DJI finally solved the Apple ProRes RAW disappointment (mostly)
When DJI first announced its Ronin 4D, which is a 4-axis camera gimbal designed for cinematographers making videos on the ground (rather than in the air, via drone), one of its most-touted and highly-anticipated features was that the Zenmuse X9 gimbal camera — available in either 8K or 6K versions — would be capable of internally recording Apple ProRes and Apple ProRes RAW.
That Ronin 4D announcement was back in October 2021. But when it actually began shipping a few months later in February 2022, many potential customers were highly disappointed. That’s because it shipped without ProRes RAW capabilities, as was first promised.
DJI did offer up a consolation prize; it dropped the initially-advertised price tag from $7,199 to $6,799. But despite the cost savings, it was largely a blow to folks seeking to shoot 8K ProRes RAW. Internal ProRes Raw was a huge reason why many people wanted the Ronin 4D. Online comments show people cancelling previously-made orders.
But this month, DJI finally solved the Apple ProRes RAW problem. Along with the launch of its new DJI Ronin Flex, DJI also announced that Apple ProRes RAW video recording is finally available on Ronin 4D (note that you don’t need the Flex to activate RAW; the two announcements were just made simultaneously).
Now you can purchase an activation license key for the Apple ProRes RAW codec on Ronin 4D at the DJI Store. That’s great news for filmmakers seeking to integrate Ronin 4D footage into cinema productions.
But of course, there’s always bad news to accompany the good news; the Apple ProRes RAW license for Ronin 4D costs $979. That’s far greater than the $400 discount DJI offered up as its consolation prize last year. Perhaps the over-2x price increase is Ronin’s version of inflation.
What is Apple ProRes and Apple ProRes RAW?
Apple ProRes is a video compression format developed by Apple for use in post-production that supports video resolution up to 8K. In 2018, Apple ProRes RAW arrived on the scene, expanding upon the ProRes codecs with a focus on raw data coming from the sensor. Its value is in offering better color reproduction, given how it delays the debayering process to the post-production stage, and it’s ideal for high-dynamic-range (HDR) content creation.
With ProRes RAW, you can import, edit, and grade video with RAW data straight from your camera sensor — in theory speeding up edits. Mac users can also render and export faster with ProRes RAW than you can with other raw formats given that ProRes RAW is optimized for macOS and the latest Mac computers.
Now, the Zenmuse X7 and Ronin 4D are Apple ProRes RAW authorized products. (The DJI CineLight, Inspire 2, Ronin 4D and Mavic 3 Cine had been Apple ProRes authorized products already.)
Today, there are still relatively few Apple Pro Res RAW-authorized products. Aside from DJI, other Apple Pro Res RAW-authorized products include Adobe After Effects, Adobe Media Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, FilmLight’s Baselight and Daylight, the MTI FILM Cortex and the Nikon Z9, among others.
The list of ProRes products (not RAW) is far longer, and includes other DJI products including DJI CineLight, Inspire 2 and Mavic 3 Cine.
What to know about Apple ProRes RAW for Ronin 4D
Once you’ve purchased the $979 DJI Ronin 4D RAW License, you’ll be able to record Apple ProRes RAW video on your Ronin 4D, whether or not you also have the Ronin 4D Flex. It’s not a subscription but rather a one-time purchase, so it’s valid indefinitely for as long as you use the Ronin 4D. The license is compatible with DJI Ronin 4D and Zenmuse X9-6K
It’s not totally clear why the Ronin 4D only just now supports Apple ProRes RAW — and it’s also not clear why the initial promise fell through at launch, but many suspected it had to do with patent issues.
Though prior to now, Apple ProRes 4444 XQ had been available to all purchasers via a firmware update, and Apple ProRes HQ 422 was (and still is) also available. But the ProRex 4444 XQ codec was far less appealing, in that it offered a worse quality to file-size ratio than the newer ProRes RAW.
For what it’s worth, the Mavic 3 Cine was a game-changer in the drone world when it released to news that it would offer far richer video processing than just the Mavic 3 on its own by way of support for Apple ProRes 422 HQ, Apple ProRes 422, and Apple ProRes 422 LT encoding. Maybe ProRes RAW for drones is next.
How to purchase and activate your license key for the Apple ProRes RAW codec on Ronin 4D
Once you have your license, it’s pretty simple and requires just four steps:
- Simply connect your Ronin 4D to a computer using the included cable, and power on the Ronin 4D.
- Launch DJI Assistant 2 for the Ronin Series with the same logged-in DJI account you purchased the activation key with.
- Click the icon for Ronin 4D, navigate to the parameter settings page, and click “License.”
- Enter the verification code that was sent to you (either via email/phone) at purchase, then click through to ‘confirm’ and ‘continue activation’ until you receive an ‘activation successful’ message.
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