Compatible Media Formats

Color is compatible with a wide variety of QuickTime files and image sequences. The following sections provide information about all of these formats:

Compatible QuickTime Codecs for Import

The list of codecs that are supported by Color is limited to high-quality codecs suitable for media exchange and mastering. Codec support falls into four categories, listed in the chart that follows:

  • QuickTime codecs that are supported by Color when importing projects and media. (These appear in column 1 of the table below.)

  • A subset of codecs that can be used for rendering your final output when Original Format is chosen in the Export Codec pop-up menu of the Project Settings tab of the Setup room. (These appear in column 2.) Original Format is only available when you’ve used the Send To Color command in Final Cut Pro or when you’ve imported a Final Cut Pro file that’s been exported as an XML file.

  • By default, only seven codecs are available in the Export Codec pop-up menu for upconverting your source media to a higher-quality format. (These appear in column 3.) These include the Apple ProRes 422, Apple ProRes 422 (HQ), and Apple ProRes 4444 codecs, and the Apple Uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2 and Apple Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 codecs. Apple ProRes 422 (LT) and Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy) are included for offline media conversions in digital intermediate and other workflows.

  • If you’ve installed a video interface from AJA, you should see an additional option—AJA Kona 10-bit RGB.

Important: Many of the codecs in column 1 that Color supports for media import, such as the XDCAM, MPEG IMX, and HDV families of codecs, cannot be rendered using the Original Format option. If the media in your project uses a codec that’s not supported for output, every shot in your project will be rendered using one of the supported codecs listed in column 3. For more information, see Some Media Formats Require Rendering to a Different Format.

Supported for import
Supported as original format
Supported as export codec
Animation
No
No
Apple Intermediate Codec
No
No
Apple Pixlet
Yes
No
Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy)
Yes
Yes
Apple ProRes 422 (LT)
Yes
Yes
Apple ProRes 422
Yes
Yes
Apple ProRes 422 (HQ)
Yes
Yes
Apple ProRes 4444
Yes
Yes
AVCHD
No
No
AVC-Intra
No
No
DVCPRO 50 - NTSC
Yes
No
DVCPRO 50 - PAL
Yes
No
DV - PAL
Yes
No
DV/DVCPRO - NTSC
Yes
No
DVCPRO - PAL
Yes
No
DVCPRO HD 1080i50
Yes
No
DVCPRO HD 1080i60
Yes
No
DVCPRO HD 1080p25
Yes
No
DVCPRO HD 1080p30
Yes
No
DVCPRO HD 720p50
Yes
No
DVCPRO HD 720p60
Yes
No
DVCPRO HD 720p
Yes
No
H.264
No
No
HDV 720p24
No
No
HDV 720p25
No
No
HDV 720p30
No
No
HDV 1080p24
No
No
HDV 1080p25
No
No
HDV 1080p30
No
No
HDV 1080i60
No
No
HDV 1080i50
No
No
Photo - JPEG
Yes
No
MPEG IMX 525/60 (30 Mb/s)
No
No
MPEG IMX 525/60 (40 Mb/s)
No
No
MPEG IMX 525/60 (50 Mb/s)
No
No
MPEG IMX 625/50 (30 Mb/s)
No
No
MPEG IMX 625/50 (40 Mb/s)
No
No
MPEG IMX 625/50 (50 Mb/s)
No
No
Uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2
Yes
Yes
Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2
Yes
Yes
XDCAM EX
No
No
XDCAM HD 1080i50 (35 Mb/s VBR)
No
No
XDCAM HD 1080i60 (35 Mb/s VBR)
No
No
XDCAM HD 1080p24 (35 Mb/s VBR)
No
No
XDCAM HD 1080p25 (35 Mb/s VBR)
No
No
XDCAM HD 1080p30 (35 Mb/s VBR)
No
No
XDCAM HD 422
No
No

Compatible Third-Party QuickTime Codecs

Color supports the following third-party codecs from AJA for import:

  • AJA Kona 10-bit Log RGB

  • AJA Kona 10-bit RGB

    Note: The AJA Kona codecs are not installed by QuickTime by default and are available only from AJA.

Color also supports native RED QuickTime files when you install the necessary RED software for Final Cut Studio. For more information, visit http://www.red.com.

Compatible QuickTime Codecs for Output

The purpose of Color is to create high-quality, color-corrected media that can be reimported into Final Cut Pro for output to tape, QuickTime conversion, or compression for use by DVD Studio Pro. For this reason, the list of codecs that are supported for rendering out of Color is limited to high-quality codecs suitable for media exchange and mastering.

  • Apple ProRes 422: A medium-bandwidth, high-quality compressed codec, suitable for mastering standard definition video. Encodes video at 10 bits per channel with 4:2:2 chroma subsampling. Supports a variable bit rate (VBR) of 35 to 50 mbps. Supports any frame size.
  • Apple ProRes 422 (HQ): A higher-bandwidth version of Apple ProRes 422, suitable for capturing and mastering high definition video. Supports a variable bit rate (VBR) of 145 to 220 mbps. Supports any frame size.
  • Apple ProRes 4444: The highest-bandwidth version of Apple ProRes, suitable for high definition or digital cinema mastering. Lightly compressed, with a variable bit rate (VBR) depending on frame size and frame rate. (An example is 330 mbps at 1920x1080 60i or 1280x720 60p.) Encodes video at up to 10 bits per channel with 4:4:4 chroma subsampling. Supports a lossless compressed alpha channel, although Color does not render alpha channel data.
  • Uncompressed 8-bit 422: A completely uncompressed, 8-bit per channel codec with 4:2:2 chroma subsampling. Supports any frame size. Suitable for mastering any format of video.
  • Uncompressed 10-bit 422: A completely uncompressed, 10-bit per channel codec with 4:2:2 chroma subsampling. Supports any frame size. Suitable for mastering any format of video.

