Why you MUST have 4K and raw and why you absolutely DON’T need it *


*This is not strictly true

OK…a confusing title. Let me clarify. I would shoot raw and 4k on every single shoot if I could. It’s wonderful. I want everyone to shoot raw and 4k. There we go. BTW is is actually raw not RAW. It’s not an acronym. It’s a word. Raw data. Unprocessed. You know…raw! I hate unnecessary caps and there is nothing worse THAN WHEN PEOPLE WRITE EVERYTHING TO YOU IN CAPS BLAMING THE CAPS LOCK IS STUCK. I DON’T CARE I CANNOT READ IT SO PLEASE BUY A NEW COMPUTER NOW OR GET SOME WD40 PLEASE! Phew…that’s better! 🙂

I am not a negative nelly, poo-pooing raw or 4k. Far from it. I am just a cautious person by nature. When I see everyone clamouring for it, I have to ask the question “why do you want it?” which usually gets the obvious answer along the lines of they “want to be able to shoot the best images with the best latitude.” I then ask the more important question, “why do you need it?” Of course I get the same answer! That should not be the case. That is the key. What you want and what you need are two vastly different things.

Raw is brilliant. 4K is sexy as hell…BUT they both come with a number of quite severe headaches for the vast majority of people (including myself) who are clamouring for it. If those headaches were not there, then I would tell everyone to go for it, but as I am in somewhat of a position where people listen to me (still an utterly bewildering thing to me) and take what I do or advice I give as verbatim (which you should never do, mine is just one opinion so please feel free to ignore this or take my advice on board and listen to others too as you should never take one person’s opinion as gospel) then I must explain the issues we face. I am not being devil’s advocate either as I genuinely believe these issues are real and would be quite a problem for many. Not everyone though. Some people are perfectly kitted out to take this on and their work is ideal for it. So whilst my title of this article is essentially black and white, the actual arguments are not. Many shades of grey and most of us if not all of us fall into this grey area at some point. There absolutely is a use for both of these for SOME jobs…just not for all.




Shooting and raw and 4k doesn’t make you fatter…even though it looks like it, especially standing next to rake thing Eric Kessler. The bad old porky days.



When I shot lots of RED Epic which was only ever raw and 4k/ 5k, the images I were getting looked so gorgeous and the flexibility in post was amazing. Truly eye opening. The problem I had was in post and in storage, and this is with R3D files which are way more manageable than other raw/ 4k formats floating out there. I ended up getting a very expensive Mobile RED Rocket card to make my post life more bearable. I still spent a small fortune on hard drives.

These Epic images were indeed epic, some of the finest looking images I have shot, technically, you know…in a pixel peeping kind of way (please do not pixel peep as it makes the palms of your hands go very hairy!) They were not my finest work creatively – that of course is nothing do with the camera. That comes down to me. An important point to make. One I have made countless times before…a better camera WILL NOT MAKE YOU A BETTER SHOOTER OR FILMMAKER. It will make your images look better compared to if you had shot on a lower end camera for sure. 4K and raw will not make your work any better. Although it may help you mask mistakes so the appearance of your work is better.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with making the appearance of your work better than it actually is. When I first shot tapeless using XDCAM discs, I used to erase shitty shots and make my rushes look better… but ONLY when I gave them to the client. Not if I was editing them myself, I didn’t care how clean they were. But I wanted my client to have clean rushes. It made me look way better than I actually was 🙂


That is the joy of raw, the ability to do so much with it in post is just incredible. You can fix so many in-camera issues, not all of them of course, but many. It can rescue shots due to lost detail in highlights and shadows, fix those white balance issues…. it can help make the most of difficult shooting situations when you can’t deal with the issue in-camera like you would normally, for whatever reason (as in different lighting). That is not the whole point of raw at all, it’s not there to fix things in post, it’s a big plus of it. It’s more for getting past the limitations of codecs giving limited dynamic range, so you get more creative choices in post. So couple raw with the stunning detailed high resolution images that 4k  give you, then you simply have the best images possible and the most flexibility in post. BRILLIANT. After all, that is what everyone wants!

Of course, all of this is utterly irrelevant if your content sucks. No point shooting on a high-end format like 4k and raw if your content is below par. It is not going to make it any better just because it’s raw and 4k. If that was the case I would shoot everything I did in 4k and raw, no matter what, so I could magically take even my most mediocre work and make it much better!

Until recently, 4k and raw video was pretty much exclusively RED. Without Jim’s visionary company, the high end cinema arm of camera companies would have rested on their laurels. RED gave them a massive wake up call. Good. Everyone needs a good kick up the backside every now and then. Blackmagic Design are another visionary company, but let’s talk about them later.


Turin Brakes: Chim Chim Che-ree. RED Epic from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Great Wooden Boats: RED EPIC from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Bangin’ n Clangin’: The Redneck Hippie from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

So which company was accidentally the main catalyst for everything changing? Canon of course. Not by design, by accident really. The 5DmkII revolution was not intended but a happy collection of circumstances that collided in an event of universal magnitude that rivalled the big bang in its significance to humanity. OK, maybe a wee bit of an exaggeration, but certainly for us filmmakers it kind of felt that way.

Canon never set out to change everything, but they did. As much as some corners may whinge that it has watered down the industry and created way too much competition, I for one am utterly grateful for what happened. Prior to this, I saw so many people get work because they had the gear, not the talent. Now the playing field is levelled, talent can shine. It’s not all great of course, as more competition means less work for some, and many saw a collapse in their amount of work and the amount they were able to charge. This sucks but it’s inevitable. It happened to the stills industry quite a long time ago after all.

Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 16.35.46

In fact it was the coming of DSLRs that ironically made me move my career plans from being a photographer to a video cameraman. A photographer friend of my father took me aside and said “Philip, I know this is what you want to do, but everything is going to change in the coming years and the incredible time we are all having will come to an end. Digital will take over and with that will come a huge influx of people into the industry cheapening it and dropping the quality. It is inevitable. Have you ever thought about moving images? That’s where the future is”. Utterly true, and this was back in 1988. If he had said to me “but beware of the end of 2008, a French-American will come along and drop a New York based short on us, shot on a camera that will do the same for video that is going to happen to stills” then I would have laughed at him and just ignored him. Well, that happened 🙂

Of course we have lived with the issues these cameras gave us and of course the freedom too, but people want more now of course, especially with DSLRs being in a bit of rut at the moment. They are fed up with compressed codecs. So when RED brought out the Scarlet many people saw this as their way out of DSLRs and into the big league. Now of course this is utter nonsense. As I said before, no camera will actually make you better. Some cameras will help you get work though. C300s for example are massively popular right now and owner operators are reaping the benefits of this. Most of the people I know who bought Scarlets were gutted when this massive investment from their T2i didn’t pay off. For some it did, but for most no. Why? A CAMERA DOESN’T MAKE YOU ANY BETTER! I may have mentioned that to you already 😉


Blackmagic Design in April last year dropped a bombshell on us. A $3000 raw shooting video camera (that also shoots on, the much ignored feature of the camera, ProRes HQ and Avid DNXHD modes which are damn fine). $3000? WHAT?! How is this possible? Well, mostly due to a lot of off the shelf components and a clever knowledge of how to deal with video due to their experience in the post production market. With limited R&D costs, they were able to bring out a camera with such high end features and low cost that it was probably the biggest kick up the backside we have had since the 5DmkII.

Ponte Tower from Philip Bloom on Vimeo  Shot on the Blackmagic in raw.  

Now, they have had huge supply issues which have marred things and now announced new cameras just a year later, and before most people who ordered the original camera received their orders. I have talked about the pros and cons of the Blackmagic camera through two in-depth reviews of both the EF and MFT versions. A lot of these issues are actually nothing to do with the raw, so I recommend watching them if you have not already. This is the main review and this is the MFT add on.

Now with the additional excitement of the new Magic Lantern hack which has quite incredibly brought raw video to the 5DmkIII, the raw clamour has reached unparalleled heights. Although this hack is still in a very early stage, it will undoubtedly reach a more stable level pretty soon, and everyone will be desperate to shoot everything in raw on the MKIII. Why? Because it’s raw…you know? It’s better. Yep. It is. A hell of a lot better. Not just that, but the image itself is better than the MkIII is able to give us normally. There is more detail, and with raw much more dynamic range of course. There are are a number of big caveats though which I will get to…but the achievement of these people is incredible and should be applauded hugely.

I am assuming most people know what raw is. I didn’t at first when I came across on DSLRS so if you don’t know, are too embarrassed to ask and haven’t yet googled it then here is a description 🙂

Anyone who shoots stills know how massively better raw photos are to manipulate than JPEGS. That’s the crux of the whole argument. It’s a digital negative.  This is the same that raw video offers us over codecs like MXF, ProRes and AVCHD. You may notice I am not using the word uncompressed. Uncompressed IS NOT raw. Please don’t get them confused. There is uncompressed raw. That is what the Blackmagic Cinema Camera gives us, and its files are massive. The RED for example shoots raw but is compressed. The amount is up to you when you use the camera, there are different levels of compression. R3D is for me probably one of the best formats I have ever used, not the simplest to use, but the most powerful yet workable. The user can decide the level of compression that works for them while still maintaing raw. Compression is our friend. Well lossless compression is our friend! Why? Money and time. Money, as our storage needs are slashed, both in cards/ SSDs/ hard drives. Time as the files are much smaller meaning they’re quicker to work with, and of course time is money, so really it all comes down to one thing…money. Money is why we should not shoot raw for everything. The same can be said of 4k.

4K version: 576 Megapixels from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

4K of course doesn’t mean raw, it’s simply 4 times the resolution of HD. Does it look 4 times better? To me I would say no. It looks better, just not four times better. I currently own two 4K capable cameras. One I can’t use the 4K with yet as I don’t have the firmware update yet or the 4K recorder. That is the FS700. A strange beast of a camera. Terrific features and image combined with a form factor and intuitiveness that frustrates me every time I use it…but it’s a great camera and is 4K capable.

The other 4K camera I own is the Canon 1DC. This is my favourite 4K camera I have used. Is it because the image is better than the rest? Nope. Is it because the compression is efficient? Nope, quite the opposite. Then why? Because it’s small and it records internally and also shoots brilliant HD. There is no other 35mm video camera that size that can shoot 4K internally to that quality. The biggest issues for this camera are that it has all of the quirks of shooting video on a DSLR and most importantly the lack of decent compression.

Motion JPEG is about as efficient as a 10 man crew shooting an interview. We have long gone past Motion JPEG being a good codec. It is so inefficient it means we have a bit rate that often exceeds 400 MB/S (The internal 4k of the F55 is twice as efficient as the 1DC) My FS700 shoots 24-28 MB/S albeit in HD. AVCHD is an efficient codec. Not exactly super robust but not bad. It’s actually better than XDCAM EX which is 35mb/s. The higher the number the better, yes? Afraid not. It’s all about how it gets compressed, the efficiency.

