ProRes Raw

Today Apple announced a new version of their ProRes video codecs: ProRes Raw (and Raw HQ). The reason this is significant is that capturing raw footage on cinema cameras poses two main problems: 1) Massive, massive file sizes that can only be captured to the fastest cards and drives which are, of course, quite expensive and 2) Cannot generally be played back without first de-bayering or rendering in post (before you edit).

Of course there have been proxy workflows for a long time to get around this where the camera records raw plus a much lower quality proxy file at the same time. You do your edit with the proxy files and then once you've completed your edit, you swap out the proxies for the de-bayered raw files. It's a workable, but less than ideal workflow.

Since I bought my first ATOMOS recorder in about 2012, I've appreciated the benefits of working with a ProRes workflow (my Ninja II recorder took an HDMI feed from my DSLR and recorded a ProRes file to an SSD drive). This was a nice compromise solution because it captured slightly higher quality footage, but could still be edited without re-rendering the files. It wasn't raw, but it was pretty darn good in terms of quality.

Now, we can have the best of both worlds. And Apple also has a new update of Final Cut Pro X that plays back ProRes Raw footage in real time!

But then there's the problem of how to record ProRes Raw. This is where ATOMOS delivers. Their Sumo19 and Shogun Inferno can both record ProRes Raw with the new firmware update which will be released on Monday, April 9th, 2018.

Of course you'll also need a camera capable of sending a raw signal to the ATOMOS recorder. Out of the gate, the Sumo and Shogun Inferno will have support for the following cinema cameras:

  • Canon C300mkII, C500
  • Panasonic EVA1, Varicam LT
  • Sony FS5, FS7

I haven't shot a lot of raw simply because the workflow was too heavy for most of my work, with an occasion exception for "beauty shots" - e.g., an outdoor landscape with plenty of sky, deep shadows, and incredibly wide dynamic range. That may just change here really soon. I'm looking forward to seeing how the new workflow pans out.

Now what we need is an affordable playback device for HDR so we can use that Sumo as an HDR grading monitor (at least roughly decent HDR monitoring). AJA's monitoring converter box comes in at $2500 USD presently. I'm hoping for something in the sub $1000 range soon so I can put this Sumo to work in post.

See Apple's white paper on ProRes Raw here.

See see the details on ATOMOS's ProRes implementation on the Shogun Inferno and Sumo here