As you already know, ProRes RAW is Apple’s latest addition to the ProRes family of video codecs, promising to deliver RAW-like flexibility with the speedy performance creative professionals have come to know and love for years with the rest ProRes flavors. Due to the fact that the codec is still in its early stages, the details regarding how to process the actual footage has only now begun to surface.
Long story short, those who are interested in taking advantage of this powerful new codec may want to take a closer look at the in-depth tutorial below produced by Caleb Pike of DSLR Video Shooter that will walk you through the process of editing and color grading ProRes RAW in FCPX.
Before editing the footage itself, it’s important to note that as for the time being there is still only a limited number of cameras and external recorders that are utilizing ProRes RAW. Not only that, Apple’s own Final Cut Pro X is currently the only video editor capable of processing the format, with support in programs like Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve still to come down the line.
That being said, if you’re someone who has the gear to shoot in ProRes RAW already, in addition to having access to Final Cut Pro X, the process behind grading ProRes RAW footage seems rather straightforward. First and foremost, you’ll need to open up Final Cut Pro X and create a new library.
Once you do so, head over to the Inspector and click the Modify button. Then change the color space to Wide Gamut HDR. This step is absolutely crucial as it enables the software to take advantage of the flexible nature of ProRes RAW in terms of how much the image can be manipulated.
After creating your library, import your media, create a new project and add the footage to your timeline. When importing your clips, you’ll notice that your images look overexposed and even unusable right off the bat. However, due to the considerable amount of raw data captured within the codec, it’s very easy to process the material, retain the details, and make it look outstanding again.
To begin, go to the Inspector and change the Rawto Log Conversion and Camera LUT options to None. Next, head over to the color tab and bring down the exposure of the clip using the master wheels. By decreasing the value, you’ll be able to quickly restore the natural look of your video.
For finer control over your image, you can choose to forgo modifying the master color wheel and instead adjust the shadows, midtones, and highlights individually. To accurately gauge your grading, consider using the vectorscope and waveform as a guide.
By playing around with the color wheel values, in addition to other settings such as color temperature and tint, you will begin to understand the true power behind ProRes RAW. With the codec, you’ll gain the ability to stretch the visual limits of your footage as far as a traditional RAW codec, while basking in the smooth playback abilities of other ProRes variations.
Despite the advantages of the codec, there is only one considerable drawback that should be pointed out. It refers to the inability to view and control camera settings. In traditional raw formats like CinemaDNG or RED RAW, you’d typically be presented with information from the camera in regards to shooting settings, including ISO and exposure that you can change on the fly.
Unfortunately, Apple’s current implementation of the codec with FCPX does not offer this feature, nor it does give you any viable camera information. Hopefully, we’ll see this functionality added in a future update.
Regardless of this minor inconvenience, the benefits gained from the codec are far surpassing any intricacies currently found. While ProRes RAW may still have some improvements that need to be made, we all should be keeping our fingers crossed that Apple will be generous enough to give other developers the specifics required to adopt the codec over time, thus making it not only an industry-standard and go-to option for content creators but also turning it into the ultimate RAW codec, something that it certainly deserves to be.