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


Andrew Reid

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Hi everyone, first time post. I've been visiting this site for a few months and find it very helpful.
I come from stills shooting and am interested in moving into video. As I shoot with an older camera, I don't have video capability so I am trying to get a handle on what to do (buy) because I have much to learn.

Just a thought about RAW.

I shoot RAW, and have for years. RAW is a no-brainer for me. The creative control alone is what I love most. However, one benefit of RAW that I have been experiencing of late is revisiting old photos. I've been a user of Aperture since it came out in 2005 (currently Aperture 3), but this year I purchased Lightroom 4 and have been amazed at what the improvements in software have done with my old images.

I assume this would be true with video? If so then capturing in RAW video today should mean you can go back into archives and recreate a new version or improve technical issues that you could not do before.

My camera gear is Canon: 20D (you read right-still works great) and three L lenses and four Leica R lenses (Leica R7) that I use via novoflex adapter. Anyway, my video path is fairly wide open, but the Blackmagic sounds like a good way to go.
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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

[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 looki

[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 cl

i work for a commercial production studio and we just shot a job with a budget of 2.5 million $. with this kind of budget you would expect the freedom to shoot on every possible camera out there and youre right. we shot on the arri alexa in 1080p prores for so many reasons.

i find people here who say "people who dont see the benefits of raw, dont know what they are talking about" and the funny thing is that i get the feeling that many of YOU dont know what they re talking about. for example mattbatt, if you honestly believe that in a few years prores will be seen on the web, you have NO idea what youre talking about and clearly dont know a thing about prores. honstely.

ProRes was created to be graded in professional purposes. you absolutely cannot compare this to a high bitrate H264, it will never be the same! you cannot put the argument out there saying raw gives you 12bit and prores only 10bit if you dont know what it means in real life. there is absoluty no way in hell and physics that you can tell the difference between 10bit and 12bit material. its so far from being possible. 10bit means more then 1 billion different colors that can be created. even if you decide that you want 75% grey to be white, thats more than enough. also andrew 13 stops is not a plus for raw, it doesnt have anything to do with that. the alexa has 14 stops and records in prores, whats the point youre trying to make?

as one of the people in the 2012 camera shootout said, "its much more about workflow these days" you can import the alexa files directly into AVID and also use them for grading. thats about as easy as it gets. not only the space on HDDs but the transfer speeds and computing power you need to seemlessly edit uncompressed is extremly pricy.

if you havent compared Uncompressed footage to ProRes you should not be talking here. do your homework and come back with evidence, because it blows my mind every time i realise that prores seems to have no boundaries and its about a tenth the size.
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One of the weirdest(and maybe lazy) things I hear people say is "we don't need RAW." I'd have to agree, we don't 'need' it, its just very VERY nice to have. Its not that they are taking your Prores format away from you, they are adding RAW along side to it!

For example, you can shoot your whole project with prores, but (personally) I'd like to shoot the most important or "Money Shot" in RAW. Why?.. Why not! Its an important shot to have in the can, you'd want more flexibility, right? You don't have to shoot your WHOLE project in RAW. Lets say we're having a pyrotechnic special effect, we don't have the budget to shoot more then one or 2 takes, why the hell would I not "USE" RAW if its in the camera?! Lets say the compositions off, well its great we're shooting in 2.5K, we can recompose in post, since we'll be working in 1080p, that gives us leg room to edit. The explosion is over exposed? We will have an easier time pulling it back in post using RAW then Prores. This is of course an extreme example.

Lets say we don't have alot of gear, only a few lights, simple boom mic to H4N. Its fine when we're in a controlled set/environment, but if we try to move to say a parking garage? Or an office building with bad yellow florescent light? Wouldn't we want to shoot in RAW? Where we have the option to try and fix these issues? Even for documentary work, you shoot prores mostly, then when you need the RAW, its there for you. Lets say you don't have anything but natural light for this interview and the current setting just isn't cutting it, you'd want to shoot it in RAW with its 13-stop of dynamic range, wouldn't you?

This point is literally for me. Im just starting out, I don't have any gear, no crew but friends and family. They dont have a clue about cinematography or would even be interested in it, having more bang for buck is what I need. Its nice to know that I'll have a safety net if I NEED it. If im shooting on location, I know I wont have all the time in the world to setup lights or to get everything perfect. Not to mention money for the permits to shoot, Its nice to know that having the BMC with a lense and maybe a microphone in stealth mode, for a couple of shots here and there before moving on.

