I my previous post “Please end the codec war”, I touched upon some of the challenges and annoyances of the messy “codec war” going on between the different camera- and software vendors.
Some things have changes since then, a lot of it is still sadly the same. I was tempted to call this post the “AVC-I war”.
Panasonic and Sony are still at it, claiming one format is better than the other. Fact is though, they have never been closer to the same standard and format.
Both codec families, AVC-Ultra (Panasonic) and XAVC (Sony), are actually so similar it all becomes rather silly. Adobe Media Encoder even does “Smart Rendering” (re-wrapping) when converting from AVC-Intra 100 to XAVC Intra 100, when the frame size and frame rate is the same.
Just have a look at the differences when comparing the specs of the two codec families. Update: Be aware though of the different potential interoperability issues, as clearly summarised by Kieran Kunhya in the comments below.
Then compare the tech specs (using ffprobe) of three seemingly different AVC-I files. One from Panasonic, one from Sony, and one UK DPP AS-11 AVC-I file.
Looks pretty similar too me. Cool, but is AVC-I really ready for post-production? I have yet to see 10 streams of multi-cam editing work well with any flavor of AVC-I. Encoding is still only real-time or a little faster than real-time on an Intel i7 CPU with HD, and with 4K AVC-I at 200-400 Mbps we’re back to slower than real-time again.
Sony tries to convince customers that decoding speed is faster with AVC-I compared to ProRes and DNxHD. I really wonder how they did these tests.
What about Avid and Apple, with DNxHD and ProRes? Where is DNx for 4K/5K? Did the VC3 SMPTE standardization prevent them or slow down the process of making a 4K/5K version?
Both Blackmagic and ARRI seem to understand/believe that ProRes makes for a smooth workflow and post-production process. This is true, but still not ideal.
Sadly, encoding ProRes files on Windows and Linux is not straight forward, yet. You’ll need a licensed ProRes system from Telestream, DVS or some other respected vendor.
I wonder what would happen if Apple open sourced ProRes, like they did with Apple Lossless.