Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"The Formats Won"

Adam Wilt, writing for ProVideo Coalition about the current state of the film/video post-production world:

A few years back, we were talking about seeing the end of the formats wars.  Remember when we shot interlaced 4x3 SDTV with a specified colorimetry and gamma to a handful of tape formats, and delivered interlaced 4x3 SDTV to an audience using interlaced 4x3 CRTs? Ah, those were the days… we didn’t know how simple we had it.
Now, let’s see, for acquisition, we have AVC-Intra, AVCHD, HDCAM, HDCAM-SR (in three different bitrates), ProRes (in more than three different bitrates, depths, and color resolutions), XDCAM HD and EX variants, DVCPROHD (still out there), ArriRAW, R3D, Codex Digital, Cineform, uncompressed (S.two; DPXes on SR 2.0), and whatever your HDSLR du jour shoots, just to name a few. And that’s just HD. There’s still SD being produced, and 2K and 4K, in gamma-corrected “linear” or log (LogC, S-Log, REDlog); 4x3, 16x9, 2:1, 2.4:1; 8-bit, 10-bit, or 12-bit; 4:2:0 to 4:4:4; full-res, subsampled, or oversampled (both well and poorly).
If you add in the number of deliverables the various presenters were talking about, and consider all the permutations of inputs and outputs, it just boggles the mind.
The format wars are over. The formats won, all of them. May their tribes increase.
Deal with it.

Truer words, never spoken - even in my low-end, behind-the-curve corner of the industry.  I just moved into a new apartment, and glancing over at my newly-reorganized shelf of archival media for video projects from the last couple years, I see:
  • MiniDV tapes
  • Digital8 Tapes (basically the same as MiniDV, but require a different camera/deck.)
  • Video DVD's with some Quicktime masters as a bonus
  • Mini-DVD's from a Sony DVD-camcorder (not my choice)
  • A couple SDHC cards from my HDSLR, that I still haven't decided on an ideal archival plan for.
But hey - at least we're leaving tape behind!  (I say, having just spent over an hour tonight fighting to get Final Cut to stop complaining of timecode problems while recapturing some interview footage from barely a year and a half ago.  But I digress...)