BRAW Player and Converter for Windows
Since BRAW format was introduced by Blackmagic Design company for their cameras, there were lots of questions and subjects for discussion like that:
Below we will discuss these issues, as soon as we have experience in that field. We've released a software for BRAW workflow, and we can share our knowledge concerning the matter. Our software can process BRAW on GPU very fast and we can also export DNG series from BRAW footages on Windows.
What's Blackmagic BRAW?
BRAW means Blackmagic RAW and this is internal file format for all Blackmagic cameras. BRAW is a brand new proprietary format from BMD which is not compatible with any predecessors like CinemaDNG, Blackmagic RAW 3:1 or 4:1. New and old Backmagic formats are totally different, though their names sound alike. New BRAW format is basically a container for compressed image series and it's utilized by default in all new BMD cameras and Blackmagic Design Davinci Resolve Studio. Old Blackmagic RAW 3:1 is a single image format with lossy 12-bit JPEG encoding which is alike CinemaDNG, though CinemaDNG has Lossless JPEG compression. All old BMD formats are supported by Davinci Resolve software, but all BMD cameras with modern firmware don't create such files anymore. Currently, the only option for all Blackmagic cameras is BRAW format.
BRAW is not only a file format, this is also the name of visually lossless video codec from BMD. This is a lossy compression algorithm with quite low level of image distortion. It means that user can't percieve corresponding artifacts visually. Such raw image compression leads to a smaller file size which is good for in-camera recording. Finally, encoded BRAW footages will be decompressed and visual difference with uncompressed data is expected to be really small or unperceived. It depends on utilized compression ratio and this is true for 3:1, though for 8:1 and 12:1 this is questionnable.
In Blackmagic cameras all frames are stored in the ".braw" container which is actually a MOV container with custom atoms. Additional info could be stored at ".sidecar" files which contain fully editable and human readable JSON formatted metadata. BRAW container means that instead of multiple CinemaDNG images user will work with a single file which containes complete image sequence and audio. Blackmagic RAW also supports frame based metadata so you can access values like focus distance, which could be changed on a frame by frame basis.
In BRAW format all RAW frames are encoded with a custom non-linear 12-bit LUT and each frame has special data representation which is alike YUV. Blackmagic claims that demosaicing is partially done inside the camera. It could be the case, though we don't see any traces of that. We would rather have called that as an approach for specific data representation which is more suitable for fast lossy compression at camera hardware.
Blackmagic RAW codec offers both constant quality and constant bitrate encoding options, giving user the flexibility to prioritize image quality or file size to cut user production costs. The four constant bitrate variations are Blackmagic RAW 3:1, 5:1, 8:1 and 12:1. These compression ratios are calculated with respect to the unprocessed file size of a single frame from the camera’s sensor.
There are BRAW constant quality options which preserve image quality. In such a case, complex frames will be compressed at higher data rates to preserve detail and maintain quality. BRAW Q0 has minimum quantization and yields high quality, while for BRAW Q5 we apply stronger quantization for better encoding and a smaller file size.
How to Edit Blackmagic RAW with Adobe Premiere Pro?
Actually, we can't do that directly, as soon as Adobe Premiere Pro doesn't support BRAW format natively. To solve the matter, we have the following choices:
BRAW Processing with Blackmagic SDK
That approach is quite straightforward and you just need to know, that all RAW processing will be done with Davinci Resolve which is based on Blackmagic SDK. It could be also done with Blackmagic RAW plugin for Adobe Premiere 2020 or with any third-party software like Autokroma BRAW Studio which is also based on Blackmagic SDK. This is the way to follow Blackmagic pipeline for RAW (BRAW) processing.
User will be able to control all parameters for RAW processing, but it's impossible to utilize your own algorithms for RAW processing, because raw image processing is fully done by Blackmagic SDK. Basically, you will get processed RGB images from such a software instead or RAW - this is the key point. Definitely, you will not get RAW frames as you could expect.
To make it clear: Blackmagic RAW (BRAW) data can not be imported to Adobe Premiere Pro via Autokroma or via Blackmagic plugin for Adobe Premiere Pro 2020, user can import processed BRAW (RGB) images only. It still makes sense, but this is the import of processed data, not RAW.
Braw Processing with Fast CinemaDNG Processor software
That approach is based on realtime BRAW processing on NVIDIA GPU with Fast CinemaDNG Processor software. It could be also called either BRAW Player or BRAW Processor. That approach is based on implementation of Fastvideo SDK for CUDA workflow. We don't experience different performance for BRAW vs CinemaDNG processing. And we consider image quality to be comparable by utilizing BRAW and CinemaDNG formats.
Braw2dng Converter Option
Braw2dng converter is the option of Fast CinemaDNG Processor software. It doesn't rely on Blackmagic RAW processing algorithms and it allows to implement standard RAW processing workflow with Adobe products, as soon as Adobe software can work with CinemaDNG images directly. We can convert BRAW to DNG with Fast CinemaDNG Processor software. This is a new feature which is not exactly the same as Davinci results visually, though you can get very good colors which could be easily tuned with Adobe ACR, Premiere Pro or any other software. BRAW to DNG transform takes not too much time and this is the way to utilize standard approach for BRAW processing with Adobe products.
BRAW to ProRes Converter
Apart from BRAW to DNG converter workflow feature, Fast CinemaDNG Processor software can work with BRAW footages directly on GPU and then apply Apple ProRes encoding on CPU at the same workflow.
This is important feature as soon as it's impossible to do that with Blackmagic Davinci Resolve workflow, because Davinci software doesn't offer Apple ProRes encoding at the output anymore. Fast CinemaDNG Processor software can create Apple ProRes output (422 LT, 422, 422 HQ, 4444, 4444 XQ) which could be further utilized for color grading and NLE. Adobe NLE products support Apple ProRes footages natively, so the task of BRAW processing with Premiere Pro could be solved.