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Apple iMovie 8.0.5 update debuts new iFrame video format

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 
Apple has created a new video format called iFrame for use by camcorders, allowing optimized import into iMovie for editing.

A support article describing the new format, which was just added to iMovie 09 in the 8.0.5 update, says the new iFrame Video format "is designed by Apple to speed up importing and editing by keeping the content in its native recorded format while editing. Based on industry standard technologies such as H.264 and AAC audio, iFrame produces small file sizes and simplifies the process of working with Video recorded with your camera."

Support for the new format was announced by Sanyo, which has added iFrame recording to two of its new camcorders introduced today, the HD2000A and FH1A.

The new iFrame format captures standard H.264 video at 960x540, a quarter the resolution of full 1080 HD. The new cameras from Sanyo default to record in the iFrame format, but can also be set to record in full 1080 HD.

Finding a format

Digital camcorders began recording in MJPEG (Motion JPEG, a series of still photo captures) before moving to the better compression of the popular DV format. While DV recording allowed for high quality capture, it wasn't optimally designed for direct editing in QuickTime; it uses non-square pixels and is oriented toward TV resolutions and aspect ratios.

JVC improved upon the consumer DV format with its HDV format (also supported by Canon Sony and Sharp) using MPEG-2 video similar to a DVD, although HDV uses a transport stream rather than a program stream (like DVD), as it is optimized for delivery rather than storage. The recording format is also optimized for playback rather than editing. Importing HDV into iMovie using an intermediate codec makes editing more efficient, but also requires more disk space.

A variety of other competing digital formats have appeared on the high end, including Panasonic's DVCPRO HD (based on DV encoding) to Sony's DVCAM (also based on DV) and XDCAM EX (using MPEG-2).

Panasonic and Sony paired up to create the AVCHD format, which is based on modern MPEG-4 H.264 video. However, AVCHD still multiplexes its audio and video into an MPEG transport stream rather than recording it as a standard MPEG-4 file. In order to edit the AVCHD video captured by camcorders, iMovie still has to import and transcode it into the Apple Intermediate Codec, which requires time and consumes lots of disk space. Final Cut Pro similarly imports AVCHD video into AppleProRes.

By floating the new iFrame format using the same standard MPEG-4 H.264 video, Apple hopes to simplify the import process for consumers, making it easier and faster to ingest camcorder video for editing.

The name of the new format appears to reference both Apple's consumer product line and MPEG's I-frames, or intraframes, which act as keyframes in the video recording. Between full I-frames, MPEG compression uses P-Frames or predictive frames, which only present what has changed since the last I-frame, as well as B-frames, or bidirectional predictive frames. These present part of a picture like a P-frame, but reference changes relative to a future frame. In other words, B-frames come in advance of an I or P-frame that fills in the missing details.
post #2 of 57
Wow. Can't wait to try it.
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80 million iPhones by 2012. That's only 15% of the market.

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post #3 of 57
Hmmm

I expect an iFrame Pro in a couple of years that bumps up to 1080 resolution.
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post #4 of 57
The difference between MPEG4/QuickTime and AVCHD isn't in media multiplexing. It's how the table of contents is stored.

AVCHD is in an MPEG2 streaming format comprised of blocks of media, with each block having its own short description. Cameras can record this format without needing to buffer anything more than the current block of media. Random-access playback requires a scan through the file to build a table of contents. It does not need to be imported before editing as Apple would like you to think. Importing is performed because QuickTime does not support certain H.264 extensions in AVCHD.

The MPEG4/QuickTime file format has one contiguous table of contents. That's great for random access playback but awful for everything else. To produce an MPEG4, a camera would have to write raw data and metadata to two files during recording. When the stop button is pushed, the camera would have to copy the two components to a single file, re-index the metadata into table of contents, then delete the two component files. It's a long process that would make the camera unresponsive and prone to data loss.
post #5 of 57
These are the kinds of stories I love about Apple on AI: No room for know-nothing blowhards that dominate general-interest threads (sometimes I fall into that category too) to peddle their vacuous BS.

I'd be curious to hear about whether/how iFrame lives up to its promise, from movie pros.
post #6 of 57
What? Are you kidding? I don't record anything below full 1080p HD.
post #7 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abracadabra View Post

What? Are you kidding? I don't record anything below full 1080p HD.

File size alone keeps me from recording anything anymore at 1080i/p.

