Patent Filing Reveals Canon's RAW 4K Future
Canon applied for a RAW video patent in July of 2010, and it was just published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office yesterday. The filing indicates that Canon is planning to retain CF card compatibility while compressing 12-bit moving images to RAW 4K or 2K resolutions. Note that it's a popular misconception that "RAW" means "free of compression" -- RAW, as far as both still and moving images are concerned, means that the data is stored in an unprocessed manner (which allows for adjustments in maximum colorspace before converting to an output format) -- not in an uncompressed manner. Indeed, in the patent Canon describes 4K uncompressed 12-bit video's 2.8Gbit datarate as "too high for CF cards," so, like RED, they will be compressing the data coming off the sensor. It's going to be a very competitive next few years...
Canon's patent filing is 9,000 words, so I'll just go ahead and admit that I haven't read the majority of it, nor have I compared it to RED's patents -- a couple of which are Video Camera and Resolution Based Formatting of Compressed Image Data. At a cursory glance, there's nothing in Canon's patent that seems to be all that different from what anyone else is doing, but at the very least it should give indication that their next Cinema EOS camera will offer something beyond the 8-bit, 50Mbit codec in the C300. Here's the abstract of what Canon has patented:
The recording of successive frames of raw sensor data depicting a moving scene is provided. The raw sensor data comprises pixel data for an image sensor having pixels arranged in correspondence to a mosaic of plural different colors in a color filter array. A first sampling mosaic pattern for sampling the pixel data at a first resolution is designated. A second sampling mosaic pattern for sampling the pixel data at a second resolution which is lower than the first resolution is designated. One of the first or the second sampling mosaic patterns is selected for a frame by applying a predetermined rule. Pixel data of the frame is sampled using the selected sampling mosaic pattern. The sampled pixel data for the frame is recorded onto a recording medium.
If you feel like reading the full patent, by all means share your insights in the comments!