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how RAW cinematography will effect the future

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  • how RAW cinematography will effect the future

    hey there,

    besides all the waiting on the new firmware update I'd like to open a RAW discussion for everybody who is interested..
    in the last half year I was shooting a lot with my Blackmagic MFT (with speedbooster) and was astounded what looks you can create in davinci or lightroom.. how extremely you can push the material.
    I still wonder if RAW is the future of high quality cinematic feature films. Theoretically there could be a codec almost as flexible as RAW (something like a 12/16bit prores in the far future).
    What I do believe is that in the future there will be a whole new sets of filmlooks. I think our eye will get accustomed to new looks instead of only accepting Kodak or Fuji classic looks.

    Also in Hollywood there is a big tendency going towards digital RAW (such as Arriraw or redraw)
    According to cinematographer Roger Deakins, the Alexa's tonal range, color space and latitude exceed the capabilities of film. "This camera has brought us to a point where digital is simply better", says Deakins.[8] Deakins used the camera to shoot the James Bond film Skyfall.

    As soon as raw recording gets more intuitive for the mass market (editing, grading, cheaper and bigger disk space)
    I think there will be change where we can see lots of ambitious low budget productions will compare to bigger productions. Maybe a rebirth of a new film industry. Especially in countries where the film industry isn't as popular as in the US.

    I know this all sounds very philosophical but I find this topic very interesting.
    As a side note for all the RAW fans: Here is what's coming in Resolve 11
    - Camera Raw palette now includes Highlight and Shadows recovery, Saturation, Contrast, Midtone Detail, Color Boost Lift and Gain controls.
    - All Camera Raw controls now available on the BMD control panel.
    - Highlight and shadow recovery, Color Boost and Midtone Detail now available in all corrector nodes.

    This will give us even more control over the raw files in davinci.. similar to Adobe Camera RAW/Lightroom.

  • #2
    I fell in love with raw motion video after playing with footage from the first gen Red 1 eight years ago. I shoot nothing but raw stills, so the workflow is second nature to me now.
    Shooting video seems cumbersome by comparison. Far more limiting to manipulate for a desired aesthetic outcome. You are forced to make critical decisions about your IQ under less than ideal field conditions with poor or mediocre monitors for reference. You pick from a range of aesthetic choices determined by the camera engineers from a limited menu of options. Depending on the recording codec there can be very little range for post manipulation, or there can be a moderate range. But with high compression low end codecs, even with Prores to some extent, the damage is already done when you open it in the editor.

    Raw provides creative aesthetic freedom beyond the limits of what either film or video can do. It is not about extremes, it is about refinement of value, tonality, texture, color to achieve visual intent. Painters sometimes refer to their process as pulling their images out of the soup. Working with raw is kind of like that. A powerful new creative medium. One that requires learning new skills to master.

    But shooting becomes dead simple. You are only concerned with light, exposure, composition, focus, movement. With Raw the cinematographer is able to focus more on what is in front of the camera and less on what the camera itself is doing.
    Last edited by razz16mm; 05-20-2014, 04:14 AM.


    • #3
      Originally posted by razz16mm View Post
      With Raw the cinematographer is able to focus more on what is in front of the camera and less on what the camera itself is doing.
      Except for light, exposure, composition, focus, and movement of course, all of which require you to be aware of what the camera itself is doing. Raw (not REALLY AWESOME WARES) allows you to avoid white balance settings and ISO, but everyone shooting raw video still sets their WB for the ballpark and still sets their ISO.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Gary Huff View Post
        Except for light, exposure, composition, focus, and movement of course, all of which require you to be aware of what the camera itself is doing. Raw (not REALLY AWESOME WARES) allows you to avoid white balance settings and ISO, but everyone shooting raw video still sets their WB for the ballpark and still sets their ISO.

        Not true. I didn't care for setting my WB or ISO on the last 7 day shoot. ISO was all the time 800 and White balance around daylight kelvin.


        • #5
          Well. I think this is an interesting topic.

          Basically using RAW means using the highest data quality possible.
          But there are several aspects to be aware of. But i think there are only two really important ones ...

          First: data size / storage: RAW needs a lot of storage space. for recording, backup and editing / post production.
          No problem nowadays. Storage is cheap.

          Second: processing power: rendering, color-grading, post-processing RAW data needs a lot of cpu/gpu power.
          Still tricky nowadays but manageable.

          So, what are the benefits of using RAW?
          WB: you just don't have to care about it, do you?. Well, sort of. In some/most cases you'll need a color reference. But that is easy. Recording a color chart will do the trick.
          ISO: I think that depends in most cases on the camera hardware. But if you know the sweet spot that is something you can begin to ignore. You'll begin to use the same ISO setting regardless of the current recording / light situation.

          I am sure most photographers today are using RAW only. There is no reason to stick with lossy codecs anymore.
          And that will be the true for digital film in the future.

          In the past there was always the problem with storage space and processing power. But not anymore.

          But what does this mean?

          Like razz16mm said: As a cinematographer you'll get freedom.
          You can focus on aesthetics, on composition, on the key parts of creating a cinematic image.
          You can just care less about the technical aspects of acquiring an image.

          What does this change?
          It is the next step in a revolution that is taking action right now.
          The first step was the invention of 35mm adapters for video cameras.
          Then there was the Canon 5d Mk II.
          Then there was RAW.

          Producing cinematic images is as easy and cheap as never before.

          Just a few years in the past you had to rent a film camera, you had to buy film stock, you had to pay for film development and film copies.
          It was really, really, really expensive to make a film (in cinema quality).

          Now you can buy a digital film camera for around $2000. Cinema quality. No compromises anymore. Period.
          No shitty lossy codecs. No shitty resolution. No shitty color. No shitty dynamic range.

          But coming back to film looks: there was never a cheap solution until today.
          Using digital intermediates is nothing really new anymore. Remembering 'O Brother, where art thou?'. But with digital (lossless) image acquisition it is now inherent and therefor cheap.
          I am sure Kodak or Fuji film look is already the past.
          Hollywood blockbusters are heavily color graded. And so are TV movies / series.
          Color grading is the standard. It is a necessity.
          Color grading is today as important as every other creative decision for the cinematic image.

          Only RAW (or any near lossless codec) makes this possible.


          • #6
            The RAW images that my BMCC produce are outstanding. Hearing about resolve getting closer to ACR with some functions makes my eyes wet. But don't underestimate the ProRes option. It is still superior to everything I ever worked with, and working with it is kinda mandatory, if we enter the realm of ANYTHING tv related.


            • #7
              Yea Prores is pretty mandatory for almost all commercial work/indies/music videos developed here in LA. Fast paced post workflows just don't accommodate non-RED raw yet. I'm shooting a small indie film on two BMCC cams right now in Prores, and I can honestly say, as much as I love raw on the Blackmagic cameras, prores isn't bad at all.. and more than just a little underrated. I really like having WB/ISO baked in so some DIT down the line doesn't render out dailies ETTR'd and totally blown out. What works for owner/operators doesn't necessarily work for the indie DP with limited control over post.

              I'm finding on this feature, it's just easier to work directly with the limitations of the camera on set instead of praying the magic to fix issues is arbitrarily hidden within its digital negative somewhere. I'm not hating on raw, I'm just saying the framework to make it shine just isn't there yet on most productions that would utilize the blackmagic cameras.


              • #8
                Raw takes less storage space than any uncompressed encoded format that can match it for gradability and quality. 3.5MB 2k 12 bit raw frames transcoded to uncompressed 12 bit RGB or YUV frames become 9MB each.