Apple demonstrated its video accelerator card Afterburner for ProRes and ProRes RAW at the WWDC 2019 on its new MacPro. It was shown how the new Mac Pro could play three 8K ProRES RAW video streams in real time. We weren&t the only ones wondering where this 8K ProRes RAW material might have come from. As far as we know, there is still no announced 8K camera that ProRES RAW can output.
Nikon is currently officially working on a ProRes RAW output for his Z6 and Z7 cameras, but according to current knowledge they should only output a maximum of 4K from a 6K downsampling. However, Matt Golowczynski from techradar has added one and one together and discovered something that is perhaps no coincidence:
The video used on the WWDC was described by Apple&s David Earl as 8K ProRes raw material from a Kenyan documentary supposedly recorded and edited in HDR. Earl mentioned that the documentary was made by National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale - who happens to be a brand ambassador for Nikon. Now it is very unlikely that a full-time Nikon photojournalist will use a Canon, Sony or Panasonic 8K prototype for her certainly not unintrusive documentary. On the other hand, it is much more probable that a Nikon camera was used here that can even output 8K ProRes RAW.
There&s a lot to speculate about. Firstly, a Z7 (for which a www.nikonusa.com/en/about-nikon/press-room/press-release/jp1hl8h7/Development-of-New-Firmware-for-Nikon%27s full-frame mirrorless camera%2C-The-Nikon-Z-7-and-Nikon-Z-6.html (4K ProRes RAW firmware update) has been announced as well) would be able to do this from the sensor resolution (8256x4640 Sensel). So it wouldn&t even need a new camera model for an 8K implementation.
But the big question mark in our eyes is the transmission. 8K-RAW requires four times the data rate of 4K RAW. And this should be difficult to achieve via a 12-bit HDMI output. Nikon, however, could write 8K-ProRes RAW internally to his XQD cards relatively easily. This would mean that you wouldn&t even need an Atomos recorder. Which in turn would put the new Nikon cameras for filmmakers in a whole new light.
And now we increase this speculation with a Sony rumour: We had already reported in December that Sony&s upcoming XEVC standard can also store 12-bit 8K RAW. It&s been rumored for some time now that Sony&s long-awaited A7SIII will be one of the first cameras to use XEVC. Should XEVC-8K-RAW also be available in the A7SIII variant, this should also increase RAW demand for other manufacturers such as Panasonic or Nikon. And we firmly assume that Nikon and Panasonic already know whether Sony will also install XEVC-RAW in an upcoming A7SIII or A7IV...