Processing workflow for Magic Lantern RAW video with Cliphouse

by Jeff Orig2 Comments

Jeff Orig wrote me a couple of weeks ago about Magic Lantern RAW when he mentioned software called Cliphouse that i'd never heard of… and he suggested that he could offer an interesting guest post… And if you're looking at Magic Lantern RAW workflow and have been intimidated, have a look at what Jeff has to say about Cliphouse.

Aloha Mitch,

I love the site and am a big fan.

Are you ever looking for articles and posts from guest bloggers? If so, are there any topics that you want specifically?

I would love to help out in that way. You can check out my blog at origmedia.com/blog/

It's a mix of filmmaking, business for filmmakers, and inspiration for filmmakers.

So we swapped a couple of emails (and I accidentally lost his post in the ether for a few days) and here's the result… an awesome article about Magic Lantern RAW video

The Magic Lantern RAW Workflow Challenge

From Jeff Orig:

I do not consider myself a Cinematographer or Colorist. This is written from the perspective of a DSLR filmmaker/videographer that sees the benefit of shooting in RAW* but recognizes the challenges of a RAW workflow.

The Magic Lantern RAW workflow can be long and complicated but the resulting footage can be spectacular. The long and complicated post-production workflow discouraged me from using Magic Lantern RAW very often.

Shooting RAW motion picture, on any camera, is a professional format that demands a professional workflow. This is due to: large file sizes, high data rates, and what you see is NOT what you get.

With the large file sizes and high data rates, you most likely you don’t have as much camera media, i.e., you have less CF cards. Magic Lantern RAW requires large 1000X CF cards which start at $94 on Amazon for a 64GB card. You can get about 8 minutes of 1080p 24 fps RAW footage onto one card.

If you have fewer cards, that means you are probably downloading footage to hard drives on set. This is another area that is part of the professional workflow where larger productions enlist a Digital Imaging Technician or commonly known as a DIT. The DIT is usually responsible for copying cards to multiple drives for backup and transcode. This is a high pressure, skilled job because if you accidentally lose shots by not copying correctly or some other error, you could lose many hours of set up and work.

For a more complete definition of the DIT, check out: www.screenlight.tv/blog/2013/02/08/what-is-a-digital-imaging-technician/ and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_imaging_technician

Magic Lantern RAW Workflow Challenge image 1

Another challenge when shooting Magic Lantern RAW is what you see is NOT what you get. Because this is not a native format, it is challenging to review the footage in camera.

Also, the files that the camera produces must be color corrected to achieve the look you want. When shooting RAW, you get all of the sensor data without any interpretation or tweaking done by the camera. You save all the tweaking to be done by you at a later time. This is one of the advantages of RAW though it means more work on your part. Also, since it is all of the sensor data, this means you can not simply take the files and begin editing them. They must be converted into a format like ProRes 422 that can be edited.

Pomfort Cliphouse bridges the gap for shooting with ML RAW. You can view and playback unprocessed ML RAW footage, copy to multiple drives at once, batch color grade, and batch transcode.

ClipHouse Intro

The program is easy to use. You just install, then drag and drop. Also, it does not seem to require a very powerful computer. It works fine on our low end 13” MacBook Pro 2012. It did seem to have some issues transcoding on our MacMini Late 2012. The program would hang on clips that failed when we were filming in Magic Lantern RAW. With DaVinci Resolve, we can’t even start the program on either of those computers.

I do not have a lot of experience with DaVinci Resolve because the learning curve and the workflow are fairly complicated to me. On the other hand, Cliphouse is exponentially easier to use than DaVinci Resolve for the non-Cinematographer and non-Colorist.

Cliphouse is meant to be the start of your post-production workflow. You can copy files directly from the camera media to hard drives. It does a checksum verification to make sure files were copied properly to the drive or drives. Cliphouse can also copy files to multiple drives at once in order to make a backup.

Magic Lantern RAW Workflow Challenge image 3

One awesome feature in Cliphouse is that you can directly play the ML RAW footage without any transcoding. The playback speed on our MacBook Pro is slower than real time but the awesome part is that you can see the image. This is great for checking focus and other things you want to inspect.

The color grading features are basic but easy to use. You could probably color grade and transcode 80%-90% of your project in Cliphouse. At the very least you have rushes that you can view right away to see how close you are to the look you want.

With more complicated color grades you have the RAW files and can re-grade those using a more robust workflow like DaVinci Resolve or Adobe After Effects.

Magic Lantern RAW Workflow Challenge image 4

The batch transcode feature is great. You just select the clips you want to transcode, pick the destination and format, then start. It is one program to handle it all.

This program has changed my outlook on using Magic Lantern RAW. Before, I would only consider shooting RAW in the most extreme cases because the workflow is so intense. Many of our projects require a very fast turnaround and shooting with RAW takes many steps that is time and resource intense. Now with Pomfort Cliphouse, it has made it much easier that I now consider Magic Lantern RAW for more projects.

Definitely check out the free trial. It does leave a watermark on the footage but you can get the hang of the workflow. We ended up getting the 1 year license. I thought there might be some innovation in the next year with both Magic Lantern RAW and other products to help with workflow so I passed on the lifetime license for now.

*RAW vs raw. Yes, I know RAW is not an acronym but I prefer RAW versus raw to denote the difference between a file format that allows you to use and see the RAW sensor data versus the raw footage from any codec. Also, every major camera manufacturer (RED, ARRI, Canon, Nikon, Blackmagic Design, etc.)uses a similar convention. See my blog post for more details: origmedia.com/2014/05/29/magic-lantern-raw-vs-raw/

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

Jeff Orig

Director at Orig Media
Jeff Orig is an award winning filmmaker based in Honolulu.

He is interested in life hacks that help achieve goals; the business of filmmaking; and telling stories better.He has produced feature film; produced and directed several TV Shows; currently in post-production on the feature-length documentary, The Hawaii Wisdom Project; and has various episodic and feature film projects in development.

Check out his blog at www.OrigMedia.com/blog

Comments

  1. Sorry to burst people’s bubble here…
    I bought cliphouse the day it came out months ago, and 3 days before my big feature film shoot.
    Despite it’s great features (viewing realtime, and speed of conversion), it is NOT a solution.
    Unfortunately, all RAW clips coming out of the mkii and mkiii through cliphouse suffer from artifacts, and extreme moiré. Worst of all, they are plagued with dead coloured pixels everywhere (though not on every shot, for some reason).
    On later updates the problem remained the same.
    If you convert RAW the long ‘manual’ way (RAWmagic), colours are better, no dead pixels, less moiré.
    A real pity. But it ain’t useable for Canon footage.

  2. IvanNoel What a shame.. Have you tried newer updates? Thanks

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