Have we been looking at ProRes RAW the wrong way all this time? Apple ProRes RAW has been available for years, but it really hasn't been utilized in camera.
To understand RAW, one must understand the cameras. Most cameras started with sensors from a three CCD array for RGB which. Now they all have a single sensor like a photography camera. These are filled with tons of individual patterns that are meant to pick up incoming signals of red, green, or blue wavelengths of light. Green ususally covers 50% of the censor (hence why green screen is... green). Red is 25%. Blue is 25%. Mix these together and out comes RGB pixel information. Finally it gets recorded in video format.
This is all done via the camera's internal electronics. This can include scaling, gamma encoding (usually Rec709, Rec2020, or a log), noise reduction, image sharpness, and more. This can also come down to color science which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. This is why some cameras can pick up better colors in areas than others, or a camera can seem like skin colors are warmer, etc, etc.
So having all this stuff built into the camera adds weight, cost, and power demands. Thus it makes sense that off loading some of this processing would free up some of the power on a camera. Which is why we recommend recording your video not in camera, but with an external monitor like from Atomos. And thus recording a camera RAW file instead of in camera defers all that processing power to an NLE and post production.
Recording raw in camera is why RED wound up making their RED One camera. These usually have uncompressed movie files or images recorded externally. RED recently introduced the ability to shoot in Wavelet-compressed, 4K camera RAW signals at 24fps. The image above was taken from the camera itself.
2007 introduced ProRes codecs from Apple. This was their response to Avid's DNxHD codec. ProRes is now Apple's default intermediate codec and a delivery codec of choice for many videographers.
Now ARRI uses ProRes as it's internal recording codec with the Alexa Cameras. Thus shooting in ProRes directly in camera, then exporting to an NLE is the simplest capture-edit-deliver workflow to this day.
But only a few camera manufacturers have adopted pro-Res as an internal recording option. Probably this is due to Apple's complex licenses. A lot of companies have been waiting to really sink their teeth in ProRes as their main recording method. But what if we're looking at the wrong.
ProRes was made with an agreement with Atomos. Sony, ARRI, and Panasonic record their camera RAW signals to an external recorder, which is the most valid alternative to recording in camera. And this can be done with any camera manufacturer. All that's needed is an HDMI or SDI signal.
In camera recording of ProRes RAW is what people want. But adding an external recording with this capacity is the best alternative thus far.
"During this past decade or more, Apple has also changed its approach to photography. Aperture was a tool developed with semi-pro and pro DSLR photographers in mind. Traditional DSLRs have lost photography market share to smart phones – especially the iPhone. Online sharing methods – Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, cloud picture libraries – have become the norm over the traditional photo album. And so, Aperture bit the dust in favor of Photos. From a corporate point-of-view, the rethinking of photography cannot be separated from Apple’s rethinking of all things video," wrote Oliver Peters of DigitalFilms.
This is the way of the future. Using a DSLR in this matter can also be possible with companies like Nikon, Fujifilm, Canon, and Panasonic.
Patrick Pettersson provided the images used here. He shot with a Nikon Z6 DSLR using an Atomos Ninja V. While most cameras are locked with certain color profiles, ProRes RAW isn't. Which this is a genuine problem with NLE's not having a profile for every camera built under the sun.
Pettersson used Final Cut Pro X, which has no color profiles for Nikon. He decoded the clip from RAW to log using a Sony profile. The results were really good. So from that point forward, he mainly used Sony profiles and mixtures to color grade.
So using an external monitor to record ProRes RAW has opened a huge door for people wanting to work with this method.