IBC 2018: Blackmagic Design Introduces a Brand New Blackmagic Raw Codec

Out of the blue, Blackmagic Design just announced the public beta of Blackmagic RAW, a new proprietary 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 a more intelligent format that gives customers stunning images, incredible performance, cross-platform support and a free developer SDK.

Users can download the public beta 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.

In essence, Blackmagic RAW is a next-generation hybrid codec that features multiple new technologies such as an advanced de-mosaic algorithm, extensive metadata support, highly optimized GPU and CPU accelerated processing and more. It can be used from acquisition throughout post-production for editing and color grading, all from a single file.

It’s also worth noting that Blackmagic RAW moves part of the de-mosaic process into the camera itself where it can be hardware accelerated. This workflow results in an incredibly efficient encoding that gives creative professionals 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 much 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 superior imaging that results in reproducing extremely accurate skin tones and gorgeous, lifelike colors that rival those of cameras costing tens of thousands of dollars more. Images are encoded using a custom non-linear 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.

The pristine camera native quality of Blackmagic RAW Q0 and 3:1 are perfect for effects-heavy feature film and commercial project. Blackmagic RAW Q5 and 5:1, on the other hand, are extremely high quality making them great for episodic television and independent films.

Blackmagic RAW 8:1 and 12:1 offer high quality and speed, making it suitable for productions that wouldn’t normally consider shooting RAW. Now, more customers than ever will be able to use high-quality RAW images in an incredibly efficient way that was impossible before.

All in all, Blackmagic RAW dramatically simplifies and speeds up post-production workflows. DaVinci Resolve 15.1, which was also released today, 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 incredibly 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.

Once being 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.

Frame decoding and image processing is extremely fast, making it super smooth for editing, color correction and visual effects in DaVinci Resolve. Another benefit of media being stored as single files, and not image sequences, is it makes media management easier and file copying much faster.

Blackmagic RAW is available today as a public beta via the Blackmagic Camera 6.0 Beta Update for URSA Mini Pro. The final release of Blackmagic RAW is expected to ship in several weeks’ time once further testing is complete. The DaVinci Resolve 15.1 Update, which features support for Blackmagic RAW, has also been released and can be downloaded today free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website. The Blackmagic RAW public beta will also be demonstrated on the Blackmagic Design IBC 2018 booth at #7.B45.

[source: Blackmagic Design]

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