo.com/user745412"]https://vimeo.com/user745412[/url]
[/quote]

Great points here.
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i honestly haven't thought about how much more disk space i will end up using....there is no question for me that i will shoot raw only...raids are getting cheaper and online backup is cheap and unlimited (and upload speeds on fios are great)....
yes it will end up eating TBs like crazy....
on the other hand a project ending up being 30 min long (15TB raw footage) should be worth 1000$ (5x3TB at 200$) in storage (back up online)....

or shoot prores or something else...but honestly i would get the fs100 or fs700 for all non raw shooting....the BMCC compressed modes might still be a tiny bit better looking but the lens options and other features (fs700 slo-mo!!!!, 4k option!) would make the sonys my first choice for anything other then raw shooting.....
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[quote name='KahL' timestamp='1346466126' post='17059']
B. people claiming RAW is unecessary are used to the investment they've put into their current camera and unless they gain access to a RAW camera workflow outside of coming out of their own pockets, will downplay its benefits to protect the "integrity" of their own purchased gear.
[/quote]

+1 This is almost everyone on DVXuser and DVinfo.

The discussions over there are reaching the inanity level. Some are even going as far to claiming that RAW is gimmick, the BMCC is a "toy"... and real pros "get it right" in camera. Or "if you know what you're doing... 8-bits and 4:2:0 is more than enough". It's funny because when DSLRs were all the rage... it was almost a crime to shoot on anything less than a 4:2:2 codec. I guess now that there are "pro" large-sensor cameras that students and amateurs can't afford they're justifying the use of sub-par codecs again.

No matter what anyone says... the real argument was never about if DSLRs were usable on pro-shoots or the codec being crappy (even though they are). It was the older industry guys being upset that they could no longer "buy production value" in the form of a camera. Student productions were rivaling and bettering $100,000 shoots with nothing more than crews of 2. They hated it. This has always been the crux of it, no matter what other justifications they use. It was just an unspoken truth that they knew deep down, all along. Enter the "this is professional... and this isn't” mentality that has plagued the internet filmmaking communities for the last few years. What happened to just trying to be "good" at filmmaking? Why does everyone aspire to be a "pro" now? Most pro-shoots are so stifled with creativity killing dogma and guildline BS that I'm amazing they even turn out what they do. The best new cinematography, directing, and editing are not coming from "the pros"... they don't have time for innovation anymore. All the time that could be used for creative shooting is being spent delegating to the 18 people it apparently takes to pull focus on a "real sets".
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[quote name='madaspy' timestamp='1346463425' post='17058']
I shot 267 GB with my 7D which comes to be about 13.5 hours of content.
In Prorez 422 1.22 TB
Raw 6.9bTB
[/quote]

I've also been looking at the drive space issues.

I can get 6TB of HDD space for around 300 EUR.

I won't be shooting 13 hrs of docu footage.

I tend to cut in-camera. I don't do long takes or live events, or interviews, etc.

For a music video or a typical EOSHD 'on location' vignette I'd probably even only do 1-2 hours worth of footage, I almost do edit with the shutter button!

Treat the Blackmagic Cinema Camera like a film camera. Best quality for the price, use it when you need to, and not all the time. John Ford cut in-camera. He did this to stop the bastard producers re-editing his film!!

For many a docu interview, a DSLR is just fine for run & gun. The BMCC is an artistic filmmaking tool designed to ease aspiring filmmakers into the world of post, the world of raw and the world of DaVinci Resolve. Smart move by Blackmagic and incredibly generous too. That price will gain them a lot of ground in the market too, and the image will gain them a lot of ground even in the pro market vs Red and Arri!

Remember that the raw files can be deleted and they can be converted into ProRes. If you shoot ProRes in-camera like I said in the article, you are making that decision a lot earlier and I kind of find that a bit unnecessary given how quick it is to transcode later over a single night, depending on how much footage you have.

You certainly won't be needing 6TB of SSD drives which would be very expensive. Unless you're shooting 13 hours per shoot without ever dumping to HDD.

Again use the SSDs like 30 minute long film reels. 240GB = $180. Not expensive. These are not Red SSDs.

I believe it is important not to say a blanket 'no' to raw, or a blanket 'no' to ProRes. It really does depend on the shoot, or even the scene. Just use it when you need to and it will work out fine.
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[quote name='bwhitz' timestamp='1346467790' post='17063']
+1 This is almost everyone on DVXuser and DVinfo. The discussions over there are reaching the inanity level. Some are even going as far to claiming that RAW is gimmick, the BMCC is a "toy"... and real pros "get it right" in camera. Or "if you know what you're doing... 8-bits and 4:2:0 is more than enough". It's funny because when DSLRs were all the rage... it was almost a crime to shoot on anything less than a 4:2:2 codec. I guess now that there are "pro" large-sensor cameras that students and amateurs can't afford they're justifying the use of sub-par codecs again.
[/quote]

I remember this well with the DSLRs, all the discussion was about the poor codec, lack of grading flexibility, no 4-2-2, blah blah blah.

Now we have raw, and we still can't win. They are saying you should get it right in camera! When we really did need to get it right in-camera with picture profiles etc. on DSLRs, nobody mentioned getting it right in camera, they were all mentioning 'you can't fix it in post so these aren't professional cameras'.

Damned if we do, damned if we don't, with some people. The negativity is astounding.

Well it is a good job we had DSLRs and our optimised picture profile settings so we are used to getting it right in camera by now.

Don't let any so called pro patronise you when it comes to getting it right on the shoot.

I am sure we will all be endeavouring to get it right 'in-camera' raw or no raw.