So with this rather high bitrate, the cost of cards that can handle such a huge stream of data is very high. 30 minutes on my 1DC equals 128gb roughly. A 128gb branded 1000x speed card, the speed you need, is in excess of £600 generally. There are cheap ones out there, I use many Komputerbay ones which are a fraction of the cost. They scare me. They are not a known brand, but I couldn’t afford the branded cards I needed for the documentary shoots I do. I never offload during the day. I do use my NextoDI for on location secondary backup, but I never offload to the requisite 3 to 4 hard drives on location and reuse the same cards during the day. Why? Because I am shooting. Certain people have told me I am unprofessional for not having a DIT on set/ location to manage offloads. I think these people need to go out on a few documentary shoots with me to see this cosy ideal is utterly impractical most of the time, and of course not affordable for the majority. I ended up buying 13 cards. A big outlay yet only 6 and a half hours of recording time. Fine for most shoots. A little bit tight for interviews and I shoot all my interviews in 4K now, more on that later 🙂

With the Magic Lantern hack, I have heard of people having success with slightly slower cards. That’s great, but I am pretty certain their cards are going to stop fairly frequently. I don’t know about you, but I have no desire for my camera to ever stop rolling when I don’t want it to. 1000x cards are needed for the current Magic Lantern hack, which means a lot of money is needed for data acquisition and that is before we even get into offloading them.

I love my 1DC though. I can take it anywhere with me in a simple shoulder bag and shoot 4K stock footage whenever I want. I can shoot guerrilla style in 4K which is pretty lovely as the camera is so compact and of course I love the image. I just hate the format. Not just the cost in cards and in storage but in the time it takes for me to deal with it in the edit.

For so many years I have been editing full HD files on my laptops with no issues. None of this proxy nonsense. I don’t need that. I remember going into a production house about 6 years ago to check out an edit for a series I had done for Channel 4 in SD. They were editing in 15:1 as they didn’t have the storage capacity for the original DV tapes…yep DV, shot on the lovely DSR-450. I found this astonishing as I was editing XDCAM full HD on my macbook pro on 5400RPM USB 2 drives. Now though with my 1DC, I cannot edit without using proxies. My computer cannot cope with it and I need very fast drives to edit the files from. As I travel for around 10 months of the year, I edit the vast majority of my work on my Macbook Pro Retina. Powerful computer but not powerful enough. So even if Apple astonishingly did release new MacPros it would make little difference to me right now as I am never home!

So let’s go over the main pros and cons of raw.

Let’s start with raw


WAY better dynamic range than most cameras.

Huge flexibility in post.

Can help mistakes made on shoots or help us get past issues we couldn’t overcome.

It opens up many creative options in really hard shooting environments, making my life as DP easier often and this is not about laziness.


Generally cannot be edited natively, proxies are needed after going into software like DaVinci resolve to interpret the raw data and tweak them before exporting to the proxy format. This is very time consuming.

Much larger files than compressed codecs meaning lots and lots of cards. Though there are raw compressed options out there like R3d and cineform which I am expecting will be licensed and put into the new 4k BlackMagic Production Camera.

The huge cost in acquisition media and the enormous cost of storage on top of this.

You need to learn new skills. This is almost a pro actually. Working with raw is not as easy as many think. Education is key here.

It’s not magic. You still need to know how to expose properly and I actually think a light meter comes into its own here, knowing how many stops of light difference there are between the shadows and the highlights. STILL hold the highlights more than the shadows for most raw cameras as a rule.

People will want to shoot everything with it, then hit a massive bottleneck on their projects in dealing with files. It will be a hard but necessary lesson.

Now the pros and cons of 4k


Incredibly detailed images, 4 times that of HD but they are not obviously so.

Fantastic ability to crop in post. Something I do on all my interviews for docs now that I shoot 4k for them. I am not shooting 4k docs – just 4k talking heads. I can then go in for tights or back out whenever I want in the edit. Way better.

“Future proof” I am bit hesitant about this as I see very little need for future proofing most of my work. Now for high end drama and big docs then yes. Do it.

You have a higher end format to sell to clients. Sometimes an advantage. Not always though…see cons.

Scaling down to 2K in post often yields quite stunning results.


Inefficient codec mean massive files. Even efficient ones are pretty big, which means expensive cards and lots of storage.

Inability to edit natively for the vast majority of people. Proxies are used which of course adds time.

Most production companies I have dealt with cannot take it.

Almost nobody can actually watch 4k. I can’t.

It can lead to lazy cinematography. Although I use the crop to help me in interviews, this is not due to being lazy but to give me options. You should never forget the tight shots because you can crop. The whole aesthetic changes. The depth of field remains the same so it doesn’t look like a true close up

You need to be even more skilled, as mistakes are easier to spot.

Incredibly unforgiving and harsh. Showing the flaws in everything, especially people. Fantastic for beauty shots etc..for drama it’s actually too detailed and causes the DP many issues.

Needs a really big screen to really see the difference.

Will it actually take off as a consumer format for the home? I am very pessimistic about this.


That last point brings me onto how I judge things like whether consumers will go for it. I judge everything like this by using my friends and family.

For example. My sister has a lovely HD TV. A year ago I saw she had no HD sources, not even blu-ray. I asked why she hadn’t and her answer was “I can’t tell the difference”. Now SD to HD was huge in quality leaps. So I bought her a Blu-ray player and some movies. I said to her she must be thrilled by the massive increase in quality. Her response? “I can’t tell the difference”. That is my sister.

My parents came to BVE to see my 4K seminar for Canon. The projection screen at BVE was too small to really show off the 4K properly and only on close inspection could you really tell. People 2 rows back from the front would not have noticed any difference.

I showed mum and dad a live feed from a 4k camera into a 4k monitor on the show floor. I said, “This is 4 times better than your image at home on your TV”. The response? “Oh”…followed by my dad saying “Is it? Our TV looks better!”

Now I am not saying this is what everyone thinks, but I strongly believe that most consumers don’t want to be sold another format when HD looks fantastic anyway. It’s going to be hard to sell, especially when it really is harder to tell the difference than when we went from SD to HD.

On the topic of TVs, I have to mention how god damn awful they all look in TV showrooms. They all look like the 48p version of The Hobbit. I hated the 48p version of The Hobbit. It looked cheap. Simple as that.

Some say I am old school and it’s the future. That 24p is not enough for cinema. Maybe that is true. In fact I think it is. I just love the look of 24p and everything else looks wrong. I can’t even stand 30p, and interlaced is the devil!

Will this change with time? I am sure it will. I don’t actually know anyone who liked the 48p version of “The Hobbit”. I have heard that people do, especially the much younger generation as it “looks like my video games”. Will it take off? Not for now. In the future, quite possibly. Why? Because the public will get used to that awful look? How? Because of their TVs!

TVs are sold with all these whizz bang picture enhancements that all SUCK. I once was in a store with my parents and the salesman was selling a TV to my parents citing all these cool features that make the image look “better”. I had to interrupt. I said “it’s these features that make my work look like crap. They are not good. They are quite the opposite!”

Go into any TV showroom and you will see what I mean. I even saw a £35,000 85″ Samsung 4k TV in Selfridges the other day. It had all that crap on it. Looked like poo. I decided not to buy the TV because of that. Nothing to do with my total lack of £35,000 😉

In fact, I hate these settings so much that at every opportunity I take all these settings off. Everytime I go round to a friend or relatives house they have all that stuff on. I ask if they like it, the answer is almost always no. They just thought that was what flat screen TVs look like. So I turn it all off.


So much so that I have been known to do this in actual stores! When nobody is looking I quickly access the menu and turn it all off. No point explaining it to the staff. They don’t care for the most part.

My wonderful TV's god awful feature!
My wonderful TV’s god awful feature!


Iron Man deserves better than this!
Nor does Avatar although maybe James Cameron prefers it all smooth!
I must do something!
Is the coast clear?
Here we go!!
Getting into those menus!!
Trumotion you are the devil!!


High frame rate shooting (and 3D to be honest) are really not something I like at all…BUT…I adore raw, I adore 4K. I just don’t think most of us need either for the vast majority of our work. Great for people doing effects work, green screen etc. Great for fiction work for sure with a budget, as the gain at the post end is substantial. For most other work? Neither are really needed.. Do you want to shoot a wedding in 4K raw? Please do…I then want you to write me a blog post on what it was actually like.

I wish I could shoot everything in 4K and raw but until storage drops in price enormously and compression gets better AND computing power catches up (I have to edit 90% of my work on a laptop because I am travelling all the time) it must remain a tool to be used as and when, and those times will be rare for most. I am utterly guilty of shooting in 4K just because I can. I still find it astonishing that not one of my films on the Epic ever were mastered in 4k (actually I think “Host” may have been). I certainly have never seen any of my Epic stuff in 4k. In fact most of it went to either web or standard def amazingly!

Host (a Danny Lacey short film) from Danny Lacey on Vimeo SHOT ON RED EPIC IN 4K

If I was able to edit my 4k more easily, then I would shoot almost all of it in 4K as it does look better. I miss my RED Epic, it was fantastic but it actually was unnecessary for almost all my work. I wish I still had it in many ways, but it had to go.  I may have to cross over to the dark side and buy a big old PC tower soon so I can really kit it out to edit 4k natively. My brand new iMac freaks out at me when I try and edit, even with the nice Nvidia Cuda card in it. Although unless I am home more it won’t make a difference as it’s still laptop time! I know that it won’t end up as 4k and I also know I need to buy shares in Western Digital, as the demand for hard drives is going to sky rocket!

The same really goes for raw. With the Blackmagic having raw and the 5D3 now getting close to having raw in the magic lantern hack doesn’t mean you should use it all the time. This is not a dis on the Magic Lantern achievement at all. Far from it. I am shocked and blown away that they were able to do it. When it’s stable I am sure there will be times when I will find it useful but I doubt I will shoot a whole project on it for the same reasons why I choose to shoot ProResHQ on the Blackmagic instead of raw and would only occasionally shoot raw for key shots or moments. It’s a tool I use when needed. If Canon had actually put raw video into the 5Dmk3 themselves I would still only use it when I absolutely needed it for the same reasons. After all when I shoot stills I always shoot raw but when I shoot MASSIVE timelapse projects like the recent Las Vegas one which was 160 shots (a huge amount for time-lapse) I had to forget shooting raw (which pained me greatly) and shoot JPEG for the majority of the shots as it was just too impractical. Yes…there is a compromise but it was simply not workable for such a massive project with a very quick turnaround.

