December 21, 2014

A Super Simple Workflow for Editing & Grading CinemaDNG RAW Footage in Premiere Pro

RAW is a filmmaker's best friend when it comes to maintaining the utmost control over an image throughout the post process. It's also a filmmaker's worst nightmare when it comes to developing simplified workflows.

Many of today's RAW workflows, whether the original files come from a Sony, ARRI, or Blackmagic camera, need some sort of intermediate step between the original footage and your NLE. This intermediate step, which can be done in any number of programs ranging from proprietary software like Sony's RAW Viewer to more common programs like After Effects and DaVinci Resolve, usually requires a basic grade of the footage, as well as a time-consuming export to an edit-friendly codec such as ProRes or DNxHD.

However, for folks who are short on time or lacking in the computing power necessary for a speedy intermediate process, Premiere Pro actually lets you import, view, edit, and color CinemaDNG sequences natively within the program. Here's Mattias Burling to show you just how simple it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmzeYlc2ERw

The thing to take note of here is that CinemaDNG sequences need to be imported through Premiere Pro's built-in media browser as opposed to the traditional import dialogue, which operates as a traditional "Finder" or "Explorer" window and won't recognize the CinemaDNG as a single clip to be imported.

Once the RAW clips are imported into a project, they can be viewed, edited, and colored just like any other video clip, with the exception that you have access to a stripped-down set of source settings which let you change the white balance, tint, and exposure of the RAW files. Unfortunately, you lose about 95% of the control that you would get by performing an intermediate step and processing the files with a more comprehensive tool like Adobe Camera RAW. With that said, you can still color the clips as you generally would in Premiere. You can use adjustment layers and Lumetri looks and any of the other color-specific tools in the software to generate a temporary or final grade of the footage.

As quick and simple as this workflow is, if you're tempted to use it you should probably be asking yourself why you're shooting RAW in the first place. RAW workflows inherently require more work than their less-complex counterparts because they're designed to maintain maximum image quality throughout the post process. If you're looking for a quick post workflow, like the one shared above, RAW probably isn't the best choice of capture format because you lose much of that intricate control by manipulating the source settings in Premiere. Not to mention that some codecs like ProRes are going to be far easier for your computer to handle, especially if you're applying grades and effects. RAW might just end up slowing you down even more than a well-designed workflow with proxies would.

What do you guys think about Premiere's ability to edit CinemaDNG natively? Does working that quickly and simply defeat the purpose of shooting RAW, or are there circumstances in which this would be a proper workflow for RAW processing? Let us know down in the comments!     

Your Comment

9 Comments

Thanks man, just thanks (:

December 21, 2014 at 10:39AM

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Ricardo Reyes
Director of Photography Camera Operator Editor
135

HEY!
Thanks for the info, I have a question. There is other betters ways to edit in RAW, o this premiere pro way is just a faster way?

December 21, 2014 at 1:38PM

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Good workflow to get them straight into Speedgrade with DirectLink

December 21, 2014 at 10:36PM

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Jason Bowdach
Colorist
129

This would be fantastic if we could just use the tools from Camera RAW instead of the limited controls. Photoshop now allows Camera RAW on video but it would be more useful on Premiere Pro. Perhaps that's a future feature.

December 22, 2014 at 2:46AM

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Brightness and contrast???????????????

December 22, 2014 at 11:41AM

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That's the poor man's way certainly=) Besides round tripping to SG or Resolve there's always AE and Dynamic link.

You can send your sequence(copied to a new track layer first) to AE and ACR will take over on each clip. Note that unless its a different actual shot(new DNG sequence) ACR will treat each one the same which could be problematic or not matter at all, depending on the the composition of that shot. Cutting that particular shot into 2 different frame sequences is an easy workaround, so Premiere sees it as a new clip when importing. Then just render the whole composition as a new frame sequence, import that into PPro on a new track, and you're good to go. Any changes? Its all Dynamic. Just re-render those frames from AE and it all updates. Typical Adobe workflow.

December 22, 2014 at 7:07PM

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Josh.R
Motion Designer/Predator
1027

Currently helping with post on a feature shot in 14-bit from a 5D2. Surprised no one else mentioned it, but we're editing our CDNGs natively in Premiere Pro (as detailed above) and (the best part!) still have complete access to ACR by sending the project to After Effects for grading and FX. Maybe not perfect, but why stop at Premiere when one step more gives you ACR?

December 28, 2014 at 9:42AM

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Brandon Richardson
Filmmaker
88

Lol, somehow missed Josh.R's comment. What he said!

December 28, 2014 at 9:43AM

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Brandon Richardson
Filmmaker
88

That sounds like the best workflow to me! and I guess that it would also work with proxy files no?

December 13, 2016 at 5:33AM

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