Using ProRes in Avid Media Composer (MC)

How easy is it to use ProRes in Avid MC4 these days?  Obviously relevant to using FCP-generated media in AVid but also for establishing the practicality of using the Aja KiPro recording device – a hot topic for lots of people.

I am an extreme newbie on Avid, though experienced in some other NLEs, and I am not yet au fait with the basic Avid quirks and ways.  I read that it is possible to import ProRes but that there can be issues with level shifts (gamma & 709 etc.).  Is this true and is there a workaround for it?  If levels issue was solved then would there be any further issues?

I did try searching via Google and in the Avid forum but precise intelligence on this subject was thin on the ground.  Most people seem to just convert ProRes to DNxHD; what I’d like to know is whether it’s practical to avoid that and just use ProRes-encoded media directly.   Maybe that’s a very naive perspective, as my experience below hints at…

I did a quick experiment to Import some ProRes to an Avid project (on Mac).  The ProRes I had available just happened to be SD (35 sec clip, 180MB).  The project was HD (I just accepted this as default).  Importing it caused it to do “Creating video from QT”.  [Avid:(bin)>Clip>Reveal] showed that this “creation” had produced (in a generic Avid scatch area) a set of three MXF files, two of 3.5MB (the stereo audio channels maybe?) and one of 500MB, which I assume is the upscaled version of the original media.  It was not playable by QuickTime or recognized by VideoSpec.  Meanwhile, the bin I imported to listed a QT (.mov) file of the same name as the original ProRes file but its datestamp (in the bin) indicated it had been created just now and it was listed as being of type DNxHD 120 (not the original datestamp or codec i.e. ProRes).  I wonder if it is a Reference file, just pointing to the content in the MXF files, and in that case whether the original ProRes file could (in principle) now be deleted, if that original file is not being used by the project.  I wonder where the reference file (if that’s what it is) is located.

Next I tried a more sensible experiment: Import SD ProRes (PAL DV 50i LFF, 27MB) into a matching project.  Again got the “Creating video from QT” message but it completed more quickly (presumably because it didn’t need to upscale and involved less data).  The resulting (created) MXF files were two of 772KB and one of 19MB.  The bin listed the imported file under its original name (.MOV) but being of type DV 25 411.  The “411” is news to me – PAL DV uses “420” colour sampling whereas “411” is for NTSC.  Makes me want to call “911”…    I guess (and hope!) this message is just the result of a “lazy” bit of coding in Avid, i.e. that it hasn’t really re-sampled my media’s colours into colors…  Even if it hasn’t done that, DV is a lossy format (hence I suppose the slightly smaller file size than the original ProRes) and I would have preferred some kind of “visually lossless” format (can DNxHD also handle SD resolution?) here.  Maybe I need to attain some Avid-Wrangling skills. On a hopeful hunch I briefly tried Avid’s AMA but it didn’t recognize the folder containing my ProRes files as an AMA-compatible volume.  On a previous occasion I had used AMA successfully with a folder of XDCAM-EX footage and that had worked fine, so I just hoped … but my hopes were dashed.

It looks on the face of it like there’s no choice: Avid generates its own equivalent files in its preferred format (MXF-Avid) automatically, not just re-wrapping the “rival/alien” ProRes stuff but transcoding it into DNxHD (for an HD project) or DV (for a DV project).

But it’s early days in my Avid experience and I will find out more…

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