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HDV is temporally compressed. Converting to the Cineform intermediate codec allows you to edit video faster and easier, which allows more realtime effects.
That is basically it for most people using Aspect HD.
Additionally, it provides a virtually lossless way to work between After Effects and Premiere Pro. And provides a way to have a virtually lossless backup of your footage.
Prospect HD has additional features, like editing in 10 bit instead of 8 bit video.
Temporal compression is a way of making files smaller. Rather than storing all the data for every frame, you store only the data for the first frame, and then you store only the changes from frame 1 to frame 2, and then the changes between frame 2 and frame 3, etc. For any given second of video, 30 frames worth, only two are stored in full. All the rest only store the changes.
For news type programs, also called talking head shots, very little changes between frames, so this is a very good way to save space.
During a high action scene, a lot will change between frames, and it becomes more difficult to store the data using this method. This is why artifacts are created, errors during the encoding that do not allow a correct display of the video. This is also why a lot of professionals often prefer formats that do not create such artifacts in the source footage. Temporal compression is a good way of shrinking video for final display, but often causes issues when you use it to shoot the original scene.
It takes much processing power to restore those change related frames for display. Cineform takes the load off the processor by doing the work ahead of time. It converts the files before you import them, thus restoring the "change frames" to "full frames", making it very easy for Premiere to display them, and edit them.
> I am very puzzled with what Cineform is. I have been to their website, but they don't do a very good job at describing what Cineform is, or what it does, and why somebody would need it.
All is on their website...
i "CineForm's Aspect HD and Prospect HD products deliver an online compressed Digital Intermediate workflow for HD post-production, whether your source is HDV, full-raster HD, or 2K. This means you never have to work with proxy files, and you never have to conform a project at completion - you're always working with full-resolution source material using the Visually Perfect™ CineForm Intermediate codec."