My Recommendations: Should you shoot 1080p Prores/DNxHD over XAVC S?

Here are my recommendations on the 1080p Prores vs XAVC S problem. Remember, this only applies to 1080p and not UHD or 4K!

Follow this simple flowchart:

1. Are you shooting chroma keys? Or is there compositing work involved?

If yes, shoot Prores HQ/DNxHD 220x.

If no, go to step 2.

2. When grading, will I be using more than one power window or mask per shot? Or Will I need multiple renders of a shot?

If yes, shoot Prores HQ/DNxHD 220x.

If no, go to step 3.

3. Are you shooting for strict broadcast delivery (10-bit 4:2:2)?

If yes, go to step 5.

If no, go to step 4.

4. Will my work be sent to a post house or studio who will convert to Prores anyway?

If yes, go to step 5.

If no, shoot XAVC S.

5. Will there be any grading at all?

If yes, shoot Prores 422/DNxHD 145.

If no, shoot Prores LT/DNxHD 145.

6. Are you a Windows user?

If yes, stick to XAVC S.

If no, and you are a Mac user, stick to XAVC S.

Here are some FAQs:

Should you shoot Prores or DNxHD at all in 1080p?

Yes, under certain conditions.

When should you shoot Prores or DNxHD?

You should shoot Prores HQ in 1080p for the following jobs:

  • Chroma keying work
  • Heavy grading work with multiple recompressions and rendering jobs
  • Strict broadcast delivery (4:2:2 footage, sometimes 10-bit)

Should you use Prores LT or 422, or DNxHD 145?

For 1080p work, I recommend XAVC S over either Prores 422 or LT, or DNxHD 145. For the times you need Prores, you need HQ and the data cushion it provides (For DNxHD, it’s 220x).

Therefore, forget 422 and LT for 1080p work, unless you’re in a special case (see below).

When should you NOT shoot Prores?

If you’re a Windows user, avoid Prores.

I’m grading my movie or project in Resolve or Speedgrade. Should I choose XAVC S or Prores HQ or DNxHD 220x?

Choose XAVC S for all normal to medium grading work, which is 99% of projects, even cinema-quality ones.

How do you know when to use Prores HQ or DNxHD 220x? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Will I use more than one power window or mask?
  • Is there any compositing work involved?
  • Will my work be sent to a post house or studio who will convert to Prores anyway?
  • Is my work intended to be delivered to broadcast (10-bit, 4:2:2)?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, then shoot Prores/DNxHD. If yes only to the third and/or fourth one, you can shoot Prores 422 or LT, or DNxHD 145.

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