For now, the additional time needed to work with it in post is something I cannot deal with. Edits take long enough as they are…I am firm believer in keeping things economically feasible in post. I am also a firm believer in using lighing and composition to cope with the relatively limited dynamic range and relatively little push and pull you can do in post with these compressed codecs. Sometimes I actually want a window to be blow out you know? Otherwise I can always do the thing I have been doing for 25 years. I ND gel the window! I am a firm believer in nailing it in camera and only “fixing it in post” as a last resort. Raw is not a replacement for lighting properly or making less of an effort. Likewise, 4K is not a replacement for getting proper coverage. These are both tools that can really help us technically when making films. They just won’t make our films any better!

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. I will try and rectify that. Trying to juggle everything has become tricky, and I am looking for a regular writer for the site who can cover different topics for me, sometimes the odd news piece but generally more interesting topics. If this is you, then write to me at the address at the bottom of this page. 



  1. Another brilliant summary. I would even argue that the ultimate format to record isn’t raw but various flavors of ProRes. Unfortunately the internal processors on most any DSLR (except for perhaps the 1DC, Canon are you listening?) are simply not capable of doing this…yet. My only hope is that high def storytelling will sometimes accompany the deluge of raw content that is about to hit the inter webs!

  2. I always wonder that if your mastering format is digi beta, you could see the difference if the footage was shot in 4k, 1080 or SD?
    Will the 4K footage look sharper ?

  3. Great post Philip … it breathes the epicness (and fun) of those good old posts that on your site that have made me a fan and follower of yours long before we became friends 🙂

    I wholeheartedly agree with 90% of what you say here.

    I just wanted to add one thing about those proxies: On of the most overlooked features in the F55 is its ability to instantly create MPEG-2 1080p proxies (50MBit/s in 4:2:2, essentially XDCAM HD) when recording XAVC 4K to the SxS Pro+ cards or raw to the external recorder.

    It saved us SO much time when editing and grading the F55 music video “Struck by the Light”, and it makes the whole proxy workflow really a lot less painful because you save all the time needed for conversion before you can actually start to work on the edit. (F55 review and details here: http://www.ninofilm.net/blog/2013/04/30/sony-f55-review-music-video-deja-struck-by-the-light/)

  4. Had this exact conversation with a producer recently. One point I will raise though. Future proofing. Should we aim for this 4k market or take a leaf out of Deakins book and shoot 2.8k and upscale? I vote for the time being to upscale. A lot of our work we do is VFX and 4k is brilliant for that but I still advise people to shoot in lower scale.With the future mor, films and tv shows will be watched on all variety of devices (especially mobile). From small mobile screens to giant tvs and cinema. 4k for the internet ate the moment is completly pointless. 4k on small screen devices even more so. Would we be better future proofing ourselves then by working within our limits at 2k and keep ourselves flexible enough to cover all formats?

  5. love the post Philip, ………very funny about tv buying experience with the store salesman, a had a good laugh. keep up the good work, well worth reading your work. have a good evening Phill

  6. Hey Philip,

    you speak out of my soul – I have to say that.

    I remember the good old times were we had quality analog tv and analog film – uncompressed raw that was, now we have heavily compressed content all over, SAT, TV, Youtube, Vimeo, etc. all ugly as hell! Where has the quality been left? I think we live in a society in which we accept bad quality because we dont remember the better quality content anymore – and the younger guys and gals grow up with compressed video and digital movies.

    Not that I think digital is a bad thing or that there is only bad compression out there – no, I think we have reached a level at which even compressed material can look really frickin good! I like that!

    I giggled a bit while reading your little TV-Police-Story there, thats what I did countes times on parents and friends tvs, computers, etc. I think there should be kind of THX certification for TV and screen settings and that the settings must be periodly checked from a tv-police-officer and if the image was reset to ugly-state, there should be penalties 😀 … but seriously, most tv-soap-watchin folks arent worth to have a good image – it has to look bad! 🙂

    Regarding the Canon 5D MkIII and raw recording – thats great and I whished every one of my cameras would have raw capabilities, but raw alone is not practical for video for the most uses. It would be much better if there would be a good codec like Sony’s new XAVC which can store even 4k and compressed raw in 10 and 12-bit. And that would make a really good combination of specs, because file sizes are not that big, but we have better color gradiation and higher than HD resolutions.

    A few days ago I’ve also written my thoughts on the newly crafted raw feature for the 5D MkIII and they are similar in some ways to yours 😉 http://ntown.at/blog/2013/05/13/magic-lantern-canon-eos-5d-mk3-raw-movie-recording/

    I’m curious what will be the next hypy-thingie before we get decent quality for a decent price and with gear we love to use on our projects to make great films with great stories!

    Thank you for your quality, entertaining and inspiring articles! OK have to stop writing now 😉


  7. I agree.

    Why did George Lucas decided to go that route rather than shoot 4K on the EPIC? Must be a reason.

    I believe that technology will take us to 10K or beyond, but that matters very little, if all we are going to see and watch is bad content, because, even skateboarders with consumed credit cards, buying BMCC’s or RED Cameras are going to grow old. There is so much RAP and HipHop one can take.

    Companies using the scheme of better and bigger numbers are not in the business of hoping for everyone to make a masterpiece, they are “hoping” to sell massively the latest hardware and we know who those customers are. Most of my clients have no idea what 4K means or what it does, they do care however, about how pretty and marketable their product is, and if it looks great on SD or HD It makes my life a lot easier.

  8. Completely agree about the true motion. I had a friend tell me they hated Blu-Ray and would never buy one, turns out they had only seen a blu-ray with the high framerate turned on.

  9. Philip,

    as much as Ive really admired your work and this article, I have to say the fact you have dropped in zacuto, kessler and the ‘z-bag’ in between your article incredible tactless and its a shame you have to do that than for no other reason than the fact that you know thousands of people will read this article. was that really necessary?

    Having said that a great article.

    1. Neil, I wrote to you off here but I need to address this here too.

      Why is this a problem? This is a free site that takes a huge amount of time to keep going, just this article was many days work. The adverts are there to keep things financially viable. I seriously cannot believe they are that big a problem. They are certain not tactless which means inconsiderate or indiscreet therefore offending someone. How is it either of these? Who can take offence at a few banner posts…I think they actually help too as they break up this massive chunks of text!

      I am sorry you don’t see that money is an important factor in keeping things going. This whole site costs a lot of money to keep going. It’s sad that you cannot see such an obvious thing and take offence to it. After all I don’t put massive pop ups over the whole thing that you have to close off. These are simply banners from my site sponsors.

      Anyway best wishes


      1. Seriously? That is a rather harsh statement Neilhartop. I, like many others appreciate the time and effort Philip puts in to provide us so much valuable information. For us to expect him or any other professional to devote their time to helping us grow as filmmakers at their own expense is preposterous. It’s not like the ads are of random products or services. They all have to do with filmmaking, which is what this blog is all about. I am in no way trying to attack you but just providing some insight that this is one of the few sites available where the author is ethical in his statements and not an outlandish fanboy of a specific manufacturer like some of the other blogs out there. Great post Philip and as always thank you for all of your hard work.

        1. First, I am a professional, I help my students a great deal, I help folks around the world a great deal, and I keep a blog I don’t get paid for. “Fanboys” is a dangerous term to use. Everyone can be accused of some form of Fanboy-dom. There are many professionals helping without paid advertising on their sites. Just FYI.

          1. Hang on? So you are criticising me for having adverts too? Really?

            I must say if the people it bothers really don’t like it then please all i can say is why are you reading my site? You said there are many blogs that don’t have advertising. That’s their decision. Please remember this site is utterly free for readers. I do not charge a penny for this site. With regards to adverts you are not obliged to click on anything. I am not holiding a gun to your head saying click this now or you cannot read any more.

            I find myslef defending the obvious once again and for the last time: I have many bills to pay including very expensive hosting of this site and of course the immense amount of time I put into it. If you think I should just go bankrupt by running the site sponsor free then ok…alright that’s a bit over dramatic…here is the reality I someone once more have to spell out. Without the advertising this site would cease to exist. If I had zero money coming in to sustain it then I would close it. I simply couldn’t afford to keep it going. Just the hoesting alone is huge. With in excess of 1 million hites a month this is a very expesnive site to maintain, that is before the time i take to work on it…So the choice is yours. It’s basic economics which I am sure you must understand.

            FYI I knew a number of VERY large blogs that have no obvious paid adverts on their site. Instead they have sponsor contacts for substantial sums. My advertsing is much more up front than that. You see them, I declare them in my ethics statement.

            I must ask you therefore…why do you take such strong issue with something that helps me keep it going and affects you in no way whatsoever…? Please tell me. I am shocked by these comments. I live in a world where I need money. It’s shit. I would rather we were in a Utopian existence where money is no longer needed. Until then I have to live in this reality. The one where things cost money.


            Best wishes


            1. perhaps the original author of the comment would be placated if this website was not such a mess design wise. You embed your writing with so many images, videos and “ads” that it makes reading the thing a massive headache. What exactly is the purpose of the multiple photos of you working with various bits of kit?

              You might be able to reduce your “massive” costs if you A: stopped posted so many images in each post and B: stop using WordPress which is a massive resource hog. You could strip 90% of the stuff out of this website, make it easier to read, easier to use and less expensive to operate and also increase the financial return from the ads. A win win all around.

              I’ve followed your writing for some time and your constant histrionics do you no favours. Chill out, take criticism on the chin and move forward. (also, the comment box doesn’t work properly on Safari OSX, another wordpress problem.)

              There is a 99.9% chance you won’t listen to single thing said here but what the hell, we can but try.

              1. My histrionics? You don’t think a comment like this is a bit OTT? Look I have said this time and again. We live in a free world. PLEASE if you don’t like coming to my site please don’t come. It would be a shame but honestly comments like this just make me wonder what is the logic behind writing it?

                You probably know way more about web design than me. That’s fine. Do you know how much time and resources I put into this…the massive costs? Nope. Now PLEASE give me a break and show a wee bit of respect on my own site. You may think you are being helpful but its written in such a deregatory way I must ask you…would you say this to my face? Me…someone who is a stranger to you? Are you that sort of person? Someone without manners.

                I apprecaite the advice. I just don’t appreciate the tone. Not one bit. Histrionics or not. Politeness and respect cost nothing. As does my site and resource to you.



