The Apple ProRes codecs provide an excellent solution for the most demanding modern post-production workflows. Many of today’s HD formats were developed under significant camcorder engineering constraints and therefore limit the full quality that can be carried in an HD signal. Other camera codecs preserve full quality but are too complex to achieve the software decoding speeds required for real-time editing. Uncompressed HD formats deliver the highest image quality, but the high-bandwidth, RAID-storage requirements of uncompressed HD video are daunting for most users’ budgets.
Apple ProRes codecs provide an unparalleled combination of multistream, real-time editing performance, impressive image quality, and reduced storage rates. Apple ProRes codecs take full advantage of multicore processing and feature fast, reduced-resolution decoding modes.
The Apple ProRes codecs were designed for great software flexibility and performance. No extra hardware is required for encoding or decoding. In particular, the Apple ProRes codecs have been designed to take advantage of multicore processors. The performance of Apple ProRes codecs scales—which means that the decoding time per frame goes down—as the number of processors increases. When the system spends less time decoding each frame, it has time for more real-time effects processing.
The Apple ProRes family of codecs provides these advantages:
- Quality indistinguishable from that of the most pristine sources: Maintains superb quality even after multiple encoding/decoding generations.
- Mastering-quality 4:4:4:4 RGBA: Provides a lossless alpha channel with real-time playback (Apple ProRes 4444 only). Mastering-quality 4:4:4 Y′CBCR color and 4:2:2 Y′CBCR color are also available.
- The quality of uncompressed HD at data and storage rates lower than those of uncompressed SD: Provides real-time editing performance comparable to or better than that of any other HD codecs in Final Cut Pro.
- Apple ProRes encoding at any frame size—SD, HD, 2K, 4K, or other: Apple ProRes codecs can also be encoded into nonstandard frame sizes, but nonstandard frame sizes are not supported for real-time playback in Final Cut Pro.
- Variable bit rate (VBR) encoding: “Smart” encoding analyzes the image. Efficiency is increased because excess bits are not wasted on simple frames.
- 10-bit sample depth: Preserves subtle gradients of 10-bit sources (sunsets, graphics, and the like) with no visible banding artifacts. When you import a file using an Apple ProRes codec, you don’t have to first determine whether the file is an 8-bit or 10-bit file. Apple ProRes codecs always preserve the bit depth of your original source files.
- I-frame–only (intraframe) encoding: Ensures consistent quality in every frame, with no artifacts from complex motion, and speeds up editing.
- Fast encoding and decoding: Delivers high-quality, real-time playback and faster rendering times.
- Equipment affordability: Because of low bit rates, you can edit more streams with more real-time effects on slower drives, or have more users accessing the same media over shared storage devices.
- Workflow options for any video format that does not have native Final Cut Pro support: The Apple ProRes format provides an effective workflow for projects involving multiple acquisition formats when you want to standardize on a single codec.
- Better rendering for native editing: Can be used to render long-GOP MPEG-2 formats (such as HDV and XDCAM HD) to speed up editing and avoid MPEG-2 re-encoding artifacts before output.
(Source : Final Cut Pro – Apple Support)