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Apple tried and failed to break RED's stranglehold on RAW video



RED President Jarred Land said that "we are pleased to see our RedCode patents with another challenge," adding that RED is still working with Apple to get RedCode on its Metal framework. "It has always been Apple + RED, and this was all part of the process of defining how we work together in the future," he said.

To be clear, as I mentioned before, this was never really Apple vs. Apple. RED. It has always been APPLE + RED, and this was all part of the process of defining how we work together in the future. RED integration with Apple's METAL framework for real-time R3D playback is coming along and the work the two teams are doing is exceeding expectations. We're very excited about the new Mac Pro and the new XDR Pro display and the power they bring to the entire RED workflow.

RED successfully fought back a similar suit from Sony in 2013, so the latest victory could further strengthen the patent. However, the court may have left the door open for another claim, saying Apple's challenge was "unclear and incomplete."

RedCode RAW is a video codec that allows you to capture RAW video in much the same way you can capture RAW photos. Apple claimed that RED's patent was strongly based on two other patents: One pertaining to lossless RAW video capture in HD, 2K and 4K resolutions, while the other was for processing processing that allowed for RAW sensor data compression. Apple argued that since RED's patent was a combination of two prior patents, its own technology was "unpatentable."

RED fired back with in-depth responses stating that its work was unique to those patents, and that it had been working on technology prior to the timeframe that Apple had claimed.

While RAW photography is popular and common on smartphones, RAW video has generally been restricted to professional filmmakers and video shooters. That's mainly due to the technical limitations with RAW and not because of the patent. For instance, one minute of 4K RedCode video at 5: 1 compression takes up 5.26 GB, while a minute of MP4 video at a typical 150 Mbps takes up 1.13GB. That kind of throughput generates significant heat, so RAW video isn't really practical for smartphones or small cameras.

As such, this won't have much of an impact on consumer devices, but it could affect Apple's ProRes RAW development. As it stands now, companies that make external RAW recorders like Atomos have acquired ProRes RAW licenses from RED, and will likely need to continue to do so. Blackmagic Design, meanwhile, created its own RAW format that does not infringe on RED's patents.


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