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best file format for a film festival

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Chris Brooke
best file format for a film festival
on Jun 20, 2011 at 5:34:22 pm

Hi All,

I am working for a company who will be running a short film festival in my home city. The festival is being run on the back of a film competition run by an international arts and culture magazine and as such the film submissions will be coming on from all over the world.

I have been about the task of organising a simple and effective way for the chosen filmmakers to submit screening copies of their films and as such would appreciate any advice from anyone who may have done something like this before.

Currently my guidelines are for all films to be submitted as quicktime files in Apple ProRes 422HQ Which can now be exported from Avid systems too). We will the convert these into an appropriate format for screening. Because the festival is taking place in several venues across the city, not all films may be able to be screened in HD. Some venues will be nothing more than a large flatscreen in a bar and we may only have access to a DVD player for example. The screenings for the top tier of films however will be screened in 2 cinemas, one large public screen and one smaller, private venue. There won't be the budget to put together a digital print of the films so it is likely that we will have to screen off BluRay discs.

With so many possible variables my figuring behind having all films submitted in ProRes would give me a consistent high-quality format to work from, which I can then convert to whatever format I need. Furthermore submitted films can be uploaded directly to out FTP which has no data limit. My reckoning for using ProRes 422 HQ is that we will need approx 1.5gb per min which will amount to a lot less than having films uploaded uncompressed.

Has anyone been through a similar process? I would be very grateful for any advice.


(Apologies if moderators feel this post is unsuitable for this forum. I wasn't sure which would be best suited to it!)

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Rafael Amador
Re: best file format for a film festival
on Jun 20, 2011 at 10:59:50 pm

Just a couple of ideas,
- If I'm not wrong, PC people can not export Prores yet. That complicates things for them.

- I wouldn't let any festival to show a copy of my job if I haven't screened my self before. So I would like see the H264 or whatever first.

- Why don't you rent a video card and play from a laptop?
Then makes sense to ask for something like Prores. ProresLT would do a perfect job.

- Always a DVD, even if you do not expect to use it for anything, you may need it.

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Chris Brooke
Re: best file format for a film festival
on Jun 21, 2011 at 1:52:53 pm

Hi Rafael,

Thanks for your post.

The 100 selected films for the festival are being selected from over a thousand which have been submitted on DVD.

The laptop solution won't work for us because we have several venues screening different selections of films simultaneously over three days and, unfortunately, there isn't the budget to invest in several laptops with video cards.

What I am trying to do here is establish a standard for submission which will make for an easier workflow our end and allow us to encode different selections of films into an appropriate format for screening (whether DVD, BlueRay etc) while compressing/converting from a high-quality source.

You come up with a very good point about ProRes not exporting from PCs though. I was under the impression that with the latest version of Avid MC5 that exporting ProRes was fine but, alas, I have now been living in Apple-land for so long now it hadn't event occurred to me that this can only be done with Avid on a Mac.

I suppose we could insist on Quicktime files encoded with either ProRes of Avid DNxHD (I can read both)?

Would appreciate your thoughts.

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