The Sony a7S III Gets ProRes RAW Before Its Ship Date

Sony a7S III shooters will have ProRes RAW upon arrival. 

Atomos has released its update for the Ninja V that will add ProRes RAW recording to the Sony a7S III. When Sony announced the camera, Atomos followed suit confirming that it was developing the RAW compatibility for its recorder. It's now arrived in the form of AtomOS 10.54

Before we dive into the details, No Film School wants to answer a question we get a lot: When will Shogun/Shinobi receive ProRes RAW updates? 

The official answer from Jeromy Young of Atomos is it's in the pipeline. Meaning, it may eventually happen. 

The unofficial, speculative answer is a little longer. When Apple didn't win its patent lawsuit against RED, Apple had to shift its strategy for ProRes RAW. Losing the lawsuit meant Apple couldn't easily license the compressed RAW format to camera manufacturers like Canon, Sony, Fujifilm, and Nikon for them to incorporate into their camerasif they even wanted to. It also meant camera manufacturers would need to develop their own versions of a compressed RAW format like Canon, or not do it at all and leave them uncompressed. It's partially why we have Log shooting options. 

Since the RED patent is protected only in the U.S., Apple partnered with Atomos, an Australian company not beholden to U.S. patent law, which allows them to develop products for filmmakers to record using the compressed RAW format externally. From our understanding, external recording is not part of the RED patent. 

We reached out to Convergent Design last year to ask if they would be adding ProRes RAW to its external recorders, and they told us they had no intention of doing so. Just this August, Convergent Design announced they would stop manufacturing its Odyssey 7Q+ and Apollo video recorders. So, the only way right now to record ProRes RAW is either with Atomos or rent/buy a Kinefinity MAVO Edge 8K which has internal ProRes RAW recording. Basically, Atomos owns the ProRes RAW recording market. Owning the market means you get to dictate terms.

Atomos Ninja V
Atomos Ninja V

While No Film School doesn't know the exact reason why Ninja V is only receiving ProRes RAW updates, it could be one of several things. Maybe it's just easier for Atomos to develop and program only one unit. To concentrate all of its efforts on one machine so they are not spread thin. But it could also be because they have no competition. Without any, Atomos can market filmmakers to buy the Ninja V. Then when the market starts to dip and fewer Ninja V recorders are jumping off the shelf, Atomos can offer an update to filmmakers with a 7" screen in Shogun that records ProRes RAW. But that's speculation. 

Marketing has always been one of Atomos's strong points. If you've ever been to NAB or another trade show at which they have a booth, you know what we mean. Only offering it on the Ninja V now allows Atomos to stretch the lifeline of the ProRes RAW as far as they can, or until RED U.S. Patent No. 9,245,314 expires. Which by our calculations, if the patent utility has a 20-year span, would be 2027. (If you know better, let us know in the comments.)

Now we're not suggesting what Atomos is doing is wrong. Nor is the RED patent terrible. The latter is just a law that governs U.S society. Both companies are very much part of the democratization of filmmaking and that's a good thing. It's just a waiting game at the moment. No Film School reached out to both Apple and Atomos with a list of questions about the subject. Neither has returned a comment. 

Sony a7S III
Sony a7S III

With that topic out of the way, let's see what's part of the latest Ninja V update. According to Atomos, users will be able to record ProRes RAW up to 4K 60 via the full HMDI port found on the a7S III. 

The a7S III can output 16-bit linear RAW, but the Ninja V will compress that signal into a smaller 12-bit ProRes RAW file. As of now, Final Cut Pro X does not offer white balance or ISO adjustments so you're basically recording a big ass Log file. No word on when Final Cut will support those adjustments. DaVinci Resolve is also lagging in ProRes RAW support, maybe by design to keep its BRAW relevant, but it's more than likely shooters will see support for it eventually in both programs. If Assimilate has support, let us know in the comments. 

Below is what can be expected: 

ProRes RAW Recording 

4.2K

  • Uncropped metadata mode 4264 x 2408 at 23.98p, 25p, 29.97p, 50p, 59.94p
  • Cropped metadata mode 4240 x 2385 at 23.98p, 25p, 29.97p, 50p, 59.94p
  • The Metadata crop provides a simple way to transform the RAW data to a 16:9 aspect ratio that closely represents the internally recorded 4K UHD files 

12-bit Log 

  • 16-bit linear converted to 12-bit Log (visually lossless process) 

ProRes and DNX Recording

  •  4K UHD (3840 x 2160p) recording at 23.98p, 25p, 29.97p, 50p, 59.94p
  • HD (1920 x 1080p) recording at 23.98p, 25p, 29.97p, 50p, 59.94p
  • HD interlaced (1920 x 1080i) at 50i, 59.94i
  • Video output of the camera is 10-bit 422 

