Tip #852: What is ProRes RAW?

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #852: What is ProRes RAW?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

ProRes RAW is a codec optimized for speed and quality.

Processing flowchart for ProRes RAW. Note that image processing is done in the application, not camera.

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Apple ProRes RAW is based on the same principles and underlying technology as existing ProRes codecs, but is applied to a camera sensor’s pristine raw image data rather than conventional image pixels.

ProRes RAW is available at two compression levels: Apple ProRes RAW and Apple ProRes RAW HQ. Both achieve excellent preservation of raw video content, with additional quality available at the higher data rate of Apple ProRes RAW HQ. Compression-related visible artifacts are very unlikely with Apple ProRes RAW, and extremely unlikely with Apple ProRes RAW HQ.

ProRes RAW is designed to maintain constant quality and pristine image fidelity for all frames. As a result, images with greater detail or sensor noise are encoded at higher data rates and produce larger file sizes.

ProRes RAW data rates benefit from encoding Bayer pattern images that consist of only one sample value per photosite. Apple ProRes RAW data rates generally fall between those of Apple ProRes 422 and Apple ProRes 422 HQ, and Apple ProRes RAW HQ data rates generally fall between those of Apple ProRes 422 HQ and Apple ProRes 4444.

NOTE: What is means is that, rather than creating RGB images in camera, which triples file size, the raw image is processed later, in the application. This still provides the highest image quality, but decreases the size of the native raw files.

Like the existing ProRes codec family, ProRes RAW is designed for speed. Raw video playback requires not only decoding the video bitstream
but also demosaicing the decoded raw image. Compared to other raw video formats supported by Final Cut Pro, ProRes RAW offers superior performance in both playback and rendering


Here’s the link to Apple’s ProRes RAW white paper, which contains much more information on this format.

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