What is Raw Footage?

For many, the term “raw footage” conjures up images of Hollywood blockbusters being filmed on expensive sets with high-tech equipment. However, the reality is that raw footage can be captured with any camera, even a smartphone.

Let’s define raw footage and explore its benefits and drawbacks and look at some tips on getting the most out of the raw footage you capture.

Raw Footage: Essentials

Below we’ll discuss some of the essentials of raw footage and how it can be used.

What Exactly is Raw Footage?

“Raw footage” is a term used in television and filmmaking to refer to the unedited, uncut film recorded by a camera. Raw footage is often referred to as “rushes.” The editor’s responsibility is to take this raw footage and turn it into a finished product that is ready for distribution. 

As you can imagine, raw footage can be lengthy, especially for feature films. In fact, it is not uncommon for there to be 100 hours or more of raw footage for a single feature film! This is why it is so important to have a skilled editor on hand who knows how to sift through all of this footage and find the gems that will ultimately end up in the finished product.

What is the Difference Between Raw Footage and B-Roll?

You may have heard the term “B-roll” before. B-roll refers to supplementary or alternate footage that can be used to cut away from the main action. This might include shots of the scenery, close-ups of objects, or even reactions from people watching the main action unfold. 

B-roll footage is often intercut with the main action to provide context or break up long stretches of dialogue. While the same crew usually shoots B-roll footage as the main action, it can also be sourced from archival footage or stock footage libraries. 

Important Aspects of Raw Footage

There are a few critical aspects of raw footage that you should be aware of:

Color Space

The first thing to know about raw footage is that it is often shot in a log format. This means that the data captured by the camera’s sensor is recorded in a very flat, linear fashion. This may sound bad, but it gives the editor more latitude regarding color correction and grading. 

 Log footage often looks flat and desaturated when viewed independently, but this is intentional. By recording the footage in a log format, the editor can apply a LUT (look-up table) to the footage to highlight the colors and contrast. This gives the editor much more control over the final look of the footage.

Raw footage is also often shot in a higher bit-depth than finished video. This means more information is captured for each pixel, giving the editor more room to make adjustments without introducing artifacts.

Raw footage is also shot at a higher resolution than the finished video. This allows the editor to zoom in and crop the footage without losing quality.

Size and File Format

Raw footage is often quite large—both in terms of file size and physical dimensions. This is because it is captured at a higher resolution than the finished video. As such, it is essential to have plenty of storage space available when shooting raw footage. 

Raw footage is also usually recorded in some proprietary file format. This means that it can only be opened and edited in specific software programs designed to work with that file format. 


Sound is vital in any video, but it is imperative when working with the raw footage. This is because raw footage is often shot without any sound—or with very low-quality sound. As such, it is up to the editor to add in any necessary sound effects or dialogue. 

This can be a bit of a challenge, as it can be difficult to find sound effects that match the action on the screen. In some cases, it may be necessary to create custom sound effects. Alternatively, the editor may use music to cover up awkward silences.


Raw footage, by its very nature, is relatively unstructured. There is no real beginning, middle, or end—it is simply a collection of scenes captured on camera. As such, it is up to the editor to take this footage and turn it into a cohesive story. 

This can be a challenge, as the editor needs to have a clear vision for the finished product. However, they must also see beyond the individual scenes and identify the throughlines that will connect everything. 

Sometimes, the editor may need to get creative to make the raw footage work for the story they are trying to tell. This might involve re-ordering scenes, adding additional footage, or even creating new scenes.

Importance of Raw Footage

Raw footage provides a behind-the-scenes look at the video production process. It gives businesses an insight into the amount of work that goes into creating a finished product. Raw footage can also create marketing content such as behind-the-scenes videos, bloopers, and outtakes. This content is often more relatable and engaging than polished, final videos.

Raw footage can also be helpful for troubleshooting purposes. For example, suppose there are any issues with the final video, such as audio problems or poor video quality. In that case, businesses can check the raw footage to see any problems during filming. Raw footage can also be used to create alternate versions of the final video if necessary. 

As you can see, raw footage is integral to the video production process.

The Pros and Cons of Raw Footage

There are both pros and cons to working with the raw footage. On the one hand, it gives businesses much control over the final product. They can choose how to edit the footage, what type of color grading to use, and what kind of sound effects or dialogue to add. This allows businesses to create a truly unique video tailored to their specific needs.

On the other hand, working with raw footage can be pretty challenging. It requires a lot of time and effort to edit the footage into a cohesive story. It can also be difficult to find sound effects and dialogue that match the action on the screen. In some cases, businesses may need professional editors to get the most out of their raw footage.

Ultimately, it is up to businesses to decide whether the pros of working with raw footage outweigh the cons. Companies willing to put in the time and effort can create truly unique and engaging videos.

How Raw Footage Should Be Handled

When working with raw footage, you must create a system for adequately organizing the media. This will make it much easier to find the specific clips you’re looking for when you’re ready to start editing.

Once you have your footage organized, it’s time to start culling. This means going through all of the footage and selecting the best shots. Once you’ve done that, you can start putting together a rough cut of your video. At this stage, things don’t need to be perfectly formatted; instead, the purpose is to string together the best shots in a sequence that makes sense.

Once you have a rough cut that you’re happy with, it’s time to start polishing things up. This is where your editing skills will come into play. At this stage, you should focus on creating a tight, well-paced edit that tells a cohesive story. Pay attention to things like transitions, audio levels, and color correction. In these stages, it’s common for a professional editor to be brought in to help with the process.

How Sparkhouse Can Assist in the Collection and Handling of Raw Footage

The video-making process can make or ruin a project. Knowing how to collect and handle raw footage can save you from a lot of headaches down the road and help you get the most out of your video projects.

Sparkhouse has been perfecting video production for over 15 years and has the skills necessary to make your project run smoothly. TOur goal is to understand as much as we can about your needs and goals while we begin to conceive your video or video series. We’ll bring together our account, strategy, and creative teams to meet with you and learn. We’ll investigate the distinct value proposition of your product or service, evaluate the competition, and plan for the type of video choices accessible.

Regarding the management of raw footage, our team of dedicated professionals will work with you to ensure that your project is handled with the utmost care. We understand how important it is to get the most out of your footage, and we will do everything in our power to help you achieve that goal.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Sparkhouse can assist you with your video projects, contact us today. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

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