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Is ProRes as bad as DNxHR?

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Paul Roper
Is ProRes as bad as DNxHR?
on May 4, 2018 at 4:08:39 pm

Hello,
While struggling to find a decent codec to use since ProRes has been dead on Windows for some time, I thought I'd do some tests using the horribly confusing DNxHR/DnxHD codecs. As far as I can tell, it's not possible to use the RGB444 version of DNxHR with an alpha channel; if you want to work with an alpha you have to use the nasty HQX422 version. Which is ridiculous, seeing as the only time you'd export something with an alpha channel is if you're handing it off to do further post production work on it, therefore you want the highest possible quality. Unless I am mistaken and am doing something wrong.

Anyway, I found a PNG online that someone had made (from here: https://www.rtings.com/tv/learn/chroma-subsampling) which serves as a great test to break a codec. I've attached it to this post. I've also made an AE project - a 2 sec comp with that PNG in it. With a hole in the PNG to test the alpha channel.

12381_chroma444.png.zip
12382_chromatest.aep.zip

I rendered it (on my PC) using various flavours of DNxHR and it varied from abysmal to downright broken, with weird blocks of colour appearing. I also rendered it with the 27 year old Animation codec, and it looked perfect. So I'd be interested to hear about people's results rendering it with ProRes - if it looks any good or not. I'll do a test on my MacBook Pro if I get the chance.

So, has anyone figured out a decent, non-ProRes workflow yet? Or is the answer "all modern codecs are rubbish and, for production work, nobody's improved on the Animation codec in almost three decades of software research"? It's a shame that MOX seems to have fizzled out: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mox-file-format#/updates/all

~ Paul

motion graphics | VFX | web design | etc.
http://paulroper.com/


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Greg Jones
Re: Is ProRes as bad as DNxHR?
on May 4, 2018 at 4:27:58 pm

I've been using this with success:

https://aescripts.com/aftercodecs/

Greg Jones

Greg Jones
Orlando,Fl.
http://www.d7-inc.com


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Is ProRes as bad as DNxHR?
on May 4, 2018 at 4:43:28 pm

You can make ProRes? Then why not use ProRes 4444?

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Paul Roper
Re: Is ProRes as bad as DNxHR?
on May 4, 2018 at 5:24:06 pm

No Dave, I will do a test on my MacBook Pro over the weekend, but my big workhorse is a Windows system, so no ProRes available.

An update on my "downright broken" claim - that was the fault of VLC player, which apparently cannot play back (properly) an RGB444 DnxHR file. When I brought that same file into AE, it played back fine, and looked very good. No alpha channel obviously, so fairly useless in this context. The awful HQX422 thing (WITH the alpha channel) still looked like an old VHS when played in AE.

So I guess my only options are to either dust the cobwebs off the Animation codec, or buy After Codecs, and hope it doesn't go the way of Miraizon's ProRes codecs which I'd previously used successfully.

motion graphics | VFX | web design | etc.
http://paulroper.com/


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Matthew Ross
Re: Is ProRes as bad as DNxHR?
on May 4, 2018 at 5:20:17 pm

Try this (as seen in a response from user Lotec on the Adobe forums):

Ran into similar issue and figured out from some forum searching that the Alpha channel needs to be set to "Uncompressed" in the settings dialog.

Within Output Module Settings make sure the following is set:
Format: Quicktime
Video Output: RGB+Alpha
Depth: Trillions of Colors+
Next, click on the button "Format Options"
Video Codec: DNxHR/DNxHD
Resolution: DNxHR HQX 10-bit
Alpha: Uncompressed

Click OK. Render the comp and import the result into AE. The resulting file should show an alpha channel



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Paul Roper
Re: Is ProRes as bad as DNxHR?
on May 4, 2018 at 5:29:38 pm

Yes Matthew, that will render out an alpha channel, but the picture quality is awful - it uses 422 chroma sampling, so chucks away half the colour information. The RGB444 codec is the only one to bother with if you want to retain decent quality, but you can't use an alpha with that at all. Which is just SO ridiculous! There is no situation where you'd export something with an alpha and not do further post production work on it, so it's essential to retain the quality.

motion graphics | VFX | web design | etc.
http://paulroper.com/


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Matthew Ross
Re: Is ProRes as bad as DNxHR?
on May 4, 2018 at 5:31:36 pm

Yep, my mistake. You already said you're trying to avoid HQX because of the chroma subsampling.

If I were you I'd just go with Cineform in a .mov wrapper instead of DNx. It will do what you want.



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Eric Santiago
Re: Is ProRes as bad as DNxHR?
on May 4, 2018 at 6:54:55 pm

I'm not sure what your intended target is but is sequential files out of the question?
Sorry, I'm old school and still use that for CG and AE work.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Is ProRes as bad as DNxHR?
on May 4, 2018 at 7:03:03 pm

CineForm is a good mezzanine codec in an Adobe workflow.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Paul Roper
Re: Is ProRes as bad as DNxHR?
on May 6, 2018 at 9:15:15 pm

Indeed - CineForm does look good. I've never bothered even looking at it because it's called "GoPro CineForm", which led me to believe it was probably a lower-end format for editing those "Hold My Beer" videos destined for YouTube, especially with that vague "Quality" slider going from 1 to 5. But my test proved me very wrong - see the results of my test below, comparing the formats we've been discussing, if you're interested:

(QuickTimes rendered out of a 32-bit AE project, with everything set to the highest quality each codec supports, imported into a 32-bit AE project, scaled to 800% with no interpolation, then I exported a frame as a Trillions of Colors TIFF and saved it as a max. quality JPEG in Photoshop to display here):


...and here's the same thing, with a Levels adjustment layer added to emphasize the nastiness:


(The MB figures below are file sizes for a 2sec 1280x720 movie in each codec. The movie was just that static frame).
So we can see that in terms of quality, the 1991-vintage Animation wins, but it doesn't support Trillions of Colors of Floating Point. 69MB.
DNxHR's attempt at anything with an alpha channel is gobsmackingly awful. Why does this POS codec even exist? 77MB.
DNxHR's RGB444 codec is not too shabby - but its lack of alpha channel support means we can throw it out of this test. 41MB.
CineForm: If I need the additional colour depth, I think I've just found my new favourite codec. The compression winnets aren't to bad, even in the massively exaggerated version with the adjustment layer. The file size is fractionally bigger than Animation, but this is Trillions, not Millions of colours. Thank you Walter! 71MB
ProRes 4444: Obviously showing more compression winnets than CineForm, but about two thirds of the file size. A bit surprising when I've come from many years of Mac use and believing that ProRes 4444 was hardly compressed at all. 45MB

Or, as Eric suggested, I just use image sequences with far more control over compression.

motion graphics | VFX | web design | etc.
http://paulroper.com/


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Roei Tzoref
Re: Is ProRes as bad as DNxHR?
on Jun 1, 2018 at 1:02:47 pm

Great Test Paul. I have been making some tests of my own, especially ever since Adobe deprecated the 32-bit Codecs.

I am on Windows and so far the best result quality/size I found were these:

Delivery
RGB Graphics - AfterCodecs ProResHQ
RGBA Graphics - After Codecs ProRes4444
RGB Video - DNxHD/HR HQX 10bit
RGBA Video - now I know to try Cineform ☺

Digital Intermediate - DPX Sequence

Roei Tzoref
2D/VFX Generalist & Instructor
♫ AeBlues Tutorials ♫
http://www.tzoref.com


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