Raw compressed format – RED patent

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  • #176198

      What are your thoughts on RED owning the patent of compressed raw footage? As I understand it only black magic has come around the fact of paying RED for the use of compressing raw footage because they could prove that they were working on it before the patent was filed.

      How is this battle hindering the digital cameras and companies? Apart from having to pay RED money. What progress do you think we would see if the patent was open?


      I think of the seat-belt innovation – in this case Volvo decided that even if there was a patent on the seat belt they would released it. Mind you it was mainly because you could lower death rate a substantial amount but still. It would benefit the industry more from making the patent open to use rather than hindering it.


      Red would still make money. And maybe even a better camera for it. What are your thoughts on this?

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    • #176223

        What I’ve never understood is how Red managed to patent compressed raw when before the Red One, there was the Silicon Imaging SI-2K camera, used on “Slumdog Millionaire”, which recorded in Cineform RAW, which is compressed.


          The patent should never have been given.

          RED took the open source Jpeg2000 compression and changed the header, so that only their own software could open this version of Jpeg2000 – REDRAW was born.

          This video explains it in detail and also shows the way the RED company operates:



          David, your question is so valid.

          All that RED had patented was already up and working in the SI-2K. I believe what RED added in the patent was “above 2k resolutions”, which in itself isn’t any invention and could have been done by Cineform too.

          RED has recently been granted a new patent in an attempt to prolong the current one beyond 2028.

          The US Patent Office is structurally and operationally flawed and it’s well known worldwide. Too many unjustified patents.

          If Nikon in their upcoming lawsuit against RED presents the evidence in a proper way, RED’s patent should not hold. But, RED somehow pulled their head out of the noose several times before (by settling or preventing a lawsuit going to court in the first place).

          Canon seems to have a deal with RED to use Canon Raw inside of their cinema cameras and in return RED gets to use their RF mount. But for smaller manufacturers like Kinefinity (who RED sued for patent infringement) it’s currently impossible to  implement internal compressed raw recording. RED have a stranglehold on the industry and are determined to keep it.



            Blackmagic didn’t pay Red, they found a work around, debayering on camera. Same as Arri or Sony who also found other workarounds to implement RAW recording on their cameras.

            Compressed Raw patent shouldn’t have been granted to Red in my opinion. But it is what it is.

            When the patent runs out I guess every camera will be able to shoot compressed raw. As it’s the obvious best choice.




              Arriraw is uncompressed, Sony only has it in their high end camera, maybe they pay fees to RED. RED sued Sony for patent infringement in 2013 when they tried to implement in camera, compressed raw.

              Don’t assume that the patent will just run out. RED has already taken steps.


                To nerd,

                It’s interesting to view the different types of image compression that occur upon acquisition and what REDRAW is/means.

                RED owns the patent for spatial compression in RAW image files; spatial information is image detail, like lines on an MTF chart. It’s the difference in values between pixels.

                RED now employs DCT 2 (no longer Wavelet) compression, the same found in ProRes, JPEG, etc. It converts spatial information to a sinusoidal wave, representing a gradient in pixel values for an 8×8 area with a corresponding coefficient chart. Thus it significantly reduces the number of values required for an area of an image.

                Note, RED itself didn’t create any of the compression algorithms used; they applied it to a RAW codec (sampling a single Y value per pixel) and patented it, and, more importantly, enforced said patent.

                Now ARRI, RED, Sony and everybody else with a RAW acquisition method generally applies a level of compression before the acquisition; however, it’s not spatial compression, it’s a compression of single pixel value, rather than delivering a 16-bit value per pixel, we provide a 10-12-bit value per pixel disregarding unnecessary information – a logarithmic container!

                So, everybody applies compression (unless under extreme circumstances) to the range of values; RED applies compression for the number of values required to create an image, thus decreasing the bitrate further. The cleverness is, of course, taken from JPEG2000, where you have Wavelet/DCT compression and still debayer afterwards, a clever but reasonably simple addition to the complexity of DCT 2.

                Now, of course, as soon as you don’t sample a single Y value per pixel and minorly interpolate values, you’re no longer genuinely infringing on the REDs patent (BMD); ProRes RAW is almost identical to RED RAW (Apple gave RED the DCT 2 compression algorithm) and blah blah blah the rest is well known.

                Now, does it significantly hold back the potential of cinema and, therefore, cinematography? No.

                It’s just spatial compression of a RAW image that reduces bitrate. I’m sure it hurts some independent filmmakers and lowers the possibility of RAW acquisition on some shoots, but they’re by no means limiting the potential of a camera.

                It’s just one of the more talked about scuffles in our industry.



                  To complement the above, I have a brief on DCT compression using more accurate terminology.

                  Many other image and video formats use DCT-based compression and decompression, such as JPEG and MPEG-2. The main idea behind DCT compression is to divide the image into blocks (most commonly of 8 by 8-pixel size) which will be treated separately. Inside each block, the Discrete Cosine Transformation II is applied to obtain a series of coefficients that indicate the contribution of each of the different cosine waves that approximate the original image. These coefficients are divided by the corresponding values of a quantisation table and rounded to the nearest integer. Usually, each standard has a series of different tables which dictate the compression level; this step is where most of the lossy compression is done. Finally, the resulting block is zig-zag scanned, resulting in many sequential zeros being compressed by a Huffman encoder. As the image is converted into Y’CbCr beforehand, compression can be accompanied by chroma subsampling which reduces the bandwidth used for the chroma components, exploiting the human visual system’s lower acuity for colour differentiation compared to luminance.

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