AMSTERDAM — At IBC 2018, Blackmagic Design 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 RAW is an intelligent format that gives users high-quality images, performance, cross platform support and a free developer SDK.
The Blackmagic RAW public beta can be downloaded for use with Ursa Mini Pro cameras via the Blackmagic Camera 6.0 Beta Update. In addition, DaVinci Resolve 15.1 Update, which includes support for Blackmagic RAW, is also available free of charge from the Blackmagic Design Website (www.blackmagicdesign.com).
Blackmagic RAW has been in development for years and is a next generation codec that features multiple new technologies, such as an advanced de‑mosaic algorithm, extensive metadata support and highly optimized GPU and CPU accelerated processing. It can be used from acquisition throughout post production for editing and color grading, all from a single file.
Traditional RAW codecs have large file sizes and are processor intensive, making them hard to work with. Video file formats are faster, but suffer quality problems due to the use of 4:2:2 video filters that reduce color resolution. Blackmagic RAW solves these problems with an intelligent design that moves part of the de-mosaic process into the camera where it can be hardware accelerated by the camera itself. 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 popular 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. In addition, GPU and CPU acceleration make decoding of frames incredibly fast, so you get extremely smooth performance for editing and grading.
Blackmagic RAW is more than a simple RAW container format. Its intelligent design actually understands the camera and the sensor. This means the image data, along with the unique characteristics of the image sensor, are encoded and saved into the Blackmagic RAW file, giving customers much better image quality, even at higher compression settings, as well as total control over features such as ISO, white balance, exposure, contrast, saturation and more.
In addition, Blackmagic RAW uses Blackmagic Design Generation 4 Color Science for high quality imaging that results in reproducing extremely accurate skin tones and lifelike colors. Images are encoded using a custom nonlinear 12-bit space designed to provide the maximum amount of color data and dynamic range.
Blackmagic RAW also makes it easy for any software developer to access all this technology. The free developer SDK lets any third party software application add Blackmagic RAW support on Mac, Windows and Linux. The Blackmagic RAW developer SDK automatically handles the embedded sensor profile metadata, along with Blackmagic Design color science, for predictable and accurate image rendering that yields consistent color throughout the entire pipeline.
Blackmagic RAW features two types of file compression. Customers can choose either constant quality or constant bitrate encoding options, depending on the kind of work they are doing. This lets them prioritize image quality or file size. Constant quality uses variable bitrate encoding so complex frames are encoded at higher data rates to preserve detail and maintain the highest possible quality. Blackmagic RAW Q0 has minimum quantization and yields the highest quality, while Blackmagic RAW Q5 uses moderate quantization for more efficient encoding and a smaller file size. Blackmagic RAW 3:1, 5:1, 8:1 and 12:1 use constant bitrate encoding to give customers the best possible images with predictable and consistent file sizes. The ratios are based on the unprocessed file size of a single frame from the camera’s sensor, making it easy to understand the relative amount of compression being used.
Blackmagic RAW dramatically simplifies and speeds up post production workflows. DaVinci Resolve 15.1, which was also released at IBC, includes full support for Blackmagic RAW. The performance of Blackmagic RAW is much faster in DaVinci Resolve than any other RAW format. This makes editing, color correction and visual effects very fast. In addition, working with single files instead of folders full of still image sequences greatly simplifies media management. When the RAW settings are changed in DaVinci Resolve, a .sidecar file can be generated or updated if one already exists. When opened in other software applications that support Blackmagic RAW, the .sidecar file, which contains the RAW settings made in DaVinci Resolve, will be automatically used to display the image. If the .sidecar file is removed then the file will be displayed using the embedded metadata instead. This innovative new workflow gives customers a non-destructive way to change RAW settings while working between different applications.
Featuring a fully scalable design and completely modern CPU and GPU acceleration, Blackmagic RAW is optimized for AVX, AVX2 and SSE4.1 enabled processors, multi-threaded, works across multiple CPU cores and is GPU accelerated with support for Apple Metal, CUDA and OpenCL. The free SDK is available on Mac OS, Windows and Linux.
“Blackmagic RAW is the world’s only truly modern, high performance, professional RAW codec that is open, cross platform and free,” says 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!”