People who are complaining must be pretty jaded or incredibly professional to get everything they need with a t2i or 5D, because I sure as hell can't. My background is using freaking DV cams with DV tapes for my video journalism class in high school, having to record every tape I used into Final Cut before even editing. And I still made due with what Ive had for my more creative projects, now with todays tech on simply just copying and pasting footage from the source to a hard drive in under a few minutes and editing it and having the footage "look" professional is pretty amazing!

Guys, their not taking away our "routines," there just giving us more options. Whats wrong with that?
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[quote name='pietz' timestamp='1346485079' post='17076']
i work for a commercial production studio and we just shot a job with a budget of 2.5 million $. with this kind of budget you would expect the freedom to shoot on every possible camera out there and youre right. we shot on the arri alexa in 1080p prores for so many reasons.

i find people here who say "people who dont see the benefits of raw, dont know what they are talking about" and the funny thing is that i get the feeling that many of YOU dont know what they re talking about. for example mattbatt, if you honestly believe that in a few years prores will be seen on the web, you have NO idea what youre talking about and clearly dont know a thing about prores. honstely.

ProRes was created to be graded in professional purposes. you absolutely cannot compare this to a high bitrate H264, it will never be the same! you cannot put the argument out there saying raw gives you 12bit and prores only 10bit if you dont know what it means in real life. there is absoluty no way in hell and physics that you can tell the difference between 10bit and 12bit material. its so far from being possible. 10bit means more then 1 billion different colors that can be created. even if you decide that you want 75% grey to be white, thats more than enough. also andrew 13 stops is not a plus for raw, it doesnt have anything to do with that. the alexa has 14 stops and records in prores, whats the point youre trying to make?

as one of the people in the 2012 camera shootout said, "its much more about workflow these days" you can import the alexa files directly into AVID and also use them for grading. thats about as easy as it gets. not only the space on HDDs but the transfer speeds and computing power you need to seemlessly edit uncompressed is extremly pricy.

if you havent compared Uncompressed footage to ProRes you should not be talking here. do your homework and come back with evidence, because it blows my mind every time i realise that prores seems to have no boundaries and its about a tenth the size.
[/quote]

Very informative, just wished it didn't feel like you were talking down to everyone...

I guess that's one of my talents, accepting the information side and trying to deflect all the negative side :D
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I´m pretty sure most people will shoot 99% ProRes with the BMCC. Still, no need at all downplaying the RAW capabilities of a 3000$ camera. Because there will be times, you´ll use it.
And: nothing keeps people from buying a GH3 or 7DMarkII for Run´n Gun/ENG/ Event work. That´s the nice thing about the BMCC, it doesn´t need to be the "on-for-all" camera you´d expect when you just spend 15K on a C300...
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[quote name='Glenn Thomas' timestamp='1346489211' post='17080']
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Cineform Raw here? This would give you the best of both. A true raw workflow, but with much smaller file sizes. I've been using Cineform for years, and the image quality has always been top notch.
[/quote]

I'm looking into CineForm.

Performance wise it does sound promising too, the transcoding is mega fast - does in 5 seconds what AE takes 2 minutes to do.
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I'd love to shoot raw.

As a still shooter I'm used to the raw format and wouldn't want to do without it. But it will take some years before raw becomes 'doable' for enthusiasts like me. Spending $3000 on a camera is not the end on then world. The investment in a extremely powerfull computer and huge storage arrays I can't justify for myself.

If you make a living out of it or are very passionate and ambitious about what you do, then this is not such a barrier.

It will just take some time. I think the advancements in computing power and storage size go faster than camera technology. In a few years things will look different and raw will become more accessible.

Definitely not a 'no' to raw, but even though the camera is affordable now, the complete picture is still out of reach for me and I think the same goes for most enthusiast dslr shooters.
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[quote name='pietz' timestamp='1346485079' post='17076']
i work for a commercial production studio and we just shot a job with a budget of 2.5 million $. with this kind of budget you would expect the freedom to shoot on every possible camera out there and youre right. we shot on the arri alexa in 1080p prores for so many reasons.

i find people here who say "people who dont see the benefits of raw, dont know what they are talking about" and the funny thing is that i get the feeling that many of YOU dont know what they re talking about. for example mattbatt, if you honestly believe that in a few years prores will be seen on the web, you have NO idea what youre talking about and clearly dont know a thing about prores. honstely.

