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Apple Pro Res Codec Storage Requirements

ProRes is becoming a standard file format for professionals who use Final Cut Pro.  The latest version of Final Cut Pro currently offers 5 flavors of ProRes.  The set of Apple ProRes codecs provides all the necessary data rates for most professionals.

ProRes 422 has a data rate of 145 Mbps.

Data Rates for Pro-Res is measured in Mbps. So, what exactly does Mbps mean?  How does it relate to 'real-world' storage requirements for the 'non-geek'?

For starters..... 1 byte equals 8 bits of data.  Hence, that's why everything works with a base of 8 in terms of computer processors.  8 bit processing, 16 bit processing, 32 bit processing, and so on......

Mbps:  stands for 1 Megabit per second, and 1 Megabit is 8,000 bytes.  This also means that 1 MBps (megabyte per second) = 8 mbps (megabits per second). 

Whew! make sense?  Don't worry.

Honestly, talking in bits and bytes starts to make my head spin.  I personally tend to think of things in terms of Gigabytes and Terabytes.  If you're like me, you want to know how many minutes of ProRes storage will fit on your new 500GB, or 1TB drive.

So here it is:  A one terabyte drive will hold roughly 1,000 minutes of ProRes 422 media. Yes, that's pretty easy math!

or 500 Gigs = 500 minutes.  Got it?

However, this calculation is only an approximate.  The amount of storage will also depend on things like the number of audio tracks, and image complexity when it's being encoded into ProRes.

However, if you are curious how to get to that number, here's the math:

Divide the data rate by 8. So for ProRes 442 which has a data rate of 145 Mpbs,  divide 145 by 8 which comes out to almost 18 Megabytes per second.

The Real Math:  145 / 8 = 18.125

Then multiply 18 by  60 to get how much storage it will take up for every minute.  So 1 minute of ProRes 422 will take up roughly 1000 megabytes.

The Real Math:  18.125 x 60 = 1087.50 megabytes per minute (or 18.1 MB/sec)

Since 1 gigabyte is 1000 megabytes, it comes out to roughly 1 gigabyte per minute when working with ProRes 422.

You'll notice in the screen shot below, that the data rate for these ProRes 422 clips are just below 17 MB/sec which is a bit lower than 18.125 based on my calculations.  However, these clips don't have any audio, which will use some additional storage.

My point here is to come up with an approximation, and it's always good to leave a little extra head room when calculating storage requirements.  You never want to end up on the short end.


The list of ProRes codec choices are shown below. 


422 Proxy
(data rate of 45 Mbps)
I've found this is good for editing in multi-camera mode, and/or if you need a smaller footrpint to edit on a Mac Book Pro.  When you are finished editing, just replace your Proxy Media with your full res ProRes 442 media.  Final Cut Pro will then relink to the new files.

422 LT  (data rate of 100 Mbps)
If your doing basic cuts and you're not working with a lot of layers and graphics, I've found ProRes LT works fantastic for news, sports, and talking heads.  I've found the quality holds up extremely well, and saves quite a bit of hard drive space when compared to the standard ProRes 422 codec.

422 (data rate of 145 Mpbs)
This has become the standard editing codec for most professional that are working with multiple layers of video and need to maintain a high quality image throughout the entire post production process.          

442 HQ (data rate of 200 Mbps)
If image quality if the utmost importance, and you are working with hi-end graphics and color correction techniques, then you may want to work with ProRes 422HQ.

4444 (data rate of 330 Mbps)
Even though ProRes 4444 takes up a hefty footprint, it's the only ProRes codec that will allow you to export out with an Alpha Channel.  With a high data rate, this codec is also recommended when working with RED  Camera footage.

If you are an Avid Media Composer user running your software on a Mac, you will also be able to export your QuickTime movie files as ProRes.

Note to PC Users:
  You can download the Apple Pro Res QuickTime Decoder so you can play QuickTime movies encoded with ProRes on your Windows PC.  If necessary, you'll be able to import the media into you editing system.  One catch though... you won't be able to export back out to ProRes media on a PC.


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Color Correction in Final Cut Pro 7 was the previous entry in this blog.

Final Cut Pro 4:3 media mixed with Hi Def Sequence is the next entry in this blog.

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