Apple’s New ProRes RAW Plug-Ins Let Camera Makers Specify Processing

ProRes RAW

This month, Apple announced ProRes RAW plug-ins that lets camera makers provide their own ProRes RAW processing pipeline to take advantage of the unique properties of their cameras, sensors, lenses, and more.

Apple says that since ProRes RAW was released, the processing stages for the format decompression — that includes white balancing, demosaicing, color conversion, and exposure adjustment — have been uniform for everyone and independent of a camera manufacturer and its camera models, the sensors in them, and any processing features a camrea maker might want to provide.

ProRes RAW plug-ins change this. Announced as part of a white paper published this month, Apple now allows camera makers to actually input unique characteristics of their hardware into the ProRes pipeline.

“When you install a ProRes RAW plug-in from a camera maker and edit ProRes RAW footage from a camera model supported by the plug-in, you can choose whether to use standard processing or camera-specific processing provided by the plug-in,” Apple explains.

“If you choose the ProRes RAW plug-in, it’s used to create the RGB image. Using a ProRes RAW plug-in can allow you to make camera-specific adjustments such as custom white balancing, noise reduction, demosaicing, lens distortion correction, and more. This process works for cameras that support ProRes RAW either by recording internally or by recording to a third-party recorder, such as those made by Atomos, as long as the ProRes RAW media contains the metadata needed by the plug-in. (You might need to update the firmware in the camera or recorder to the latest version.)”

Apple says ProRes Raw can be regarded as a universal RAW video format. Every camera maker can provide its own unique processing — confidentially — by writing a plug-in that they believe will bring out the best quality or can provide unique looks that are created by their camera system.

“ProRes RAW becomes, in effect, the conduit for their custom processing. A single RAW video format, ProRes RAW can carry the unique characteristics of any camera, sensor, processing, and lens combination. ProRes RAW simply delivers the RAW sensor values at the highest quality and efficiency, and custom plug-ins handle the unique processing,” Apple continues.

The ProRes RAW plug-in model has been designed to work not only with macOS but also with Windows and Linux. ProRes RAW plug-ins will be supported in Final Cut Pro as well as many third-party applications that have licensed the ProRes RAW SDK, such as nonlinear editors (NLEs) and color correction applications.

Supported Immediately by Canon and Atomos

As mentioned, ProRes RAW plug-ins are designed to be used by camera makers as well as external recorders, and both Atomos and Canon have announced immediate support for the format.

ProRes RAW

Atomos has enabled ProRes RAW plug-in support for its Ninja V, Ninja V+, and Shogun Connect.

“The process is very straightforward: simply install the camera vendor’s ProRes RAW plug-in and Final Cut Pro will automatically show all the new enhanced features of the supported camera. Using a ProRes RAW plug-in enables camera-specific adjustments such as custom white balancing, noise reduction, demosaicing, lens distortion correction, and more,” Atomos says.

Canon is the first camera manufacturer to use the technology and its EOS R5, R5C, and R6 Mark II now can output RAW footage to Atomos external recorders that are updated to support ProRes RAW plug-ins.

Image credits: Atomos