Raw has long been a very proprietary area of the industry. You had RED kicking off the revolution for filmmakers with .r3d Red Raw, you had ArriRaw, and then it seemed like every manufacturer had their own flavor of raw. The exception was CinemaDNG, which was as close as we came to an open raw format, but of course, those files were massive (and the processing required to deal with them was exhausting).
Blackmagic RAW is a new codec that is designed for raw image capture, continuing to work in raw through post. It's designed to be a GPU accelerated codec, pushing more of the processing off the CPU and onto the GPU for faster playback and render when dealing with machines that have powerful GPUs. Available in either constant bitrate or variable bitrate flavors, the codec is designed to take advantage of hardware processing in the camera to begin the demosaicing process earlier, making the job easier in post.
It also supports robust and user-editable meta-data, including frame-specific metadata for recording info like focus/iris/zoom settings for VFX workflows.
The other really exciting word to read in the company's release is "cross-platform." This format will work just as well in either Mac or PC. Considering the frustrations of many that you can't write to ProRes from a PC—and that even with ProRes RAW, you currently can't write to it with software (only with hardware)—that is a huge design decision that could give this format a marketplace edge. That is, of course, assuming that it will eventually be a format you can write to.
For instance, it would be great if you could work on a shot in Fusion, render it out to Raw, and send it along to a color house in another city where they can open it up, all baked, in Resolve. We'll see if the implementation is that robust, but PC support is exciting.
This is a particularly bold move considering the close working relationship that Blackmagic and Apple had when co-creating the eGPU. Of course, Apple didn't work with Blackmagic on ProRes Raw (only with Atomos) and having a "platform" codec is vital.
Since ProRes Raw isn't open, Blackmagic really had no choice but to release its own, and it makes sense considering its ethos to make it an open format. The two big things we're excited to see are what other manufacturers support capturing to the format, and if this drives Apple to eventually "open up" ProRes raw to other editing platforms.
You can check out a whole suite of demo footage on the Blackmagic site, but we are really excited to get our hands on it and shoot some less than stellar footage. As we discussed in our ProRes Raw review, one of the real perks of raw is when things are perfect on set. PR Raw offered real benefits there, so hopefully, we'll see some benefits here as well.
Currently supported by Blackmagic Da Vinci Resolve 15.1 and the Blackmagic URSA Mini, it's open format, so be sure to look for support roll out wider in the near future.
- Cross Platform
- Useful for capture, intermediate, and delivery
- Developer SDK
- Two modes, constant bitrate or variable bitrate/constant quality
- Frame based metadata for VFX workflows
- Has it's own Blackmagic Raw Player