Raw certainly is no excuse for sloppy operating.
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Personally, i would hate the idea of butting my head against the celing when it came to my equipment... I like the thought of not being limited by the tools i have and therefore, i can take full responsibility if my movie looks like trash. So I will be shooting Raw.

But i understand the issue. I bought my Mac 2 years ago. It is currently a dinosaur... My paltry 3.1 Duo Core..(Yes...duo core.) - with 8 gb of 1066 DDR3 ram can grade footage at the speed of smell....and this is transcoded 5d2rgb pro res 4:4:4....which is still shy of raw. So unless I invest in a computer with enough horsepower to render Avatar 2 realtime while I host the Armageddon of Warcraft, i may have no choice in the matter.

Which.....f--king sucks.

Nevertheless, I know people who DO have Nasa mainframes and regardless of the hassle, I've found the determination to create a better product is 10 fold turbo charged when your resources are limited. I have Apogee Symphony conversion with Antelope's Atom clocking it, Neve pres, great mics, Focal Twins, and my floors float. (i know... with a 2 year old Mac...audio is a tad less demanding in a comparison) - point is,
I made more music when I was a broke ass with a hundred dollar M-Audio mobile pre and a Nova mic in my living room using Cool Edit, than i ever have with all of this high end shit I lusted over for years...

I saved, and now I have it, and now all I do is master records for other people... It's paid for itself, yes... But my dream as a kid wasn't to be mastering music i don't even like. I think if you're not careful, you can fall into the gear trap pretty fast. God forbid I win the lottery, i'd probably kill myself for letting my room full of Alexa's and F65's collect dust.
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The issue is easy to understand, and I fully appreciate it.

I won't be using raw for everything, only when I think it is needed. I won't be archiving away 100TB of DNG files either. That would be insanity. HDD space is cheap but not THAT cheap!

I can see the argument for ProRes, but actually I think maybe a workflow that results in 2.5K H.264 would suit people even better than ProRes.

ProRes files are still relatively huge compared to DSLR codecs.
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[quote name='EOSHD' timestamp='1346469025' post='17064']
I've also been looking at the drive space issues.

I can get 6TB of HDD space for around 300 EUR.

I won't be shooting 13 hrs of docu footage.

I tend to cut in-camera. I don't do long takes or live events, or interviews, etc.

For a music video or a typical EOSHD 'on location' vignette I'd probably even only do 1-2 hours worth of footage, I almost do edit with the shutter button!

Treat the Blackmagic Cinema Camera like a film camera. Best quality for the price, use it when you need to, and not all the time. John Ford cut in-camera. He did this to stop the bastard producers re-editing his film!!

For many a docu interview, a DSLR is just fine for run & gun. The BMCC is an artistic filmmaking tool designed to ease aspiring filmmakers into the world of post, the world of raw and the world of DaVinci Resolve. Smart move by Blackmagic and incredibly generous too. That price will gain them a lot of ground in the market too, and the image will gain them a lot of ground even in the pro market vs Red and Arri!

Remember that the raw files can be deleted and they can be converted into ProRes. If you shoot ProRes in-camera like I said in the article, you are making that decision a lot earlier and I kind of find that a bit unnecessary given how quick it is to transcode later over a single night, depending on how much footage you have.

You certainly won't be needing 6TB of SSD drives which would be very expensive. Unless you're shooting 13 hours per shoot without ever dumping to HDD.

Again use the SSDs like 30 minute long film reels. 240GB = $180. Not expensive. These are not Red SSDs.

I believe it is important not to say a blanket 'no' to raw, or a blanket 'no' to ProRes. It really does depend on the shoot, or even the scene. Just use it when you need to and it will work out fine.
[/quote]

I wont lie I recorded 80% of that 260gb over the span of 3 days. Granted I had 2 shooters, but that is a smack ton of footage. But 6tb would just be enough to house the footage, I still need space for scratch disks and for renders and such. Then you get in to the issue with data redundancy so double the amount for a RAID 10.

But I just downloaded the raw footage and graded it in resolve and I am truly amazed at the latitude at which i can push the image. It almost makes me want to see what type of raid set up i'd need for a single project.
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[quote name='pss' timestamp='1346461061' post='17054']
i am a still shooter and so i find the discussion funny....raw is a no brainer....yes, it has drawbacks but the advantages more then make up for it....afaik the only people shooting jpegs are journalists whi have to beam the image back as the event is still going on...everybody else shoots raw....for good reason...
[/quote]

[quote name='lightpainter' timestamp='1346458740' post='17051']
so LEONARDO...( not the boy in holly) painted a halfe live On ONE PICTURE
[/quote]

Grading 8-bit is like painting with 256 crayons with La Gioconda sitting in constant light conditions and light temperature through the whole process, with a WB preset and an average exposure as a starting point (also a [i]mental[/i] starting point). Grading 12-bit raw is like an almost infinite flow of colors and shades and the oil paint mixed from scratch. I never worked with raw video, but judging from raw stills, I'd say the creative possibilities are rewarding - why indeed creative photographers prefer raw. With video, consistency is paramount, and you will probably create a grade preset to preserve it. This could very well be quite similar to what you have with a pre-developed 8-bit or 10-bit image.

What I am trying to say is, if you can't grade, it is no advantage. Grading - like painting in oil - can only be learned to a certain degree, some techniques. I don't see very many well graded videos on youtube, and so I guess to have 'an eye' for colors is actually what separates the boys from the men.
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or go with cineform RAW (fastest and most elegant solution) ... u can do it in real time with not so fast computer when you download from SSD... in 5:1 compression bitrates are similar to GH2 hack ... and its les cpu intesive than prores or h264 ... only downfall is 300$ for cineform and less time on SSD...
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