Apple’s new ProRes 422 video format aims to reduce HD editing bottlenecks

Apple Store Final Cut Studio 2“Going into extreme detail, Apple has said its new HD video standard was designed not just to beat opposing formats but to clear bottlenecks — some of which are stifling for video editors,” Aidan Malley reports for AppleInsider.

“Although it touched on ProRes 422 as part of its Final Cut Studio 2 announcement, Apple later offered a more detailed explanation of why the format was created and its real advantages to film crews,” Malley reports.

Apple “observes that one of its key trump cards, compressing full-quality HD to manageable file sizes, isn’t new. In fact, the company notes that in some cases the variable bit rate encoding of ProRes — which tosses away data in simpler frames — isn’t as purely efficient in crunching data as with other standards. The new RED One camera, for example, compresses a 4000-pixel wide or ‘4K’ video image into a 200 megabit per second stream. By contrast, a high-quality 1920×1080 ProRes clip (roughly a quarter the size of the 4K video) is larger at 220Mbps,” Malley reports.

“But while this fits the storage needs of the camera, the processing overhead required to decode the video during editing can be crushing to all but the best systems — a problem for video editors who may need to preview one or more clips at once. It leaves little room for adding effects and seldom scales down smoothly,” Malley reports. “This is where ProRes 422 excels, says Apple.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “LinuxGuy and Mac Prodigal Son” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple introduces Final Cut Server – April 15, 2007
Apple unveils Final Cut Studio 2 – April 15, 2007


  1. Shogun,

    The proper word for your question is “affect,” not “effect.” It’s a verb vs. noun thing.

    The answer to your malformed question is “no.”

    Apple ProRes 422: Apple’s new post-production format offering uncompressed HD quality at SD file sizes. Use ProRes 422 when collaborating over an Xsan storage network or working on a portable computer in the field; when working with non-native camera formats; or to preserve maximum quality for composites and demanding color grading work.

  2. Also it should be noted that Apple aligned with AJA to release a portable hardware IO box with the 422 codec embedded on a chip for real-time conversion. This is covered in detail on’s FCP S2 web pages.

  3. Users that wonder what an 8 core Mac could be used for, here is your answer.
    The 80s saw DTP come to the home user. This type of software and faster Macs will make the Video editing and publishing come to the home big time.

    Yes I know iMovie has been out for awhile, but what kills me is the encoding time when working on something over 1 hour long.

    That is where the 8 cores will help. Plus when the average user can afford a new vid camera and buys an HD one, they will just crap at the GB of video that they have to work with. Software advances and processor advances will make it easy and more important to me, “less time” spent in front of the computer.

  4. As a full time video editor my reaction to the promise of ProRES422 is, we’ll see. I certainly think that Apple’s pro video products have been the best value/dollar spent, but there continues to be the fact that, like most all software development companies, what is being promised is on the outer boundaris of what the product is specified to be able to do. Motion is my favorite example; When Motion came out we bought THE fastest fully configured Dual G5 towers that were available, and we thought then, and still think, that Motion does not live up to the user experience that we were lead to believe should expect.

    In fairness, doing general compositing tasks that are 30 seconds or less, and that do not exceed 8-10 layers, is still a much better/faster experience than using say After Effects [depending on exactly what you’re trying to accomplish], but the way Motion handles hardware resources seems pretty clumsy compared to the other programs in Final Cut Studio (or After Effects for that matter), and this is born out by the number of times its necessary to shut the program down and then restart it so that it’s total system take over gets refreshed from time to time, since it doesn’t seem to want to do this on it’s own.

    I don’t know, maybe my problem is really with the whole software versus hardware rat race we’re all stuck in. Now that we’ve peaked out the practicall limits of what a single, traditional CPU can deliver, we’re doing the next logical things which is to exponentially multiply the number of tasks that can be simultaneously executed per nano second by multiplying the number of CPUs and their respective cores. At some point I’d like to see software development come to a point where it will force itself to operate well within the context of existing hardware rather than constantly requiring a whole new generation of hardware power in order to realize it’s full potential. I mean really – How many more 1000’s of lines of code does will it take, how many more processor calls per nano second will be required to get where ever it is we’re going with desktop and personal computing?

  5. Literary Not-Quite-Giant,

    It’s not “a verb vs. noun thing”, as you put it. “Effect” can be used as a verb meaning “to cause to happen, to bring about” (from the Dictionary widget). Thus, Shogun could have been asking if the development of ProRes 422 would bring iChat video or Quicktime into existence. Somehow, I doubt it, though.

  6. That is a hilarious positioning of your question, ‘ballonknot’.

    I have to assume your misuse of the word ‘affect’ in the place of ‘effect’ was intentional…

    And what is a ‘ballonknot’, anyway?

  7. >Ballonknot

    That is what I’m hoping for too.
    One of the factors is what type of horsepower is needed to play back the video. If it’s higher than what the average Mac is out there, then you might alienate the Mac users of older equipment.

    Just like Quicktime 7 and the HD downloads. Yea anyone can download them but can your Mac play them back without stuttering.

    Now if they have it labeled for AppleTV playback only and/or Intel Macs, then that would sidestep the problem.

  8. “Man… I don’t know what the FUCK you just said, Little Kid, but you’re special man, you reached out, and you touch a brother’s heart.”

    With Buster here, so happy 10:26 CDT US to everyone. ( and I hope the 422 is as good as the 420 was…)

  9. @Mr. Peabody,

    “I mean really – How many more 1000’s of lines of code does will it take, how many more processor calls per nano second will be required to get where ever it is we’re going with desktop and personal computing?”

    Uh, don’t you think that question is a bit open ended? Almost rhetorical, even?

    If we knew exactly where we’re going or want to be with personal computing, we could write those exact lines of code to work with the magic number of cores to produce the results with practical response times.

    However, every time some Tom, Dick or Shiela says, “Hey. What if we could . . . ” the boundaries get pushed and the race is on once again.

    Think about it. From command line events in the 80s to spreadsheets and text documents in the 90s to producing movies in your kitchen . . .

  10. Avid has a 220Mb/sec codec that takes HD1920 4:2:2 10-bit video and compresses to this data rate in order to make it fit over SANs yet still be good for editing. Avid even puts the source code on their website.

    ProRes is nothing new – Apple’s playing catch up with DNxHD.

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