What is a raw file
Photo and video editors have become such a huge part of our lives that finding raw footage on the Internet seems unusual. While it may not be of any value to the average person, to experienced editors, it is like culinary ingredients to a chef. So, what is the definition of raw footage?
Such footage is an uncompressed photo or video material recorded from a camera or other image-capturing device. This format captures as much data as possible from the camera sensor without any modification or compression.
It doesn’t sound as impressive if the shot is not pretty, so why shoot in raw? It’s precisely the fact that working with such footage is not always easy that makes it all the more interesting! Let’s look at what you may encounter during editing.
Raw footage benefits and challenges
Using raw footage in video production can have several reasons and benefits:
- Having more freedom and control during video editing. Changing the color scheme, adjusting contrast, brightness, and other parameters to achieve the desired effect is much easier.
- Raw formats often have higher image quality than compressed ones, which is especially important in professional video production.
- It is easier to retouch raw files, remove their imperfections, and improve image quality.
It is important to note that editing raw footage often requires more time and resources than compressed formats, as well as more powerful processing and storage hardware. Additionally, raw footage requires editors compatible with the format. Often it means having to learn how to work with such editors, and even better, having at least basic knowledge and experience in editing photo and video materials.
How to capture raw video
Shooting in raw requires a camera that supports this recording format. Professional cinema cameras and some advanced DSLRs provide this option. You may also need to select a specific raw format supported by your camera — they vary by manufacturer and model.
If you shoot high-contrast video, the LOG format may be preferable — it’s a special color profile that stretches the dynamic range of an image, preserving more detail in the shadows and highlights. It results in LOG footage having a "flat" image which requires editing.
In some cases and with specific cameras, using both RAW and LOG formats is possible. For example, recording video in RAW format using a log can provide the greatest flexibility for later color and brightness editing.
How to edit raw files
Working with raw materials provides great opportunities for creativity and applying any kind of changes. Here are some typical edits that can be made to raw photos and videos:
- Color grading and color correction. It includes adjusting white balance, hue, and saturation to achieve the desired color balance. Changing additional settings also helps improve the visual appearance and style of the scene.
- Exposure correction. Adjusting brightness and contrast is used to balance light and dark areas in a scene.
- Setting image sharpness and adding blur effects as needed, eliminating defects, retouching, and improving scene details.
These and other editing techniques allow editors to do whatever they think of with raw footage. However, it’s important to apply changes wisely to keep the result natural and achieve the project's goals.
What are raw formats?
These formats provide the maximum amount of information about the shot, including color range, brightness, and other characteristics. RAW formats are designed to provide photo and videographers with greater flexibility in post-production editing. Some examples of extensions for raw formats are the following: CR3, DNG, NEF, ORF, RAF, MRW.
Do I need to shoot in raw?
Whether to use a raw footage format depends on the specific needs of the project, video skills, available equipment, time, and the final quality requirements. For professional video productions, using RAW may be preferable, whereas when smaller file sizes and faster processing are important, standard video formats are more practical.
Is it possible for a beginner to edit raw footage?
Such a format can bring some difficulties due to its requirements — having specialized programs, a powerful PC, etc. If projects require high quality, or if a beginner is interested in working with raw footage, they should gradually learn the process, starting with simpler projects, to develop the skills and understanding of how to work with more complex stuff in the future.
Raw footage is the best source of inspiration for an experienced videographer. With their help, they can not only show an image as close to reality as possible but also embellish it in all sorts of ways. However, along with it comes the need to understand well what you are doing and why. Working with raw footage requires experience, good hardware, and compatible software.