In Need of a Universal Output Format

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the Sept/Oct, 2007, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Wendy Bancroft writes:

I’ve been searching your site looking for information about this because I’m sure it’s something you’ve dealt with many times but anyway, can’t find anything so here goes:


I want to be able to approach broadcast outfits with my pieces. What format is considered acceptable for broadcast these days? e.g. if I’m shooting with a camera that shoots 1080i, (and not e.g. 720p) is that acceptable? Would I need to output to another format for broadcast?

Larry replies: Wendy, it isn’t that easy. Some outlets want 1080i (CBS, NBC, and Discovery Channel), some want 720p (ABC & Fox). The ONLY thing to do is contact each outlet individually and ask what their preferred video and delivery formats are.

My suggestion is that if you know you want to go to professional distribution, convert your HDV footage to ProRes (ideally during capture), then edit in the ProRes format. If you are shooting DVCPROHD, or XDCAM, edit in that format. In all these cases, export a file that matches your sequence settings.

If you are working in HDCAM, or HDCAM SR, consider down-converting to ProRes during capture. These formats are robust enough to successfully support an off-line/on-line workflow.

Once you’ve determined who’s going to distribute your work, convert your exported file to match the format required by the distribution channel.

If other readers have differing opinions, I’m interested in hearing what they have to say on this issue.


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