Archive for the ‘camera’ Category

RAW CinemaDNG (from BMCC) to CIneformRAW for DaVinci Resolve via RAW4Pro+CIneform

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Suppose you have some RAW footage, in CinemaDNG format (a number-sequenced set of [.dng] files), for example shot on a Blackmagic Cinema Camera (BMCC).  Compared to “visually lossless” say ProRes or DNxHD (let alone H264 etc.), CinemaDNG occupies an awful lot of disk space, primarily because it is mathematically lossless.  The GoPro-CineformRAW encoding format offers significant reductions in file size (and hence data rate) at the cost of a practically negligible loss of visual information (and a purchase price).  This codec can be purchased as part of the GoPro Studio Premium product.  A comparison-grid of the various GoPro Studio products is here.

CineformRAW is an attractive compression-format, but unless care is applied to some very technical-level encoding options/settings, compatibility problems can arise when importing to DaVinci Resolve.  The latter is in widespread use but is especially relevant to BMCC owners because it is supplied as free software with that camera.  I experienced such problems myself: one version of Resolve (v.10.0) interpreted CineformRAW clips as green-tinted, while another (v.10.1) just gave black frames.

Happily, a simple solution existed: RAW4Pro, which is essentially a front-end to CineformRAW (and also to DNxHD, useful e.g. if you want HD proxies).


  • Install
    • A product incorporating the GoPro-Cineform RAW codec.
    • The RAW4Pro utility
      • Essentially a front-end to generate CineformRAW and also to generate HD (e.g. as proxies) as DNxHD, in each case in either MOV or AVI container-formats.
  • Run RAW4Pro
    • Select (Browse-to) input-folder, output folder.
    • Select:
      • Sound: Audio-Merge
        • Initially, extract audio from source file to a WAV file, then merge this audio in with the generated file.  The WAV file remains, regardless.
        • The alternative (if not enabled) is no audio in the generated file (and no WAV file).
      • Processing: Convert-Only
      • Quality: Fine
        • Clicking the [?] button reveals that this creates 10-bit Log (colour-channel resolution).
      • Video Format:
        • Cineform RAW (encoding format)
        • MOV (container format)
        • LUT: NoneClick the [Process Clip] button.
  • Result:
    • A movie file with name prefixed by :R4P_” and suffixed by “_sound”, incorporating both video (10-bit Log) and audio tracks.
    • An audio WAV file, similarly prefixed,  generated as a “side effect”, may or may not be useful to you, can be deleted.


Great Camera Comparison Summary

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

From March 2012

EX3 SDI Output

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

 Worked, but config was not as straightforward as I first (naively) assumed:

The big “Gotcha”:

  • Must first Disable the iLink (IEEE 1394, small FireWire) interface. Otherwise SDI won’t work at all.  I guess EX3’s SDI & iLink might share some circuitry?
    • In EX3 Menu, OTHERS category (last i.e. final category):
      • [i.Link I/O] :Disable.

Then, in EX3 Menu, VIDEO SET category (3rd category), then:

  • [YPbPr/SDI Out Select] : HD
  • [YPbPr/SDI Out Display] : Off

This worked fine in practice.


  • Under EX3 OTHERS Menu-Category:
    • With EX3 [Country] = [NTSC Area]:
      • “HQ 1080/60i” gives [1080 interlaced 59.94fps 4:2:2 YUV10].
      • “HQ 1080/30p” gives [1080 progressive 29.97fps 4:2:2 YUV10 ].
      • “HQ 1080/24p” gives ??? (Cinedeck accepted it only at 30 fps)
    • With (correspondingly) [PAL Area]:
      • “HQ 1080/50i” gives [1080 interlaces 50fps 4:2:2 YUV10]


Kinefinity’s KineRaw S35

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Last night the thought came, if only I could justify getting a Sony F3…

Now possibly the answer to my dreams?  The forthcoming (next year, hopefully) KineRaw S35, by some people’s judgements, is broadly comparable to an Arri or RED but at half the price.  That’s broadly not exactly.  Yes, it’s from China..   I heard about it first from the highly informative NoFilmSchool (well worth joining).

This camera, nearing the end of its development and testing, shoots Raw (straight colours, no debayering), which to naive me sounds like big bandwidths and files, but as it happens, one of its options is to record to GoPro-Cineform RAW (10-bit log90) format.  This, if I read the article by Jake Seagraves (as of 9 August 2012) correctly, for a 2K frame, has typically the same bandwidth as GoPro-Cineform HDV (1440×1080), namely/numerically around 15 MB/sec (=120Mb/s).  I say typically because it is a Variable Bit Rate format, so obviously it depends on scene (including noise) complexity.   By comparison, HDV 1440×1080 m2t (long-GOP Mpeg2), like DV, are about 25Mb/s.  So Cineform is then about 5 times bigger than HDV and DV – the unavoidable cost of being “visually lossless”.

