Apple Final Cut Pro X and ProRes RAW

Posted on by Larry

Recently, Jeff Orig asked:

I did some research and compared how FCP X handles R3D RAW vs. ProRes RAW images in the Timeline. Jeff is right, there is far more control over RED images than ProRes, as you can see in the screen shot below. In my research, I also re-discovered Apple’s excellent white paper on ProRes RAW (link).

The image on the left shows the RAW image controls in Final Cut Pro X specifically for R3D RAW files. These are missing for ProRes RAW. Instead, FCP X provides the standard color wheels (and curves and color board) which are available to all clips, include R3D; as illustrated on the right.

In the intro, Apple’s white paper says: “Apple ProRes RAW is based on the same principles and underlying technology as existing ProRes codecs, but is applied to a camera sensor’s pristine raw image data rather than conventional image pixels. ProRes RAW brings to raw video the same great performance, quality, and ease of use that ProRes has brought to conventional video, in a format ideal for high-dynamic-range (HDR) content creation in Final Cut Pro X.”

So, yes, ProRes RAW is actually a RAW file. In terms of workflow, there are three primary ways to color correct ProRes RAW video in Final Cut Pro:

  1. Use log conversion with built-in camera LUTs: Use the automatic log conversion applied by Final Cut Pro to color correct ProRes RAW video as if it were SDR video. Setting library color processing to Wide Gamut HDR lets you work with ProRes RAW video as if it were HDR video.
  2. Use log conversion with custom LUT effects: Use a custom LUT effect (instead of a built-in camera LUT) to apply log conversion to ProRes RAW video, so you can color correct it as if it were log video.
  3. Color correct directly without LUTs: Turn off automatic log conversion, which lets you color correct ProRes RAW video as HDR video, whether library color processing is set to Standard or Wide Gamut HDR.

Regarding Jeff’s comments that the color controls for RED RAW files are more complete than the same controls for ProRes RAW, I forwarded his comments to Apple in hopes that these features can be implemented in a future release.

UPDATE

I sent this article to Jeff after I wrote it. He added:

BTW, that YouTube cinematographer just did a live webinar yesterday with B&H and Panasonic talking about his ProRes RAW workflow in FCP X. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=379938163001463&ref=watch_permalink The post-production portion starts at around 40 minutes in.

The Panasonic rep, Matt, also explains that as of right now, there is no access to metadata based ISO and WB control in Apple ProRes RAW. He further explains that ProRes RAW is still relatively new and that RED and other companies didn’t offer those controls on initial release either.

Panasonic has currently baked in ISO and WB into ProRes RAW due to keeping the noise lower. He is not sure if that will changes as Apple opens up later and becomes metadata-based like other RAW codecs. Then in turn Panasonic (or other manufacturers) may then have to turn that on as well.

EXTRA CREDIT

The entire ProRes RAW white paper is worth reading. Here’s the link.


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4 Responses to Apple Final Cut Pro X and ProRes RAW

  1. “Panasonic has currently baked in ISO and WB into ProRes RAW due to keeping the noise lower.”

    This makes no sense whatsoever. Prores Raw records video in the Bayer pattern along with a bunch of metadata. Although you can adjust white balance easier and further in RAW, it always ‘baked in’ to some degree. If you compare an image with a correct WB at 6500 with the same image shot at WB 2000 and brought back to 6500 you’ll see that some color balances are off. You won’t recover everything. Also, Panasonic can’t ‘bake WB in’ anymore or less than any other camera that outputs Bayer pattern video for ProRes RAW to store. Even if the RAW output overrides the WB setting in the camera there is a default WB the sensor is calibrated for.

    As for ISO, you either have an analog electric gain on the sensor or a digital gain on the image coming from the sensor. Panny usually works with analog gain, so that is indeed ‘baked in’. The digital gain is a bit like tone mapping. You rebalance the brightness of your image. Brightening up the image will show more noise the further you push it. An ISO slider or selector is an easy way to do this in post, but you can achieve the exact same thing in grading. And you can adjust an image that was recorded with analog gain in the same way. So in that sense, ISO isn’t baked in any more or less with Panny than with any other video brand. If the DR is there and the noise floor is comparable you have just as many possibilities to adjust in post.
    And really, the term ISO shouldn’t be used in this way. There is no change in the sensitivity of the recording medium, the sensor. Hence there is no real change in ISO. It should be called digital gain.

    The rep clearly doesn’t really know the technical background. That’s a shame because a lot of misinformation is being sent out like this.
    Assimilate Scratch has added WB adjustment for ProRes RAw and it works great. Even with my Varicam LT footage with ‘baked in’ WB. 😉

  2. Drew says:

    “…you can not control WB and ISO in post, which is one of the main reasons to shoot in RAW”.

    Looks like Atomos addressed this in firmware update 10.63:

    “WB and ISO metadata for FCP settings slider adjustments”

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