Popular video codecs for file exchange
You can use video compressed with nearly any video codec in Motion. When you work on a project in Motion, it’s best to use high-quality codecs with a minimum of compression. Highly compressed video files, such as those compressed using the MPEG-4 or Sorenson codec, are likely to be unsuitable for creating high-quality work.
For purposes of media exchange between applications, not all codecs support alpha channels. Alpha channels define transparency in a clip, and are useful if you’re delivering an effects shot for use in someone else’s composition. If you’re required to export a composition using a codec with no alpha channel support, you must export the alpha channel as a separate grayscale media file.
Note: Motion processes color in the RGB color space. Any clips that were captured or recompressed using a Y’CBCR-aware codec, such as DV, the Apple ProRes family, or Uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2, are converted to the RGB color space when used in a Motion project. Clips exported from Motion using a Y’CBCR codec are converted back into the Y’CBCR color space.
For a complete list of file formats supported by Motion, see Supported media formats.
Apple ProRes codecs provide an unparalleled combination of multistream, real-time editing performance, impressive image quality, and reduced storage rates. Apple ProRes codecs take full advantage of multicore processing and feature fast, reduced-resolution decoding modes. All Apple ProRes codecs support any frame size (including SD, HD, 2K, and 4K) at full resolution. The data rates vary based on codec type, image content, frame size, and frame rate.
Apple ProRes includes the following formats:
Apple ProRes 4444 XQ: The highest-quality version of Apple ProRes for 4:4:4:4 image sources (including alpha channels), with a very high data rate to preserve the detail in high-dynamic-range imagery generated by today’s highest-quality digital image sensors. Apple ProRes 4444 XQ preserves dynamic ranges several times greater than the dynamic range of Rec 709 imagery—even against the rigors of extreme visual effects processing, in which tone-scale blacks or highlights are stretched significantly. Like standard Apple ProRes 4444, this codec supports up to 12 bits per image channel and up to 16 bits for the alpha channel. Apple ProRes 4444 XQ features a target data rate of approximately 500 Mbps for 4:4:4 sources at 1920 x 1080 and 29.97 fps.
Apple ProRes 4444: An extremely high-quality version of Apple ProRes for 4:4:4:4 image sources (including alpha channels). This codec features full-resolution, mastering-quality 4:4:4:4 RGBA color and visual fidelity that is perceptually indistinguishable from the original material. Apple ProRes 4444 is a high-quality solution for storing and exchanging motion graphics and composites, with excellent multigeneration performance and a mathematically lossless alpha channel up to 16 bits. This codec features a remarkably low data rate compared to uncompressed 4:4:4 HD, with a target data rate of approximately 330 Mbps for 4:4:4 sources at 1920 x 1080 and 29.97 fps. It also offers direct encoding of, and decoding to, both RGB and Y’CBCR pixel formats.
Apple ProRes 422 HQ: A higher-data-rate version of Apple ProRes 422 that preserves visual quality at the same high level as Apple ProRes 4444, but for 4:2:2 image sources. With widespread adoption across the video post-production industry, Apple ProRes 422 HQ offers visually lossless preservation of the highest-quality professional HD video that a single-link HD-SDI signal can carry. This codec supports full-width, 4:2:2 video sources at 10-bit pixel depths, while remaining visually lossless through many generations of decoding and reencoding. The target data rate of Apple ProRes 422 HQ is approximately 220 Mbps at 1920 x 1080 and 29.97 fps.
Apple ProRes 422: A high-quality compressed codec offering nearly all the benefits of Apple ProRes 422 HQ, but at 66 percent of the data rate for even better multistream, real-time editing performance. The target data rate of Apple ProRes 422 is approximately 147 Mbps at 1920 x 1080 and 29.97 fps.
Apple ProRes 422 LT: A more highly compressed codec than Apple ProRes 422, with roughly 70 percent of the data rate and 30 percent smaller file sizes. This codec is perfect for environments where storage capacity and data rate are at a premium. The target data rate of Apple ProRes 422 LT is approximately 102 Mbps at 1920 x 1080 and 29.97 fps.
Apple ProRes 422 Proxy: An even more highly compressed codec than Apple ProRes 422 LT, intended for use in offline workflows that require low data rates but full-resolution video. The target data rate of Apple ProRes 422 Proxy is approximately 45 Mbps at 1920 x 1080 and 29.97 fps.
Note: Apple ProRes 4444 and Apple ProRes 4444 XQ are ideal for the exchange of motion graphics media because they are virtually lossless, and are the only Apple ProRes codecs that include alpha channel support to preserve transparency for later compositing.
Uncompressed 8-bit and 10-bit 4:2:2 video
These resolution-independent codecs are appropriate for all standard-definition and high-definition Y’CBCR video formats. Video stored using these codecs undergoes no data compression, but some color resampling may occur depending on the source video format. Because compression usually results in video artifacts, using no compression guarantees the highest level of quality, so this codec is often used for video mastering when the absolute highest quality is required. This also results in large file sizes.
Note: Uncompressed 8-bit and 10-bit 4:2:2 movies do not support alpha channels.
A high-definition video format used to capture video digitally from FireWire-enabled DVCPRO HD compatible decks. (Not to be confused with DVCPRO 25 or DVCPRO 50, which are both standard-definition formats.) This format supports a number of frame sizes and frame rates, including a 24p format that offers variable speed via a variable frame rate technology. DVCPRO HD uses 4:2:2 color sampling for high color fidelity, and has a fixed data rate of 12.5 MB/sec.
Note: DVCPRO HD movies do not support alpha channels.
A standard-definition codec used to capture video digitally from FireWire-enabled, DVCPRO 50-compatible camcorders and decks. Although it’s similar to the DV codec because DVCPRO 50 is imported as YUV encoded video, it produces considerably higher quality video because it uses less compression. (DVCPRO 50 uses a 3:3:1 compression ratio, versus DV’s 5:1 compression ratio.) DVCPRO 50 also uses 4:2:2 color sampling for high color fidelity, as opposed to DV’s 4:1:1 color sample rate. DVCPRO 50 has a fixed data rate of 7 MB/sec.
Note: DVCPRO 50 movies do not support alpha channels.
MXF (Material eXchange Format) is an industry standard container format for video and audio. Similar to QuickTime files, a metadata wrapper describes the media within the MXF file. This information can include frame rate, frame size, creation date, and custom data created by a camera operator, assistant, or archivist.
Numerous video-editing solutions use different codecs, some of which may be available for installation to encourage interoperability. For more information, contact the manufacturer of the editing system.
Note: Most third-party codecs cannot have alpha channels.