15 Replies Latest reply on Apr 26, 2015 5:00 PM by timothya46344266

    Pro Res vs h.264


      Hey, I'd like to really clear this up for the sake of my own workflow.


      So my company shoots everything on DSLRs (occasionally Canon c300) 1920x1080 compressed h.264 and we've recently switched to Premiere from FCP. When editing in FCP I would convert all of our media to ProRes and edit with that. But more recently in Premiere I've been recommending we edit on the h.264 format to save encoding time and HDD space. But I also know h.264 is a delivery format and not really an editing format. I've had tons of issues with it in FCP but so far so good in Premiere.


      So, am I at a disadvantage editing h.264 footage vs ProRes in Premiere? Are there any potential risks in doing this?



        • 1. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
          Jim_Simon Level 8

          You're at an advantage using PP and editing the original media.

          • 2. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
            Level 4

            I recently bought a ninja to use with nikon d800 ...hdmi output (uncompressed output 1080p ) to ninja, saving as pro res or avid codec... ( my choice for me is avid for pc )...


            That gives me a 10 bit 422 space instead of the 420 8 bit space, and also the bitrate is higher on the ninja recording ( mov with avid codec out of ninja SSD ).


            the advantages are : 10 bit space with high bitrate capture and any color correction and effects etc done in editing will be in the space for " editing" rather than a file used for delivery ( viewing ).


            Also, I dont get the stress on the cpu etc. that the h264 puts on the computer.


            there is no advantage to editing the original stuff in this case..in fact is the opposite...


            It is similar to using log c from a card on the alexa or using 2 HD SDI bnc outputs to get the 444 to a recorder outside the camera... know what I mean ??

            • 3. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
              bsilva48 Level 1

              It would be great if you could elaborate on that. I'd like to know why its better so I can explain myself. Aside from saving HDD space and time encoding, are there any other technical diffirences?


              And thanks, I def appreciate it.

              • 4. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
                needles27 Level 3

                There is no question that Prores gives you a better file to edit and grade with if you have that choice at acquisition.  But, if you already have H.264s as your source files, there aren't any good reasons to transcode to edit in Premiere. (unless you have under-specd hardware)

                You won't gain back any color space or remove compression artifacts by moving H.264s to ProRes, you will just lose time and HDD space.  I too used to edit in FCP and had to transcode, and the ability to bypass that step is one big reason I came over to Premiere.  Version 5.5 on the Mac didn't give me good playback results, but CS6 and beyond have played the H.264s just as smoothly as ProRes.  It is more CPU intensive, so having a decent machine is necessary.

                If you find that you are getting realy choppy playback, you can try to drop the playback resolution (although with H.264s that sometimes can't help) and if you are still getting trouble, then I would do the transcodes.


                So, in summary, you don't lose anything by editing in H.264 and you gain time and HD space. 

                • 5. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
                  Level 4


                  There is no question that Prores gives you a better file to edit and grade with if you have that choice at acquisition


                  thats the trade off... the compression and space on HD or cards etc... and the actual 'space' you work with in editor,.. and how the final product you deliver comes out after adding effects and cc etc...

                  So its " time " ( transcode to editing format vs delivery h264 ) , plus your own edit and cc , and the final product quality...  IMO just because " it works " ( you can edit h264 native ) does NOT mean you get the best out of your workflow...


                  to each his own, but at least you should know 'why' you make the decisions you MAKE.


                  if your final product is web delivery of pretty simple source material ... go for it...  its all a matter of balance, quality and space and whatever...good luck !



                  • 6. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
                    bsilva48 Level 1

                    Cool, I understand. We delivery stickly for the web and normally don't go crazy with color correction.


                    You guy mention that Prores has better color space and is better for adding effects etc. But the footage is compression in camera to h264, so I wouldn't be able to regain any of that through converting to Prores..correct? That wouldn't make sense, you can't really upres footage that way..

                    • 7. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
                      Level 4

                      no, you dont get more color out of the chip.. from 420 to 422... it is what it is from your chip... so you gain no more color in that sense... only when you 'manipulate' it within the editor etc.



                      • 8. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
                        Level 4

                        I havent done a side by side 'test' but with the ninja off the nikon my first impression has been that the quality of the video is BETTER than from the card ( avid 422 instead of h264 off card ).  Its probably due to the bit rate ... to me it looks nicer...but its not EARTH SHATTERING... like its just subtle..if that makes any sense...??


                        I dont know if you'd see the same thing in a transcode, cause the ninja actually captures at a faster rate off the hdmi.. its not just a transcode...


                        good luck !

                        • 9. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
                          bsilva48 Level 1

                          I don't know what this ninja thing is, but I assume it just bypasses the camera compression and records onto an HDD? Giving you more control over the quality of your footage? I don't have access to such fancy things right now

                          • 10. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
                            Level 4

                            yeah, its about $650.00 or so at B&H, made by atomos, and records of the hdmi output from camera.. bypassing the internal compression and sd card... goes right to an SSD or HD on the ninja.

                            • 11. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
                              Level 4

                              looks like this attached to camera dovetail on head





                              • 12. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
                                needles27 Level 3

                                I'm not sure how tech savvy you are, but you can check out the Magic Lantern folks - they have a process that allows you to record RAW internally on the 5D2 and 5D3 (among others)  But, if you aren't doing much color grading...just stick to the H.264 - that is the best choice.

                                • 13. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
                                  Jim_Simon Level 8

                                  Aside from saving HDD space and time encoding, are there any other technical diffirences?



                                  "Inside Premiere Pro, the images will stay exactly as they were recorded in-camera for cuts-only edits. If there’s no color work going on, the 4:2:0 values remain untouched.  If I need to do some color grading, Premiere Pro will, on-the-fly, upsample the footage to 4:4:4, and it does this very well, and in a lot of cases, in real-time.

                                  Going to a 4:4:4 intermediate codec does have some benefits – in the transcode process, upsampling every frame to 4:4:4 means that your CPU doesn’t have as much work to do, and may give you better performance on older systems, but there’s a huge time penalty in transcoding. And, it doesn’t get you any “better color” than going native. Whether you upsample prior to editing or do it on-the-fly in Premiere Pro, the color info was already lost in the camera.


                                  In fact, I could argue that Premiere Pro is the better solution for certain types of editing because we leave the color samples alone when possible. If the edit is re-encoded to a 4:2:0 format, [such as DVD, Blu-ray or Broadcast] Premiere Pro can use the original color samples and pass those along to the encoder in certain circumstances. Upsampling and downsampling can cause errors, since the encoder can’t tell the difference between the original color samples and the rebuilt, averaged ones."

                                  • 14. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
                                    Level 4

                                    Hopefully you get as much info as you can , without predjudice, and put it in perspective for yourself re: your computer ( dont forget about the eventual export and length of project )..

                                    • 15. Re: Pro Res vs h.264
                                      timothya46344266 Level 1

                                      I just want to chime in after spending all my sunday deciding whether to transcode to prores or not with the new Premiere CC on a documentary I just shot.


                                      Decision...I'm transcoding to Prores 422HQ.




                                      Scrubbing and moving around in the timeline made things so much nicer. My CPU bars went full throttle with H.264 footage. With Prores it was like silk moving through clips, CPU bars had no effect. Also slightly faster rendering.


                                      I'm about to spend a month cutting this Doc and 12 webisodes. Harddrives are cheap, I will transcode overnight. I based my decision on ease of use for THE LONG TERM.


                                      If I shot an event during the day and needed a cut by nightfall I would not transcode.


                                      Hope this helps:)