November 19, 2018

Why Apple is Dropping Cineform and DNx and How It Affects You

Users installing the newest refresh of Final Cut Pro might have seen a warning that their media won't be supported in the future.

With the latest release of Final Cut Pro, 10.4.4, certain users of older video formats such as HDCAM-SR might have seen a warning message that their video formats, while currently supported, won't be supported under future releases of MacOS.  Apple has put out a full support note giving more information and context to help filmmakers through the process.

On top of HDCAM-SR, if you shoot Cineform with your GoPro or use DNxHR, you might be facing some uphill battles with not only Final Cut, but also all of MacOS, in a future release.

Apple's support document is helpful, but a little simplistic in that it recommends simply wrapping up any projects you're currently working on before upgrading to the next OS. That is just not realistic for many filmmakers.

Documentary projects will frequently be edited, using legacy footage, for years. While many filmmakers deliberately avoid updating their OS to avoid issues like this (I know more than one filmmaker still running MacOS 10.8.5, or really OS X 10.8.5), that doesn't work for some. With apps like Resolve that frequently require newer versions of MacOS, not upgrading can cut you out of useful features and workflows. It's much more likely that filmmakers with large Cinform or DNx libraries (or native HDCAM-SR, though those are likely transcoded to something lighter already) will have to go back and transcode all of that footage afresh into ProRes then reconform it in order to keep working.

It's unclear as to why Apple is making this move (or even when). The notice doesn't say which MacOS release won't support these formats, and it doesn't make a tremendous amount of sense why some older formats (HDV, a terrible format that should never have existed in the first place, for instance) aren't on the deprecated list while the popular DNxHR is.

Rumors seem to point towards the likelihood that Apple is developing Final Cut Pro to be able to run equally well on MacOS and iOS, allowing users to move seamlessly back and forth, which will require more limited codecs. But notice Apple doesn't say that Final Cut won't support Cineform and DNxHR, but that the entire MacOS won't support Cineform and DNxHR. Considering how young DNxHR is (and how vital it is to the Media Composer workflow), this is very bold on Apple's part.

Of course, Apple would argue that it has its own ecosystem of ProRes to work in, as detailed in our handy "street names" chart. Cineform and DNx are technically competitors to (and inspirations for) the ProRes workflow, so it makes sense that Apple might not work extra hard to support them in Final Cut Pro. 

But Apple doesn't say that "Final Cut" won't support Cineform and DNx. It says that a future MacOS won't support DNx and Cineform. That's massive and it points toward the long-rumored merger of iOs and MacOS into a single operating system that allows users to move projects back and forth between platforms with ease. Media Composer is savvy and will likely find a workaround of some sort to keep its Mac editors happy, but simply linking to ProRes files isn't going to cut it.

With the new release of Compressor, Apple has gone fully 64 bit with the software, making clear that it will continue to support legacy 32bit workflows. It doesn't seem like this is purely about dropping support for 32bit environments since Compressor Apple is clearly able to make applications backward compatible. This decision, like Apple does sometimes, is about moving toward the future and letting go of the past, often sooner than users want.   

Apple does state that only software-generated DNxHR files will lack support. This means that if you render to DNx from Media Composer (or Resolve, or any other transcoder), it won't work, but hardware generated DNxHR files from an Alexa or an Atomos should work just fine.  

Check out the support document for more.

Tech Specs:

  • Losing support: GoPro Cineform, DNxHD/DNxHR, HDCAM-SR
  • In a future MacOS revision
  • Back-up your projects now, and convert legacy media before your next upgrade.

Your Comment

26 Comments

This is not friendly to professionals, and will leave a bad taste for many editors. There isn’t a technical reason for this. This is a business / branding decision, not a workflow decision.

November 19, 2018 at 12:26PM

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Samuel Neff
DP / Editor
845

There is a technical reason, 32bit needs to die. Won't be hard for developers to update their software produced Legacy Media, hardware produced Legacy Media is fine. Not a big deal and in the end makes things faster and more efficient.

