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Alex Harding
quicktime codecs
on Oct 21, 2010 at 4:09:42 pm

Hi there

I'm a nuke compositor at a vfx facility where everything's a bit hi tech and we always use dpx sequences, exr's and so on.

But I'm doing some lofi stuff on a mac and I don't need all this colour depth etc. I want to maximise playback, and conserve CPU and disk space.

Can anyone recommend the best codec for these purposes?

thanks!

Alex


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Dave LaRonde
Re: quicktime codecs
on Oct 21, 2010 at 4:38:29 pm

If you have access to them, the ProRes family of codecs is hard to beat: all 10 bit, all with comparatively small file sizes, each with a different application. The problem: they're not all available unless your machine also has Final Cut Suite 3 installed.

ProRes HQ -- image quality stands up to continued re-rendering. Think 5 generations and more.
ProRes 422 -- the go-to codec for just about any Final Cut Pro work.
ProRes 4444 -- lossless, supports alpha channels, 4-4-4 color resolution as the name implies. Not for realtime playback.
ProRes LT -- not bad at all. Okay, perhaps only pretty good: don't try re-rendering in it.

No ProRes on your machine? There are still good intermediate 8-bit codecs available:

PNG -- the codec, not the image sequence. Not for Realtime playback . At best quality, it's lossless. Supports alpha channels.
Animation -- readable by any version of Quicktime on the planet. Not for realtime playback. At best quality, it's lossless. Supports alpha channels. Generally larger file sizes than PNG. Drastically smaller files sizes than PNG if there are large areas of transparency.
Photo JPEG -- Very good image quality at 100%.

Then there are others, which are lossy to varying degrees. I personally use DVCPro 50 and DVCPro HD a lot.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Alex Harding
Re: quicktime codecs
on Oct 21, 2010 at 4:42:01 pm

Thanks Dave that's a really concise answer.

One question, what do you think of the apple intermediate codec for this kind of thing?

I have final cut so pro res is an option, although it worries me slightly that other people's machines might not be able to read it. Hmm.

Thanks,

Alex

alex harding


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Dave LaRonde
Re: quicktime codecs
on Oct 21, 2010 at 4:50:26 pm

[Alex Harding] "what do you think of the apple intermediate codec for this kind of thing?"

If preservation of image quality is not an issue, perhaps. Otherwise, avoid it at all costs. It will not withstand any sort of re-rendering without significant loss in image quality.

I consider the Apple Intermediate Codec it a fly-by-night item whose time was up three years ago, and which will undergo a merciful death in the coming years. Not the best choice for any kind of archiving.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Alex Harding
Re: quicktime codecs
on Oct 21, 2010 at 5:00:51 pm

Ha!

Well that's pretty damming. Thanks for the advice that's all very helpful.

Pro res it is!

Cheers,

Alex

alex harding


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Dave LaRonde
Re: quicktime codecs
on Oct 21, 2010 at 5:22:59 pm

[Alex Harding] "Pro res it is!"

Well, don't overlook the tried-and-true codecs like PNG and Animation. If the goal is archiving, they're tough to beat.

I recommend at test of a few codecs, and then you can settle on the one that meets your ultimate needs.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Kevin Camp
Re: quicktime codecs
on Oct 21, 2010 at 6:51:50 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "don't overlook the tried-and-true codecs like PNG and Animation"

those codecs are also standard qt components for both mac and pc, so they don't require a specific platform or fcp, just quicktime (or even quicktime alternative).

same goes with quicktime photo-jpeg, which for quality-to-file-size ratio is a good way to go for video without a key (hence why many stock footage companies use it for their footage).

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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Walter Soyka
Re: quicktime codecs
on Oct 22, 2010 at 7:06:30 pm

[Alex Harding] "I have final cut so pro res is an option, although it worries me slightly that other people's machines might not be able to read it. Hmm."

ProRes decoding is supported on recent versions of Quicktime for both Windows and Mac. While you need FCP to encode ProRes, any Quicktime application should be able to read it.

Apple released separate installers for the ProRes decoder for Windows and ProRes decoder for Mac a couple years ago, but I think they are now included in Quicktime.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Alex Harding
Re: quicktime codecs
on Oct 26, 2010 at 1:45:48 pm

excellent news, thanks


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