Some informative links I chanced upon:

  • Brief specs:
  • Main Site (still being edited at time of writing):
    • “…the Vimeo version is a shadow of the image quality the uncompressed footage can show since to post on Vimeo I need to compress MPEG4v2 and that mucks up the image with block artifacts…”
    • Yes I can pull the shadows up maybe 3 to 4 stops without major issues and perhaps 6 stops if you apply more forcefull noise reduction in post. The maximum would be about 8 stops of lift but probably not for Blu-ray use as compressed end use formats need noiseless result frames.
    • Some cameras use temporial noise reduction in the camera to get lower noise at high ISO, but these are raw recording cameras so you would use temporal noise reduction as well as area filters and chroma cleaners as a normal part of post production, so take that into account.
    •  35mm film scans are now ‘always’ de-grained and dust-busted with powerful software to get a usable result, most people don’t know how much grain ‘raw’ film scans can show because all they see are heavily digitally processed film scans. Likewise a True RAW recording Digital Cinema Camera gives you ‘raw’ DNG that are like raw film scans in that they should undergo de-grain and filtering to make the results look better, …
    • Cineform ™ is like RED ™’s REDCODE ™ in that it is wavelet compression
      • Sensor: the 2K model has a 4K sensor, downscaled by pixel-binning (hence all pixels get used).  Moire/Detail tradeoff optimizable by customizable Low-Pass-Filter (LPF).  CMOS hence rolling-shutter.
      • Exposure: Around 12 stops of latitude.  Base ISO is around 800, variable from 8 to 10,000 (above which noise becomes a problem).
      • Hardware: Has a fan, its speed/noise depending on temperature.  No battery of its own, just a (standard) power socket.
      • Audio: Two XLRs but they are only line-level (no mic, let alone phantom…)
      • Video: Two SDIs BUT these are only intended for monitoring, e.g. they only carry 8 bits.
      • Weight is around 4 kG.  Not as light as an F3 but not as heavy as an Arri.
      • Recording: Own-brand KineMag SSDs are only needed for “True Raw” DNG recording (800 MB/s), alternatives can be used for Cineform RAW recording (around 100Mb/s VBR).
      • Monitor outputs e.g. to feed SmallHD monitor (or others), include overlays for Waveform Monitor, Histogram (with separate colours), Zoom (e.g. for focus assist) up to 800%

Review/Comparisons: RED (Scarlet,Epic), Canon (5D-II, C300), F3, FS100, AF100

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

How best to get the 35mm look?  “Traditionally” the DSLRs like Canon’s 5D Mk.2 or 7D (or, at lower frame-rates, the D500).  But now the RED Scarlet and the Canon C300 have been announced (3rd November 2011).  Then there’s the AF100 (with or without hacks) and the FS100, also the Sony F3, with or without dual SDI link 10-bit recording to S-Log.

Here are some comparisons:

A particularly interesting “argument/opinion of comparison” between F3 and C300:

    • (Yes, the URL has a dot on the end)
    • <<<
    • Because (the C300 has) a great sensor with very good RGB color filters on its bayer sensor, great dynamic range, zero aliasing, crisp as hell 1080p, oversampled green channel, 14-bit processing, recording to log? 8-bit MPEG-2 is not as big of a disadvantage as people think if you feed it with awesomeness to start with
    • The F3’s sensor is perhaps not quite as good though – it doesn’t resolve full 1080p without aliasing – eg Barry’s brick wall color moire test. BTW Talking of that test… what exactly is the advantage of the 4:4:4 output on the F3 if its sensor can’t resolve 4:4:4 color detail anyway?
    • >>>
    • A demonstration of moire on the Canon 5D Mk.2

Canon C300 – Great Reviews & Posts

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

The Canon C300 is of interest to me as a potential “workhorse” video camera (replacing my current EX3) for both cinematic projects and live events (incidentally, after having written that sentence, I reassuringly found the same phrase uttered by Philip Bloom, so hopefully I’m on the right track here).

Cinematic projects in particular can benefit from more controllable DOF and both can benefit from light sensitivity, while the live events (indoor or outdoor) in particular can benefit from latitude.  Of course these things are handy in general, but those are the occasions when I’ve felt they were lacking in the past.

The C300 addresses most things, apart from lack of 10-bit output.  Hopefully I could trade-up to that in a couple-or-three years’ time when Canon upgrade to that.  And investing in “glass” (lenses) for it is probably a better investment than external recorders (buy or hire) for my current EX3.  The price stings a bit though, so I won’t just leap into it.  I’ll definitely begin by hiring/renting.