November 20, 2018 at 8:51AM

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OR: what about manufacturers finally step up and deliver 64bit versions of their codecs? DNx is ancient and AVID is known for that. CineForm is open-source now and anyone could bring out a new flavor of it. We can drop GoPro Cineform. so apple is pushing the envelope (again) and like it or not, someone has to, otherwise we would still be using DOS. pros expect those "legacs formats" to stop working with the release of an OS in 2020 or even 21, this must be enough time for companies to find a way.

November 19, 2018 at 1:06PM

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That wouldn't solve the issue of playback of the old codecs. This is extremely frustrating because my company uses so much archival footage and soon these updates are going to be killer to our workflow.

Our archive alone is 3,1000TB. We can't just go back and reencode all our old materials to fit the new specs.

November 19, 2018 at 3:49PM

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Alex Alva
959

Feels like we're heading back to the bad old days of frustrating Mac/PC incompatibility.

November 19, 2018 at 1:15PM

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Does this decision by Apple make life better? This is what I'd really like to know. If so, how? How does this make life better for content creators? This is not a rhetorical question. I'd really like to hear an explanation of how this makes things better and not worse.

November 19, 2018 at 4:59PM

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Dantly Wyatt
Musical Comedy & Content Creator.
769

"Does this decision by Apple make life better?"

No. And there really isn't a more nuanced answer than that which leaves the territory of "no." This is a move to try to monopolize ProRes and remove competing codecs from usage. It's a business decision, and as creative professionals, we should be angry at having professional codec options removed.

November 19, 2018 at 6:33PM, Edited November 19, 6:37PM

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Samuel Neff
DP / Editor
845

Not really, it has to do with macOS moving away from 32bit and forcing developers to get with the times and 64bit. As long as programs and plug-ins update how they work with 32bit Legacy Media they'll be fine.

November 20, 2018 at 8:49AM

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This is a catastrophically stupid move and a sure fire way of killing the use of Apple machines in video and film production.

November 19, 2018 at 8:05PM

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Has to do with macOS moving away from 32bit and forcing developers to get with the times and 64bit. As long as programs and plug-ins update how they work with 32bit Legacy Media they'll be fine.

November 20, 2018 at 8:48AM

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Yep, Smacks of the same hyper-arrogance that Apple displayed when they, totally without warning, dumped Final cut 7 for (at the time) the way inferior Final Cut X. It was morbidly amusing watching Apple slowly announce "new" shiny features to FCPX over the years that were stock-standard to FCP7! They left us hanging for years on new iterations of the Mac Pro, not even giving us an inkling on specs, let alone release dates, OR even if they were releasing at all. The reason there are not many pros complaining here now is that they were kicked in the guts so badly by Apple years ago, most have gone to others systems. I am still angry today at how Apple treated Pros they claimed they "highly-valued" over those years. Just looks like deja-vu here.

November 23, 2018 at 6:56PM

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Chris Tangey
Director/ Cinematographer
107

Apple strikes again.

November 19, 2018 at 8:11PM

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Will Thomas
Director, Editor, Colorist
127

I think this is about software optimization, making video files work as seamlessly and lag-less as possible on Mac, and to achieve that, you need to have your own controlled ecosystem an make sure everything works perfect on it. 64 Bit is the future and lets be honest, ProRes is king.

And seriously, enough arguments about Mac vs. PC its just down to preference at this point. don't like Mac? Get a PC. Want both, build yourself a hackintosh that has bookable Windows and stop complaining.

So many whiny techies that end up doing just fine in a years time.

November 19, 2018 at 9:08PM

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Philip Janikowski
UN ESCAP Video Produccer
11

This is all about 32-bit being unsupported in the next MacOS. If the plug-ins for Cineform and DNxHD are updated to 64-bit, they should be fine.

November 19, 2018 at 9:48PM

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Final Cut is for losers.