ProRes was created to be graded in professional purposes. you absolutely cannot compare this to a high bitrate H264, it will never be the same! you cannot put the argument out there saying raw gives you 12bit and prores only 10bit if you dont know what it means in real life. there is absoluty no way in hell and physics that you can tell the difference between 10bit and 12bit material. its so far from being possible. 10bit means more then 1 billion different colors that can be created. even if you decide that you want 75% grey to be white, thats more than enough. also andrew 13 stops is not a plus for raw, it doesnt have anything to do with that. the alexa has 14 stops and records in prores, whats the point youre trying to make?

as one of the people in the 2012 camera shootout said, "its much more about workflow these days" you can import the alexa files directly into AVID and also use them for grading. thats about as easy as it gets. not only the space on HDDs but the transfer speeds and computing power you need to seemlessly edit uncompressed is extremly pricy.

if you havent compared Uncompressed footage to ProRes you should not be talking here. do your homework and come back with evidence, because it blows my mind every time i realise that prores seems to have no boundaries and its about a tenth the size.
[/quote]

What a condescending tone. ProRes on the Alexa is not the same as ProRes on the Blackmagic. I don't yet know how ProRes performs on this camera, I very much doubt it will give you 13 stops of usable dynamic range or as much as raw. It certainly doesn't give you as clean resolution or as much or if or a way to reduce aliasing by downsampling in post to 1080p and equally it doesn't up-res as well to 4K.

So let me get this straight, with your $2.5k budget you spend a boat load of cash on a monitor, 20 people to construct a tent so you can see it, a truck with a generator so you can power it and then two more trucks so you can move it around.

Takes you an hour to move 100m with that crap.

And you have this Alexa beast that shoots ArriRaw...

AND...

You choose NOT to shoot raw to gain a little hard drive space.

Insane!

I'm not anti-ProRes. I'm just in love with the look of CinemaDNG on the Blackmagic and that extra resolution provided by 2.5K and the way the raw material can be pulled around so much in post. Image quality all the way for me.

I feel that if the film and TV industry really wanted convenience and to save money, ProRes is the last thing I'd look at frankly.

If only you guys listened to all that new blood with the better ideas THEN you would save time and effort, instead of dismissing them as not knowing what they're talking about.
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[quote name='Xiong' timestamp='1346485280' post='17077']
One of the weirdest(and maybe lazy) things I hear people say is "we don't need RAW." I'd have to agree, we don't 'need' it, its just very VERY nice to have. Its not that they are taking your Prores format away from you, they are adding RAW along side to it! Lets say we don't have alot of gear, only a few lights, simple boom mic to H4N. Its fine when we're in a controlled set/environment, but if we try to move to say a parking garage? Or an office building with bad yellow florescent light? Wouldn't we want to shoot in RAW? Where we have the option to try and fix these issues?
[/quote]

Indeed, a large production would spend a lot more than they spend on post, to fix issues with a location and lights.

We, the ones who are smart and think differently, will be able to do a lot of that in raw now.

Every time we get more power allocated to us at $3000, the politics fire up... Is it any wonder hey?
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people are so protective when they talk about their workflows and gear :) ...prores is far from perfect ....
i saw tests prores 422 vs nanoflash 280mbit in fast motion and prores show sings of degradation ...
RAW vs prores ,not even same leage ...maybe for TV when image is degrade by low brandwith ...
in next year or two when tv postproduction start using some kind of RAW standard same people would attack prores users as amateurs ...
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[quote name='EOSHD' timestamp='1346497622' post='17084']


I'm looking into CineForm.

Performance wise it does sound promising too, the transcoding is mega fast - does in 5 seconds what AE takes 2 minutes to do.
[/quote]

Yes, it is fast, and works well for 8 bit footage too as the files are converted to 10 or 12 bit. If you grade using First Light and don't use any NLE effects, pans or crops, videos will render faster than real time. All the exposure, white balance and colour settings are saved as metadata in the video files. In an editing suite for example, one person could be colour grading some footage on one machine using First Light, while another could be editing that same footage on a second networked machine simultaneously, and any colour adjustments would be updated on that editor's screen in real time.

Great for chroma keyed footage too. For one video I did, I keyed out a bluescreen from some HV20 clips, and then saved them back out as 12 bit 4:4:4 Cineform avi's with an alpha channel.

It also includes preset LUT's. In this video I shot on the S95 a while back https://vimeo.com/35505778, I graded the whole video simply by simultaneousy copying one of those preset LUT's to all the clips in the project. It worked nicely. So for RAW 2.5k footage from the Blackmagic Cinema camera, it would be perfect. First Light even allows you to pan & crop with keyframing too. By grading, panning or cropping in First Light and rendering a project with no additional effects added, you literally wouldn't lose anything.