                1. I’m not sure the motivation of those who think Philip
                  is cashing in for some reason. I’ve personally been
                  reading posts, following advice and bouncing ideas
                  off Philip for years and found he has been nothing
                  but brilliant and a genuine, stand-up contributor to
                  the industry. I’ve learned more from his reviews than
                  any other source on the web. All the gear on this site
                  whether promoted or suggested is solid gear. I wonder
                  how many of the people who were offended have offers
                  to advertise on their sites. Understand the difference
                  between someone who is sharing his knowledge
                  for the better good of what we do and someone who
                  is selling out. Philip, I hope you know that my colleagues
                  and myself consider you a pioneer. Keep up the great
                  work by any means necessary. Cheers

                  1. I cannot believe anyone is giving you crap about the adverts or the formatting of your articles. Off with their heads, Philip. I will gladly fly to England (or wherever these scoundrels congregate) from this harsh desert to assist you in this endeavor.

    2. You should write to the New York Times and tell them not to put ads in their paper as well. And while you’re at it, call up the TV networks and have them stop interrupting your programs with those silly little advertisements. We should expect to get excellent articles and content for free without any interruptions.

    3. Nei(from 5 months ago)l, really? As a blunt American I just have to tell you to STFU (respectfully, of course). What PB is doing is a HUGE amount of work and a person like me gains a HUGE amount of information for FREE. So please, do something better or shut up. I wish PB nothing but a huge amount of wealth and happiness. And by the way, I’ve clicked through the adverts and they’re damn good companies who employ hundreds (if not thousands) of individuals who earn a decent living doing what they want to do. Spread the wealth and knowledge, Philip. Cheers.

  10. Nice, thoughtful, interesting post. Thanks.

    You never did finish that Bondi Beach comparison with the c100 and others.

    Like waiting for the other shoe to drop, you drunk bas… blighter.



  11. It’s a brilliant post. If it’s one thing I’ve realized being a film student and growing into being a DP is how agnostic I’ve become to cameras, specs, etc. There are so many other factors that I have to be dealing with that what the camera is resolving to is the least of my concerns.

    To me the biggest advantage I can say from owning my 5D has been that I’ve actually had it for the last year. With all the wonderful 4k cameras, BMCCs and such nothing has been as good as being able to work on projects and practice my composition/lighting/etc. All things I can’t do with some theoretical camera.

    That said there is a definite place for the magic lantern hack in my world. I like to shoot more fictional/scripted stuff (versus ENG or Documentary) so having that extra room is a plus. For me the ideal would be to sync recording with an external pro-res recorder and edit with that footage then re-link to the DNGs for grading and other post goodness.

    Enjoy keeping up with your work Philip.

  12. I want to thank you for the interesting posts that you write. It is very well written and informative in every way. That you also writes with humor and a twinkle in the eye does not make things worse 🙂 I myself have changed camera model when I realized the camera’s limitations and when my opportunities are exhausted. Would love changed me into a better camera, but I have enough to fill the piggy bank first 🙂
    Thank you for spending all this wonderful job, so the rest of us get the chance to be even better and more knowledge! Cheers Peter

  13. Good blog post, Philip, and I appreciate that it’s very much focussed on products that are currently shipping.

    If it’s allowable to also include products that are announced, but not yet shipping, then I’d like to add a few comments about the new $4K Blackmagic Production Camera 4K and its 10-bit 4:2:2 “ProRes 422 HQ” @ “4K” resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels) recording capability.

    We don’t know yet what data rate Blackmagic’s announced “lossless compressed RAW” codec will be recorded at, so we don’t know yet how much media, storage, or processing speed/power it’ll require.

    But we know exactly what the data rate is for ProRes 422 HQ 4K: Up to 884 megabits/sec @ 30 fps. That’s an Apple standard, and that’s what BMD will use in order to be certified by Apple. We also know that ProRes 422 HQ 4K can easily be handled even by older Mac & Windows hardware & software (with certain exceptions), such that 4 or more ProRes 422 HQ concurrent 4K streams can be edited/composited concurrently without breaking a sweat.

    At 884 mb/s, up to 2 hrs. of ProRes 422 HQ 4K can fit on a 500GB SSD, and the SSD doesn’t have to be super-fast because the data rate is much lower than BMCC uncompressed 2.5K RAW. And quite a few hrs. of ProRes 422 HQ 4K can be stored on 4TB 7200 rpm hard drives, which now sell for less than $185 US each. Not “cheap” or “free”, but relatively inexpensive — given the benefits.

    What we don’t know is when the BMPC-4K camera will actually start shipping. Although BMD says “by late July 2013”, given their previous track record, when it’ll actually start shipping remains a complete unknown.

    I hope the BMPC-4K starts shipping on time, or close to, because I placed a no-deposit no-obligation pre-order for one on 4/8/13 — but I’m not holding my breath.

    There’s more about this on my blog:

    Thanks again for a good discussion on timely topics.


    1. cheers Pete will check it out! Data rates really are a huge issues not just with raw. The irony is if BMD implement Cineform which surely they will then we could end up having raw mode which shoots more efficiently that ProRes HQ. Great news. Still the fiddly post but with smaller files it’s more workable and if Premiere can bring us native Cineform then yes please!

      1. I agree Cineform acquisition in a BMD camera would be nice, but my guess is BMD sees GoPro as a potential competitor rather than as a potential partner.

        I figure it’s only a matter of time before GoPro makes a “high end” camera (relative to existing GoPro cams) that feature-wise overlaps with one or more of BMD’s cams. GoPro has the money, and their camera line has nowhere to go but “up”. Likewise, BMD has shown an interest in making smaller, less-expensive cams.

        So, unless they decide there’s no downside to cooperation, BMD may not want to be dependent on GoPro in any form.

        Especially now that BMD is putting considerable effort into developing “lossless compressed RAW CinemaDNG” for their own cams, they may feel there’s not much need for Cineform (rightly or wrongly).

        Meanwhile, ProRes 422 HQ 4K will be a fine solution. It plays & edits smoothly & easily even on older hardware & NLEs.

        I’m primarily interested in 4K as a way to get a high-quality 1080p finished edit, including cropping in post, and specifically the BMPC-4K cam because it’s relatively inexpensive, has a global shutter sensor, and shoots 4K & 1080p ProRes 422 HQ. I already own all the other bits to make it a complete shooting solution (mostly the same bits I use with other cams.)

        The b-i-g question will be will BMPC-4K footage actually look any good, and when will the cam actually start shipping?

        We’ll see. Cheers.

        – Peter


  14. For me and people like me if I want the very best image quality for under $4000 because that is my absolute budget limit, for me and people like me this is absolutely huge.

    For people who are aspiring film makers or media students and want to make beautiful images, shoot some music videos or portrait/docu short film, while getting to own and have 24/7 access to a tool, and who cannot afford Canon C-series or FS700, all of a sudden raw on a 5D mark iii has made image quality that was previously impossible, possible.

    As far as codec goes, the images from the raw hack we are seeing from the 5D mark 3 on vimeo and youtube in web compressed formats seem to indicate that canon has done something other than codec that softens the image and limits the dynamic range. The magic lantern hack has unlocked an image quality that should have been visible in All-i h.264. Compression alone does not seem to explain the resolution difference.

    Also it’s absolutely amazing to see the latitude and detail in shadows that a few of the grades have been able to achieve. It’s the look that people have been getting with C300 and BMCC but its now in the 5D.

    At this stage there is no in camera compression that gives you a fair representation of what the camera can actually do. Raw is the only way of tapping the 5D iii’s true potential and lots of people are going to use it, me included.

    If canon gave us compressed footage in C-log in the 5d3 that looked anything like what the web compressed versions of raw I’ve been looking at in the last few days I would be more more inclined to agree with you on the thrust of your post.

    I don’t work as a professional, I do amateur “for the love of it” work that I want to look the very best it can. Time is something I have as I’m not working at $$ to the hour. Most projects I work on have a at most a few hours of total footage. It is manageable at the high data rates. I can only imagine that many of the readers of you blog, who were initially drawn to it through your innovative use of S35 adapters and the early methods of getting manual aperture from 5D ii would relate to what I’m saying.

    Flexibility in post and the ability to do more with a smaller lighting budget that’s also really important to me. Most of the stuff I do we don’t have a lighting budget. If I’m lucky we can borrow some from someone who knows someone, otherwise we just use practicals and reflectors. Raw helps make my lighting budget look like it may have been bigger than this.

    I can see why it might not be for you Philip, You have a multitude of camera options and workflows available time is your enemy.

    For me, roll on the DSLR revolution.

    1. Sam

      I think you have misunderstood my post. I did not say it’s not for me full stop (are we talking raw or specifically the mk3 raw hack?) I said it’s unnecessary for most of people’s work. I have to be honest Sam. I would rather spent that extra time working on the ideas behind the film than dealing with it in post. If you are able to do both then great!

      Am I against the hack? Good god no and if anyone can possible get that from reading my post then I am at a loss for words. I make is pretty clear how amazing I think it is. All I am doing here is laying out all the pros and cons of what this actually means for most people. Whether amateur or pro. It’s not just about time, it’s about making sure one knows what it can and can’t achieve and what it will mean for your work.

      So why is it sharper than the Mk3 internal codec? Let’s see why in James Miller’s upcoming post for the site where he delves deep into all the options this camera offers and tries to explain what this all means….again with pros and cons.

      The blackmagic brought raw to the masses and it’s astonishing. I just need people to get that you simply don’t need to shoot raw for anything. For me I would shoot raw when a shot needs it. That is all. A well light, well exposed and well thought through shot is a GREAT discipline and one we must not forget. I don’t want people taking less care when shooting in nailing it because of it likewise I don’t want people to slack off on getting proper coverage with the raw. That’s all!

      I wish you luck and as soon as I get a stable version of the hack I will consider it for certain productions…but just for the odd shots. I would rather have ProRes HQ or the new F5 codec with a lovely 14 stop dynamic range, what the Blackmagic and the F5 offer us already.

      Technology is moving at a rapid pace and it’s exciting to be a filmmaker. The key thrust of this post is not to let the hyperbole get in the way of your filmmaking and distract you. We are here after all to create! 🙂

      BEst P

      1. Totally agree with Sam Tansey here. PB as much as I respect your work and like many of your articles, I think this one comes off as more of a convoluted ramble or rant, with too many obvious things like “focus on story and shooting more” . That’s fine though I know your website isn’t just for helping others but also for ranting too.

        Your response to Sam was a much nicer balanced view of everything, but your article and initial tweets were clearly negative and skeptical towards the ML hack, no matter how much you elaborate afterwards.

        I honestly think you responded awkwardly to the ML update because you feel left out. This amazing development is simply not relevant to you anymore. Several years ago you probably would have jumped up and down with joy. My only camera is a Nex-5n and I wouldn’t even consider shelling out my savings for a 5DMiii until I saw the videos of this new hack. In your blog post you talk about how much you love using your 1DC which is a $12k camera. Most of us can’t afford a $12 camera with all the toys around it.

