We hold a lot of events at AbelCine aimed at helping still photographers move into the world of cinematography. These “Stills To Motion” events are focused on both the art of cinema, as well as the latest camera technology. During a recent event, we were discussing the RAW and Log modes in the Canon EOS C500, as well as the wide cinema gamut found in the camera. Many of the photographers in the room weren’t as familiar with these concepts and asked that we translate the terminology into something they could better understand. It can be easy to forget that digital cinematography technically works the same as digital photography—just at 24 frames a second (or more). So, I decided, what better tool to describe these digital cinema principles than Adobe’s Photoshop software. As a staple in the photography community, it’s a tool that’s widely used and understood. So this column is about translating digital cinema terms and principles using Photoshop. It’s for all you photographers, but I think many cinematographers will find it revealing, as well.
Discover The Importance Of Capturing Video Footage In RAW With Our Understanding RAW Video Formats Tutorial
SOME LIKE IT RAW
Photographers have been capturing RAW images for much longer than cinema folks. DSLRs have been able to capture in RAW mode for many years now. The cinema form of RAW capture is very similar to what we find in photography, with a few differences from camera to camera. Still cameras capture RAW files in a variety of formats, such as .DNG or .ARW. RAW video formats are captured in either packs or stacks of files. A packed RAW file combines all the frames of a clip into one file, similar to a .mov, and often compresses the RAW data, as well; examples of this include RED R3D RAW and Sony RAW. Other RAW video formats are stored in stacks of individual RAW frames; examples of this include ARRIRAW (.ari), Canon RAW (.rmf) and Blackmagic Cinema RAW (.dng). The .DNG Blackmagic Cinema RAW format used in the Blackmagic Cinema cameras and others is the same RAW format found in so many still cameras. In cinema cameras, each stack of frames from a recorded clip is stored in an individual folder; the frames are numbered and include plenty of metadata for things like white balance and time code.
In Photoshop, we can open a .DNG file created by one of these cinema cameras and adjust parameters, just as we would a still image.
In the image above, you see a .DNG captured with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. I can easily adjust things like white balance and exposure, and then click on Open Image to bring it into Photoshop for further adjustment.
Most RAW video formats aren’t directly supported in Photoshop; however, they all have their own software tools to perform the same adjustments. Sony has their RAW Viewer, RED has REDCINE-X, and Canon has their Cinema RAW Development tool.
In the image above, you see a Canon RAW (.rmf) image from the C500. This program can make the same basic adjustments as Photoshop and export a file (such as DPX) that other tools can read.
We’ll come back to the Photoshop RAW import tool in a bit, but first let’s dive into Log.