Tip #703: What is GoPro Cineform?

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #703: What is GoPro Cineform?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

This 12-bit, full-frame video codec is optimzied for speed and image quality.

Topic $TipTopic

GoPro CineForm is a 12-bit, full-frame wavelet compression video codec. It is designed for speed and quality, at the expense of a very high compression size. Image compression is a balance of size, speed and quality, and you can only choose two. CineForm was the first of its type to focus on speed, while supporting higher bit depths for image quality. More recent examples would be Avid DNxHD and Apple ProRes, although both divide the image into blocks using DCT.

The full frame wavelet has a subject quality advantage over DCTs, so you can compression more without classic ringing or block artifact issues. Here are the pixel formats supported:

  • 8/10/16-bit YUV 4:2:2 compressed as 10-bit, progressive or interlace
  • 8/10/16-bit RGB 4:4:4 compressed at 12-bit progressive
  • 8/16-bit RGBA 4:4:4:4 compressed at 12-bit progressive
  • 12/16-bit CFA Bayer RAW, log encoded and compressed at 12-bit progressive
  • Dual channel stereoscopic/3D in any of the above

Compression ratio: between 10:1 and 4:1 are typical, greater ranges are possible. CineForm is a constant quality design, bit-rates will vary as needed for the scene. Whereas most other intermediate video codecs are a constant bit-rate design, quality varies depending on the scene.


Here’s a link to learn more.

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5 replies
  1. stu aull
    stu aull says:

    LOL – OK so your NEXT note in the same TIPS page talks about Apps for GoPro footage, and that might answer my Q (below). Apologies…

  2. stu aull
    stu aull says:

    Hi Larry. Would appreciate your thoughts on how to best integrate Cineform into FCPX workflow. Currently what I do is load my GoPro footage into (the old, discontinued) GoPro Conversion App (I am not aware there is a functional replacement), output my selects there to cineform, then (good grief) manually convert ea. clip tp ProRes, and import these into my Project. PITA! 😉

  3. Mike Janowski
    Mike Janowski says:

    And thank you for this explanation. Cineform just sort of popped up when I moved to Premiere 3 years ago, and I had no idea what it was, nor if it was any good. Always appreciate the info.

  4. Mike Janowski
    Mike Janowski says:

    Can I assume that this: “The full frame wavelet has a *subjective* quality advantage over DCTs, so you can *compress* more without classic ringing or block artifact issues.” is how this sentence is supposed to read?

    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      Another way to say this is: You can compress HEVC more while still retaining the same apparent image quality. The key beneficiary of this is cell phone networks, because video files are smaller.



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