        I appreciate that you try hard to relate to the newbies and the hobbyists as well as the pros and semi-pros, but maybe you should stop trying. You’re in the working pro league for a while now, with lots of experience and gear under your shoulders (due to hard work of course) and travelling the world giving seminars.

        Instead of constantly elaborating and glossing over everything, I think you just should man up and confess that you reacted to the ML raw hack that way because the whole DLSR community were crazy overjoyed and you simply didn’t feel like part of the party anymore.

        Not trying to provoke you with this post, just my honest opinion.


        1. Sigh…yet it goes on. I should just delete all this rather than get upset and defend must once more.

          Please forward me my initial tweets. I would love to read them. It you mean the initial burst mode…then yes. I applauded tho ingenuity but saw no use it that form. An honest and utterly practical opinion. If you are referring to something else please enlighten me.

          I am utterly exhausted of having to defend myself repeatdly.

          I was “left out”? Left out of what? Magic Lantern development. I have never been involved or use it. My “involvement” at this stage would be hypocritical anyway.

          Sorry you find my post a rant. It’s not a rant. This comment? Much more so. The post was personal about my experiences and my love of both 4k and raw and my issues using them.

          Your points are also I believe to be nonsense. You think because I have a 1dc I don’t care anymore? Sorry nonsense. If that is what you believe then I recommend finding a blog where you believe the writer is more in line with you as you you seem to believe filmmaking has a class divide…it’s a class divided as you want to make it.

          We use tools for one reason alone. Filmmaking. You choose a 5d3 with raw hack then great. I use a 1dc for gig or epic or film of my newest acquisition the incredibly elitist Canon 100D. I couldn’t care less what you used nor should you what I use. It’s your choice. So therefore I must ask why do you read this blog if you think I am out of touch.

          I got into this business for one reason alone… Now because I chose to give back (for free I might add) I spend way too much time dealing with utter pointless things like this.

          I am just tying to help. This post was nothing judgmental, there was no rant. It was information for people to use to help them understand something they may not have dealt with before.



        2. And yes… I have been a working pro for 25 years this year but suddenly I am now out of touch? What changed…?

          I am sorry for getting upset and ranting now (yes this was a rant) but I found what you said so wrong that it utterly got to me.

          1. Hey Philip, just to clarify I didn’t mean you are out of touch at all. I said that you are in a higher league to the people who are the most excited about the ML update for 5D3.

            For the record I agree that shooting great stuff with a mediocre camera is better than shooting mediocre content with an amazing 4k Raw cam. I liked your “Booths and Bodies” too and my first solo production was also shot on Nex 5n: https://vimeo.com/64094247

            The tweet that surprised me was when you said:

            “the obsession of this whole 5dmk3 raw hack is just nuts. Please just calm down and go and shoot something instead please! ;)”

            You must understand how to a lot of people that’s the opposite reaction people expect from a camera tech guy like you. Besides, people who waste time only obsessing with tech instead of actual creation will do so regardless!

            The last thing I read/ watched on your blog was the Metabones speed booster review with you and James Miller. That was really cool and resonated with me quite a bit since it was clearly a breakthrough. I pasted that blogpost to countless peers and colleagues. The 5D3 ML hack was not the same as the SpeedBooster but I really think it’s the same category of awesome breakthroughs that don’t take a huge toll on the wallet.

            So yes I was shocked that your reaction wasn’t consistent with your previous attitude and you ended up saying stuff like “it’s ok to use 4k or raw to make your work look better than it really is…”. Maybe you didn’t intend it but surely you can see how that might sound patronising, even to the newbies starting out like me?

            You said a couple of times that you’re exhausted at having to defend yourself. I might be wrong but it seems the vast majority of responses you get are highly praiseworthy- with about 10% being critical, which for me seems about right for a high-profile blog like this, no? Anyway…

            Lastly, maybe my first post was too personal so it rubbed you the wrong way. If you think all my points are totally off then there’s no need to press on. I just saw that you just posted a new blog post on 5D ML stuff so I’ll guess I’ll check that out.



            1. I am not a camera tech guy!! I am a filmmaker who occasionally covers cameras.

              The tweet was not negative. It was not anything but a bit of humour. The whole thing was getting ridiculous. So much energy was being wasted over something cool but really not the most important thing. Hence my jokey comment to channel that instead into actually shooing for now. These are just tools and getting worked up over them serves no purpose at all



            2. And nothing was patronising. I was speaking honestly. Did I not even give you an example of how I do that myself?

              You read way too much into certain things. That’s how I see it.

              Hacks are cool but they are not something I have ever recommended. There is 100% consistency with this if you look back at any posts about them. I worry about them. I don’t recommend them. So why you were perplexed by my seeming lack of jumping up and down with joy makes no sense if you knew how I had talked about these things in the past.

    2. Sam,

      Despite the reply by the gentleman below I totally agree with you. This is fantastic for many people including myself at times.

      It’s exciting and the more options the better…this is more about educating people as to what it means if they have little experience.

  15. Philip.
    Thanks for a great blog as usual. It’s a great tool and really educational and inspirational as I work my butt off to become a better professional in my career! And being free is a huge plus so thanks!! Am booked on your 2 day creative workshop next month so really looking forward to meeting and working with you.
    At the moment, we as a business run a FS100 & FS700. They are ideal for what we do. So, quick question; what would you advise we do capture wise, stick with the internal highest quality AVCHD capture or record externally to something like a Ninja in ProRes or alternate? (4k is deffo something our clients do not need or want at this stage as 99% is for websites).
    Thanks mate. See you next month!

  16. You surely know lots of people at Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc.
    When you convince those manufacturers that it is raw and not RAW, I will write it that way too.
    Until then, sorry but if all camera manufacturers call it RAW, it’s RAW.


  17. Thanks Philip, especially for the rant about MotionFlow/Smoothmotion/TruMotion whatever. Horrible nonsense that must die.

    I’ve been testing playback of your 4K footage (downloaded from Vimeo) in FCP X, and yes, it’s still too heavy to edit natively — like RED footage is. However, if it’s transcoded to ProRes (i.e. optimised) or ProRes Proxy on import (or afterwards) then it’s pretty easy to deal with. Data rate becomes the issue with the ProRes version, and proxy still looks good. Because it’s still 4K, just heavily compressed, it looks really nice scaled down to the Retina screen. I’ve been testing on my 13″ MBP and it works really well.

    If you’re not used to proxies in FCP X, here’s the (easy) workflow.

    1. Set preferences to create proxy files on import. (You could also right-click and Transcode, then tick Proxy in the dialog.)
    2. In Preferences > Editing, there’s a preference to choose “Native or Optimised” or “Proxy”. Switch it to Proxy.
    3. Edit. It’ll still look really good because the proxy is still a 4K file. It’s not a down-rezzed version.
    4. When you want to export a final version or send to Resolve, switch the preference back to “Native or Optimised”.
    5. File > Share > Master File (or something else).

    Editing 4K is actually pretty easy in FCP X. While I don’t generally use optimised or proxy media myself (I shoot ProRes HQ on my Blackmagic) I’d use proxies for 4K.

    No shame in proxies on the bleeding edge. 🙂

  18. Great Post!

    About editing 4K on the road on a macbook. I updated my MBP with two internal ssd´s (exchanged my superdrive) and have a workflow for my 1D-C footage that works now. EOS Movie Utility to HD, compressor converts to ProRes422HQ, ProResHQ 4K is totally workable in FCPX. The filesizes are huge still, but I shot footage for a big stock house and they are getting more and more 4K requests. So it seems there is a bit of momentum right now.

  19. Someday raw will not be a big deal for video editing the way it is for stills for the most part unless you have a Nikon D800 or some media format camera. However as of right now raw is to much for some peoples hard drive space and computer power to process raw data.

    I do think raw does have its place for some hobbyist. For example you are filming something that you know will have blown out high lights or you need more shadow detail. Some parts of your work you can film parts of it in raw but then switch back to the internal codec in your camera to save space.

    When people go all crazy over raw its really because they know how far they can push their raw stills over their jpegs. But these people forget that one raw still is one photo. Raw video can be 24p, 25p, 30p, 48p, 50p, 60p and even more.

    With the Canon 5D Mark 3 I hope they can make their raw DNG converter load up batch files so you do not have to drop one by one to be converted.

    Another thing people forget is ergonomics of your camera that is one of the most important part of any camera. I know the Canon C500 is a beast of a machine over the Canon C300 but its a lot more work to set up and lug around. With the Canon C300 its light weight and you can hand hold it with image stabilization and that’s something you won’t see with the Canon C500.

    Just in case people want raw for dynamic range the Nikon D800 was being used on the set of Dexter and they just used the internal codec of the Nikon D800.

    Nikon D800 Holds Its Own in Hollywood: from Janusz Kamiński to ‘Dexter’ and ‘Wilfred’

    Nikon D800 shooting Dexter

    Now the Nikon D800 high ISO is not as good as the Canon 5D Mark 3 and this is why I say only use the RAW codec when you really need to use it. Think of using raw as if you have a filter to avoid moire and aliasing only put it on your camera lens when you need it.

    On the cheap the Canon T4i or T5i has good dynamic range nothing like the Nikon D800 but much better then other cameras in that price range. If you want a sharp image Nikon D5200 and D7100 have raze sharp image and better high ISO then the GH3 but high ISO is best on Canon T4i or T5i for low end cameras.

  20. We shot our last film with the VFX-DP of Independence Day and Armageddon recently and he told me that at the Camera-Lab in Munich this year in the tests even most of the DP’s said they don’t see a huge difference between 2K and 4K. Only the F65 with the new 8K firmware really started to show a significant difference.
    And I think this is partly because of the fact that a lot of the 2K cameras actually have larger sensors around 4K and down-scale to 2K (like the Alexa, C300, C500, FS700 etc.) while most 4K Cameras also only have a 4-5K Sensor.
    Some also see it the other way round and claim an Epic basically upscales a “real” 2K or 3K to 4K/5K and without wanting to start one of these silly discussions, that usually end in a fight between someone who wants to defend having spent 30.000 on a camera he wants to believe is better now and three others that can’t afford it – there is a point to it, because most 4K cameras do not really resolve 4K in three colors, whlile most 2K cameras actually do resolve 2K in three colors – so the difference in actual detail is much less than the difference (4x) in data, which in my opinion is why the Alexa is such a clever, honest and successful camera (plus the fact that their prototypes are more reliable than the finished sold products of RED)

    If you watch the interviews with Roger Deakins for example, i think you get a good idea of how much he cares about boasting with K-numbers and if I compare Skyfall to The Hobbit, for me there is nothing more to say about it =)

    But since you mentioned HD-Tv’s and their “image enhancement” – when I saw “Cloud Atlas” (which I found a lousy film to be honest) I first went to see a 35mm projection, but the film tore after half an hour and they could not fix it for some reason. So I went to a different cinema the next day where they advertised to have freshly installed the best latest 4K projectors out there.
    Now admittedly a 2K DI of a 35mm film upscaled to 4K is generally not great, but what I saw there really shocked me. Still having the 35mm image in mind from the day before, nothing about what I saw came even close to that impression. They had completely oversaturated the images to the point where skin tones broke … The image had a slight magenta cast – it was ridiculous – like having a 20m flatscreen.
    Nobody noticed!
    If I would see a film of mine projected like this I’d run out of the theatre – why go through weeks of testing, CC and grading (I even refuse shooting on RED by now because I think it is not good at skin tones and I don’t like the noise) when every idiot in a hillbilly cinema can fiddle with color balance and saturation of the projector and ruin it?
    That is something that really discouraged me … when people now get used to this shit not only on their home TV-Sets but also in the cinema – scary and sad.