Of course it's Mac & PC compatible. Loads more advantages than using ProRes.
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[quote name='Xiong' timestamp='1346485280' post='17077']Lets say we don't have alot of gear, only a few lights, simple boom mic to H4N. Its fine when we're in a controlled set/environment, but if we try to move to say a parking garage? Or an office building with bad yellow florescent light? Wouldn't we want to shoot in RAW? Where we have the option to try and fix these issues?

[/quote]

[quote name='EOSHD' timestamp='1346503849' post='17090']
Indeed, a large production would spend a lot more than they spend on post, to fix issues with a location and lights.

We, the ones who are smart and think differently, will be able to do a lot of that in raw now.
[/quote]

When part 2 of the Zacuto shootout was discussed, everybody agreed with the conclusion that 'forgiving' greater capabilities of high end cameras lost against conscientious lighting and clever planning. This is not rendered invalid by an affordable raw camera. With photos, I admittedly use the raw format in the same sense. There is a temptation to do a sloppy job, because almost everything can be fixed in post.

Or so it seems. As a longtime analog photographer and professional darkroom laboratory worker (sounds awkward, from german), I know that 'raw' (undeveloped emulsion) actually came long before Jpeg. Digital imagery are historically the first instances of baked-in compression, and I always scoff at the post-deniers who consider themselves better pros.

The point is that the goal of it all is a better image and that you will fail if you believe that a 'forgiving' codec will get you there. In the end, decisions have to be made as to how much the colors should deviate from average, natural looking values to creatively change the mood or express something. I suspect that many who welcome raw for making their lives [i]easier[/i] will just botch around and compensate for being too shirt-sleeved. Raw needs the same care during shooting as any other format to lead to good results. And the post is actually most demanding.
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[quote name='Glenn Thomas' timestamp='1346505570' post='17092']
Yes, it is fast, and works well for 8 bit footage too as the files are converted to 10 or 12 bit. If you grade using First Light and don't use any NLE effects, pans or crops, videos will render faster than real time.[/quote]

I'm trying out a Windows beta version of CineForm Studio Premium which supports CinemaDNG from the Blackmagic thanks to David Newman.

Did you convert CinemaDNG to CineForm in that too Glenn, or in another program using the CineForm codec for Premiere?
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I worked on projects on Alexa which were shoot on raw as well as Prores 4:4:4 (which Alexa) and on Professional monitors you can surely see the difference (every professional colour grader will tell you the same).

The thing about the Alexa and many people shooting in Prores with it is that in order to record RAW on Alexa you have to buy an external recorder which costs small fortune. So most of the production and rental companies go through the easy way - they just buy the camera without recorder.

Even though this is true, most of the big projects, big money commercials and films (like the one pletz mentions) shoot on Alexa are recorded in Raw, at least this is the case in my country.

So the answer is quite simple, Prores is great codec, you really dont loose so much quality filming in it, but if you have time and hardware conditions Raw is always better.
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[quote name='EOSHD' timestamp='1346469508' post='17065']
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.



[/quote]

Same thing happened in the pro audio world.... first if you weren't recording to tape, then if you're not recording with Pro Tools. Snobs live on the forums, no matter what discipline.

FWIW, I can't wait to get my hands on the BMCC.... grading the raw footage that Brawley put up had to be the easiest thing I've ever done in post-work. I couldn't believe how little effort it took to get it looking great.
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again, coming from a still background....there are jpegs and there are jpegs....set the compression to 7, choose sRGB and don't even start to think about touching the file in any way....set it to 12 and you get a little more to work with....
a 16bit TIFF is a LOT bigger then the raw file it was baked out of but still does not have the same latitude....
RED is funny because red code compression gets pretty strong (even if it is still technically raw) and when you are shooting 1:10 i would hardly compare that raw file to even a 1:3 compression....
so raw is not always the same quality as raw.....cinema DNG is as good as it gets...as pure as it gets....all the data is there....
i have no experience with cineform raw but if it compresses the file in any way you are losing stuff...mostly color (which in turn makes artifacts, moire, ugly stuff....) because somewhere along the way something will have to be "made up" somehow....

i have only played with the available DNGs out there (the pool scene and such)...and i only worked with the raw files in (in my case) in aperture, added my adjustments (graded) and imported the still files into fcpx as jpegs and still got the best looking video (color, detail,...) i have ever seen....maybe this is totally wrong, i will definitely get into resolve to check it out when i actually have the camera and a little time...but so far this completely blows any capture device providing any compressed media completely out of the water....

btw: i was also VERY close to getting the scarlet and went through the same thing there...looking at the raw files, trying to figure out how to use them....all i can say is that i am very happy that there was something in those files that just did not work for me...
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