AtomOS Monitoring Settings

  • Native – Linear to Slog3 or use with 3D LUTs – can use any existing Slog3 LOOK LUTs
  • Rec709 – to view RAW input in SDR up to 6.7 stops of dynamic range 
  • HLG – to view RAW in HLG with up 10.5 stops of dynamic range 
  • PQ – to view RAW in PQ/HDR10 with up to 10.5 stops of dynamic range, for scenes with extended spectral highlights
Philip Bloom shooting on a Sony a7S III with an Atomos Ninja V
Philip Bloom shooting on a Sony a7S III with an Atomos Ninja V

Atomos has also made clear some limitations, including larger recordings on a 2TB SSD, may not playback correctly on the Ninja V, the device may not start recording automatically again when losing its video signal, and PQ / HDR10 output conversions may appear slightly incorrect.

You can download the latest AtomOS software on the Ninja V product page. The Sony a7S III is expected to ship September 24th.

Did you pre-order an a7S III? Let us know in the comments below.      

Your Comment

8 Comments

I wonder what it takes to get a RAW cine file from a camera that doesn't offer it. Somewhere in the chain there is RAW data coming off that sensor before it gets coded into a compressed format. is that how it works? I'm using an A6400.

September 18, 2020 at 10:49AM

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devtank
photographer
199

I already own the BM Video assist 12 7" and just ordered the A7sIII
When I’m getting it right I’ll not be able to recorde more than the normal 10bit ProRes 422 or will it be possible to recorde in BM RAW? I don’t think so...
So can anyone explain me why the ninja V has better recording options and costs 400€ less? Beside the fact it’s 2"smaller…

September 18, 2020 at 2:05PM, Edited September 18, 2:05PM

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Tim
1

Hi, I'm very curious about BRAW support also. Sigma has simultaneously announced ProRes Raw and BRAW support for the Sigma fp. Why are other manufaturers, such as Panasonic with the S5 and Sony, not doing the same? I wonder if there's a legal, or more likely financial, battle going on in the background, between Apple, Red and BlackMagic Design. FCPX does not support BRAW and Resolve does not support PreRes Raw, we the users are the big loosers right now. The BMD Video Assist monitors are great monitors and having the possiblity of recording BRAW makes them great options for these cameras that offer external raw support.

September 21, 2020 at 3:55AM

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Damien Molineaux
DoP, colorist, director
8

Correction.

1. Final Cut X released an update in early summer that adds RAW controls for ProRes RAW in FCX. So no, ProRes RAW is not just a big fat log file.

2. Premiere Pro also offers ProRes RAW comparability with RAW control. So no, ProRes RAW is not just a big fat log file.

3. Even before the FCX update, ProRes raw gave a ton more flexibility in grading than standard ProRes. So no, ProRes RAW is not just a big fat log file.

4. ProRes RAW is a similar size and sometimes smaller file size than standard ProRes...so once more, no, ProRes RAW is not just a big fat log file. Lol

September 20, 2020 at 11:44AM, Edited September 20, 11:46AM

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Why wouldn't I just buy a RED Komodo for a similar price (especially when you factor in having to buy the atmos ninja for this to work), and have arguably a better image? Sincere question.

September 20, 2020 at 8:22PM

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A7SIII is full frame, Komodo is S35.

September 22, 2020 at 7:21PM

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will
251

A komodo is a B cam to a DSMC2 or Ranger, An A7sIII is a B cam to a fx9

also the komodo image is not better or worse (arguably) than the sony's image
they are just different.

also the a7siii has a full frame sensor that can basically see in the dark with a fairly clean iso up to 409000

they both have 16 bit raw, albiet the sony raw is proresRAW and is 16 bit linear (turned into lossless 12 bit)

IDK whatever suits you. I personally would prefer the sony as my CP.3 lens kit and CZ.2 is in e mount and my photo lenses are sony aswell so the RED just doesn't make sense for me personally. Will that stop me from renting a RED when I need a punchy and contrast heavy image for a client, NO, RED has its place, and so does the sony.

September 23, 2020 at 12:52PM

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Mazze from Assimilate here.
SCRATCH and all other ASSIMILATE products will support ProRes RAW from the Sony a7S III right from the start, incl. white balance controls.

Cheers,
Mazze

September 21, 2020 at 12:04AM

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Mazze Aderhold
The man
8

"As of now, Final Cut Pro X does not offer white balance or ISO adjustments so you're basically recording a big ass Log file. No word on when Final Cut will support those adjustments"

You should read your own material. Premiere and FCPX both have support for ISO and white balance. FCPX in an update a month or two ago.

September 21, 2020 at 6:38AM

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Noah Leon
Videographer editor
476