Know Your Panasonic Codecs! DVCPRO HD, AVC Intra & AVC Ultra

Crews Control by Brad

Asking a freelance director of photography about the codecs of their Panasonic cameras is like asking a mechanic about the engine of a car. Be prepared for a long technical answer. All you need to know is why a certain codec is important and correct for your shoot. Panasonic currently has two often confused codecs: DVCPRO HD and AVC Intra. The third codec, AVC Ultra, is to be released next year.

To understand these codecs you need the brief history:

DVCPRO HD: The Panasonic DVCPRO codec was developed as a standard definition competitor to Sony DVCAM. When Sony stepped into high definition they did so with their HDCAM codec, but Panasonic decided not to rebrand so they called their high definition codec DVCPRO HD.

AVC-Intra: Panasonic developed the AVC Intra Codec for two main reasons. First, they wanted to rebrand their codec for a tapeless specific codec. AVC Intra can only be shot on P2 cards, whereas DVCPRO HD which can be shot on P2 cards as well as tape. The second reason was to develop a new codec that used H.264 MPEG-2 compression standards.

AVC-Ultra: Panasonic made a major display of AVC Ultra at the 2012 NAB Show. Like many in the video production world the thought of memorizing one more codec makes my stomach churn. But with the rise of cinema-quality video Panasonic developed AVC-Ultra to handle 2K and 4K shooting, as well as develop a codec that could handle more information with better compression. read more...

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