Things just keep getting better for us Premiere Pro users. The latest version now supports ProRes RAW.
Those of us shooting the Nikon Z6, the Panasonic S1H or even the Z-cam with the Ninja V recorders will now be able to use ProRes RAW with Premiere Pro.
Before this much-needed update, if you wanted to use ProRes RAW, you needed to use Final Cut Pro X. This means if you owned a Nikon Z6, not only did you have to get an Atomos Ninja V recorder and pay $200 for the firmware updated, you also needed FCPX, which only runs on Apple computers.
If you didn’t own FCPX or only had a PC, you’re looking at some serious cash you need to fork out to be able to get ProRes RAW working, which meant it was off-limits for a lot of people.
That all changes this week with Premiere Pro offers native support for ProRes RAW.
Why Is ProRes RAW Better than ProRes HQ?
ProRes RAW is better than Prores HQ because ProRes RAW is 12-bit and holds a lot more of the original color information compared to 10-bit 4:2:2. This makes color grading significantly better at little cost to file size.
ProRes RAW also holds the original sensor Bayer information rather than the demoniac RGB information that is generated by the camera. This means you get access to the RAW color information that comes directly off the sensor.
To elaborate, your typical video signal will take an RGB image that is generated from the interpolation of colors from the Bayer pattern of the sensor. Or, if you’re shooting with Fujifilm it will come from the interpolation of colors from the X-Trans sensor. When you shoot RAW, you get the actual encoded Bayer pattern image.
ProRes RAW also doesn’t use the rate control which dynamically adjusts compression to maintain a data rate like many codecs today including the original ProRes.
ProRes RAW is designed to maintain a constant quality with variable compression.
Is ProRes RAW Bigger Than ProRes HQ?
You’ve probably heard people say ProRes RAW files are massive and it’s going to take up a ton of hard drive space, but this isn’t necessarily true at all. If you’re already shooting on ProRes HQ – ProRes RAW HQ will give you bitrate somewhere between ProResHQ and Prores 4444 (no alpha). ProRes RAW (no HQ) will give you a data rate between Prores 422 and Prores HQ.
Since ProRes RAW uses a variable bitrate compression for constant quality, the file sizes and data stream will change depending on how much information is in the scene. If you’re just shooting a red kite against a blue sky, the bitrate will be very low similar to Prores HQ, but if you’re filming a swarm of killer bees attacking a circus clown while getting shot with a confetti canon, you’re going to have a very high bitrate because of all the different colors and tones.
There are two compressions for ProRes RAW that each run at different bitrates. This is the data rate you can expect from each codec when shooting 4k or UHD.
- ProRes RAW HQ 707-137Mbps
- ProRes RAW 471-707Mbps
If you look at this table you can see the data rate of these compressions compared to other standard codecs.
|Codecs for at 24fps.||UHD Bitrate||4k Bitrate||Sampling|
|ProRes 4444 (no alpha)||1061Mbps||1131Mbps||12-bit|
|ProRes RAW HQ||707-1061Mbps||745 – 1131Mbps||12-bit|
|ProRes HQ||707Mbps||745Mbps||8-bit or 10-bit|
|ProRes RAW||471-707Mbps||503 – 745Mbps||12-bit|
|ProRes 422||471Mbps||503Mbps||8-bit or 10-bit|
|ProRes LT||328Mbps||350Mbps||8-bit or 10-bit|
|ProRes Proxy||145Mbps||155Mbps||8-bit or 10-bit|
You can see from the chart that, ProRes RAW will give you a data rate the same as ProRes HQ, but it will have a much better image. ProRes RAW HQ will give you a compression between ProRes HQ and 4444.
Managing a ProRes RAW Workflow
If you’re already editing with ProRes HQ, you don’t really need to do anything different to deal with ProRes RAW other than applying a LUT. It’s not going to slow you down more compared to ProRes HQ. In fact, it actually performs some tasks quicker.
However, 4k ProRes with a 1131Mbps data rate can still be a lot to work if you’re editing off a standard drive or on a 1GB LAN connection to a server. 1131Mbps equate to 141MB/s, so using a standard HDD will not cut it.
I personally have a 2TB SSD I work with as a working drive. But a lot of shops are now using all SSD servers with fiber connections so data rate is no problem.
If you don’t have the budget for big SSD drives then it’s still not a problem. Premiere Pro allows you to make proxy files in literally two clicks. This is actually how I’ve been working when I shoot with the X-T3 which produces H.265 files since H.265 files are painful to work with even on fast computers. Plus I typically don’t like working in 4k because it’s still hard on the CPU when rendering out client cuts or doing effects.
Working from home, you can still edit with tons of media between editors in different locations which is easy to send over an Internet connection by using H.264 as an offline working file. H.264 files are great to edit with as proxy so long as you keep the keyframes at 1 frame so the compression is Intraframe. You’ll just have to move the bitrate up to like 50mbps or higher when dealing with a keyframe at 1 with a 1080p proxy.