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Cinema DNG vs. Pro Res

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So I am new to the forum and I thought I would share a post I created on the DJI forum about Cinema DNG vs Apple Pro Res. I am a former Marine and I like to keep this simple and to the point. When I was doing research into buying the I2 I found out that I only needed Apple Pro Res. Depending on how you plan to use your I2 this will help you decide if purchasing both is what you really need.

Cinema DNG
Pro's:
  • Gives you the most control over color and formats for professional film making and live stream broadcasting.
  • It out performs the ARRI Alexa mini which is regarded as the best professional film making camera on the market. It cost $36,ooo for just the body!
  • Cinema DNG at 5.2k also out performs Black Magic URSA and the Sony AS7II in 4k UHD
Cons:
  • File sizes are massive and require a ton of storage
  • You will need a beast of a machine to handle these files and render these comps within your lifetime. Adding After Effects and music to the mix will only add to your misery .
  • The files also have to be color graded as they are in RAW format and transcoded into an NLE that will accept the files.
  • Increases your workflow time substantially
  • If you are not in Film or creating projects worthy of this amount of effort there is no need for it.
  • $1000 extra

Apple Pro Res
Pros:
  • Shoots in 5.2k res, 4K UHD with the 422 HQ and 4444XQ codec. This is pretty much the current pro industry standard.
  • Smaller file sizes
  • Easier to work with
  • 4444XQ Quality is very close to Cinema DNG and can match it with the right LUTS
  • $500 vs. the $36,000 for the ARRI Alexa mini that shoots the same exact codec
Cons:
  • Not Raw - Does not have as much control when color grading
  • Does not have as many frame rate options as Cinema DNG

So the point is, if you are not planning on making Hollywood grade films why spend the extra $1000? Apple Pro Res is already the current pro industry standard. No one even has a 5k TV and YouTube will downgrade your files even further. DJI has given us an amazing product that rivals and in some cases out performs the most expensive camera on the market. Most people will only be using this to create YouTube, Real Estate, site inspection videos and 3 D models. ( This is also assuming you bought the X5S)

If you have the money to burn then by all means get both. Honestly I would rather take that $1000 and buy an extra remote and an iPad mini 4 or a few more batteries. If cost reduction is part of the equation like it was for me then Apple Pro Res is the way to go if you must have one or the other.

Check out this I2 review from Cinema 5D and look at the comparisons for yourself. Hope this helps!

 
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Hi Guys,

A few other factors to consider. If you plan on shooting at 47.95, 50 or 59.94 (anything above 29.97) RAW is your only option (aside from h.264/5). ProRes is great but if you are shooting 4444HQ the files are essentially the same size as RAW UHD.

1e87f166-c2c7-42bc-9598-3be25cb20eed.png
 
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"Outperforms the Alexa" is certainly a stretch, resolution is only a small part of the image quality equation, and there are many reasons the Alexa familty is the industry standard. But CinemaDNG from the X5S does look beautiful indeed.

If you are coming from a photo background then working with the raw files is more familiar. You don't need to transcode, major video production software like Resolve and Premiere ingests the files directly. We are now transitioning to Resolve as it seems to be best suited for CinemaDNG work, and it appears to be an excellent editing choice. Also, turns out nowadays you can do CinemaDNG proxies with the advantage of staying in the raw domain, while reaping the performance benefits. This is kinda cool. No need for rerender when you touch a color control, and full access to raw processing controls all the time.
 
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Good points Erasmus. A couple of notes. Premiere will open the DNG files but it is messing them up (Crazy Magenta Highlights). Resolve is amazing. The only drawback I see there so far is that the free version maxes out at UHD, so a few of the DNG formats cannot be worked with at native resolution. At least it will not allow you to set timeline resolution above UHD. I know that the software is resolution independent but I am unsure exactly what is occurring in this instance. You can not export (deliver) at full res. That would be fine for many uses. Of course, $1,000.00 solves that problem :)
 
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Good points Erasmus. A couple of notes. Premiere will open the DNG files but it is messing them up (Crazy Magenta Highlights). Resolve is amazing. The only drawback I see there so far is that the free version maxes out at UHD, so a few of the DNG formats cannot be worked with at native resolution. At least it will not allow you to set timeline resolution above UHD. I know that the software is resolution independent but I am unsure exactly what is occurring in this instance. You can not export (deliver) at full res. That would be fine for many uses. Of course, $1,000.00 solves that problem :)

I would imagine the only case one would want to render higher than UltraHD is for 4K cinema. Or maybe for VFX plates. For now, I am content with UltraHD renders. :)

I am not scared by the magenta highlights in Premiere (Slimraw fixes them fine for me), but Resolve definitely has the edge for raw work and I am delighted that I can use stronger compression levels when offloading the footage - not only does footage take less space, but it looks like performance is better too.
 
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I am delighted that I can use stronger compression levels when offloading the footage - not only does footage take less space, but it looks like performance is better too.

I am not following you there. Do you mean compression at the deliver stage?
 
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I am not following you there. Do you mean compression at the deliver stage?

