September 14, 2018

Blackmagic Makes Raw Competitive with Its Own Format Designed for Your Ease of Use

In a clear response to the release of ProRes Raw earlier this year, Blackmagic has released its own open, free raw format.

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). 

Now, in one year, we have two open raw formats that are designed for ease of use: Apple's ProRes Raw released in April and now Blackmagic Raw, released yesterday.

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.

Credit: Blackmagic

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.

Tech Specs:

  • 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

Your Comment

13 Comments

Does this mean that Resolve will never support Pro Res RAW?

September 14, 2018 at 11:33AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1496

Richard,

When I read the presser I had the same exact question. Finding out and will update. At the moment, the marketing response has been Pro Res RAW is "under consideration, as all new codecs are."

If anyone has other questions let me know and I'll ask.

September 14, 2018 at 6:03PM, Edited September 14, 6:04PM

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Daron James
Writer

I still think Pro Res Raw will be an open format eventually (I guess they had an exclusive deal with certain manufacturers). The other thinh I'm curious about with this new format, is it also a series of stills like Cinema DNG? What I loved about PR Raw was that it was a self contained .mov file and contrary to what this article states - you can really recover blown out highlights in that format and change white balance as well. The trick with PR Raw is setting up your libraries in rec 2020. You can export in rec 709 but the library needs to be 2020 originally to get all the benefits of PR Raw. Excited to test out this new BM Raw as soon as it is available.

September 14, 2018 at 12:29PM, Edited September 14, 12:30PM

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Brad Jones
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor
527

ProRes (Including RAW) has never been an "open format".

September 14, 2018 at 12:57PM, Edited September 14, 12:57PM

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It’s a single file with a .braw extension, so infinitely easier to manage than the image sequences in cDNG.

September 15, 2018 at 5:27AM, Edited September 15, 5:27AM

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Jamie LeJeune
Director of Photography
287

Watched the video finally and wow, really exciting new codec. Lots of compression options as well as you can master to it which is a first to my knowledge.

What I meant by Pro Res being open was that it was available on every system and could easily be opened if you had QuickTime. This is no longer the case for PC users but during the FCP studio days, pro res was the most widely used codec for offline editing and is still fairly predominant today. BM clearly wants their new raw format on every NLE and camera on the market so kudos to them for being so generous.

September 15, 2018 at 12:27PM

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Brad Jones
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor
527

Exciting stuff. The only thing I think is incorrect is that you mention the Ursa Mini. As far as I can see this is only available to the Ursa Mini Pro (which is a shame as I only have the Ursa Mini)

September 14, 2018 at 2:25PM, Edited September 14, 2:25PM

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Chris
114

It'll come to all current cameras step by step. The new pocket camera (which I ordered) won't have it at release either, only with a later firmware update.

September 15, 2018 at 3:10AM, Edited September 15, 3:10AM

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Gerard M.
859

"......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...."

Having watched the BM release video, the answer to the above is ' yes you can'

September 14, 2018 at 4:07PM

1
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Andrew
8

If this works as advertised, it's a giant step forward in raw acquisition and postproduction.

September 14, 2018 at 5:39PM

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Álex Montoya
Writer/Director
546

Just to be clear, you can trim Blackmagic RAW source clips and send them along with Resolve project file. You can’t transcode other source codecs into Blackmagic RAW. It’s an acquisition codec with metadata that allows for trimming, but it’s not an intermediate codec that other formats can be transcoded into. The article confuses this important difference.

September 15, 2018 at 5:30AM

1
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Jamie LeJeune
Director of Photography
287

Yes, there is a confusing tone in the article.

" – and that even with ProRes RAW, you currently can't write to it with software (only with hardware)"

This seems to imply the wish to take an intermediate/video codec and turning it into a raw file – re-bayering the data? According to what algorithm and process, and, more importantly, to what end?

BM are only touting the genuinely useful – but not groundbreaking – fact that Davinci Resolve can trim your recorded BMRAW media to only the files you used in your edit (with handles if you want) without transcoding.

I don't think there is a use case where writing video (as opposed to sensor data) to raw makes much sense. I guess if you had some brutal, lossless raw data already – ArriRAW for instance – transcoding to BMRAW (after BM have profiled the Alexa sensor) might be useful to save space, but that's a bit of a fringe scenario...

September 15, 2018 at 7:52AM, Edited September 15, 7:53AM

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Everyone Else does it ... you go ahead and create your own ecosystem Blackmagic!

September 18, 2018 at 1:29AM

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Wentworth Kelly
Director/DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2244