The present and future of post production business and technology

Why I was wrong about ProRes

Since the launch of ProRes 422 in Final Cut Pro 6, I’ve been vocally disappointed that Apple didn’t choose to license Avid’s DNxHD family of codecs instead of developing their own competing (and almost identical) ProRes 422. Right down to the data rates used, the two codec families are very similar.

Except DNxHD is truly cross platform including *creating* files on Windows. Apple might not want to acknowledge it but the best high end compositing apps (Nuke et al.) are Windows and many of the highest end 3D apps are Windows only. That’s the world Apple’s customers live in and not having a way to create ProRes 422 on Windows is still a failing of that codec family. DNxHD codecs can carry alpha channels in all versions. Plus, if Apple had adopted DNxHD then media would be (sort of) compatible between Final Cut Pro and Media Composer. (A rewrap from MXF to QuickTime would be required, or the use of RayTools to read MXF natively into Final Cut Pro.)

But with the release of Final Cut Pro 7 and the new ProRes 4444 codec, I can see why Apple wanted to “do their own thing” as it were. They get to control the future of the codec family without involving third parties.

There’s no DNxHD 444 codec. There is now a ProRes 4444 codec and there is now alpha channel support for those who want it. (Admittedly I’d like to see alpha channel support in the 220 and 140 Mbit versions as well, but perhaps I shouldn’t be greedy.)

While it only duplicated DNxHD functionality (and really the new 45 Mbit Offline codec in ProRes duplicates the similar DNxHD 36 codec) it didn’t make sense to have competing offerings.

Giving us more than DNxHD does, makes up for the duplication.

But please, Apple, give us a way to create those files on Windows. I’m no Windows fan but this is the real world and Windows exists in media creation.






7 responses to “Why I was wrong about ProRes”

  1. Brian Williams

    Avid is more likely to create a DNxHD 4444 codec than Apple is to take ProRes cross platform. And I don’t think you WERE wrong.

    1. No argument from me Brian, but Apple do have a Windows Reader for ProRes, just no way to write it on Windows, sadly. And probably not coming on the balance of probability.


  2. ron

    I may be wrong but isn’t Nuke running on Mac now?

  3. It sure is.


  4. HDCAM Tape decks aren’t dead… we just went through all this and both parties decided to make a master HDCAM tape and reimport.

  5. Of course HDCAM isn’t dead, but a Ki Pro will do the same job in native ProRes 422 with full raster (HDCAM is thin raster); full 4:2:2 (which HDCAM is not) and with less compression than HDCAM. Oh, it’s 10 bit as well.

    And less than 1/10th the price.

    HDCAM SR and D5 will, of course, continue to be valuable for program delivery and interchange (and for HDCAM SR, some acquisition) but for the type of purpose you used as an example – there are better alternatives unless you have an HDCAM deck “lying around” 🙂