June 28, 2014

Apple Introduces New ProRes 4444 XQ Codec, Will Be Supported by ARRI ALEXA

ProRes 4444 LogoApple just recently updated Final Cut Pro X, with better options for managing optimized, proxy, and rendered media, so that they can be stored anywhere outside of the library, and also all be deleted from inside Final Cut Pro X. In addition to the changes in FCPX 10.1.2, Apple updated Compressor and Motion, and they also launched a brand new codec, ProRes 4444 XQ, which promises even higher fidelity than ProRes 4444 at the cost of additional disk space.

Apple Kills Aperture & Updates Final Cut, Compressor, & Motion

Besides the updates to their video programs, Apple also killed off the photo program Aperture. For a quick overview of some of the changes, here are the guys from Ripple Training to explain:

And here's everything that's new in Final Cut Pro 10.1.2

  • Optimized, proxy, and rendered media can be stored at any location outside of the library
  • Easily delete optimized, proxy, and rendered media from within Final Cut Pro X
  • Used media indicators for Compound clips, Multicam clips, and Synced clips
  • Option to show only unused media in the Browser
  • Apply a standard (Rec. 709) look in real time to high dynamic range and wide color gamut video from ARRI, Blackmagic Design, Canon, and Sony cameras
  • Automatically apply an ARRI embedded 3D LUT from the new AMIRA camera
  • Support for Apple ProRes 4444 XQ
  • Improved speed and accuracy when synchronizing clips
  • Audio recording improvements including countdown and automatic Audition creation from multiple takes
  • Fast export of cuts-only projects containing XDCAM media
  • Export entire library as a single XML file
  • Selecting a library displays key metadata in the Inspector
  • Adjust relative and absolute volume of a clip or range selection
  • Create Keywords from Finder Tags when importing media
  • Option to sort events by date or name in the Libraries list
  • Import a clip by dragging directly into the Browser
  • Share 4K video to Vimeo

Media management has changed once again in FCPX, but these new changes should allow for a lot more flexibility in where you store your media. FCP.co has a great rundown of the new features in Final Cut, which should make managing projects a little easier.

Here's what's new in Compressor 4.1.2:

  • Support for Apple ProRes 4444 XQ
  • Status display and improved responsiveness when using "Send to Compressor" from Final Cut Pro X and Motion
  • Improved performance and color accuracy when encoding H.264 source files from GoPro cameras
  • Fixes issues transcoding alpha channels in image sequences
  • Includes general stability improvements

And what's new in Motion 5.1.1:

  • Support for Apple ProRes 4444 XQ
  • Improved Sequence Text behavior for animating characters, words, and lines
  • Enhanced Contrast filter parameters for refined adjustments

New Apple ProRes 4444 XQ Codec

In addition to the software updates, Apple introduced the highest-fidelity codec in their lineup. This is what Apple has to say about the new ProRes 4444 XQ in their White Paper:

The highest-quality version of Apple ProRes for 4:4:4:4 image sources (including alpha channels), with a very high data rate to preserve the detail in high-dynamic-range imagery generated by today’s highest-quality digital image sensors. Apple ProRes 4444 XQ preserves dynamic ranges several times greater than the dynamic range of Rec. 709 imagery—even against the rigors of extreme visual effects processing, in which tone-scale blacks or highlights are stretched significantly. Like standard Apple ProRes 4444, this codec supports up to 12 bits per image channel and up to 16 bits for the alpha channel. Apple ProRes 4444 XQ features a target data rate of approximately 500 Mbps for 4:4:4 sources at 1920 x 1080 and 29.97 fps.

ARRI also recently announced that they will be supporting the codec in a new ALEXA update:

Final Cut Pro version 10.1.2 fully supports ProRes 4444 XQ for editing, compositing, rendering, and exporting. ARRI ALEXA XT cameras and ALEXA Classic cameras with the XR Module will gain ProRes 4444 XQ capability with ARRI's Software Update Packet SUP 10, which is scheduled for an open beta in July and a final release in August. ALEXA XR/XT cameras will support ProRes 4444 XQ in both HD and 2K resolutions. The ALEXA XR/XT cameras will be the world's first cameras capable of encoding ProRes 4444 XQ.

ARRI ALEXA ProRes-4444-XQ-Codecs_03

Below are some pictures showing the data rate comparisons of all of the ProRes codecs (it's supported on Mountain Lion 10.8 and above):

Here is ProRes compared to uncompressed at 1080p and 30fps:

The added fidelity from the new ProRes 4444 XQ codec should help with material that's going through multiple passes, and you'll still save on hard drive space instead of going completely uncompressed. It's also going to be beneficial as a capture codec, as evidenced by the fact that ARRI is using it in the next update to their ALEXA camera. We will likely see it supported by other devices, but for the time being, it probably won't find its way into anything that doesn't already do ProRes 4444.

