BRAW Player and Converter for Windows and Linux

Author: Fyodor Serzhenko

Since BRAW format was introduced by Blackmagic Design company for their cameras, there have been lots of questions and subjects for discussion, such as:

  • What is Blackmagic Braw?
  • Is there a way to view BRAW files on Windows?
  • Does Premiere Pro support BRAW?
  • How can I import .Braw files to Premiere Pro?
  • BRAW workflow when using Adobe products.
  • Blackmagic raw player
  • How to Edit Blackmagic RAW in Premiere Pro CC?
  • I can't import braw file to premiere!
  • Is there BRAW support in Premiere Pro?
  • How to find any third-party BRAW Player for Windows?
  • Is it possible to convert BRAW to CinemaDNG?
  • Where can I find a bmd braw file converter?

Below we will discuss these issues, since we have experience in that field. We've released a program for BRAW workflow, and we can share our knowledge concerning the matter. Our software can process BRAW on a GPU very fast, and you can also export a DNG series from BRAW footage on Windows.

 

blackmagic raw player

 

What's Blackmagic RAW (BRAW)?

BRAW means Blackmagic RAW, and it's the internal file format for all Blackmagic cameras. BRAW is a brand new proprietary format from BMD which is not compatible with any of its predecessors such as CinemaDNG, Blackmagic RAW 3:1 or 4:1. New and old Backmagic formats are totally different, even though their names sound alike. The 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. The old Blackmagic RAW 3:1 is a single image format with lossy 12-bit JPEG encoding, which is like CinemaDNG, except 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; it's also the name of a visually lossless video codec from BMD. This is a lossy compression algorithm with quite a low level of image distortion, which means the user can't percieve artifacts visually. Such raw image compression leads to a smaller file size, which is good for in-camera recording. Finally, the encoded BRAW footage is decompressed, and the visual difference with uncompressed data is expected to be really small or imperceptible. It depends on the utilized compression ratio, and is true for 3:1, though for 8:1 and 12:1 it's questionnable.

In Blackmagic cameras, all frames are stored in the ".braw" container, which is actually a MOV container with custom atoms. Additional info can be stored in ".sidecar" files, which contain fully editable and human readable JSON-formatted metadata. Using the BRAW container means that instead of workin with multiple CinemaDNG images, the user will work with a single file which contains a complete image sequence and audio. Blackmagic RAW also supports frame-based metadata so you can access values like focus distance, which can be changed on a frame-by-frame basis.

In BRAW format, all RAW frames are encoded with a custom nonlinear 12-bit LUT, and each frame has a special data representation which is like YUV. Blackmagic claims that demosaicing is partially done inside the camera. That could be the case, though we don't see any signes of it. We would rather have called that an approach to specific data representation which is more suitable for fast lossy compression on the camera hardware.

The Blackmagic RAW codec offers both constant quality and constant bitrate encoding options, giving users the flexibility to prioritize image quality or file size to cut 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.

The BRAW constant quality options preserve image quality and detail by compressing complex frames at higher data rates. BRAW Q0 has minimum quantization and yields high quality, while for BRAW Q5 you apply stronger quantization for better encoding and a smaller file size.

How do I Edit Blackmagic RAW with Adobe Premiere Pro?

Actually, you can't do that directly, because Adobe Premiere Pro doesn't yet support BRAW format natively. To work around that issue, you have the following choices:

  1. You can implement BRAW processing / editing with Davinci Resolve software and output DNxHD / DNxHR or TIFF / DPX / EXR for further NLE or grading in Adobe Premiere Pro.
  2. With Fast CinemaDNG Processor software you can convert BRAW to CinemaDNG to process CinemaDNG in a standard workflow with Premiere or any other software (braw2dng converter option). There is also a BRAW-to-ProRes converter feature.

BRAW Processing with Blackmagic SDK

This approach is quite straightforward: all RAW processing will be done with Davinci Resolve, which is based on Blackmagic SDK. It can also be done with the 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 the Blackmagic pipeline for RAW (BRAW) processing.

You'll be able to control all the 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 software instead of RAW - this is the key point. You'll definitely not get RAW frames, as you might expect.

To make it clear: Blackmagic RAW (BRAW) data can't be imported to Adobe Premiere Pro via Autokroma or the Blackmagic plugin for Adobe Premiere Pro 2020; you can import processed BRAW (RGB) images only. It still makes sense, but this is an import of processed data, not an import of RAW.

BRAW Processing with Fast CinemaDNG Processor software

This approach is based on real-time BRAW processing on an NVIDIA GPU with Fast CinemaDNG Processor software. It could also be called either BRAW Player or BRAW Processor. The 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 the image quality to be comparable when utilizing BRAW and CinemaDNG formats.

At the moment, BRAW 2.0 is not yet supported.

Braw2dng Converter Option

Braw2dng converter is an option in Fast CinemaDNG Processor software which, as the name implies, allows you to convert BRAW to DNG. It doesn't rely on Blackmagic RAW processing algorithms, doesn't take too much time, and it allows you to implement a standard RAW processing workflow with Adobe products, since Adobe software can work with CinemaDNG images directly. This is a new feature which visually offers the same results as Davinci Resolve. You can get very good colors, and they can be easily tuned with Adobe ACR, Premiere Pro or any other software.

Full list of available options to convert BRAW to other image formats

  • BRAW to uncompressed DNG
  • BRAW to DNG with lossless compression
  • BRAW to BMD RAW with 3:1 or 4:1 compression
  • BRAW to JPEG (8-bit per channel; subsampling 4:2:0, 4:2:2, 4:4:4)
  • BRAW to PNG (8-bit or 16-bit per channel)
  • BRAW to TIFF (8-bit or 16-bit per channel)
  • BRAW to EXR (16-bit or 32-bit per channel)
  • BRAW to J2K lossy or lossless (8/10/12/14/16-bit per channel)
  • Other options are available upon request

BRAW to ProRes Converter

Along with the BRAW to DNG converter feature, Fast CinemaDNG Processor can also work with BRAW footages directly on a GPU and then apply Apple ProRes encoding on a CPU in the same workflow.

This is an important feature, because it's impossible to do that with Blackmagic Davinci Resolve workflow since Davinci software doesn't offer Apple ProRes encoding in the output anymore. Fast CinemaDNG Processor can create Apple ProRes output (422 LT, 422, 422 HQ, 4444, and 4444 XQ) which can 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 can be solved.

BRAW to Video Converter

With external FFmpeg, you can convert BRAW footage to almost all video compression options (BRAW to MP4, BRAW to MOV, etc.). You just need to specify a video container and compression algorithm with the correct command line to get the result via external FFmpeg.

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