31st March 2023

Following on from Part 1 of our blog series exploring different file formats for video, our latest blog delves in to some of the formats for editing, sharing and archiving.  
Formats for editing 
Video editing applications recognise a range of formats allowing conversion if so required. However, quality can be compromised so it’s recommended to use the original format through the process of filming, editing and sharing. MP4, MOV and MKV can be great all rounders for editing but remember to take on board factors like compression rates. 

ProRes is a popular and commonly used format, particularly by cinematographers and film professionals. Apple’s Final Cut Pro software can be used for optimum quality and performance, widely supported and designed specifically for post production work. ProRes displays an impressive range of colours and shades, favoured by Cinematographers wanting to colour grade in a fast paced environment. ProRes Raw enables raw data to be captured when recording and converted to a viewable format. Both formats are great for post production, with Raw most suited for high end film and drama productions with its optimum high visual quality and performance. 
REDCODE is created by Red Digital Cinema used for their own cinema cameras. Similar to ProRes, it boasts a high standard of image quality compression with little quality compromised. It’s supported by many professional editing software applications.  

Formats for sharing 
H.264 is one of the best formats for sharing content, especially across online platforms. Known for reliability and adaptability, it’s a popular choice for filming, post production and distribution. File sizes tend to be manageable and not too large, ensuring video has good all round quality. Due to the need for compression, it is not able to compete against some of the other high end file formats. 

Formats for archiving 
There doesn’t tend to be one universal archive file format due to a number of factors to be considered, like storage space, quality required and how the video is played out. Generally it is recommended to always keep hold of raw files where possible.  

Uncompressed MXF files for preservation and archiving are favoured by small or mid sized collections holding very valuable assets. The BBC is the only broadcast archive choosing uncompressed video for digital preservation master files.  

MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 is chosen by many as an alternative to uncompressed formats, offering good long term storage favoured once more by broadcast institutions and the Library of Congress. 
JPEG2000 is another compressed file format rated by Broadcasting requirements, particularly for features including ingest, transcoding, captioning and audio track management. A number of large institutions archive their audio visual material in combination with an MXF container and JPEG 2000. High quality masters can also be produced with this file format.   
FFV1 was developed for the heritage sector and long term preservation needs.  The compression ratio is similar to JPEG2000, minimising storage space to almost thirty percent compared to uncompressed video.   

In summary, video technology will always continue to evolve and change over time. New file formats will enter the industry with some offering up a host of features and advantages over others. Most video formats condense high grade audio and video compression, and it’s then down to finding the best format for your needs. Remember to check out the DPP website for more information: DPP file based standard 

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Originally published: 14/07/2022