Magic Lantern RAW – "It's like I had alien eyes."

by fletch murrayLeave a Comment

Fletch's RAW Video Still

It takes your breath away, the first time you use Magic Lantern's “software add-on”. That's what ML calls it. I call it “Magic Window”. No longer is your video an approximation of what you filmed. It's like you're looking through a window at what you filmed.

Magic Lantern on 5D3

A last minute Alaska shoot pushed me into loading up Magic Lantern on my Canon EOS 5D Mark III. I was waiting for the stable release. This release proved stable.

magiclantern-v2.3.NEXT.2013Aug22.5D3113 is the version I installed (assuming your Mark III is in v 1.1.3).

In the rush to install, learn it, and do a test shoot I filmed in Faithful because I didn't have time to learn post processing before the trip. I should have filmed the test in Neutral or Cinestyle, and I will for the next test.

Magic Lantern RAW vs h.264

[tentblogger-vimeo 74455311]

The video speaks for itself. Despite the hammering it gets going through FCP7 and Vimeo the depth of the detail in RAW vs h.264 is astounding. I thought I had “alien eyes” when I shot the eucalyptus trees. I didn't realize how much h.264 throws away – in detail, color depth and resolution.


I never moved the camera or changed focus. I would sometimes open a half stop for RAW because I read that it does better with the histogram further to the right than I usually shoot in h.264. I didn't really color grade anything. Mike Anthony brought my RAW files into a usable format so I could edit this test together in two hours on FCP 7.

I owe Michael from a lot for his work and guidance. His commercial (at ) is what convinced me that I could trust the ML team with my 5dM3.

Now I feel like I have an “mini Alexa” in my hands. It'll be hard to “downgrade” to h.264 from now on. It'll be like moving from pen and ink to crayons.

I plan to demo the ML workflow at the California Photo Festival October 7 – 11. If you want to be a part of that party go here

The rest of the features in ML, which work whether you're shooting RAW or not, are astounding – the zoom (turning my 200mm into a 600mm), the focus assist dots (so I can stop squinting into the monitor so much), the small histogram that does the job but is the size of a pencil eraser, the ultra precise control of shutter speed, FPS override, intervalometer and on and on.

I followed Sebastian's Cinema 5D checklist for the creation of the SD card that boots when I fire it up. I'd suggest locking that card so you don't overwrite it in the heat of battle.

It'd be great if a Mac version of the rest of the workflow could be compiled.

For Mac Users, you might want to try RAWmagic in the workflow instead of raw2dng. When your dng stills come out of RAWmagic it'll take your breath away. (I'm not in Premiere yet but will be in October when they release their big upgrade for us.)

We're going to be compiling a workflow for Mac users soon for our cine boot camps. Please email me your tips and discoveries at [email protected]. I'll give you credit. We're all in this together. And please go to our site for our latest news. Or go to Planet5d. Mitch is the best source of 5D data I know aside from the ML crew.

We all owe Alex and his ML team an Academy Award for letting filmmakers do better and better. What integrity this guy has. 24/7 he's improving filmmaking on the Canon HDSLRs. Canon should send him a check for $500,000. for all the 5D Mark IIIs (and other cameras) they're going to sell because of his efforts. (Or maybe they already are and we're just their unpaid testers. Hmmmmm.)

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

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