… for Codecs & Media
Tip #589: Pick the Right Version of ProRes
I recommend ProRes 422 for camera media and ProRes 4444 for computer media.
Apple provides this description of the six different versions of ProRes:
Apple ProRes 4444 XQ: The highest-quality version of 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: An extremely high-quality version of ProRes for 4:4:4:4 image sources (including alpha channels). This codec features full-resolution, mastering-quality 4:4:4:4 RGBA color and visual fidelity that is perceptually indistinguishable from the original material. Apple ProRes 4444 is a high-quality solution for storing and exchanging motion graphics and composites, with excellent multi-generation performance and a mathematically lossless alpha channel up to 16 bits.
NOTE: Apple ProRes 4444 XQ and Apple ProRes 4444 are ideal for the exchange of motion graphics media because they are virtually lossless, and are the only ProRes codecs that support alpha channels.
Apple ProRes 422 HQ: A higher-data-rate version of Apple ProRes 422 that preserves visual quality at the same high level as Apple ProRes 4444, but for 4:2:2 image sources.
Apple ProRes 422: A high-quality compressed codec offering nearly all the benefits of Apple ProRes 422 HQ, but at 66 percent of the data rate for even better multistream, real-time editing performance.
Apple ProRes 422 LT: A more highly compressed codec than Apple ProRes 422, with roughly 70 percent of the data rate and 30 percent smaller file sizes. This codec is perfect for environments where storage capacity and data rate are at a premium.
Apple ProRes 422 Proxy: An even more highly compressed codec than Apple ProRes 422 LT, intended for use in offline workflows that require low data rates but full-resolution video.
My general recommendation is to use ProRes 422 for all images shot on a camera (except RAW formats), and ProRes 4444 for all media converted from RAW or Log or media generated on a computer.
Here’s an Apple White Paper that explains ProRes in more detail.