For more on the new codec, check out Apple's ProRes June White Paper here. Check out the links below to download the updates for the Apple products.

Links:

[via TechCrunch & FCP.co]

Your Comment

36 Comments

Is it my imagination or is the keying better with FCP 10.1.2?
I just opened up a library, which then got updated of a movie I'm working on that has lots of keying in. There doesn't seem to be any more controls in the keyed plug in but all my keying looks better.
Has anyone else noticed that too?

June 28, 2014 at 3:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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So, 2 1/4 (2.25) times increase in file size in 4444 XQ vs. ProRes HQ. And this is at the time when the processing power of the in-camera chips allows for a much lower bitrate recording. AVC Ultra will be at 400 Mbps, XAVC Intra at 240 Mbps (@24p), ProRes is at 880 Mbps and 4444 XQ will be at around 2 Gbps.
.

June 28, 2014 at 3:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

At what resolution? Apple cites 220 mbps for ProRes HQ in HD at 30 FPS.

Regardless of the "processing power" of onboard compressors, it doesn't magically avoid the effects of throwing massive amounts of image data away.

A legit complaint would be that Apple, in an era of ever-declining storage costs, STILL doesn't have a lossless codec. They don't understand that professionals want to archive their post-processed shots LOSSLESSLY. It's just embarrassing.

May 7, 2015 at 8:03PM, Edited May 7, 8:03PM

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David Gurney
DP
1827

For archiving, J2K is a far better choice than ProRes.

February 18, 2016 at 11:06AM

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Vimeo doesn't even support 4K video yet. Why would FCP X include this feature when the video would simply be down-resed by Vimeo to 1080?

June 28, 2014 at 4:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Sarcasm?

June 28, 2014 at 4:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Maybe Vimeo told Apple something they haven't announced yet...

June 28, 2014 at 5:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Scott

Sounds right.

June 28, 2014 at 5:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene,,

Because vimeo is 2-3 years behind, always

June 28, 2014 at 5:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john jeffries

Vimeo gives the option of letting users download and watch that original 4K file.

June 28, 2014 at 6:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

This is absolutely wonderful to see, very happy to see Apple's commitment to continue making FCPX better and better, and the introduction of a new version of ProRes is completely unexpected and I'm glad to see the Alexa will support it. I was just at an ASC event last night and talking to an Arri rep about the new Amira and when he told me that a LUT applied to the footage on set can be recognized and automatically applied to the shots as soon as they're imported into Premier, I was like "Awesome, hopefully FCPX will have that feature soon" (I'm exclusively FCPX at home and Avid at work). And now, less than 24 hours later, FCPX has that feature too... plus some great new ones I'm excited to have too. Thanks Apple!

June 28, 2014 at 5:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Scott

Why does typing FCPX automatically make a link to download it from the App Store? That makes it look like I was hired to promote it. I swear I'm not!

June 28, 2014 at 5:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Scott

Except that Apple STILL doesn't have a lossless codec. That's pathetic. Between acquisition and final delivery, you don't want to recompress lossily. And when you've added effects and color correction, you want to archive your material losslessly so you can transcode it into whatever new formats and codecs come along years down the road.

Apple continues to abandon the pro market (and even the knowledgeable-enthusiast market) by sticking its head in the sand on this issue.

April 11, 2015 at 10:52PM

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David Gurney
DP
1827

So would some one use this and make some 444 1080p vids so we can have proof of this "444 1080p looks better than 4K anyway" decree?

;^)

June 28, 2014 at 5:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Enjoying Some G...

So Apple kills another program??? Maaaaaan I've been using Apple software for years and I'm now seeing the light. They are in a habit of killing of their programs and support without warning! This makes me a tad wary about embracing their software products. Remember "Shake" and "Color" just to name a couple? Great programs that had tons of power and potential now dead. Apple is losing me slowly but surely.

June 29, 2014 at 1:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Not completely, they are still selling it for the time being and the new Photos app, which appears to be more powerful then initially believed, will support the Aperture Libraries allowing users to update them

June 29, 2014 at 5:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Braden

Well, the internals of Shake were a mess and needed a rewrite from the ground up. Around that time Digital Domain started to distribute NUKE through The Foundry and that essentially killed Shake anyways, so there was no point in pouring money in to a sinkhole.

June 29, 2014 at 9:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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greenscreen

The internals? WTF are you talking about, and how would you know?

Apple killed Shake, and handed the market to Nuke. End of story. Except that major customers (like Weta and ILM) bought the Shake source and continued to customize it and use it for years.

