AIC vs ProRes, Real examples

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by duncanapple, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2008
    Hello all,

    I am getting ready to start using the video capture feature of my 5DII a lot more and have been reading a lot on the various intermediate codecs. I understand I will need to use MPEG streamclip to move from the native H264 to either AIC or one of the various flavors of ProRes. There in lies the hitch. I am going to be doing this on a new iMac i5 quad core, 16g ram. It will come with iMovie 11, which can only do AIC.

    My use for this will be strictly home movies, though I don't want to make any drastic cuts in quality. After editing I would likely convert to some 1080 equivalent of Quicktime, store it on the computer, and stream to my TV via apple TV (sticking to 1080p under the assumption appleTV will eventually handle it). I know that if I want to use ProRes I need to move up to FCP7 or FCPX. I am by no means a pro (and prob wont use most of the additional functionality over imovie'11) though I have no problem learning new software.

    So what say you - does anyone have any examples of the same footage converted from H264->AIC->QT vs. H264->ProRes->QT? Or even just an opinion of the difference in quality?

    I would do it myself but I don't have FCP. I would like to avoid the $300 hit if I can.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. macrumors G4

    Jul 17, 2002
    You do know that H.264 is the default video track format for Quicktime, don't you?
  3. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 15, 2004
    Brooklyn NY
    Just because it's the default doesn't mean it's what he should be using.

    AIC is an older an less efficient codec than ProRes. That being said, for home movies, you'd have a hard time spotting the difference between them. If you're not willing to spend more money on FCP7 or FCPX, than you should not hesitate to use AIC. FCP professionals used to use AIC before prores was introduced in 2007. It's not a horrible codec by any means.
  4. martinX, Aug 3, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011

    macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2009
    Apple's Support Page for iMovie 11 says iMovie supports the 5D Mk II. (See the drop down menu on the RHS and make your way through the choices given). It'd be easier in the long run to use iMovie for this if you can rather than any other intermediate software.

    AIC is an OK codec. Upside: I-frame so things move along smoothly when editing; about 100 mbps so it's not overly compressed. Downside: colour space is 4:2:0, but then again that's what your 5D shoots at too. I think Apple somewhat restricts frame sizes, but once again the output is AOK.

    IMO, you won't see a difference. You're going to shoot, cut, export all on your iMac. I wouldn't sweat it too much. Getting the right shot, telling an interesting story and holding your camera steady are going to be more important to how the movie is received than what codec you cut in.
  5. macrumors G4

    Jul 17, 2002
    That is not the point. The OP wants to go all around Job's barn to transcode to an editable format. With each transcode step, his video will lose fidelity. Knowledge that H.264 is native to Quicktime means that the OP can perform the same task with fewer transcode steps, resulting in reduced fidelity loss of the end product.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Apr 1, 2010
    to my naked eye it's VERY hard to see a noticeable difference between Pro-res and AIC. I do know one thing though - pro-res creates MASSIVES files - MASSIVE!!! HUGE! GI-NORMOUS I say:)
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2009
    He wants to go from a capture codec (h.264 - not ideal, but even the professionals are dealing with it) to an editing codec (the transcode to ProRes should be visually lossless. I have done comparisons with a transcode to AIC and I have to blow up a still to over 200% to start seeing tiny differences) and then transcode to a delivery codec.

    If he edited h.264 natively (and for argument's sake let's say it was a bit more than trimming and moving stuff around), he'd have to be using FCP X or Premiere Pro and he'd still be exporting to a delivery codec (h.264 captures in the camera at around 25 mbps, which is a little beefy for delivery).

    He could take the short way, but given that the move to Pro Res doesn't really change quality and AIC is pretty good too, he'd be doing it for reasons other than visual quality.

    I take your point that transcoding in general is not a great idea, but ProRes holds up well, and so does AIC provided you don't do too much with it.
  8. macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    The primary reason to go with Prores or AIC instead of just sticking with H.264 is due to processing issues. H.264 is just not that efficient for major editing. But since the OP is doing basic cuts for home movies, I see no reason for him to go to any other codec. Stick with native or go AIC then export to whatever delivery codec is needed. If he starts getting beach balls, then he'll have to move to an editing codec. And by the way, he sounds like the target audience for the new FCX.
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2010
    If the OP is only doing simple editing I'd recommend sticking to the original codec, it will be a lot simpler to archive.

    Target audience I don't know, but H264 works really well in FCPX.
  10. Guest


    Jan 22, 2007
    A) Prores doesn't really matter here because the OP doesn't have FCPX, FCP7 or Premiere
    B) Worrying about Prores vs. AIC for a HOME MOVIE is just absurd. I doubt your family members will be worried about the quality of 1080 footage.

    To the OP- you won't see any differences whether you use AIC or Prores and like you said, it's for a home movie. Unless you plan on being the next Steven Spielberg, you will absolutely love the picture quality of AIC.
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2009
    Absolutely. I suspect a lot of us are.

    I know that a fair chunk of my work would be faster by using the "get it in, cut it, move it, title it, get it out" native workflow that FCP X offers, sans transcoding.

    Then again, my efficiency would probably increase by not posting here 9 - 5 :D

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