Raw footage is the crude output of a video or still camera recording. It is the unprocessed data from a camera’s image sensor. Most photographers prefer shooting raw footage due to the high quality of images that the camera sensor could possibly produce. Since it is raw or unrefined, the footage remains as it was captured, retaining all details, true colors and lighting, which allows considerable opportunity for modification.
Raw footage is also known as raw video, source footage or source video.
Raw footage can be very large, and only a few applications can decode it owing to the lack of codecs that can handle this format; as a result, only a few cameras can store raw footage. Although these types of still and video cameras are not difficult to find, they are extremely costly. In fact, dealing with raw files is extravagant given that a lot of money is spent not just on the camera but also on good hardware that can support its meticulous post production, enormous need for file storage devices and backup. In addition, raw files use more storage space than processed and compressed videos and images, so a camera storing raw images quickly uses up its storage space.
Post production of raw footage, specifically raw video, requires meticulous workflow tools. It requires high-performance hardware, which is vital to allow the workflows to operate smoothly, again due to the size and amount of detail that needs to be rendered by the software and the hardware by extension. In post-production work in the past, raw footage was converted to a compressed format in order to be compatible with other workflows; since then, third-party companies have started to add support for raw formats in their applications to support native workflow.
This raw footage normally has higher dynamic ranges than those that are automatically processed by the camera because, for one reason or another, the post-process algorithm might not be very good or the hardware is unable to do this process properly, resulting in loss of quality. The pristine data in raw footage makes it more flexible for post-production work because there is so much to work with, unlike already processed footage, which may be biased to a specific effect, making the addition of other types of effects more difficult.