December 12, 2018

Reports of the Death of DNx on Mac Might have been Premature

Avid and Apple release more information to let filmmakers plan for their future workflows as 32 bit applications loose support.

When news first appeared, in a knowledgebase article, that MacOS was going to be dropping some support for DNxHR, it sent ripples through certain sections of the film industry. DNx is a popular intermediate and finishing codec that, while created by Avid for Media Composer, is used in Premiere and Resolve and other applications on a daily basis by many filmmakers.  However, it's not supported by the newer AVFoundry video framework Apple released with 10.6, only with the older Quicktime framework (confusingly, the Application "Quicktime X" doesn't use the Quicktime Framework, it uses AVFoundry), and after Mojave Apple is ending support for the original quicktime framework.

Jon Chapell over at Digital Rebellion did a great dive into the transition away from 32-bit in general for Apple and made the prediction that this wouldn't be an issue for the bigger platforms (Resolve and Media Composer would write their own tools to keep DNx alive in future releases of MacOS), but that the bigger issue would be with smaller software companies tools no longer being able to rely on pre-written support from Apple. We're already seeing that prediction come true with Avid already announcing their plans for keeping DNx alive and well on future releases of MacOS.  Avid uses their own frameworks, no longer requiring the Quicktime Framework, and support for DNx formats will continue "using 64 bit compliant and performance-tuned libraries" within the software.

Apple also further explained the situation with an in depth Knowledge Base article launched on December 11, clarifying a full list of codecs that won't get support with the future OS release.  But, of course, this is OS support. Applications can always build their own support. Looking over the full list of codecs that will loose support, you can be confident that DNx will be supported since it has the support of a major software dev behind it. But the REDCode Quicktime decoder won't, largely since it's less needed now that most major applications can handle RED natively. In fact, as you can see below, REDCODE raw is even natively supported in AVFoundry.  Gluetools, while awesome, is also obscure enoguh it likely won't get updated.

And if you open one of these files in "Quicktime X," you get the signature "converting" window is it converts it to a format X can play. Which of course will make VLC one of the big winners through this transition; many of my students already think of it as the "default" video player, since X takes conversion time for so many formats while VLC just opens files right pu.

Tech Specs:

Codecs affected by the transition:

  • 3ivx MPEG-4
  • AV1 / VP9
  • AVC0 Media AVA0 Media
  • Avid DNxHD / DNxHR
  • Avid DV / DV100 / JFIF / Motion JPEG
  • Avid Meridien / 1:1x / Packed / RGBPacked
  • BitJazz SheerVideo
  • CineForm
  • Cinepak
  • DivX
  • Flash Video
  • FlashPix
  • FLC
  • GlueTools codecs for Cineon/DPX, Phantom Cine, ARRIRAW, Uncompressed RGB
  • H.261
  • Implode
  • Indeo video 5.1
  • Intel Video 4:3
  • JPEG 2000
  • Microsoft Video 1 
  • Motion JPEG A
  • Motion JPEG B
  • On2 VP3, VP5, VP6, VP6-E, VP6-S, VP7, VP8, VP9
  • Perian collection of codecs (such as Microsoft MPEG-4, DivX, 3ivx, VP6, and VP3)
  • Pixlet
  • Planar RGB
  • RealVideo
  • REDCODE QuickTime Decoder (.mov)
  • SGI
  • Sony HDCAM-SR (SStP)
  • Sorenson 3
  • Sorenson Spark
  • Sorenson Video / Video 3 / YUV9
  • Streambox ACT-L2
  • Windows Media Video 7, 8, 9
  • Xiph.org’s Theora Video
  • ZyGoVideo

Supported Formats

Video Formats

  • Apple Animation codec
  • Apple Intermediate codec
  • Apple ProRes
  • Apple ProRes RAW
  • AVCHD (including AVCCAM, AVCHD Lite, and NXCAM)
  • AVC-ULTRA (including AVC-LongG, AVC-Intra Class 50/100/200/4:4:4, and AVC-Intra LT)
  • Canon Cinema RAW Light*
  • DV (including DVCAM, DVCPRO, and DVCPRO50)
  • DVCPRO HD
  • H.264
  • HDV
  • HEVC (H.265)
  • iFrame
  • Motion JPEG (OpenDML only)
  • MPEG-4 SP
  • MPEG IMX (D-10)
  • REDCODE RAW*
  • Uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2
  • Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2
  • Uncompressed 10-bit "R10k"
  • XAVC (including XAVC-S)
  • XDCAM HD/EX/HD422
  • XF-AVC

Audio Formats

  • AAC
  • AIFF
  • BWF
  • CAF
  • MP3
  • MP4
  • RF64
  • WAV

Still-image formats

  • BMP
  • GIF
  • HEIF
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • PSD
  • RAW
  • TGA
  • TIFF

Container formats

  • 3GP
  • AVI
  • MOV (QuickTime)
  • MP4
  • MTS/M2TS
  • MXF

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