Apple ProRes

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Revision as of 14:46, 30 September 2010 by Maxpol (talk | contribs) (Frame layout)
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ProRes Introduction

Apple ProRes is a family of video codecs used for storing and editing high definition video data in Apple's Final Cut Pro. Apple's official whitepaper lists the codec's key features as being:

  • intra-only codecs
  • 4:2:2 / 4:4:4:4 source material
  • 10-bit (12-bit for ProRes 4444) sample depth
  • variable bitrate

ProRes 422 Standard Definition / High Quality codec

ProRes 422 SD/HQ is the same codec operating on two different bitrates (flavours). Two different FOURCCs are used in order to indicate each flavour:

Flavour name FOURCC Bitrate
Standard Definition (SD) 'apcn' 145 Mbps
High Quality (HQ) 'apch' 220 Mbps

ProRes algorithm is based on the Discrete cosine transform (further DCT) and utilizes the following compression techniques:

The bitstream of the ProRes 422 has been designed to provide the following additional features:

  • frame-level multi-threaded encoding/decoding depending on available CPU cores
  • spatial scalability providing the possibility to decode a video at different partial resolutions (1/2, 1/4, 1/8 of the full size and so on). ProRes is capable of saving CPU cycles while decoding at smaller resolutions due to a special bitstream layout enabling partial bitstream access and parsing.


Frame layout

A typical ProRes 422 frame has the following layout:

       Frame container atom
------------------------------------
           Frame header
------------------------------------
            Picture 1
------------------------------------
 Picture 2 (interlaced frames only)

Frame container atom

At the beginning of each frame the frame container atom is located. It has the classical QuickTime atom structure with the ID set to the undocumented ProRes frame type ID:

Field size Field name Description
4 bytes size frame size in bytes
4 bytes type 'icpf' ("image codec prores frame"?)

All data is stored in the big-endian format. The value of the field "size" must match frame size from the movie container.