Video Formats Supported by Final Cut Pro

Final Cut Pro supports any video format that uses an installed QuickTime codec. QuickTime natively supports codecs used by a number of video devices, such as DV, DVCPRO 50, DVCPRO HD, HDV, and IMX devices. With these formats, the distinction between file format and tape format is blurred, and transferring from tape to hard disk or other media is essentially a file transfer, allowing you to edit footage natively. For more information, see Professional Formats and Workflows, available in Final Cut Pro Help.

When you work with videotape formats such as Digital Betacam, D-5, Betacam SP, and so on, you need a third-party video interface to connect to the SDI or analog component video connectors on the deck. In this case, the video interface must convert the incoming or outgoing video signal to or from a QuickTime codec. Many video interfaces come with codecs for high-quality compressed and uncompressed editing.

DV Formats

You can easily capture and output any DV-format video via the FireWire port on your computer. Video, audio, timecode, and device control data are all transferred via a single FireWire cable. FireWire (also referred to as IEEE 1394 or i.LINK) is a high-speed technology for connecting and transmitting data to and from various external devices, such as video and audio interfaces, hard disks, and digital cameras. FireWire is supported by many professional and consumer-level DV camcorders and decks.

Digital format
Maker
Color sample ratio
Compression ratio
Recorded bit rate
DV (25)
Multiple manufacturers
4:1:1
4:2:0 (PAL)
5:1
25 Mbps
DVCAM
Sony
4:1:1
4:2:0 (PAL)
5:1
25 Mbps
DVCPRO (D-7)
Panasonic
4:1:1 (NTSC and PAL)
5:1
25 Mbps
DVCPRO 50
Panasonic
4:2:2
3.3:1
50 Mbps
DVCPRO HD
Panasonic
4:2:2
10:1
100 Mbps

24p Video

Formats that capture complete (progressive) video frames at 24 frames per second have received a lot of attention lately. This is because 24p video uses the same frame rate as film, and it scans images progressively. For example, a 24 fps, 1920 x 1080, progressively scanned video format closely matches the resolution of a 35 mm film theater distribution print. For the first time since the invention of television, moviemakers can choose video instead of film without suffering significant resolution loss or having to cope with frame-rate conversions.

There are many ways to record 24p video within other frame rates. For more information, see Working with 24p Video.

High Definition Video Formats

Final Cut Pro has native support for HD formats such as HDV, DVCPRO HD, and XDCAM HD. For other HD formats, you need an appropriate third-party capture interface and hard disks with sufficient speed and capacity. HD formats are often defined by their vertical resolutions (number of lines), scanning method (interlaced versus progressive), and frame or field rate. For example, 1080i60 HD video has 1080 lines per frame, uses interlaced scanning (indicated by the i), and scans 60 fields per second.

Scanning Methods

Most HD equipment can record both progressive and interlaced video. Typically, 1080-line video is interlaced (1080i) and 720-line video is progressive (720p). Several 1080p formats exist, such as 1080p24, but there are no 720-line interlaced formats. For more information, see About Interlaced Scanning and About Progressive Scanning.

Compressed High Definition Formats

Because of the high data rate generated by HD video cameras, most HD formats compress the image data to fit on tape. For example:

  • DVCPRO HD, also generally referred to as DV-100 (in reference to its video bit rate of 100 Mbps)

  • D-9 HD, an extension of the Digital S format (Digital S is designated SMPTE D9)

  • D-5 HD, an extension of the D-5 format

  • HDCAM and HDCAM SR

Format
Manufacturer
Color sample ratio
Bit depth
Recorded data rate
D-5 HD
Panasonic
4:2:2
8-bit
10-bit
235 Mbps
D-6
Philips, Toshiba
4:2:2
10-bit
1.2 Gbps
HDCAM
Sony
3:1:1
8-bit (internal)
10-bit (in/out)
143 Mbps
HDCAM SR
Sony
4:2:2
4:4:4
10-bit log
10-bit linear
440 Mbps (SQ)
880 Mbps (HQ)
DVCPRO HD
Panasonic
4:2:2
8-bit
115 Mbps
XDCAM HD
Sony
4:2:0
8-bit
35 Mbps (HQ)
25 Mbps (SP)
18 Mbps (LP)
XDCAM HD422
Sony
4:2:2
8-bit
50 Mbps
HDV
Sony, JVC, Canon
4:2:0
8-bit
19 Mbps (720)
25 Mbps (1080)
RGB video
  • 1080p30

  • 720p60

n/a (computer graphics)
4:4:4
8 bits per color channel
1.39 Gbps (1080)
1.24 Gbps (720)

Note: The data rates shown here are approximate. For purposes of determining hard disk capacity for capture, carefully research the details of the format you are using.

Uncompressed High Definition Formats

HD requires extremely high data rates (around 1.4 Gbps). There are no camcorder formats currently available for recording uncompressed HD video. High-capacity, general-purpose digital tape formats like D-6 can be used in combination with camera heads and digital telecine machines capable of outputting uncompressed RGB and component HD video data. High-speed disk arrays can also be used to record uncompressed HD video.

Data Rate Comparisons

The following table is useful when preparing to capture video to a particular codec on your hard disk.

Format
Typical data rate
OfflineRT (using Photo JPEG)
Varies from 300-500 KB/sec.
25:1 compressed M-JPEG
1 MB/sec.
DV-25
3.6 MB/sec.
DVCPRO 50
7.2 MB/sec.
2:1 compressed M-JPEG
12 MB/sec.
Uncompressed SD video
24 MB/sec.
Uncompressed 8-bit 1080i
29.97 fps HD video
124 MB/sec.
Uncompressed 10-bit 1080i
29.97 fps HD video
166 MB/sec.

Note: For information on data rates in Apple ProRes variants and in digital cinema formats such as REDCODE, see Professional Formats and Workflows, available in Final Cut Pro Help.