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mgrvsh

Intermediate Codecs

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I've been using QT Animation as an intermediate codec for years now without really questioning it. I saw on a thread recently someone mentioned using prores 4444 instead and it got me wondering what other people are using. Is Animation dead and people are using QT PNG or DNxHD or something else?

 

What's good these days?

 

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PNG in a QuickTime container is also lossless and tends to produce files that are half the size of those made with Animation for photorealistic images. Animation does best with large regions of flat color, since it is an RLE compressor. PNG is slower to encode and decode, though.

 

ProRes 4444 isn't lossless like the two above are, but it's close enough for most uses.

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Quicktime PNG is great for archiving and when you don't need fast IO. Less great since OS X Quicklook stopped supporting it. I believe both QT-PNG and Animation are regarded as deprecated by Apple. This is one reason why some are switching to ProRes 4444, or the XQ variant which is higher quality. But the old codecs have greater cross-platform compatibility. Looking ahead, the imperfect nature of the situation is why the MOX campaign was a recent success.

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A lot of folks balk at the extra file management that image sequences add to a workflow. But, yes, these image sequence formats are excellent choices for intermediate files.

 

BTW, there's also Cineform built into Adobe video applications now, and it works quite nicely as an intermediate codec.

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Yeah, for what I'm doing image sequences aren't a great option. I'm going back and forth between after effects and premiere a lot and having the ability to quicklook files is huge for me.

Edited by mgrvsh

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  • Cineform would be great if software other than Adobe used it (without separate licensing). Very annoying for Nuke Studio conforms (and a stack of other non-adobe things). Avid MetaFuze needs Neo installed etc.
  • ProRes 4444 XQ would be great if it could be encoded on Windows without an intermediate app (which it can't)
  • DNxHD 444 (eg 365X) would be great if it supported an alpha, (and ideally could be rendered directly out of AE as an MXF instead of the AME OP1a route)
  • PNG quicktimes are inefficient and limited to 8-bit straight out of AE

 

So in terms of codecs (not image sequences) that can be encoded cross-plaform, include an alpha, can be encoded 10-bit+, near-lossless. The options are:

 

  • Cineform (and stay within the Adobe ecosystem); or
  • DNxHD 444 MXF and separate alpha

 

I am really hoping for a DNxHD equivalent of ProRes 4444 XQ but not holding my breath.

 

If anyone has an intermediate cross-platform idea that's better, I am all ears.

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