Color also supports the following two offline-quality codecs for workflows in which you convert DPX or Cineon image sequences to offline-quality QuickTime clips for editing. Because they’re so highly compressed, these codecs are not suitable for high-quality mastering. DPX/Cineon conversions to QuickTime clone both the timecode and reel number of each shot. For more information, see Converting Cineon and DPX Image Sequences to QuickTime.

  • Apple ProRes 422 (LT): A more highly compressed codec than Apple ProRes 422, averaging 100 Mbps at 1920 x 1080 60i and 1280 x 720 60p. Designed to allow low-bandwidth editing at full-raster frame sizes, eliminating awkward frame-size conversions when conforming offline-to-online media for finishing and mastering.
  • Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy): An even more highly compressed codec than Apple ProRes 422 (LT), averaging 36 Mbps at 1920 x 1080 24p, or 18 Mbps at 1280 x 720 24p. Designed to allow extremely low-bandwidth editing at full-raster frame sizes, eliminating awkward frame-size conversions when conforming offline-to-online media for finishing and mastering.

Color supports the following third-party codec for rendering.

  • AJA Kona 10-bit RGB

    Note: The AJA Kona codecs are not installed by QuickTime by default and are available only from AJA.

You can render your project out of Color using one of several high-quality mastering codecs, regardless of the codec or level of compression that is used by the source media. You can take advantage of this feature to facilitate a workflow where you import compressed media into Color and then export the corrected output as uncompressed media before sending your project to Final Cut Pro. This way, you reap the benefits of saving hard disk space and avoiding rerendering times up front, while preserving all the quality of your high–bit depth adjustments when you render your output media prior to sending your project back to Final Cut Pro.

Which Codec Should You Use for Export?

When choosing the codec you want to use for rendering the final output, there are four considerations:

  • If you’ll be outputting to a high-bandwidth RGB format (such as HDCAM SR), or are mastering 2K or 4K RGB media using QuickTime, you should export your media using the Apple ProRes 4444 codec for the highest-quality result. This format is appropriate for mastering at a quality suitable for film out, but the results will require a fast computer and accelerated storage for playback.

  • If you’ll be outputting to a high-bandwidth Y′CBCR video format (such as Betacam SP, Digital Betacam, HDCAM, and DVCPRO HD) and require the highest-quality video data available, regardless of storage or system requirements, you should export your media using the Apple Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 codec.

  • If you’ll be outputting to one of the above video formats and require high quality, but need to use a compressed format to save hard disk space and increase performance on your particular computer, then you can export using the Apple ProRes 422 codec (good for standard definition) or the higher-quality Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) codec (good for high definition), both of which are 10-bit, 4:2:2 codecs.

  • If your system is not set up to output such high-bandwidth video, and your program uses a source format that’s supported by the Original Format option in the QuickTime Export Codecs pop-up menu in the Project Settings tab of the Setup room, you’ll be able to render back to the original codec used by your Final Cut Pro sequence. If your codec is unsupported, the QuickTime Export Codecs pop-up menu will default to Apple ProRes 422. For more information on which codecs can be rendered using the Source Format, see Compatible Media Formats.

Compatible Image Sequence Formats

Although Color supports a wide variety of image formats for clips that are edited into Final Cut Pro projects that are sent to Color, the list of supported image formats that you can import directly into Color is much shorter. The following RGB-encoded image formats are compatible with Color, and are primarily intended for importing image sequences directly into the Color Timeline.

  • Cineon (import and export): A high-quality image format developed by Kodak for digitally scanning, manipulating, and printing images originated on film. Developed as a 10-bit log format to better contain the greater latitude of film for exposure.
  • DPX (import and export): The Digital Picture eXchange format was derived from the Cineon format and is also used for high-quality uncompressed digital intermediate workflows. Color supports 8-bit and 10-bit log DPX and Cineon image files.
  • TIFF (import only): The Tagged Image File Format is a commonly used image format for RGB graphics on a variety of platforms. Color is compatible with 16-bit TIFF sequences.
  • JPEG (import only): A highly compressed image format created by the Joint Photographic Experts Group. The amount of compression that may be applied is variable, but higher compression ratios create visual artifacts, visible as discernible blocks of similar color. JPEG is usually used for offline versions of image sequences, but in some instances (with minimal compression) this format may be used in an online workflow. JPEG is limited to 8-bit encoding.
  • JPEG 2000 (import only): Developed as a high-quality compressed format for production and archival purposes, JPEG 2000 uses wavelet compression to allow compression of the image while avoiding visible artifacts. Advantages include higher compression ratios with better visible quality, options for either lossless or lossy compression methods, the ability to handle both 8- and 16-bit linear color encoding, error checking, and metadata header standardization for color space and other data.

Important: Only Cineon and DPX are supported for rendering image sequences out of Color.