Raw Revolution - DSLR 4K Video
What Is This All About?
Since the generation of new HD cameras, such as the RED by Red Digital Cinema or the Black Magic by Black Magic Design, it has been common to hear about the RAW format. This RAW Format is well known for its use in Photography. Lately it has come to my attention that everyone wants to shoot on RAW, and that Magic Lantern (For Canon users) has released a new hack (Which is still in development) in their widely known firmware for DSLR Cameras has found a way to shoot in this format. Making it easier for amateur consumers to want to experiment with this. My purpose with this post, is to inform about some of the benefits of this format, and some of the “Be careful with” topics as well, because if you are going to do something, you need to do it right even when shooting RAW video with a consumer DSLR.
I want to start first explaining what RAW means. If you are familiar with it you can skip to the next paragraph but is good to refresh our knowledge and maybe there’s someone out there who is new to this so here it goes. Raw footage to put it simple, is the plain data that the image sensor on a camera records before it is processed. To put it in other words, RAW files can be compared to film negatives which record higher detail that compressed video. Normal DSLR’s shoot compressed video. What this means is that the image that is being recorded from the camera goes through a process of compression like H.264 where the image loses some of its resolution, detail and reduces the dynamic Range.
Im not sure when Magic Lantern appeared, but it is a known firmware used in canon DSLR cameras to give them features that don’t come with the original firmware given by Canon. Recently a new hack appeared as I said in which now you can get RAW files from it. Why is this so important among all film, and video people? Because RAW has some advantages for them, and most of us dont have $2000 or more to spend on cameras that give us this opportunity, so how awesome is it to be able to do this with a $500 to $1200 dollar camera? It sounds pretty good to me, and to a lot of people that are saying that this is one of the best things that has happened to Canon. Just do a google search on RAW canon DSLR and a bunch of videos of people trying this will come up.
What Are The Benefits
So what are the benefits of shooting video in this type of format? The main advantage of RAW files are that these contain a lot of information. This means that these type of files contrary to compressed ones will have more detail to be played with in post-production so to say. This also makes it possible to shoot at really high resolution, such as 4K, which is becoming more and more popular among videographers and filmmakers. This sounds amazing, even more so when you can do it with your DSLR right? But at what cost?
You can't expect to just take this RAW footage, and put it into your editing software and there you go you have a vide. No, with RAW footage comes a lot of work in post. As this video is not processed in any way, first of all it has to be interpreted so you can edit it. There is also grading work you need to do so the footage has the actual details that it records in the camera, and as these files have all this information the sizes (in GB), CPU usage and graphics that you need are really high in demand. You don’t need to have a top spec industry computer to do it, but you need to upgrade common hardware in your computer to be able to do it “properly”. If you are a DSLR user like me, who uses SD cards to record, the minimum velocity of a card that you will need will be around 95mb/s.
Is It Worth It?
I guess this depends on every one of us, and the kind of project we are doing. It surely is a powerful tool that now is in the hands of everybody, or of most independent filmmakers and videographers, but it has to be used wisely. It also depends on how much time, or knowledge you have in the whole post-production process. You have the hardware and time needed to handle these files? Then go for it. You don't have hardware, time or the skills neccesary? Then for you my friend compressed DSLR footage will still work just fine.
What’s for sure, is that there is a revolution coming. Not only from the users of this consumer cameras but also from the companies that produced them and also the ones that produce high end cameras such as RED and Black Magic. It may affect some it may not, as I said this just happened a couple weeks ago, and it's still in development.
If you would like to know more about Magic Lantern, and the new RAW DNG Live View output for DSLR’s I recommend you check their Website and be sure to visit the forums where you can learn a lot more about it.