Cineform: a Great Intermediate Codec

I love CineForm! I use it a lot. I don't miss ProRes at all. CineForm is an extremely versatile codec that can accommodate multiple wrappers while maintaining higher quality at lower bitrates than ProRes. It even has its own variation of compressed RAW. Making CineForm an economical fit in many existing post workflows.

You don't have to take my word for it. Back in 2014, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, standardized GoPro's CineForm codec, dubbing it ST 2073 VC-5, the new open standard for video acquisition and post production. If that wasn't enough GoPro has publicly stated it's intent to support Cineform, making it better as the years go by.

"SMPTE standardization of the GoPro CineForm codec as the new VC-5 standard is big news for the entire production and post production industry, as well as for GoPro and its customers,” said David Newman, senior director of software engineering for GoPro. “By further developing the VC-5 standard, we are building a new ecosystem for the industry in which we’re enabling cinema-level acquisition quality, while also providing cinematographers the workflow technology to finish their films. We are standardizing core codec technologies, and making them extensible to even support future camera formats and future post production workflows."

— David Newman

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I have noticed that it is hard to find the bitrate information for CineForm. I've taken the liberty of providing the table below for your reference:

GoPro Cineform (VBR)

ProRes (VBR)

DNxHD (CBR)

Low (1) - 64 Mbps

Proxy - 36 Mbps

DNxHD 36 - 36 Mbps

Medium (2) - 77 Mbps

LT - 82 Mbps

DNxHD 80 - 80 Mbps

High (3) - 89 Mbps

422 - 117 Mbps

DNxHD 115 - 115 Mbps

Film Scan (4) - 104 Mbps

422 HQ - 176 Mbps

DNxHD 175 - 175 Mbps

Film Scan 2 (5) - 170 Mbps

4444 - 264 Mbps

DNxHD 175x - 175 Mbps

 

4444 XQ - 396 Mbps

DNxHD 350x - 350 Mbps

(Assuming 1080p at 24fps)

    Here are the main features of CineForm:

    • Full-frame Wavelet compression for highest image integrity
    • Unrestricted spatial resolution
    • Up to 12-bit arithmetic precision
    • RGBA, RGB, YUV, and RAW chroma formats
    • Standard wrapper interfaces including AVI and MOV for broadest compatibility
    • OS Agnostic for workflows and file compatibility for mixed post environments
    • Compatible with the most popular professional applications (Premiere Pro, After Effects, Final Cut Pro, etc.)
    • Visual quality equivalent to uncompressed workflows but with much lower cost
    • Performance-optimized compression eliminates need for specialized hardware
    • GPU Accelerated Rendering

      Workflow enhancements include:

      • Source format normalization to a common intermediate from virtually all camera or source files
      • Batch pre-processing during format conversion
      • Real-time renderless colour workflow using Active Metadata™
      • Stereo (3D) workflow compatible with most industry applications

      I encourage others to embrace CineForm so that it will gain in popularity in relation to other intermediate mezzanine codecs like ProRes and DNxHD/HR. It's high quality, efficient compression, and overall versatile. I can see CineForm becoming a mainstay in many post production pipelines for the years to come. CineForm is my go to working and mastering format.