April 11, 2015 at 11:25PM

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David Gurney
DP
1827

You must be thinking of Aperture. Now those internals WERE screwed up, and the effort to fix it basically halted other app development at Apple for months, as engineers were pulled off of other teams to fix it. Word of this leaked to the public, which is pretty remarkable.

April 11, 2015 at 11:33PM

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David Gurney
DP
1827

What is the fourth 4 for if there’s no alpha??

June 29, 2014 at 2:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Alpha channel is optional for both 4444 & 4444 XQ, they just didn't include that in the data rate sheet as it would be unfair to compare to the other ProRes codecs and Uncompressed as they don't have alpha and alpha adds a LOT to the data rate.

June 29, 2014 at 4:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Clarification: the other ProRes codecs doesn't support Alpha, so comparison between them and 4444 & 4444 XQ & Uncompressed would be unfair.

June 29, 2014 at 4:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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The issue here is unless you own Final Cut X or QuickTime Pro (not even then?), your only option to get these codecs is by updating your Compressor to 4.1.2 which I'm not too keen as their overhaul of recent Compressor is not too much to my liking.. Maybe I'm just an old fart and need to get on board with the program.

June 29, 2014 at 4:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Hold on. I just realised. Why on earth would I need ProRes 4444 XQ anyway... I'm not working on the latest Avengers..

June 29, 2014 at 4:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I didn't like interface of the FCP X. Apple should work on I terface to make it cleaner and sleek just like smoke and davinci.

June 29, 2014 at 9:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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naushad

Seriously? I use both Smoke and Resole on occasion and I found FCPX to be much more streamlined and sleek than both of those antiquated UI's. Don't get me wrong, I have used resolve professionally and know it well and despite all the updates to make it more modern, it's still vey obtuse compared to FCPX. Go back and try the most recent version of FCPX before you present nonsense. I've been an Avid editor for 10+ years and still use it in my current employment, but when it comes to personal projects and things outside of work, I use FCPX these days. IT's the most refreshing look at NLE since...well, since Avid, or Lightworks back in their day.

June 29, 2014 at 10:48AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Benjamin Forrest

What are you talking about?. lol FCP X has the best UI in the industry. I was cutting away as soon as I downloaded it without reading any manuals or anything. It's hyper intuitive and the grey/black color scheme is easy on the eyes

June 29, 2014 at 4:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john jeffries

The FXP X interface was a huge step forward for Apple, especially compared to the asinine jigsaw puzzle of separate windows that was FCP before.

Not to mention their admission that a glaring white background sucks. It's too bad that Apple continues to force an inverse color scheme (white background, black text) on its OS users, while Windows has let users set up any color scheme they want for 25 years.

April 11, 2015 at 11:29PM

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David Gurney
DP
1827

I'm still concerned about FCPX's other functionality. I have had a lot of trouble, considering the collaborative environment I work in, sharing projects that retain their mix / color corrects through transfers.

New codec? That's nice. Fixing copy and paste, a functionality every piece of software in the world has down flat? That'd EXPECTED…

June 29, 2014 at 10:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I'd be the first to admit that while I like and use FCPX, it has it's issues, and trust me, there are a few I can't stand..I don't see how Copy and paste is one of them. I copy and paste clips in the timeline all the time. Cmd-C, Cmd-V. So what are you talking about exactly?

As for sharing projects, this new release this making media management better and less dependant on a single user scheme, so yeah, they are working on it.

June 29, 2014 at 11:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Benjamin Forrest

What issues are you having sharing projects? I've seen plenty of examples of FCP X in shared environments. I don't get your copy paste question at all. What do you mean?

June 29, 2014 at 5:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Baden

"I’ve seen plenty of examples of FCP X in shared environments."

haha but never used it yourself in shared environments, eh? Kind of like watching a demo at NAB where everything works flawlessly, but then when used in real-world it fails miserably.

July 3, 2014 at 6:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ron I

It's only a matter of time until Apple abandons it for the next novelty app, so don't hold your breath.

July 3, 2014 at 6:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ron I

Find me confused. Since the Black Magic camera is mentioned, does that mean that CinemaDNG ingest has been improved? Does "wide color gamut Video" mean that it is now possible to ingest CinemaDNG footage in a wider colour space than Rec.709, and if so, in which one?

June 30, 2014 at 9:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Thyl Engelhardt

What it means is that when you bring in Log or flat footage from cameras you can apply a Rec. 709 color space to it to add back the color/saturation. It doesn't support Cinema DNG ingest. It probably won't as that is really an Adobe format. We can hope though.

June 30, 2014 at 1:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Braden

and contrast.

June 30, 2014 at 1:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Braden

Yosemite will finally support playback of cinema DNG in quick look and quicktime, so hopefully that means FCP X will too in a future update

June 30, 2014 at 8:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john jeffries