IBC 2018: Blackmagic Develops Their Own Flavor of Raw

Today at IBC, Blackmagic Design announced that they would be moving away from the open source CinemaDNG codec, in favor of their own flavor of Raw. With the announcement of the public beta of Blackmagic Raw, the company says customers will receive a more intelligent format, that will translate into higher quality images.

“Blackmagic RAW is the world’s only truly modern, high performance, professional RAW codec that is open, cross platform and free,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “It’s exciting because customers can get the visually lossless image quality of RAW with the speed of traditional video workflows. Best of all, there are no hidden licenses or ongoing fees… it’s absolutely free.”

According to BMD’s Grant Petty, the Blackmagic Raw offers the following advantages over CinemaDNG:

  • Traditional RAW codecs have large file sizes and are processor intensive, making them hard to work with. Video file formats are faster, but suffer quality problems due to the use of 4:2:2 video filters that reduce color resolution. Blackmagic RAW solves these problems with an intelligent design that moves part of the de-mosaic process into the camera where it can be hardware accelerated by the camera itself. This results in incredibly efficient encoding that gives customers the same quality, bit depth, dynamic range and controls as RAW, but with much better performance and smaller file sizes than most popular video codecs. Because the processor intensive partial de-mosaic is done by the camera hardware, software such as DaVinci Resolve doesn’t have to do as much work decoding the files. In addition, GPU and CPU acceleration make decoding of frames incredibly fast, so you get extremely smooth performance for editing and grading.
  • In addition, Blackmagic RAW uses Blackmagic Design Generation 4 Color Science for superior imaging that results in reproducing extremely accurate skin tones and gorgeous, lifelike colors that rival those of cameras costing tens of thousands of dollars more. Images are encoded using a custom non-linear 12-bit space designed to provide the maximum amount of color data and dynamic range.
  • Blackmagic RAW also makes it easy for any software developer to access all this technology. The free developer SDK lets any third party software application add Blackmagic RAW support on Mac, Windows and Linux. The Blackmagic RAW developer SDK automatically handles the embedded sensor profile metadata, along with Blackmagic Design color science, for predictable and accurate image rendering that yields consistent color throughout the entire pipeline.
  • According to Kees Van Oostrum, Director of Photography and President of the American Society of Cinematographers, “Blackmagic RAW could entirely change the workflow going from camera through post production. A superb image quality, fine detail and incredibly small file sizes could possibly make Blackmagic RAW the go to format for filmmakers. It will be an important change for post because the editorial team can work with the camera original files, which are fast enough to use for everyday editing. That means less confusion in regards to creative choices I make at the camera. The images can now travel throughout the entire workflow because we’re shooting, editing and grading with the same files! Blackmagic RAW could be a game changer in the way films, television shows and commercials are made.”

Available as a public beta for URSA Mini Pro cameras through the latest Blackmagic Camera 6.0 Beta Update. Other improvements for the URSA Mini Pro in the Camera 6 Beta include:

  • Add new Blackmagic RAW codec support.
  • Add new demosaic algorithm.
  • Add Generation 4 color science.
  • Add Constant Bitrate 3:1, 5:1, 8:1, 12:1 recording.
  • Add Constant Quality Q0 and Q5 recording.
  • Add Blackmagic RAW clip based metadata.
  • Add Blackmagic RAW per-frame metadata.
  • Add ‘4.6K Film to Extended Video’ LUT.
  • Add ‘4.6K Film to Rec 2020 Hybrid Log Gamma’ LUT.
  • Add ‘4.6K Film to Rec 2020 PQ Gamma’ LUT.
  • Add Level A support for 3G SDI.
  • Add support for SDI tally over-ride.
  • Add codec options in SDI Camera Control Protocol.
  • Add Blackmagic RAW info to URSA Mini Manual.
  • Improved lens support for servo zoom lenses.

It’s interesting that since Adobe dropped development of Cinema DNG, everyone is developing their own flavor of Raw, and really dialing in the codec for their custom designed camera features. Sure, it means that the codec becomes more segmented, but if you’re in a certain eco system, that really isn’t a bad thing.

In addition, DaVinci Resolve 15.1 Update, which includes support for Blackmagic RAW, is also available free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website here.


About James DeRuvo 801 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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