RAW: An Often Overlooked Advantage

In our Monster guide, we lay out no fewer than a half dozen reasons why you should be shooting RAW, but there’s yet one more seldom discussed advantage: when shooting log, the quality of the file is completely at the mercy of the camera’s internal encoder, meaning that it’s not possible to improve upon this or change the gamma/color space at some point in the future; whereas with raw, the image quality is determined by the debayering process in post, giving you the ability to re-encode the footage with a higher quality encoder when one becomes available. Here are examples from three camera manufacturers. Note that all are backward compatible.

Blackmagic Generation 5 Color Science

Blackmagic gen 5 color science features a new film curve designed to make full use of the massive amount of color data from the new URSA Mini Pro 12K sensor. This delivers even better color response for more pleasing skin tones, and better rendering of highly saturated colors such as neon signs and car tail lights in high contrast scenes. Generation 5 Color Science informs complex Blackmagic RAW image processing, with color and dynamic range data from the sensor preserved via metadata for use in post production. Compatible with all previously shot Blackmagic RAW files, Generation 5 Color Science lets you take advantage of the new film curve even with your existing work!

RED Digital Cinema IPP2

The demosaic utilizes a new algorithm that improves detail and sharpness, and also seeks not to exacerbate axial chromatic aberrations. After demosaic, the camera data is still in the camera color space and is converted to RedWideGamutRGB (RWG), a color camera space designed to encompass all colors a RED camera can generate without clipping. To preserve camera dynamic range, the RWG image is encoded using Log3G10 which provides for 10 stops highlight extent above mid grey, which is more than sufficient for HDR output peaking at 10,000 nits or raw developments of ISO 12,800.

ARRI REVEAL Color Science

  • ADA-7 (ARRI Debayer algorithm) – This new demosaicing algorithm takes sensor RAW data and converts it into RGB image data. It should produce cleaner images and crisper edges.
  • ACE4 (ARRI Color Engine) – During this step, de-bayered RGB images data gets converted into the newly-developed ARRI Wide Gamut (AWG4) color space. This process should result in more accurate colors than before, with a natural-looking reproduction of skin tones. Moreover, it should preserve extremely saturated colors, such as those caused by strong neon light sources.
  • AWG4 (ARRI Wide Gamut) – ARRI has developed a new ACES-compatible camera color space. It is even larger than Rec.2020 and serves precise color space conversions.
  • LogC4 – This new gamma curve is engineered from scratch to handle the increased dynamic range that the sensor can capture.
  • LUT – The final step of REVEAL is the application of a conversion LUT from the LogC4/AWG4 color space to the most common display gamuts and gamma curves for proper monitoring.

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