What is Raw and Log Footage?

a man editing raw footage video Video marketing can give your company a professional edge, whether you’re filming a TV commercial, website promo, social media tutorial, or anything in between. Your final video project should look polished and professional, just like your brand. But before you can get into the editing process, you’ll first need to capture your raw video files

Raw footage is one of the most commonly used formats in professional video editing, but it can be tricky to understand if you’re new to the field. That’s why we’re here to explain what raw footage is, how it affects the editing process, and how you can capture it yourself.

Plus, discover a Rhode Island videographer who can handle every step of your video project for you.

What is the raw or log video file format?

RAW and LOG are high-quality footage formats that capture more information than other formats and give you the best image for color grading and VFX, offering more control over color grades and your project's overall look.

Technically speaking, RAW is the raw sensor data that corresponds to the image. LOG is the recorded image, flat and without color saturation. This format enables a huge amount of versatility when color grading footage.

With RAW/LOG you can take any scene, tweak its colors to perfection and achieve the exact mood you're looking for.

How does raw or log footage affect the editing process?

The lack of any outside adjustments makes raw video format the most untouched physically possible, which can prove extremely useful during your editing process. For example, you can adjust shadows and highlights without making your footage look grainy. Not only does this help save time, but it also gives you a higher-quality end result.

How do you film raw or log video files?

Most consumer cameras convert unprocessed raw footage into a compressed video file. But many professional cameras can save raw footage directly to storage, including DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Some camera models also allow you to capture both raw images and compressed files at the same time. So, you can choose which version you’d like to use later.

Filming in raw log isn’t just for expensive professional cameras, either. Some phones can capture raw footage, like the iPhone 15 Pro

How big is a raw or log video file’s size?

Raw files are uncompressed, meaning they take up more storage than a compressed video. On average, most raw images are around two to three times as large as a traditional image file. So, invest in a larger memory card or external hard drive if you plan on shooting raw video.

Do I need to shoot in raw or log?

While raw footage comes with a lot of perks, it’s not the only way to capture high-quality video footage.

For example, filming in the “log” format will provide a high dynamic range, giving you plenty of control over your video’s color. However, it also comes with certain automatic adjustments, like the white balance, added in, so you won’t have as much control over the lighting.

You may want to opt for raw format in any of the following scenarios.
  • You’re filming in tricky lighting conditions. For some projects, you may need to shoot in an environment with unpredictable light sources, like an outdoor shoot with mixed cloud cover. Since raw footage doesn’t add automatic lighting adjustments to the video, you’ll have more control over the highlights and shadows during editing. This means you won’t need to stress as much about the lighting in your filming environment.
  • You want to edit later. Have you ever sent an email only to discover a typo after you’ve sent it? Something similar can happen in the video world if you discover you made a mistake while setting up your shot. Thankfully, raw is a forgiving format, so you have more flexibility to fix lighting and color-grading issues in post-production.
  • You want to repurpose your footage. When you’re making an investment in high quality footage, you’ll likely want to get the most out of it. Having raw files can give you unedited assets for future projects.
On the other hand, you may prefer a normal or Rec 709 color profile if any of the following factors are true.
  • You need fast results. Raw footage doesn’t usually look good on its own: It needs editing and post-processing to create an aesthetically pleasing result. So, if you’re working on a tight schedule, consider opting for a traditional video file with automatic adjustments instead.
  • You don’t have enough storage. Raw footage will fill up storage space much faster, putting you in a tight spot if your memory card or external hard drive runs low on space. If you can’t grab a spare storage device, you can always film less important clips in traditional video format instead.
  • You want to view your footage on an external monitor. Raw footage must be converted before you can watch it back, which can be tricky if you want to view your video in real time. Instead, another format, like log, might be preferable if you want to see what you’re filming on an external monitor while shooting

Can you ask a videographer for raw footage?

Many videographers are open to providing you with the raw footage, allowing you to see your project in its unedited form or use the files for future purposes. However, acquiring these raw files might come with an additional cost. Due to the substantial storage requirements of raw video, you may need to invest in extra physical hard drives or increased raw file cloud storage. Typically, you can anticipate an extra expense of $500 to $2000 to obtain raw video files from a professional.

An RI videographer for your next project

Filming a video project on your own can be daunting. So, if you want a dedicated professional who can handle it all for you, McVeigh Media is here to help.

Posted by Sean McVeigh
Mcveigh profile image
Sean McVeigh is an award-winning filmmaker and producer with over 25 years of experience. Sean’s work as a cinematographer and editor has been viewed on many of the major TV networks including NBC, ESPN, and the BBC. He has also worked with iconic brands like Apple, GE, Jaguar, Amtrak, US National Parks Services, and AAA.