Open letter to Gopro Cineform Blackmagic Design and all camera manufacturers

Many years ago I invested in a codec called Cineform. It made editing on just about any PC possible. It was so well coded that it would scale to fit your CPU such that even the weaker cpus would allow one to edit even up to 4k. The codec wasn’t cheap. If I am not mistaken it hovered around $400 a seat for the mid priced option that allowed up to any spacial resolution. I even made myself a portable cineform recorder tutorial that racked up a few views on Vimeo. So the demand for a portable yet affordable Cineform HD recorder was strong then and still is now. My capture station was comprised of an HDMI Blackmagic design intensity capture card, a laptop with an expresscard slot and a Cineform license. The footage that was captured was truly jaw dropping. Not as amazing as uncompressed but it certainly preserved all the sharpness with a trade off of a smaller file size. But there were issues. Loose cables, computers crashing, BSODs, Battery power challenges, CPU challenges, ( you had to have a powerful cpu to encode.) So in time I moved on to a few more revolutionary solutions. Size and performance became the main selling points for me. The first of these products being a Convergent Design Nanoflash. But that only recorded to an 8 bit codec so I quickly outgrew that limitation. Then I moved onto the Blackmagic design Hyperdeck Shuttle. The machine just works. It is elegant, easy to manage, power and records uncompressed files to fast SSDs. But it records externally and that has it’s own challenges. Then I bought my first Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera. The first of a pair. This camera was so close but yet so far. The camera’s benefits are obvious but for the first time outside of the RED ecosystem –  we had an affordable option that allowed internal RAW. The camera has many issues – moire, aliasing, poor battery life and more. But the images of internal RAW are amazing.

But I work in the Vegas NLE. It cannot edit CDNG files as a video stream. So one had to transcode to a video file that the NLE understands. My weapon of choice was Cineform RAW. This required a transcode using software called RAW4PRO. But the problem with the software was it had weird copy protection. So stringent is the authentication that all my registered computers have become unregistered. So as a VIP early adopter of the software I was left hanging hi and dry by the developer of the software and left up a creek without a paddle. I had bought the BMPCC after solving the workflow surrounding transcodiung to Cineform RAW  with RAW4PRO. Alex refused to assist me short of asking me to purchase a license. So I moved on to free ways of going from CDNG to Cineform RAW. They exist but are tedious.

So basically, it occured to me that what I have always desired was the ability to shoot to Cineform raw internally. But alas not one manufacturer has embraced this in an affordable camera. Yes the Silicon Imaging cameras do along with Kinifinity but they are not cheap. But why no-one else, especially in light of the fact that Gopro Cineform SMPTE Standardized the GoPro CineForm Codec as the New Open Standard for Video Acquisition and Post Production. IMHO Cineform is the BEST CODEC period – even after all these years. Better than Prores to me – much more versatile. Once you have graded in Gopro Cineform Studio or Firstlight – your videos look like a movie. I kid you not, if you haven’t tried it you don’t know what you are missing out.

My dream professional camera is a simple really. Camera that is a box with a sensor with good cooling and HDMI out for monitoring. Rudimentary settings buttons like the Pocket camera. 4K ( or higher) Micro four thirds camera sensor and mount. Shoot to Cineform RAW with up to ultra high bit depth, high speed frame rates and high bit rate if required. Very simple menu layout. No need for extravagance in camera as we can leave it all for post. White balance, iso, don’t really matter in raw. Just like the BMPCC. Size wise – GH4.

There are many of us out there waiting for something like this. Sorry – we have been waiting for it for years!!!!! But nobody’s listening. Just give us a box with a nice modern clean sensor with a few buttons – a record button and let us shoot to Gopro Cineform in all its flavours. Release soon and shut up and take my money.

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