My Canon C300 research-in-earnest begins here with a (great) review I initially heard about (via private IOV forum).  That’s the UK’s Institute of videography by the way.  Here:

The following thread at DvInfo includes rolling-shutter-provoking tests (flash, jerk-motion):

The main points about the camera (for me at least, and not in this particular order) are:

  • Ergonomics / practicalities:
    • Better (some say) than the F3.
    • Weatherproof, sensor-cooling
    • ND Filters (three) in-camera
      • Seems fairly unique in this kind of camera
    • Handy proper buttons for Zebra, Peaking, Magnified views.
    • LCD and button-panel orientate in various directions.
    • Fits on a standard DSLR rig.
      • But Zacuto supply a tailored rig.  CVP are among its agents.
      • And there’s Redrock’s inspiringly-named UltraCage.
    • Solid construction, feel and mounting threads, better than “single central bolt” like many cameras have.
    • Wi-fi adaptor transmits a low frame rate version to your computer. If the lens is set to autofocus, you can actually change the focus remotely.
      • Wifi controller is an additional item – not part of the basic package
    • Battery lasts 5 hours
  • Sensor
    • Latitude (recordable, depending on settings):
      • Quoted as “13+ stops in the field”
      • But there is uncertainty over this, since apparently <<Canon thinks that with their Canon-Log color space, the camera allows “800% overexposure… which translates to …an Exposure Latitude of 12 f-stops.” Graeme Nattress of Red disagrees.>>>
    • Less noise, moire and jello than 5D Mk.2 etc.
      • Noise & moire reduction largely result from 4K sensor + DSP to HD.
        • Moire tends to result from significant interpolation inherent in less dense sensors
    • The “less noise” hence less need for low fstops (coupled with smaller sensor than 5D) means greater DOF (the antithesis of the 5D).
      • Greater DOF is preferable at times, for practical as well as aesthetic reasons (when you want to see the background).
  • Lens Mount
    • Camera comes in two lens-mount varieties, not interchangeable:
      • EF-Mount for Canon lenses (ordinaire & “CN-E”).  This is the one for mortals like me.
        • Permits iris to be controlled via dials on camera.
        • Greater available selection of lenses (also usable on stills cameras) e.g.:
          • Telephoto: “EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM” telephoto zoom lens and tilt-shift lenses.
          • Macro: “EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM” (article photos include an image of ants)
          • Fisheye: “EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM”
          • TiltShift: “TS-E 90mm f/2.8”
        • Image Stabilisation (IS) is reported to be good e.g. with the Canon L 70-200mm F2.8 IS Version II
      • PL-Mount: More for movie professionals.
  • Recording:
    • Resolution: HD 1080p & 720p
    • Frame-rates: variable 1 to 30 fps in 1080p mode, and 1 to 60 fps in 720p mode, 1 fps increments.  Also time-lapse and stop-motion/claymation (latter is several frames per “click”).
      • But, like F3 (and unlike FS100), overcranking requires dropping to 720p
    • It can also shoot 50i and 60i (interlaced), useful for deriving 50p and 60p in post.  Historically (e.g. for DV or HDV (Z1) footage), I have done this using freeware (AviSynth and its TDeint filter) for this, but Apple Compressor and other alternatives exist too.  Stu Maschwitz apparently covers this topic in his book << The DV Rebel’s Guide>>
    • Gamma: includes Canon’s Log Gamma.  LCD & V/F display flat and corrected.
    • Audio: uncompressed 16-bit audio at 48 khz (info from FAQ).
  • Recording format:
    • Compact Flash (over 5 hours for a 128GB card)
    • MPEG-2 Long GOP 4:2:2 MXF codec with a constant bit rate of 50 megabits/sec.
      • Philip Bloom says “It is the bare minimum for HD acquisition, but it at least reaches it.”.
      • Sample recording (MXF as stated) is available here (according to here).
      • {Does MPEG-2 imply 8-bit?}
        • Yes.  That is highlighted in several other sites e.g. this and this.  Some believe (rightly or wrongly) that this limitation is a “corporate rather than technical” decision, and a future generation will have 10-bit.
      • {What of the Log Gamma? 8-bit (is it ?) would limit its usefulness or not?}
        • Opinions differ.  Obviously the extent to which it matters depends on the scene.  Some views and image comparisons are here, for 10, 8 and even 7 bits.
          • At that link, one poster suggests dithering as a work-around to reduce banding (from any camera): adjust camera to give noise then (in post) use a good noise-reduction plugin.
      • The only Super-35 sensor camera in its price category (as of fall, 2011) that records 4:2:2 color sampling on-board.
  • Ports:
    • XLR (via clip-on monitor assembly?)
    • Time code, Genlock, HD/SD-SDI and HDMI
      • {But how many bits? 10 (as I’d hope) or still only 8?}
        • Only 8-bits, surprisingly.  It is reported that: “SDI output (is) limited to 8-bit 4:2:2”
  • Monitoring
    • RGB histogram, vectorscope and an Edge monitor (focussing)

More links:

Other Misc. Links: