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CineForm Software Showcase
Cross platform digital intermediates for independent filmmakers.


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Old January 15th, 2008, 01:03 AM   #1
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What is Cineform?

OK, call me thick. But I just don't grok Cineform. They call it an Intermediate but they never use the word codec. How do you view digital video without a codec?

But that's what it is, no? You take the HDV encoded material off the camera and re-encode it as Cineform? And in this codec, you have enhanced 'workability'?

Assuming this is correct, it is the same concept as Canopus' HQ codec? And how do they compare?

Someone please reply with an answer fit to be made a 'sticky.'

TIA
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Old January 15th, 2008, 05:01 AM   #2
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It is an intermediate codec, i.e. it is an intermediate format + codec.

See here

Hope this helps...
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Old January 15th, 2008, 11:20 AM   #3
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Nope, I read that (didn't see the word codec before though--so that comformation helps). That explains how it works but not why I want to use it.

And it doesn't compare it to Canopus HQ.

Maybe that's my problem--someone compare it to something else so I can tell the difference.
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Old January 15th, 2008, 12:20 PM   #4
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Andy,

It's an excellent codec - in my opinion the best and most flexible on the market. Within Premiere Pro, it will allow realtime effects that Cineform provides - covering the basics that you use on most every clip. (Pan, Zoom, Rotate, Color Corrector, Color Balance, Speed changes, etc.) No playback renders whatsoever.

It's also visually lossless. This means that without a technical evaluation, you will not be able to see any loss of quality between the original and a re-render to apply an effect, etc. This is a huge improvement over HDV/m2t or other lossy formats. I've used AspectHD for about 6-8 months now, and it made an unbelievable difference in my workflow.

It also provides a tool, HDLink, that not only captures and converts to Cineform, but can export m2t files back to tape, without using the Export features in Premiere or another application. HDLink does not re-render to do this - it spits the digital file out directly. It greatly simplifies delivery or archive on HDV tape.

Carl
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Old January 15th, 2008, 12:30 PM   #5
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Andy, here is a thread with similar questions. Please take a look at this: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=108749

In short form, CineForm designs compressed Digital Intermediate workflows. In this case DI means that you convert camera footage - which does not have the characteristics to withstand a multi-generation post workflow - into a format that is designed for post. Our CineForm Intermediate, CineForm 444, and CineForm RAW formats are compressed (yes, through our codec) files that are designed to be indistinguishable from source files, yet hold up through a multi-gen post workflow. Not everybody needs CineForm, but if you're doing a lot of color correction, effects work, etc, in post, then you need a format that will hold up to the demands you're placing on your images.

Our codec is our underlying technology, it doesn't represent the complete product. Our products include our codec, but also include image processing software for telecine removal, deinterlacing, spatial resampling, speed change (i.e. 25p to 24p conversion), image flip (for 35mm adapters), etc. We also allow you to convert most any source format into CineForm files. This allows using many different cameras in your shoot but using a single format for post. IIn general the product I've described in this paragraph is our "Neo" family.

We also offer products optimized for Premiere that include our real-time processing engine that replaces the engine within Premiere. This will allow (machine dependent) 3 - 6 HD streams to play simultaneously on the timeline with no rendering, including color correction, transitions, titles, etc.

You can see our quality analyses here: http://www.cineform.com/technology/quality.htm. BTW, our quality is high enough that we've now become both an in-camera acquisition format plus a digital cinema projection format.

Circling back, our codec is our underlying technology, but it's all the software that goes around our codec that makes the product.

I hope this helps....
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Old January 16th, 2008, 11:33 AM   #6
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Any updates on native Mac versions of Cineform products? Have any comparisons between Cineform and ProRes codecs been done? Thanks!
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Old January 16th, 2008, 01:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Plotkin View Post
Any updates on native Mac versions of Cineform products?
Not other than we have posted on our website. We've added more CineForm RAW capability recently on Mac.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Plotkin View Post
Have any comparisons between Cineform and ProRes codecs been done? Thanks!
No. It's difficult to do that comparison right now because software tools outside of FCP/Motion seem to interpret ProRes as 8 bits, not 10 bits. This is true in AE which is where we would often perform these kinds of tests. But ProRes is a fine codec from the standpoint of visual quality. Instead we prefer to focus on the differences such as:

- 12-bit CineForm 444 (RGB). Pro Res does not have an RGB mode
- Alpha Channel mode (not yet shipping on Mac, but soon)
- CineForm RAW workflow for the new generation of Bayer-format cameras
- Spatial resolutions above 2K
- Cross-platform (Windows/Mac) and cross-applications (even on Mac) compatibility. This is very useful for collaborative workflows when using different tools. On Mac CineForm is interpreted as extended precision in FCP/Motion, PPro/AE, Media 100, Pomfort, and probably many others we haven't tested in detail.
- When we finish porting HD Link to Mac, then the myriad conversion and image processing tools (inverse telecine, deinterlacing, spatial resampling, image flip, speed change, etc) might be another reason to use CineForm.

When your workflow needs the above features CineForm is an obvious choice. If you have the option to use either CineForm or Pro Res, and the above features aren't relevant for your project, then either codec will do an outstanding job.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 01:20 PM   #8
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It's such a pleasure to get a detailed and honest response to this kind of question - and fast too! Thanks so much, David.

I wonder if there will be more interest in your products from Mac-only users like me when your hard drive recorder comes out - that's what got me interested anyway.

Thanks again!
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 07:21 AM   #9
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In a nutshell, what is CineForm?

Hi, I've heard a lot of talk about Cineform but can anyone explain to me in a nutshell what it does and how it can be useful to me for editing HD footage from within Vegas 8.0? Sorry for the very basic question, but hope somebody will take the time to answer!
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 07:41 AM   #10
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Cineform is a codec, primarily targeted for use as an "intermediate codec".

This means in a typical workflow you capture to one or more source codecs/formats (HDV, MPEG2 Log GOP, etc.), convert to a single intermediate codec/format (Cineform, for example) for "post" editing and compositing and then render out in whatever format(s) you need.

Cineform is a codec that favours speed and quality, thus renders files that are larger than, lets say, MPEG2 L-GOP but smaller than uncompressed video, which is another format that is often used for the edit/composite stage.

You can also capture video directly in Cineform using the EX1 HD-SDI which will give you true 10bit 4:2:2 captures which is much better than using the 4:2:0 MPEG2 recorded on the SxS.

Cineform is usefull to standardize your workflow on one format and for speed as well as quality with still some advantages over uncompressed video, diskspace wise.

George/
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 09:05 PM   #11
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If one looks beyond it's application in Vegas, Cineform is more than just a codec. For example, within Premiere it also provides a real-time effects engine.

The Cineform website has an introduction to it's 'product families' here: http://www.cineform.com/products/default.htm
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 10:05 PM   #12
 
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One thing I've noticed, speaking as a Vegas user, Cineform seems to be the one intermediate that produces repeatable and reliable results. So, AFAIK, this is an intermediate I COUNT on. I'm using it to master everything I do. Any discrepancies for follow on renders, and I can be pretty sure it's not Cineform's fault. That counts for a LOT in my book.
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Old February 24th, 2008, 10:05 AM   #13
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What Is CineForm?

I'm glad this was made into a sticky as the question comes up about monthly.

In short form, CineForm designs compressed Digital Intermediate workflows. In this case DI means that you convert camera footage - which does not have proper fidelity characteristics to withstand a multi-generation post workflow - into a new format that is designed for post. This new format is one of our CineForm Intermediate, CineForm 444, and CineForm RAW codec formats. These formats are lightly compressed formats, and are specifically designed to be indistinguishable from source files, and also to hold up through a multi-generation post workflow.

