Why can’t we all just use ProRes?

September 5, 2014 Tags: , ,
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Sam here…

Maybe I’m missing something, but outside of RED RAW workflows where you can actually import that RAW footage natively into your NLE and work with it easily (and get real time playback), I literally don’t see any advantage to using a camera codec that isn’t ProRes in this day and age.

It made sense when the onboard processors and memory capacities were low enough to require codecs optimized for compression speed and image quality but not so much for playback and editorial. Nowadays, that’s just not the case. If something is a RAW format, I don’t want to mess with it if it takes up endless amounts of disk space and it won’t import natively/play back in my NLE.

The image flexibility that RAW provides on the finishing end becomes counterproductive if I’ve got to go through an elaborate conform/maintain a gigantic archive. It’s just not practical. Digging into the RAW is mostly for sending to VFX and to correct mistakes. It shouldn’t be necessary on a fundamental level. I’d rather have properly exposed, correctly lit ProRes XQ masters. Those are more than enough for color correction, VFX, or keying.

XDCAM, AVCHD, and all the other formats are certainly not better for editing than ProRes is, and it gets really annoying that you need a special plugin or application to unwrap video you’ve shot so you can watch it. At the very least, if you’re going to design a codec, don’t make playing it back a difficult thing for the average person. You should be able to just hit the space bar from the finder and watch your clip.

AJA Cion Camera with ProRes

AJA Cion Camera with ProRes

I realize I’m howling at the moon… but the truth is that when it comes to editing, there isn’t a better, more versatile codec than ProRes. It would be nice if I could just start with those files. ARRI, AJA, and BMD have the right idea with their cameras (all can record natively to ProRes)… would be nice to see the other camera manufacturers follow suit… or at least come up with a coherent explanation as to why they insist on their proprietary codecs that don’t in any way help the end user.


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