In recent years, RAW has become the new buzzword for low budget filmmakers, as it was 4K in 2014/2015. As a result, we see that RAW is contained in smaller camera bodies. If RAW is not offered at the price, externally recorded RAW such as the Nikon Z7 or Sigma FP will also be displayed.
However, as many suggest, you don't need RAW for everything, especially if you're creating non-commercial YouTube content like travel videos, tutorials, or general content. This is especially true of Apple's ProRes RAW, a format that is now available from the S1H.
Sometimes you might not really have unlocked a camera's potential if it isn't doing everything it possibly can. This is how I felt when I had the GH5 and was initially without the V-Log upgrade. If you own the S1H, or maybe the newly released S5, and you need the ProRes RAW format, let me explain that as an owner of the S1H and Atomos V, going down the RAW trail for casual projects isn't always practical.
5.9 KB 12-bit RAW
In 2019, Panasonic announced the S1H, a focused film variant of the S1, LUMIX's new LUMIX full-screen series. Shortly after the announcement, LUMIX and Atomos jointly announced that the S1H would soon be able to record 5.9KB of 12-bit ProRes RAW externally. Scheduled for early 2020, later postponed to the middle of the turbulent year, the RAW firmware was released to the positive response of S1H users.
However, unlike Blackmagic RAW from a Pocket Cinema camera, the ProRes S1H RAW is slightly different and requires a lengthy post-production workflow depending on which NLE you are using.
As mentioned earlier, this is only an externally recorded format. The highest internal format on the S1H is 6K (5952 × 3968) (3: 2) 23.98p, 200Mbps (4: 2: 0 10-bit LongGOP) with a V-Log profile at 13 to 14 stops of dynamic range . That in itself is fantastic for most online content. In fact, it can be over the top.
In connection with an Atomos device, 12-bit RAW video data can be output via HDMI. You open the following formats:
- Full frame, RAW 5.9K (5888 × 3312), 29.97p / 25p / 23.98p, 16: 9, 12-bit
- Super 35mm, RAW 4K (4128 × 2176), 59.94p / 50p / 29.97p / 25p / 23.98p, 17: 9, 12-bit
- Super 35mm, RAW anamorphic, 3.5K (3536 × 2656), 50p / 29.97p / 25p / 23.98p, 4: 3, 12-bit
Unlike the GH4 or GH5, which require a purchased license to use v-log, no firmware purchase is required. Of course, however, you will need to purchase an Atomos device, external media storage, and an Atomos compatible battery. If you're buying a used, budget-friendly model like the Atomos Ninja V, you can consider an additional purchase price of $ 400-500 if you also get the media and battery.
12-bit color and RAW media. Amazing. However, it can take off quite a bit when you get this footage into your NLE.
ProRes RAW is a new development. As a result, there was a lack of adaptability, or at least both camera manufacturers and software manufacturers have been slow to bring the format on board. Because of this, post production can become an obstacle depending on the software you use.
Because it's an Apple codec, it's as easy in Final Cut Pro as transferring the data from the SSD for direct media import onto the timeline. Other NLEs have only just caught up (or are still lagging behind). Even then, we still don't see the full functionality of RAW.
Earlier this year, Apple released an update that enables ProRes RAW playback for Windows. Later that year, Adobe also announced cross-platform support for ProRes RAW in After Effects and Premiere Pro. However, to the horror of many, we don't get the full functionality of RAW in BRAW or R3D.
Premiere Pro does not allow you to adjust the ISO and white balance, which adversely affects filming in RAW. You can do this in Final Cut Pro now, but not in Premiere Pro or Resolve. Therefore, you must first run the files through Final Cut Pro in order to change the initial white balance adjustments. This already sounds like a headache.
Therefore, when you use Premiere Pro to edit ProRes RAW, you are essentially just working with the greater detail restoration ability and 12-bit color space. DPReview's Jordan commented in his video on ProRes RAW, “I don't see it as much as RAW video. I see it as a great log file with a lot of room for customization in the class. "
That is a valid statement. You don't get much more dynamic range with the S1H with ProRes RAW, but there is just a bit more wiggle room in post-production. You will also notice finer details and color reproduction with greater precision. But for YouTube, where fifty percent are watching a 720p stream on their phone, it's just not worth it.
Over the past two years we've seen DaVinci Resolve come into play and bring multiple editors to their platform. However, Resolve doesn't even support ProRes RAW, so you'll need to fully transcode the files before you can even think about editing in Resolve. Headache again.
For everything that has nothing to do with YouTube content, such as commercials, music videos or short films, the additional flexibility of the 12-bit image and the implementation of the additional conversion trips are worthwhile. However, the S1H image is just as good for everyday content.
As with any great story, the downsides have positives. Firstly, the 12-bit color space offers enough space for revaluation. In my documentary Remnants of the Coast, watch out for the 1:17 to 1:40 setting. If you look carefully, you can see video streaks with the colors in the sky. It's not as bad as 8-bit, but even 10-bit you can see the footage fall apart easily if you pay close enough attention to it. With a color depth of 12 bits – the bit depth contained in ProRes RAW – you can keep those colors in check while sorting.
In addition, the ProRes format is extremely easy to use when it comes to editing. The format is loosely compressed as it is, and as a result your GPU will not be working overtime working with the files. Although I had no intention of filming or delivering my project in 6K, after initial 6K tests it quickly turned out that my computer didn't like H.264 6K media. Even the C4K files had to have media optimized for fluid editing. With ProRes RAW you edit more efficiently than the native S1H files, but at the expense of the file size.
If you have a machine that is pretty pimped up but struggles with 4K 10-bit H.264 footage captured at the highest data rate, you will most likely get better editing performance with the 6K 12-bit ProRes media file. as backwards as it may seem. However, you need to (of course) deal with the Post issues listed above.
In addition, the ProRes RAW format also changes the way the S1H works. When switching to the ProRes RAW format, the LCD and viewfinder on the S1H are deactivated. Additionally, you can only view and play the footage in the V-Log on the Atomos in RAW format, although there is a custom LUT that you can use for viewing assistance.
Likewise, the thought of purchasing an external device diminishes the overall aspect of a minimalist design. Also, I've found that the zoom doesn't feel as sharp compared to the punch-in zoom on the S1H LCD. If you're using an electronic lens, it might not be too big a deal as it allows you to automatically capture focus. For myself, I use vintage Nikkor glass. I would like to see the issue with the utmost clarity, but with MF assist turned off it is difficult to get that 100 percent focus.
Yes, RAW is a fantastic tool. Yes, ProRes RAW is a fantastic addition to the S1H, which makes the image quality even better. But no, you don't have to go through the circus to make this format editable if you're creating casual content.
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Cover photo via Panasonic.