Over at this year’s IBC show, Blackmagic Design has announced the public beta of Blackmagic RAW, a new codec that “combines the quality and benefits of RAW with the ease of use, speed and file sizes of traditional video formats.”

Blackmagic is describing Blackmagic RAW as a next generation hybrid codec with new technologies such as an advanced de-mosaic algorithm, extensive metadata support, highly optimised GPU and CPU accelerated processing and more. It can be used from acquisition throughout post production for editing and colour grading, all from a single file.

Blackmagic says the new codec avoids the large file sizes of RAW while at the same time avoiding the problems video file formats have due to the use of 4:2:2 video filters that reduce colour resolution. Blackmagic RAW moves part of the de-mosaic process into the camera where it can be hardware accelerated by the camera itself. Blackmagic says this results in 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 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.

Blackmagic says the codec has an intelligent design that “actually understands the camera and the sensor” so the image data, along with the characteristics of the image sensor, are encoded and saved into the Blackmagic RAW file, giving better image quality and control over features such as ISO, white balance, exposure, contrast and saturation.

There’s also a free developer SDK that lets any third party software application add Blackmagic RAW support on Mac, Windows and Linux.

“Blackmagic RAW could entirely change the workflow going from camera through post production,” said Kees Van Oostrum, Director of Photography and President of the American Society of Cinematographers. “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.”

“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. Blackmagic RAW has been designed to provide the industry with an open, elegant and standardized high quality image format that can be used across products and in customer workflows absolutely free!”

Blackmagic RAW is available today as a public beta via the Blackmagic Camera 6.0 Beta Update for URSA Mini Pro. The final release of Blackmagic RAW is expected to ship in a few weeks’ time after further testing.

There’s also a DaVinci Resolve Update, 15.1, which includes support for Blackmagic RAW and is also available free from the Blackmagic website.

Staff Reporter

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