Not everybody will choose to use CineForm. But if your workflow includes the following, CineForm can help:

o Heavy color correction or effects work in post (these push images a lot, exposing compression limitations of camera formats)

o Need for pre-processing of camera footage, including inverse telecine, deinterlacing, spatial resampling, image flip, speed change (such as 25p-to-24p), etc.

o Mixing of different camera formats. We solve this by converting virtually all formats to CineForm files.

o Need RGB or RGBA processing. CineForm offers the only practical RGB or RGBA compressed formats.

o Need cross-platform compatibility. Cineform files work both on Windows and MacOS.

o Need 10-bit processing. 10-bit (versus 8 bit) provides extra fidelity in post, especially when you're "pushing" your images a lot.

o Higher-than-HD footage. We offer real-time, multi-stream workflows not only at HD, but at 2K and 4K also.

o If you want extra performance out of your PC. The nature of our Wavelet compression allows many real-time streams on modern PCs.

UNDERLYING TECHNOLOGY AND PRODUCTS
Our codec is our underlying technology, it doesn't represent our complete products. Our products of course include our codec, but also include image processing software for telecine removal, deinterlacing, spatial resampling, speed change (i.e. 25p to 24p conversion), image flip (for 35mm adapters), etc. We also allow you to convert most any source format into CineForm files. This allows using many different cameras in your shoot but using a single format for post. In general the product I've described in this paragraph is our "Neo" family: http://www.cineform.com/products/NeoHD.htm.

We also offer products optimized for Premiere that include our real-time processing engine that replaces the engine within Premiere. This will allow (machine dependent) 3 - 6 HD streams to play simultaneously on the timeline with no rendering, including color correction, transitions, titles, etc. This describes our Aspect HD or Prospect HD/2K/4K family: http://www.cineform.com/products/Aspect-Prospect.htm. Among other differences, files compressed with Aspect HD are 8 bits in depth and Prospect HD/2K/4K files are 10 or 12 bits in depth. For those interested in seeing the difference between 8 and 10 bit images when "pushed" in post, look here: http://www.cineform.com/products/Asp...pect.htm#10bit.

VISUAL QUALITY
You can see our published quality analyses here: http://www.cineform.com/technology/quality.htm. You'll notice that we offer visual fidelity that exceeds the respected HDCam SR format that is routinely used for source acquisition for film/television projects. In part, our quality is achieved by offering a large "head room" across varying image scene complexity that maintains the original source quality better than other formats. Because of our high quality CineForm compression has become i) an in-camera acquisition format ii) source acquisition format for direct-to-disk recorders, iii) a digital cinema projection format, and iv) a long-term archive format, including for all content delivered by Microsoft on Xbox Live Marketplace.

Circling back for emphasis, our codec is our underlying technology, but it's all the software that goes around our codec that makes the product.

PERFORMANCE
And we can't forget to mention performance. The CineForm codec in general was optimized for very high performance. The Wavelet nature of our codec allows unique multi-resolution decoder characteristics that we exploit for high performance within many NLEs. Further, within Premiere Pro, we have our own real-time, multi-stream video engine that replaces the engine in Premiere. Think of the Cineform engine like having a hardware accelerator card but performed in software. We are often 2X-4X faster than native M2T editing, although this depends on the performance of your machine.

CROSS PLATFORM
Cineform is unique in offering cross-platform compatibility on Mac and Windows for those with a need for a shared workflow. CineForm files work on both Windows and Mac. In addition, we have a re-wrapping utility that replaces the AVI wrapper with an MOV wrapper (and vice versa) without touching the underlying compression.
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Old February 24th, 2008, 01:50 PM   #14
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I use Cineform's Neo HDV, and it is the single most important post-processing tool I have. I often perform multiple renders using Virtualdub, Vegas, and Cinecraft Encoder Basic, and the Cineform tool preserves resolution and image quality throughout the series of renders.

Pat
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Old March 4th, 2008, 07:34 PM   #15
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So, is there currently a way to inverse telecine 24P footage with cineform on the mac? I am in desperate need and would buy it today if so.

Thanks,
Ryan
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