    1. why do not you show us your test?
      I own both an Epic and Alexa is a two cameras are fantastic, and my colorist has never had any problems with color correction on the Epic.
      The noise ful debayer be the same on both the cameras unless you have not seen footage RED debayer a half …..
      Maybe you have problems using Epic!. The only reason why renting now be more Alexa is for workflow and certainly not for the skintone than the Epic.
      However, the fact remains that a camera to be a tool.
      Well if you have any links of your test with RED and Arri original files to download so that everyone can see the problems would be great.

  21. TV motion adjustments: The next great Internet meme (among film makers). Nice work Philip. I agree 100% and can’t wait until 4k is viable for myself.

  22. Thanks for the great post Phillip! This is something I’ve been wrestling with and something that needs to be understood by many before cashing out the farm on gear you don’t really need.

    And I can’t ell you how many times I want scream when I go into a super store or a best buy to see the high refresh rates on their tv’s, making all these great movies look like soap operas. (Sometimes I make it my duty to fix the settings when no one is looking of course. ;^)

    Thanks again for sharing the knowledge. I’m glad I rediscovered your blog.



  23. I am a mk3 shooter and I shot on the RED Scarlet last week.. I’ve ben contemplating the comparisons since–and this blog came at the perfect time! Thanks!! You rock Philip!

  24. Awesome article, enjoyed it all, and we kinda have about same situations with family, where i agree whit my brother`s opinion to have those crap tv functions enabled, they make every shot DSLR look cheap, i shoot 25p since i have no clue how to handle 24p HD to PAL SD (25 fps) when a customer wants a DVD copy also of my work or when my mother doesn`t see the difference between resolutions 🙂 . From what i saw the TV blends the frames to make more out of those 24/25 and sometimes the image looks like crap when you see that smudged detail that the TV comes up with.

    As for Magic Lantern and RAW, RAW is great like you said but not for everything, but the added bonus in detail on the 5D Mk3 is amazing, i have no idea how the 5D records but i would be happy if they could just make the normal h.264 recording as sharp as the RAW one.

  25. Ah I got to leave a comment about this, haha..
    You are wrong about the RAW thing, and I really enjoy typing; it’s funny because you thought other people were more than you..

    It’s not as simple as that every uppercase written word, is a abbreviation.
    RAW is referring to the file being in a ‘raw image format’. There is a difference.

    You cannot shoot raw. You can only shoot in a raw image format. You can shoot RAW, though.

    Bye 🙂

    1. Why do you write this with such glee.

      Actually if is raw. Even manufacturers get it wrong.

      If you disagree that’s absolutely fine. The English language uses capital letters for acronyms. This is not an acronym. Just because it covers all sorts of types if raw doesn’t mean it then becomes capitals.

      No need to take pleasure in pointing out mistake. If I am wrong then that’s fine. We all make mistakes and learn from them. What you don’t do is take pleasure in pointing them out. But for the record. It’s raw. 🙂

  26. I would love for all of the people who are so passionately defending this to actually go out and shoot a feature with raw, 4K, or both, and then come back and let us know if they still love it. If you are editing this material yourself and you do not have a dedicated DIT team then this will be no fun at all. Imagine the amount of storage costs hours of material will have not to mention the time to offload that footage, color correct, and grade it. If you want to get the most out of the format then you will need to do all of these things both efficiently and well. I think that a lot of the people who want raw neither have the people resources or budget to make this work as it should.

    After doing all of this work to get the precious dynamic range you desire you will present your feature to an audience that will not notice or care about this extra benefit. If you do not know how to tell a story, which a lot of raw workflow filmmakers do not seem to be that good at in Hollywood today, then you will end up having done all of this work and no one will care but you. Filmmaking is not a selfish pursuit about having the best gear and image in every shot. It is about presenting something that is consumed by an audience that understands, feels, and appreciates your creative vision. Having beautiful images can definitely help this process but if you do not know how to use the tool to do this the tool itself is useless.

    My final thought would be shoot with what you have now. Do not wait for your pocket book to swell for the next great thing or go in debt to get it. It is only through practical real life experience that you will develop real talent. In this process you will find within yourself the creative vision that you want and need to share with the world. You will be using your time for something people WILL appreciate instead of fanciful illusions of your own grandeur contemplated in times of creative silence. Do not let your creative mind or the ability to share it with others ever be silent for the sake of the next best thing.

    Thanks Philip for putting this post together and sharing it with the rest of us!

  27. I saw high scan rate television for the first time in a hotel room a few months ago. It was fascinatingly bad. My wife insisted I turn off her favourite drama because the television made it look so bad it was undermining how she felt about the program. We also watched Spielberg’s ET which it turns out is a comedy fly on the wall documentary about a boy and his puppet.

  28. TV police thats hilarious, love the photos too… lol All those poor families with kick ass TV’s with controls forever and the poor sales people don’t know either… what on earth are we going to do. We may as well shoot as flat as a pancake and let the TV’s do the saturation. My flatmate turns the bass up way way way too much and yeah, sounds like an elephant farting in a plastic box. I think you should start the TV Police aka TPP (Terrible Picture Police -tm) get some volunteers, train them up and hit the stores.

  29. Hi Philip,
    I’m wondering why you haven’t said much about Magic Lantern raw yet?
    The same goes for eg Vincent Laforet and Newsshooter.com
    After all the talk about the BMCC etc, it seems a bit inconsistent that it has been left to just a couple of blogs to give us their views on this.
    Do you think that some people who spent lots of money on big cinema cameras might be a bit disappointed that the 5D mk iii might now be able to surpass these cameras in image quality?
    Of course raw is not a format that’s right for every job, but surely this is another big development for digital video?
    What are you waiting for?
    Thanks, Tom

    1. After making the post above, I did go back and read Philip’s essay above in more detail, and I appreciate that you have addressed the ML raw a number of times. Even if buried within the cautionary tale.

      I have done quite a few events shoots on the 5d, so I know what it’s like to work with a lot of footage.

      And no, I haven’t actually shot or edited raw video myself, so I can’t say I have real experience. But I have shot raw photos of course. I only use raw photos when I need to, but this is a big deal because it means I can go into places and get shots that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

      Maybe I’m getting over excited, but I still think this a big deal for a lot of shooters and for the image quality of the video work that we’ll be seeing in the future….


      1. Hi Tom

        OK. I must pick up on this. Was this a deliberate choice of words? It implies deliberated hidden. Ridiculous if you believe this.

        Honestly I am sick to death of the mailing i am getting from some people for failing to proclaim the raw 5d hack as the second coming. It isn’t. Lets gets some perspective here! BUT it’s ‘effin brilliant. Incredible I have said so. Countless times. Facebook, twitter and of course here, “buried” in this post

        It’s simply caution and education. A wise thing to do in life full stop. I simply try to explain, to many unnecessarily , what it actually means to work with raw.

        It’s the same stuff I talked about it my Blackmagic review. Same stuff.

        Now because I refuse to say this is the only way to shoot with the mk3 and everyone must do it I am apparently “not lending my support” which i am told the developers are taking as a alight. Luke Neumann for example, who has been testing it for ML has given me so much grief for this caution. We had always been really friendly and he has totally lost perspective about it.

        It’s bloody brilliant. There. Said I again. Started in a new paragraph. Not buried within one.

        It is my responsively as someone who
        people look to for help to explain all the pros and cons of working with this.

        The irony is this post is effectively all about how much I love 4k and raw. A love letter. I just explain how love isn’t always as easy as we would wish it to be.

        I just will not black and white ever say, about anything, that this is the only way to do something. It is never the case.



      1. I didn’t mean deliberately buried. I think it was probably a case of limited attention span on my part there of actually reading the post.

        I am definitely a fan of your big picture approach. It’s not all about shouting out gear news in the headlines.

        I’m looking forward to further developments as raw gets even more accessible and usable but I guess it will take time…

      2. Hi Phillip,

        First of all i would like to thank you for all your posts, i have been a reader for around two years and i thank you for your continued posts as everything progresses.
        Up until now i have never been registered here but after reading this article i felt compelled to post back to you about it.

        I agree with what you are saying here and i think it is a well balanced article that some people have miss interpreted.

        I for one own a FS700, see it as a future proof choice and think it is here for the long run. Why?
        Because it can shoot over-cranked, output 4k, output 2k raw over-crank and on and on, plus its a semi workable camera after a few rails etc.

        The convergence 7q will be out soon but i wont be getting it yet. why?
        I don’t need nor want it. I dont need the raw, i don’t need the 4k and i dont feel like dealing with the expense or back end time dealing with something i could just as well have done in highly compressed 1080. And i understand the demands of the huge files these put out. Heck i have 10tb storage for compressed and even thats filling up like no tomorrow.
        Sure there is a time and place for it as there is for everything but is it for me currently. No.

        The images out of the FS700 are beautiful, the compression makes everything on the back end quick and painless and i enjoy the fact that if i shoot a bad shot i really know it, i cant go, “ugh everything is white, but look i can save it in post as its raw” or “ugh i couldn’t hold the camera steady but never mind il stabilise this 4k” i like the fact that having something less forgiving actually makes me think and compose and expose and most importantly learn.

        All of that probably sounds like madness as im not wanting for more and more and more but its doing the job i brought it to do and now i can focus more on actually shooting content that i can go, yes i nailed that shot or no i did that wrong and heres what im going to do next time to make it better.

        At the end of the day (overused phrase by many) it still is about the person operating the camera, the tools evolve and make it easier or give the illusion of making it easier but the craft remains the same.

        If i client says to me in the future “i want this in 4k” i can offer it to them but i will still want to know if they understand if its necessary or if its a fact of them thinking its necessary when its not.

