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Any comparison of modern archive codecs?

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Vladimir Novikov
Any comparison of modern archive codecs?
on May 7, 2009 at 10:31:22 pm

Hi all,

I tried to search the forums, but didn't find the answer, sorry if the question has been answered already.

I try to decide on the archive codec for the content I currently have in uncompressed 4:2:2 10 bit form, it's a capture from DigiBeta PAL, so it's about SD, not HD at this time. I've googled around and it seems we have quite a lot of choices:

1) Apple ProRes 422 and its HQ version. Because I use FCP, it's kinda natural choice for me, isn't it? ;-)
2) Avid DNxHD, it's Avid, it's cross-platform and some argue it's still better than ProRes.
3) Cineform codec. Should I consider it if the first two are free? I've seen some rather enthusiastic reviews.
4) IMX50 codec. Peter Wiggins describes positively its use in the article about MXO2 here:
http://library.creativecow.net/articles/wiggins_peter/MXO2.php
And Sony claims it's an "industry standard" for SD tapeless workflow.
I have Apple's preset for IMX50 and another one from BlackMagic, I presume they are similar.

As I've said, I did find some reviews of every codec, but not a comparison.

So far, I've maid the conversions to ProRes and ProResHQ. Both are very good, but I notice a very small color shift, because the image is a little bit darker.

I evaluate other codecs because of cross-platform compatibility and the possibility to be used natively by Avid or Premiere editors, if needed. While ProRes can be open on Windows, it must be converted to something else for editing.

Of course, I can continue my own tests and convert the same footage to IMX50 in both Apple's and BMD's variants, and to DNxHD, but I can only test visually and evaluate the final file size. I don't own Cineform software, so I can't comment. Thus, if more objective tests and reviews are available, I'd like to read them before I make my decision.

Thanks a lot.


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Daniel Low
Re: Any comparison of modern archive codecs?
on May 8, 2009 at 9:18:19 am

If it were me (and in fact many of my collegues would agree) I'd go with ProRes. It's very high quality, works well with FCP and there's a decoder available for Windows. You stay 4:2:2 and 10bit.

If you want to use up much less storage space, you could look at using the PhotoJPEG codec which can be either 4:2:0, 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 depending on the position of the quality slider.


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Vladimir Novikov
Re: Any comparison of modern archive codecs?
on May 9, 2009 at 1:24:09 am

Daniel, it was my intention, but this color shirt disturbs me.


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Kim Rowley
Re: Any comparison of modern archive codecs?
on Jun 11, 2009 at 2:13:30 pm

Hi Vladimir,
I work for a non-profit organization that is posing the exact same questions. It's nice to know somebody is in the same boat. The MAM software package we are considering reccomends that we ingest everything using IMX 50 or IMX 30. We too use FCP. Have you made any conclusions? I am not familiar with the IMX 50 format but am looking into it now.

Dual 2.7 GHz G5, 4GB RAM, ATI Radeon 9650, Xserve RAID, AJA IO, 2 20" Cinema Display, FCP Studio 2 (6.02), OS X10.4.11


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