Apple and filmmaker lock-in

If you start using Final Cut Studio or Pro/Express with a Mac, forget about interoperability with the PC world. There is not a single intermediate format that works out of the box between Apple’s video software products and the PC products. Apple has not made the effort to support some common intermediate .avi formats.

I put an ad on a filmmaking forum to help indie filmmakers with color grading, and we haven’t found a single lossless codec that can be read on the PC right off the bat (and that includes the PC version of Quicktime which can’t read the Apple Intermediate Codec while the Mac version can). Even the .mov uncompressed version someone sent me didn’t work (seems that the format has somewhat changed in the latest version of FCP).

There are few ways to do it: you either export in DVCProHD on the Mac and then you buy the Raylight decoder/encoder for $200 on Windows, or you buy Cineform on both platforms that costs much more than that (my personal preference would be Cineform if cost was not an issue). Another trick is to load the lossless video on the Mac version of After Effects and export again from there, but that costs another $1600 and it takes lots of time.

This would be a great opportunity for Lagarith to step in and port the codec as a Quicktime component for the Mac and part of ffmpeg on Linux. This way, the open source Lagarith codec would be truly useful and help in an area that right now is simply a no-no area. Heck, the guy who maintains that could even charge some money for it. That’s how big the need is right now.

4 Comments »

Richard wrote on December 19th, 2007 at 7:01 AM PST:

I totally agree. btw. aren’t there quicktime components for ffmpeg on OSX? And ffdshow for windows directshow/X. Would be an even broader opportunity for interoperability.


David Newman wrote on December 19th, 2007 at 11:36 AM PST:

When you purchase CineForm NEO HD or Prospect HD, is comes with a codec license for Mac and PC, you only have to purchase a single copy for both platforms. Your post made it seem like you had to purchase CineForm twice. While NEO HD is $599, significantly more that using DVCProHD, is far better than using DVCProHD, which will down res. your 1920x1080p timeline to 1280×1080 8-bit, with DCT compression issues, whereas CineForm allows for 10-bit (using the 32-bit float rendering from) at the full raster size and in either 4:2:2 or 4:4:4, using blockless wavelet compression.

If you are working on a high-quality, dollar-earning project, CineForm will pay for itself very quickly.

Plus you can get CineForm NEO HD for $399 before the end of the year, if you know where to get the discount codes (which I know you do, Eugenia.)

Thanks for the preference to using CineForm.

David Newman
CTO, CineForm


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on December 19th, 2007 at 1:16 PM PST:

Richard, the ffdshow/ffmpeg intermediate codecs are last century. There is no quicktime component, but even if there was one, using ffw1 or huffyuv is not really a great idea. Which is why I suggested lagarith which is a fork of huffyuv and a next-gen version of it. I IM’ed its developer and he wants to port to ffmpeg/quicktime, but he doesn’t have the time — as always in the OSS world.

David, indeed, Cineform is the best idea of all. However, while I personally have a copy of Cineform (thanks for the review copy btw), the people who are sending me jobs don’t. So they will have to buy it, and honestly, I don’t think that indie people will entertain the idea that their colorist asks for a $400 software purchase. They prefer to do the CC themselves in that case. 😉


Richard wrote on December 20th, 2007 at 6:58 AM PST:

I did not play around with lagarith much, 🙁 propably _because_ it is not in ffmpeg. 😉


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