        Anyway i went of on a bit of a rant there.

        I thank you for being honest about in this post and i know that all you are trying to do is educate people about the technology, not push them away, but give them the information that they may otherwise not have access to until they cross that bridge and realise the grass on the other side only had one more stop of DR but cost 3 times as much to plant.

        And to the people going “yeah but you have a FS700 not a 5DMK3 and its better so you would say that” nope its not better, its different and i can bet on it that someone can and will shoot something more amazing on a 5DMK3 than someone with a camera like mine.

        All power to the raw, just know what you’re getting yourself in for.



  30. I’ve been reading your site for a number of years Philip and one thing I’ve always appreciated is how personal your blogs always are. Not standard news fare with a couple of open ended questions to finish, but an actual viewpoint with frankness and honesty.
    The flip side is the things you have to deal with in your life; accusations of having a cold personality at events, allegations of dismissing new findings, hiding text buried deep within your “essay”. Really, it sounds like you are the Robert Langdon of the cinematography world.
    Unfortunately I think that you are the victim of your own generosity here more often than not and I just wanted to say that for every negative/argumentative/accusatory post you read about you and your work there are probably hundreds of people reading their posts and thinking that they are an absolute muppet.
    Keep up all the fantastically warm personal hard work and hopefully this helps the water flow off that ducks back of yours.

      1. Glad to hear it. Yeah there is alot of aggressive negativity going around lately. Must be troll season. Keep up the great work, we all appreciate it!

  31. About 6 months ago I built a $1500 DIY PC at work and am just amazed at how I can just dump our R3Ds on a USB 2 drive and edit pretty flawlessly. I have to do it in 1/2 or 1/4 res, but at 4K on my monitor it’s perfectly fine.

    Typically our workflow was always:

    Go on Shoot
    Come back and set files to transcode to MXF for Avid overnight.
    Edit with those.

    Now though I can just dump right to my PC and go to work. We still have an Avid and the workflow is better than older Avid workflows, but it’s still not as straight forward as my PC with Premiere CS6. Also being able to jump in and one light in CS6 is great too.

    Not a whole lot of point to this (and I definitely feel you when you mention the shortcomings on a laptop) other than I am constantly in awe of technology and how fast it moves! Can’t wait to see what it brings.

  32. Well said. When I was working in Sony I also turned off all of these features on the TVs. Just hated to watch Avatar with “smooth” 48p turned on. Also by watching the news channels all day I realized that even standard HD looks “bad” compared to old SD. I mean you can see those details on a woman otherwise you do not see in SD. In this regard I still love the old SD look, though I also shoot in HD and export as HD because the clients want it. As you said 2K, 4K, 8K, 16K or whatever will come in the future does not matter if you do not follow the basic steps in composition (for example). There are way more things than resolution itself. Anyway, great article!

  33. GREAT story Philip and you are so right… I’ve been a photographer for 35 years and its as you say (and I used to shot colour tranie… slides on ektachrome for those that remember) 64 ISO and 100 ISO and if you were not exposed correctly you had stuffed up… NOT GOOD.

    4k is GREAT and so is 2k as you say but its horses for courses and the most important thing is to EXPOSE correctly (and white balance)… and have a GOOD STORY of course… most people today shot and say we’ll fix it in post… oohhhhh the HORROR of that.

    Keep up the great work mate

  34. I totally agree with Philip and those stressing that raw is useful “at times”.

    For instance, using a jib, the idea is to use it selectively for some shots with “wow” factor. If you use it right, then the wow factor of a couple of shots will rub off on the whole piece.

    A shot shooting into the sunset through the trees is the perfect example of where raw shooting would excel and where a lot of other codecs even in high end cameras would struggle. Raw would render the light levels and the detail of the trees in amazing detail. But there’s no need to use raw for the whole piece because a lot of less demanding shots will be handled fine by standard codecs.

    I have a Steadicam Merlin and I used it regularly but sparingly in a number of pieces that I make. It’s been a big deal for me because it gives me the edge over other videographers who wouldn’t take the care to learn how to use it and use it appropriately. So it means that I am the one who gets on-going work with a decent client.

    The ML Canon “hack” or “firmware add-on” depending on the nuance you choose to use, is amazing for this reason. It adds a feature with potentially amazing wow factor to a camera that was already a total swiss army knife. It means that I don’t have to carry a Black Magic Cinema Camera around, I’ve got full frame raw in a camera that I’m already using (or APS-C in other Canon models).

    The ML raw firmware is quite a bit lighter than a jib or a BMCC. Obviously the 5D3 doesn’t have Prores, and it doesn’t have a dedicated cinema sensor like in the C cameras. Of course it’s not a universal panacea.

    Is it as big a deal as the original 5D mk ii that started this whole thing? Probably not. But would you say that the capability of raw on Canon cameras eclipses the existence of the BMCC? For me it does.

    So yes I totally agree with the headline, you MUST have raw. When the headline says you absolutely DON’T need it, I think that may be a bit more debatable. Depending on your style of shooting and style of work, it may be something that you do absolutely need because it may give your work a valuable edge.

    As for the debate about the love and zen. I do feel a bit bad about coming across accusatory in previous posts on this page, although I tried to self-moderate and I think that came across. Surely it’s good to have a bit of debate going on in the blog comments. I’m a fan of Newsnight. Where would that program be if everyone agreed all the time?

    Unfortunately I am not a trained journalist, so sometimes I may be guilty of letting some of my pent up nastiness come out in a blog comment. Philip’s big heart comes across in a lot of his work and writing and I’m sure that is why he’s become an internet personality, and not just a talented DoP with a blog.

    Philip, I don’t envy your job in replying to everyone. And I salute you for trying to deal openly and honestly with a big audience. Cinematography is a profession that mixes rich creativity with super nerdiness. The ability to combine passion and creativity with a nerdy attention to detail AND with a streak of ruthlessness and the ability to get angry and demand what you want or need at the right times is a mix of traits that sets apart the really good and successful DoPs that I know from the less successful ones.

    Essay ends.

    1. For certain shots where your camera makes dynamic range tricky then absolutely.

      Although I wouldn’t say it adds “production value” as such. It makes your life easier but it doesn’t add a wow factor in the finished piece like sparing use of a steadicam or jib for example. Why? The point of having raw is to make your shots look transparent rather than draw attention to them. Ideally nobody should ever go when looking at your shots oh he shot raw. Just my opinion though! 🙂

      1. Hi Philip,
        about the ability of your mac to edit 4k or raw video, try cineform DI codec.
        I discover it to edit stereoscopic video, and i never leave it.
        It have realtime proxy without create new file (dinamically can reduce video datarate), active metadata for color, geometric, stereo correction, raw video that support play in realtime with low cpu work and more…

  35. I earn my living taking photographs and making photographs. For stills I always shot raw but often work with colleagues who only work with jpegs. They are great technicians, know their kit inside out and can turn in a job faster than me having spent less time in post-production. They have more time to sleep at night, take care of their families, need less on the road storage and processing power Bottom line, they are more profitable. Clients can’t tell the difference (and we’re taking about high end companies here). My point? Yes, raw video, 4K etc is potentially great but what I really aspire to is getting good content with a result as near as possible to finished in camera, made on a machine that doesn’t get in my way. Philip’s post and recent needcreative podcast really resonated with me.

  36. I think the right question should be :

    Do we WANT our videos look like “real life” (but sharper) ?

    4K (or xK for that matter) and RAW have NOTHING to do with a “Cinematic” look.

    4K is just MORE spatial data and RAW is just MORE brightness levels\Color information. does this maps NECESSARILY to “better” looking image ? NO.

    I’d urge everyone to go ahead and watch “Saving Private Ryan” or “Amelie” or “No Country for Old Men”.

    You’d find yourselves very quickly go “Gosh…. this is not sharp enough…. that is a very bad dynamic range, I can’t see and thing in the dark !…” etc etc.

    Aesthetics wise, film is film and video can LOOK like film but most people insist of making it look like video : too sharp, too punchy…. too everything. pity.

  37. Philip,
    Your post is great for me on getting a sense about “should I invest in a 4K or no”. I am a not pro filmmaker, not really experienced, and as I thought, 4K is for a specific part of the industry. I know people shooting music video on 4K just because everybody wants 4K, but for a final youtube broadcast, which does not make sense to me.

    When I read the comments, I don’t understand people getting so upset, I would just suggest you don’t pay too much attention. Your blog is a GREAT ressource for beginners filmmaker like me, as, I guess, for experienced ones. Don’t stop your incredible work you do on free time to maintain this blog accessible to everyone. Let’s say you are paid a LOT with this blog, what is the matter ? I don’t pay anything to visit it, to watch awesome videos, reviews and read posts.

    Keep on like this !


  38. Hey Philip! 🙂

    I’m getting really frustrated and truthfully kind of pissed at some of the ridiculous comments meant to attack you on this post. I’m talking everything from “offensive” adverts to camera envy “as not everyone can have a 1DC.” Its just plain absurd.

    I’ve seen this go on from one post to another and from one outlandish comment to the next, there has never been quite enough praise from your supporters to offset that. At least, not to my liking… 😉

    So, Philip, I want to tell you why I look up to you. Why I (even when I know there wont be anything up yet cause you just posted a day ago) check your site almost daily. This answer is rather simple. Your passion. I can tell that you truly love doing what you do and telling the stories of the people you meet. Your work is a testimony to that as everyone can see it pervading each piece. (Of course they do have to actually watch it…it is video after all) Your reviews and opinion are thought threw with real experience behind them. That doesn’t make them truth as you have cited at the top of EVERY blog post, BUT that does make them credible and generally pretty damn close to fact.

    I’m just a newbie, a college kid working his way into the film industry and your site/your free knowledge is extremely valuable to me and many others that I know of. It pains me to see you being treated in this manner.

    All in all, I basically want to say a heartfelt thank you to all that you do for this community. Your simply awesome! 🙂

    Warmest Regards,

    PS. I’m starting my TV police shift today. 😀

    1. I can’t thank you enough for such a wonderufl comment Parker. It’s been tough recently…attacks from all corners when all I have ever done is try to help. Never tell people what to do, just share my thoughts, experiences and opinions.

      It is disheartening and makes me just want to focus on shooting…especially when some of the comments come from normally quite rational people. Must be something in the water! 🙂

      Thanks again!

  39. I thought I was the only “smooth motion” policeman!

    I’m glad that I don’t “need” a new camera right now.
    Hopefully things with BMC and Magic Lantern will be a bit more in place by the time I do.
    For now the little NEX is doing fine with a Speedbooster.

  40. Hi Phillip, don’t waist time on people who don’t deserve it 😉 …

    Great post!

