Format Conversion

Broadcasters and distributors usually request that you deliver tape masters of your program in multiple formats. Typically, the required conversions from your program’s original format include:

The following sections describe in more detail the two primary methods you can use for format conversion.

Perform format conversion using Compressor

When using the highest-quality processing settings employing optical flow analysis, Compressor is capable of creating extremely high-quality format conversions. It’s an excellent choice when converting a handful of clips to match the dominant format of your sequence. The same settings are also useful for converting a program to another format.

Keep in mind that, because Compressor is a software-based solution, the highest-quality processing options are also the most time-consuming. However, you can significantly speed up this processing by having a fast multicore system and by using Apple Qmaster to create a distributed processing cluster. This cluster uses as many of your computer’s processing cores as you assign to it, as well as those of other computers available on your network.

For more information about using Compressor to do high-quality format conversion, see Format Conversion When Finishing Mixed-Format Sequences. Also see the Distributed Processing Setup Guide, available in Compressor Help and Apple Qmaster Help, for more information about setting up an Apple Qmaster distributed processing system.

Perform format conversion using dedicated hardware

If your time is limited and you need a real-time conversion of a long-form program, it may be more efficient to use hardware to do the necessary format conversion.

There are many options. Some video capture cards, including those from AJA and Blackmagic, are capable of doing downconversion and upconversion in real time as a program is output to tape. Another solution is to use a dedicated video processor, such as those offered by Teranex and Snell & Wilcox. Dedicated video processors use a variety of advanced processing techniques to create a high-quality result.

It’s important to do a bit of research to determine the best solution for the type of format conversion you need. Some video processors that do excellent SD-to-HD conversion may not be the best choice for doing NTSC-to-PAL conversion. In addition, some broadcasters require that you use specific hardware for a particular type of conversion. Make sure to inquire about your distributor’s requirements in advance, or contact the post-production facility that will be doing the output to tape for more information about what’s best for you.