A Discussion with Masanori Koyama, Panasonic S1H Product Planning Group
Jon Fauer: Please tell us how you arrived at getting Apple ProRes RAW out of the S1H?
Masanori Koyama: In recent years, there has been increased demand for more creative flexibility in post-production. Shooting in 4:2:2 10-bit or Log are examples. Furthermore, we considered RAW recording to be an ultimate goal. We have been working on RAW development for several years, but it has been difficult to realize with mirrorless cameras because their form factor is smaller than cinema cameras. Power consumption and the size of circuits that handle large amounts of data have also been a challenge.
We have been strengthening alliances with third party manufacturers and, as you may already know, we have had a good relationship with Atomos for long time. Atomos has a deep understanding of Apple ProRes RAW recording. They quickly implemented Apple ProRes RAW recording via SDI with our EVA1 camera. Now, we have achieved Apple ProRes RAW recording via HDMI for the S1H as well, with the kind cooperation and innovative work of Atomos.
How did this concept of ProRes RAW for the S1H begin? Did you talk to Apple and then Atomos?
We had been discussing RAW output with Atomos since 2018 and started working on it beginning in 2019. At that time, the S1H’s development was already at its peak, but we started implementing RAW output as well.
Based on our specifications, we discussed concepts with Atomos at many meetings in Osaka, Tokyo, the United States and Australia. Thanks to Atomos’s kind cooperation, along with the will and passion to achieve this dream, we established most of the specifications by the beginning of summer 2019. And then, when we saw the prospects of realizing this project earlier than expected, Mr. Yosuke Yamane, Director of Panasonic’s Imaging Business Unit, announced the development of RAW output at the S1H official announcement event in August 2019. The following month at IBC in September 2019, we announced some functions and timing of a firmware release. Of course, from that time until now, we have been discussing the details of how and when to announce the information along with Atomos and Apple. We are delighted to release the firmware for customers who were waiting for this.
Please explain how it works technically. Did you have to modify the original S1H camera? Is it all firmware/software or were sensor/electronic modifications involved as well?
Customers can enable RAW recording by installing our free firmware and Atomos’s NINJA V free firmware. Modification of the hardware is not necessary. In other words, S1H ProRes recording was realized uniquely by our software development. It was made possible by improving the software specifications and enabling communication with Atomos’s platform. To achieve this, we took into account the image sensor’s specifications as well. But, looking back now, maybe that was not such a big problem. The most difficult part was how to move relatively large 5.9K RAW files via the HDMI output from the S1H camera to the Atomos Ninja V. This was what took up a fair amount of time during the development process for us and Atomos.
Please introduce the members of your S1H team.
- Masanori Koyama: Product planning group.
- Toshihito Egami: Project leader of S1H RAW output development, engineering group.
- Keishi Okamoto: Manager of platform development, engineering group.
- Ken Ishida: Software design, engineering group.
- Satoshi Horie: Product leader of S1H development, engineering group.
Which nonlinear editing and grading software systems are compatible?
It is compatible with high-end applications such as Apple Final Cut Pro X, FilmLight (Baselight, Daylight), MTI FILM (Cortex), Assimilate (Scratch), and all applications that Apple is announcing as compatible with ProRes RAW. For consumer applications, EDIUS Pro9 (9.4 or later) is compatible. Also, at IBC 2019, Adobe Premiere Pro and Avid Media Composer were announced as being in development for future compatibility with Apple ProRes RAW. We expect that additional NLEs will become compatible with Apple ProRes RAW.
Is S1H ProRes RAW mainly for high-end production?
It will not only be for the high-end. ProRes RAW will become increasingly popular with single-person and small workgroup creators. Demands for creative cinematography using ProRes RAW will continue to grow.
You implemented Super 35 Anamorphic ProRes RAW. What about Full Frame Anamorphic?
Especially since the S1H captures full height Full Frame images.
We have not considered this, but technically, it could be possible. However, it is not easy to achieve. We’d like to hear customers’ requests and learn about their requirements.
This article first appeared in FDTimes April 2020 Issue 101.