    I have an idea for you … I think that you must do a little game for all your followers here on your website/blog … to relax for a while and have some fun too … put many random captures from video footage of many of your works … from unedited/unpublished footage mostly (to avoid people cheat) and even some full processed (graded, etc.) and other ungraded or before post … all random, and put bellow each of them a poll with the list of all the cameras you used to make all that footage. So people can vote for the camera that they think must be the one that take that shoot … but only you know the real answer on each capture. 😉

    In that way, we will see how wrong it could be the “hardware” answers 🙂 … that will be very funny to see it after you post the answers 😉

    I think that this kind of simple game/example are good to people realize what it’s more important … hardware? or final result? (no matter what hardware use)

    Hope you like it …

    And thanks for all your time and información on this great blog/website


  41. Quite a strange paradox we live in these days, resolution increases while screens are shrinking. Kind of a plus for us though, almost anything looks good on a 4″ screen.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your practical production approach. Time is money and time is your life. Find the best workflow yielding the best results. Don’t kill yourself if it’s to gain resolution that most people won’t notice. I take pride in my work and I believe it is art, but I have no desire to be a starving artist.

    The examples you give of your family are spot on. I’m often humbled by the lack of discernment in production value by the average viewer. 🙁


  42. Great article.

    For me personally it’s about cutting your cloth. The vast majority of video shot is never going to the cinema and raises the question about the necessity for 4K for none cinema outputs. The creative possibilities of 4K and RAW are great for colouring and re-framing etc. But this can be both seen as a bonus in post or even a hindrance to time and workflow. You have to be careful as well that you don’t let technology hinder creativity, or give creativity too many options that may see it chasing its own tail.

    1080, or standard HD, is by far the most used format after SD. It gets the job done real well, and has many proven workflows and more outlets for distribution compared to 4K. The early 1080 cinema cameras shot in YUV/RGB, and no one seemed to feel that it hindered the post process, colour etc. This stuff was even being matched in with 35mm. This is not to say that you should slack off and shoot 1080 if you know you are going to cinema. But the vast majority of independent films never see the light of day, let alone the cinema. Most indies suffer in post due to over expenditure during the shoot etc. So the added strain of kitting out a workflow to do proper 4K, is also a reality to be considered to an already under financed industry. I worked post on a feature that was shot 720 on the old VariCam. This ended up being taken on for cinematic distribution and was transferred to 35mm. Punters did not make any judgement over resolution as they just got in to the story. Again, I am not saying that you should shoot this way, but the merits of cutting your cloth are many.

    If you are part of a properly financed and supported production that has a guaranteed outlet. Then yes, 4K would be the sensible way to go. If on the other hand you are an indie, a small production house, or a one man production. 4K and or RAW may be a little over the top. 4K is an obvious natural progression for the right production. But for most it is simply just not needed. A good story will be a good story shot 1080 YUV/RGB and a bad story will still be a bad story in 4K RAW.

    1. Hi Phil,
      I’ve been watching your creative visuals for a good few years now, and some of your earlier works have always remained ‘inspirational’ (for what of a better word) my favourites, though your work is always excellent.
      The old Ex1 was/is more than good enough (in your hands) to portray a story, theme, or beauty theme – which of course highlights well your point here i.e. it’s your ideas and production standards that should matter more than filming with the latest tech.

      4K, raw, it just means better image generally, and post image control – great!
      The benefits can be seen on huge screens, and trained eyes on smaller screens.
      It reminds me greatly of what’s happened to the high-end audio world (I’ve worked as a commercial studio sound engineer) using a kind of analogy, 4k is a little bit like 24bit wav audio – studio producers and engineers know the resolution is superior. Audiophile recordings can produce accurately, a recording of an instrument that even a trained ear could not distinguish from the real thing – BUT only if the system re-playing is as good i.e. from the mic to the mixing desk, from the desk to the recorders, from the recorders to the amplification, to the speakers etc. Even cables need to be state-of-the-art. Trouble is, no one listens to 24bit recordings, so the engineer re-masters to 16bit CD standards,
      But few these days listen to CD’s. Instead, the majority download MP3’s with a resolution of 320kbps. And those that do listen to CD’s still have mediocre re-play systems, so won’t hear the true benefits anyway.
      At this stage, the quality of the original 24bit master is long gone, and sadly the only people who really care are those that recorded it in the first place!
      4k, 5k, 8k, raw … will the end consumer gain access/benefit from this incredible technology, or will it be like the producers/engineers of the audio world – we’ll sit in our visual editing studios perfecting (hopefully) high standards of visual creativity, much of which will be crunched down to YouTube & Vimeo compressions for the masses to view, and don’t forget TV is highly compressed too!
      As with music, if the content is good it will be enjoyable regardless to the general public. How many will have all the gear needed to play back state-of-the-art visuals … very few is my bet.

      I’ve got an audio system that costs more than my car, mainly because I have an interest in audiophile sound, I also own a decent visual editing studio, but the vast majority of people around me have domestic LCD TV’s and iPlayers and would have no intention of spending thousands on high-end kit.
      I think the point I’m trying to make here is exactly the point you’re making Phil – nothing wrong in owning great kit – even 4k/raw recording cameras, but it all means absolutely nothing if you’re making so,so films, and don’t forget the end of the chain – who’s going to watch what you’re making, and will they benefit from 4k/raw resolutions, and most of all, is it cost effective to do this? I bet many a TV channel are asking exactly the same question.
      Personally I think a damn good 2k camera, say a C300/C100 in the hands of a good creative film maker is all that’s needed by the vast majority of us. I think 4k/raw is awesome, but I can’t justify the extra effort/expense needed to use it – more so when the end result will be highly compressed anyway. It’s really hard to swallow.

      Long term things will be different. As with all technology, it will be refined and we’ll look back in five to ten years and laugh at what doing now. As always, we’re in the hands of the tech developers and manufacturers’ … they play tech games and don’t really offer what’s possible anyway, and then we have over-pricing to deal with … if Canon told you what a C300 really cost to make you’d be pretty pee’d off believe me. A Canon Rep told me not long ago that we’re paying for what it can do, not what it cost to make.
      On a completely note; I see a few very stupid comments from people personally directed at you Phil with twisted ideas and views – those that really follow you and your work will know different, so if I was you Phil I wouldn’t waste mental energy defending yourself … this thread has a few good examples.

      I read your Blog often, and I think this is the first time I’ve wanted to comment in some small way.
      You’ve made your mark via hard work, and your work speaks for itself. You’ve somehow developed the knack of inspiring all levels of film maker, which is a fabulous achievement, and one that should be accompanied by a ‘Thank you’ at least – you give and take nothing, sadly some people seem to miss this important detail.

  43. I agree with everything you have said here. Although I think we could rewind a few years and we’d see pretty much the same discussions and points being raised about the move to HD.

    Regarding gear, there is far, far too much emphasis on it these days. The tech is moving too quickly. With rates being driven so low and new flavour of the month gear arriving on the scene every five minutes I find it incredible that anyone is making any money!

    Even with the ENG cameras you used to be able to buy the body and a lens and that was that. You could at least work. Now you must have a full set of expensive ND’s, a range of lenses, and some scaffolding to put around the camera to make it look cool before you can even think about showing your face in public! Scaffolding, don’t forget the scaffolding!

    Just one thing regarding the old days of only a select few having the gear though. Most people worked up. Don’t forget that the main way of making money from video was either corporate and industrial or broadcast. Either way things could be built up. The main issue I see with the situation today is that everybody and their dog is now calling themselves a filmmaker or a Cinematographer. We can never be sure who is actually serious and genuinely making money from what they do, and who is doing everything for free and works in a supermarket during the day. As a result the whole video industry appears to be disappearing up its own backside*.

    Incidentally Philip, I might know someone who has a Beta deck for you to transfer some of your old edits! I’ll ask him if he still has it next time I see him!

    *Tongue slightly in cheek with a hint of truth.

  44. Bitten by the frost is brilliant, I note the 3 cameos!

    Philip I’m on the cusp of purchasing the Sony new 700 primarily for the slow motion based on your review.

    The C300 is also on my mind, your views would be much appreciated.


  45. I like what Philip says time and time again that a better camera doesn’t make you a better film maker/DP.

    Many people still don’t seem to get this but it’s basically saying that a state of the art computer will turn a data-typist into Stephen King writing awesome novells overnight because of the computer. Sure Apple may want to suggest that their products spawn your creativity but that’s rubbish.

    A camera is just a tool and sure great tools make easy labour as we say here in Holland but those great tools were created with lesser good tools and always by the genius of a human.

    4K raw is cool but I would need to invest too much in my storage back end that it’s just not viable for the amount of work that I have. Though I am pretty certain that within 5 years I’d probably be part of the 4K shooters but I won’t be an early adapter.

  46. Hey Philip – had to laugh about the story in the shop – I’m like you. I went around to my son’s place the other day, and they’ve got the cable set up with the incorrect aspect ratio for their set (drives me nuts) so I wait till they’re out of the room and fix it. The point is if they can’t even notice incorrect AR how the hell are they going to tell the difference between 1080P and 4K?

    One thing I’d like to try in 4K is chroma key – I think with all that extra info you have to be able to pull a better key..

  47. Awesome article Philip! I agree, I think to myself, would either raw or 4k be real world useful camera options, and it brings up most of the questions you answer in the article. In doing work, people need to look at what kind of effect these types of options will have on their workflow and how it will challenge their current editing systems. Also, depending on what you do, it may be better, instead of having high resolution, to have killer low light capability or a better form factor. In this sense, I can see why the 1D-C would be an ideal camera.

    In your opinion, why don’t you think you see more cameras with formats in 2.7K? I purchased a gopro black and am thoroughly impressed by the 2.7K footage, more detail than 1080p, and sharper when down converted to a 1080p file.

  48. Hello Guys!
    I’m a Cinematographer/DP and I’m from Lagos,Nigeria.
    I’m coming to London to shoot a low budget Music Video for a very close friend of mine and I’m looking for guys to work on it with me as I don’t know how to get around the industry over there! Will need a good Lighting guy and editor. Interested guys pls reach me on youngpizzy@live.com or tweet at me @Itsyoungpizzy

  49. I was just told by a chat rep for B&H video in the U.S. that with the firmware upgrade and no additional hardware, that the Sony FS700 would be able to record a compressed 4k video file (directly to the card, I assume). Is this correct?

    He stated that you only needed additional modules to the camera for RAW recording.

    Something didn’t sound correct about this.

  50. 4K tv is a fake , many people just is adjusting to the standard hd and i dont know what has happened in the mind of that raised the 4ktv …. what is the future 4k native tv’??? in how many years ?? in not sweetened …. sorry for my inglish i hope you understand.

Leave a Reply