November 20, 2018 at 4:49AM

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Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
1048

Thanks for your contribution.

November 20, 2018 at 10:18AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1667

There is still an option, at least: installing Windows on your Mac ;-)

November 20, 2018 at 6:21AM

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Reason #183 why I switched from FCP 7 to Adobe Premiere in 2012.

November 20, 2018 at 6:33AM

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Debi Stewart
Editor
82

Has nothing to do with Final Cut. Has to do with macOS moving away from 32bit and forcing developers to get with the times and 64bit. As long as programs and plug-ins update how they work with 32bit Legacy Media they'll be fine.

November 20, 2018 at 8:47AM

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Adobe actually is doing the same thing. You can no longer export H264's in an mov container in Premiere. Some .avi and ProRes4444 won't import into Premiere or just the audio will import. It's kind of a pain. It's all because they base a lot of their encoding on Quicktime Player. This is the reason I have switched to Resolve as my main NLE because they use all their own encoding so it's not restricted by the type of OS you're on(for the most part)

November 20, 2018 at 11:02AM

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Alex Alva
959

The bloke who wrote this is only playing the guessing game, like a lot of us, myself included.

Title says "Why Apple is Dropping Cineform and DNx and How It Affects You" then only half way through literally says "It's unclear as to why Apple is making this move".

We have no idea how this affects us and won't until both Apple and developers make the next move. If it's just converting old codecs from 32bit to 64bit it's not that complicated and we're all the better for it.

November 20, 2018 at 8:54AM

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It is complicated though... Not all of use go back on 20 years of footage to convert it all that's just a waste of time and hard drive space. Especially when all the assets are on LTO tapes for archive purposes. You can't just pull everything off the tapes, transcode, then archive the assets again. That's a terrible workflow.

November 20, 2018 at 11:05AM

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Alex Alva
959

Where I work we have a huge collection of old formats that we're restoring. In among them are AVIs, WMV, MotionJPEG movies, etc. When they were made those formats were relevant but now they're not. We save a copy of the originals but also convert them to ProRes and Uncompressed. (ProRes for working with them now, Uncompressed for archival purposes.)
It's not a big deal. You just set up a batch conversion on a spare computer and let it run for a few days.

About this notice I'm glad Apple is informing us of what might happen in the future so we can start converting our 32bit footage now and it not be a shock if it happens. Don't shoot the messenger.

November 22, 2018 at 11:39AM

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Yeah, but I have over 3,000TB of footage that span over a couple hundred LTO tapes. You just can't go back and transcode that all. It's really not practical. It's even more of a pain because they're on LTO. And no they're not LTFS formatted so you can't quickly take it off the tape and transcode.

November 26, 2018 at 11:32AM

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Alex Alva
959

Apple drop the old quicktime32 framework to a new AVframework, old qt framework accep external codec, newer DON't do it... they not want that developer could add other codec on Os, be cause they are going to merge to Ios for a near future. Actually cineform is 64bit from years, the same for dnxhd/hr, but if they not have a point to connect on Os is impossible to play on Os... but... just actually you not play cineform or dnxhd or simple apple animation codec on finder, be cause you need to install codec on Os, are not native codec.
but at same time you could play and use on Adobe, Blackmagic, Edius and many other softwares... why? be cause are just embedded in software. CIneform from 2014, then you not need to read from Os... it's a false problem from years.

November 22, 2018 at 2:58PM

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Carlo Macchiavello
Director
791

Lol. If you’re not accustomed to transcoding your footage anyway, then you need to expand your workflow. I’ve always had to transcode either to a working ProRes format or even proxies for offline edits. I don’t like change, but have come accustomed to keeping my workflows as flexible as possible as technology evolves. Also, it’s pretty rare these days for me to recycle any footage over a year old (but that’s just me).

November 23, 2018 at 2:50PM

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Ben Watson
Director of Photography/Editor/Colorist
13