05 Apr 2018

Huge News from Atomos and Apple: a completely new species of ProRes

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Huge News from Atomos and Apple: a completely new species of ProRes Apple


The new Apple ProRes RAW production format is set to revolutionise the industry. Everyone that shoots video or works in post production should watch its progress closely.

ProRes RAW has arrived. It's not every day that you witness the birth of a new and important standard for the post production industry. Today is that day.

Atomos has been working behind the scenes with Apple to make its recorders compatible with a version of ProRes that works with Raw footage. Whereas "conventional" ProRes "bakes in" colours, ProRes Raw will bring the vast majority of raw's advantages, with the additional benefit of providing standardisation across all platforms that support it. 

Apple, of course, is noted for its fondness for proprietary formats, an attitude that is mitigated by the fact that Apple-designed software runs very well on Apple equipment, and that Apple computers are used widely enough in the content creation industry to virtually guaranteed "standard" status to any new format. 

Atomos upgrades

Atomos is the launch partner with Apple for the inclusion of the new ProRes Raw format in its recorders.

Apple ProRes Raw will be available as an upgrade to the Sumo 19" recorder/monitor and on the Shogun Inferno. Both of these have sufficient processing power for Apple ProRes Raw. Earlier Atomos recorders will not be upgradeable because they do not have powerful enough processors. 

Out of the gate, there are eight cameras supported from today: Panasonic EVA1, Panasonic Varicam LT, Canon C300 Mk II, Sony FS700, Sony FS5 and Sony FS7 with the optional XDCA add-on.

The recorders can be made to support up to 16-bit colour although no cameras currently output this, so for the time being recording is 12-bit up to 8K.

(This announcement explains how Atomos is going to capture 5.7K Raw from the Panasonic EVA1.  Three days ago, Panasonic upgraded the EVA1 to output 5.7K raw through its SDI port) 

Bitrate wise ProRes Raw and ProResHQ compare very favourably with ProRes 422HQ and ProRes4444 respectively. 

Like "Standard" Apple ProRes, the new format is processor-friendly, which means that you will be able to do more with Apple ProRes Raw than with "raw Raw" (so to speak).

Fast and efficient

For example, in testing Atomos could run 4 streams of ProRes Raw on a 2015 MacBook Pro. On an iMac Pro, depending on how it's configured, you might be able to edit with between seven and twelve streams of 4K resolution in ProRes Raw, and up to 7 streams using ProRes Raw HQ. This pretty much makes editing raw as easy as any other flavour of ProRes, and that's a very big thing to be excited about indeed.

 So as far as we can see the benefits will be: standardisation of Raw across software and platforms, lower bitrates and smaller file sizes compared to "raw Raw", and more streams in real time. As well, of course, of most of the benefits for which Raw is now such a popular medium.

And that means vastly more flexibility to colour grade, change exposure, adjust sharpness and colour balance. 

Camera metadata is fully supported, including lens information, f/stop, shutter speed, ND settings etc.

We assume that there is between some and a lot of standardisation carried out in the encoding process. If there were none, then this would simply be a data compression scheme, where the compressor takes an block of binary data without having to know anything about it. It wouldn't need to know the difference between a Raw video file and a telephone directory. We think it's far more than this. But exact details remain to be seen.

We think this is an incredibly important development. Raw files are cumbersome to deal with, largely because every Raw-capable camera needs its own individual workflow. Anything that standardises Raw workflows to any degree will be welcome and we hope and expect that this will standardise them to a very large degree. 

Alongside DJI Atomos are one of the launch partners for the new format, so there is a degree of exclusivity for the company, although no doubt we'll be seeing the codec being used elsewhere before long. Such a thing could make for great things when combined with an Alexa or a BMD camera for example.

We can't wait to see how this turns out. In the mean time read Apple's new white paper about the format, and watch the Atomos video below. Press release follows on the next page.

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David Shapton

David is the Editor In Chief of RedShark Publications. He's been a professional columnist and author since 1998, when he started writing for the European Music Technology magazine Sound on Sound. David has worked with professional digital audio and video for the last 25 years.

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