The software we are using for offload and for archiving of CinemaDNG footage (www.slimraw.com) has multiple compression levels, but the higher levels are only compatible with Resolve. We use it for offload to our storage anytime we work with CinemaDNG (except the X5R, which needs to be offloaded through DJI's software; for this we did an additional Slimraw pass). It does the compression while offloading and is very fast, I suspect faster than straight copy. For Premiere we usually used the 10-bit log setting which would reduce the files around 30% and fix the magenta issues. Now with Resolve we can also use all the other options, which are really handy. Much smaller files and works beautifully inside Resolve. There is also an option to produce half resolution CinemaDNG proxies, which I haven't tested yet but sounds interesting for when processing power is inadequate.
 
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I notice that Slim is not listing the X5S. Is it working?

Works fine with the samples I have. I also wrote them an email with the same question, they answered that it works and the site will be updated soon with the newer cameras added to the list.
 
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Yes. Everything it spits out is .dng. That's one of the things I really dig about it - nothing changes with the workflow inside Resolve or Premiere, only the files are smaller.
 
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Alright, sold. I downloaded the trial and looks like about 15% space savings on the samples I have. That's worth an easy Fifty.
 
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Alright, sold. I downloaded the trial and looks like about 15% space savings on the samples I have. That's worth an easy Fifty.

You should be able to more or less double this with the 10-bit log lossless option. :) I am told there is no practical reason not to use this as the default setting with both the DJI cameras, and I can't see any difference with the originals when pixel peeping. We'll now likely step it up to VBR HQ or 4:1 when we go with Resolve as our main post weapon.
 
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Other CON's to the ProRes format from my point of view:
  • 10-bit vs. 12-bit CDNG (up to 3840x2160 at 50FPS (47.952fps), 4096x2160 at 50FPS (47.952fps), and 5280x2972 at 30FPS (29.97fps)
  • Even ProRes 4444 seems to only be 10-bit so the only upside to using this vs. 422 is 4.4.4 chroma but at a the expense of a much larger filesize
  • ProRes files gets cut up to 4GB chunks (at least that's what I get)
  • The ProRes 5.2k is widescreen aspect only, and not full 16:9 5280x2972 like in DNG.
  • Max res for ProRes is 5280x2160, which is ok, but that's a 2.4:1 widescreen style aspect

So unless DJI makes ProRes 5.2k 12-bit (at slower fps), allows files larger than 4GB (formatting of card?) I'm sticking with 5.2K CDNG which works flawlessly in DaVinci for me (as optimized media).
 
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You should be able to more or less double this with the 10-bit log lossless option. :) I am told there is no practical reason not to use this as the default setting with both the DJI cameras, and I can't see any difference with the originals when pixel peeping. We'll now likely step it up to VBR HQ or 4:1 when we go with Resolve as our main post weapon.

Wow. That is brilliant. I just lined up 3 versions of the same DNG clip in Resolve. The original, one Slim lossless 12 bit, and one Slim lossless 10 bit. At plus and minus 5 stops (hah!) they are virtually identical. Pasted some ridiculous curves on them as well. Only the tiniest difference on the waveform highlights. That is very impressive. The lossy VBR option changes things more significantly but the files still hold up very nicely.

This 10 bit option was a 22% reduction. A full 480 GB SSD would offload at around 374 GB. Nice.
 
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Other CON's to the ProRes format from my point of view:
  • 10-bit vs. 12-bit CDNG (up to 3840x2160 at 50FPS (47.952fps), 4096x2160 at 50FPS (47.952fps), and 5280x2972 at 30FPS (29.97fps)
  • Even ProRes 4444 seems to only be 10-bit so the only upside to using this vs. 422 is 4.4.4 chroma but at a the expense of a much larger filesize
  • ProRes files gets cut up to 4GB chunks (at least that's what I get)
  • The ProRes 5.2k is widescreen aspect only, and not full 16:9 5280x2972 like in DNG.
  • Max res for ProRes is 5280x2160, which is ok, but that's a 2.4:1 widescreen style aspect

So unless DJI makes ProRes 5.2k 12-bit (at slower fps), allows files larger than 4GB (formatting of card?) I'm sticking with 5.2K CDNG which works flawlessly in DaVinci for me (as optimized media).
 
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There are some hints coming down the pike that we'll be seeing some improvements in the PR implementation during the next firmware upgrade (currently in a closed beta). Oh and you forgot to mention the lack of lens corrections on the PR (CinemaDNG has them built in).
 
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"Outperforms the Alexa" is certainly a stretch, resolution is only a small part of the image quality equation, and there are many reasons the Alexa familty is the industry standard. But CinemaDNG from the X5S does look beautiful indeed.

If you are coming from a photo background then working with the raw files is more familiar. You don't need to transcode, major video production software like Resolve and Premiere ingests the files directly. We are now transitioning to Resolve as it seems to be best suited for CinemaDNG work, and it appears to be an excellent editing choice. Also, turns out nowadays you can do CinemaDNG proxies with the advantage of staying in the raw domain, while reaping the performance benefits. This is kinda cool. No need for rerender when you touch a color control, and full access to raw processing controls all the time.
Well yes you are correct. I guess I should have said "In some cases" but not completely out performs. I just switched to Resove as well from Speed Grade. Are you using the I2 for film making? The point of the post was to give people something to think about if they planned on upgrading or buying an I2 and didn't know what to get. I think it would be wise to figure out how you plan on using the drone especially if money is an issue. I think that if you are just starting out or you are just doing Real Estate or making You Tube video's, you can get away with just getting the Pro Res for now. I would love to have Cinema DNG and plan on getting it in the future, but after dropping $7k it wasn't high on the priority list.
 

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