I welcome faster imports and to be honest, I think that will satisfy most families recording family memories. I don't have ulimited HDD space and more importantly, backing up video projects to multiple drives isn't quick either.

We need faster cabling, quicker hdd access, and larger hdd's if I am going to waste my time recording a new tooth from my kiddy in 1080p and then doing everything that goes along with it (importing to backing up) in a timely fashion.
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post #8 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinmcmurtrie View Post

AVCHD is in an MPEG2 streaming format comprised of blocks of media, with each block having its own short description. Cameras can record this format without needing to buffer anything more than the current block of media. Random-access playback requires a scan through the file to build a table of contents. It does not need to be imported before editing as Apple would like you to think. Importing is performed because QuickTime does not support certain H.264 extensions in AVCHD.

Huh? AVCHD is NOT MPEG-2, it is MPEG-4 PART 10 (that is: it uses H.264/AVC compression) and practically everything you wrote is wrong. AVCHD uses interframe and intraframe compression and therefore it must be decoded for editing, as most frames do not include all picture data. Even the Sony Vegas software that pretends to edit AVCHD "natively" does internally read in entire GOPs, calculates each single frame and then edits. It just does it "on-the-fly", while Apple does it on import. AVCHD is not an editing format, it is a distribution format and editing will always require the software to fill up the partial frames first.
post #9 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

I'd be curious to hear about whether/how iFrame lives up to its promise, from movie pros.

Well, it is not intended for "movie pros" - it is designed for consumers who want to skip any import/conversion steps before editing and be able to post footage to YouTube, etc. in no time. If it works as advertised, it should fit that bill just fine.
post #10 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abracadabra View Post

What? Are you kidding? I don't record anything below full 1080p HD.

Thank you for sharing. Now calm down.
post #11 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by aplnub View Post

File size alone keeps me from recording anything anymore at 1080i/p.

I welcome faster imports and to be honest, I think that will satisfy most families recording family memories. I don't have ulimited HDD space and more importantly, backing up video projects to multiple drives isn't quick either.

We need faster cabling, quicker hdd access, and larger hdd's if I am going to waste my time recording a new tooth from my kiddy in 1080p and then doing everything that goes along with it (importing to backing up) in a timely fashion.

Can't disagree with you on file size. AVCHD converted to ProRes grows dramatically in size.

As for imports, the ingestion process that FC7 employs pretty much happens in real time or so on my 2.4Ghz iMac (saving up for a MacPro). My solution for backups is that I shoot on 8GB SD cards pretty much all the time and burn the raw footage to a DVD-9 (until I get a Blu-ray drive).

Editing HD does tax my iMac but I can usually crank out quick little 15-minute videos on Blu-ray formatted DVD's without expending too much time or effort.

With that said, I can certainly see why Apple would introduce their own format for the masses. Something that can be edited quickly, is relatively small in size and has better-than-DVD quality (if only slightly) will most likely be good enough for most iMovie users out there.
post #12 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

I'd be curious to hear about whether/how iFrame lives up to its promise, from movie pros.

Apple just added native AVC-Intra support with the intro of FC7 and most of the stuff you see on channels like Discovery, NatGeo, etc. is still shot in DVCPro-HD. We won't be seeing iFrame for pros though.
post #13 of 57
Open source vs. proprietary. Guess which wins?
post #14 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

Can't disagree with you on file size. AVCHD converted to ProRes grows dramatically in size.

As for imports, the ingestion process that FC7 employs pretty much happens in real time or so on my 2.4Ghz iMac (saving up for a MacPro). My solution for backups is that I shoot on 8GB SD cards pretty much all the time and burn the raw footage to a DVD-9 (until I get a Blu-ray drive).

Editing HD does tax my iMac but I can usually crank out quick little 15-minute videos on Blu-ray formatted DVD's without expending too much time or effort.

With that said, I can certainly see why Apple would introduce their own format for the masses. Something that can be edited quickly, is relatively small in size and has better-than-DVD quality (if only slightly) will most likely be good enough for most iMovie users out there.

I probably need to mention I am an up-to-date user of FCS. However, I don't use it anymore for family stuff. iMovie is so easy for that kind of thing.

Realtime import to me means copy the file over and ready to go right then. I cannot do that with AVCHD but my neighbors PC can. Very aggravating.

I will be purchasing one of these new camera's before Christmas if possible. iFrame sounds like what I need for the family.

Thanks for sharing your backup workflow in part. You have more patience then me backing up to DVD-9.
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post #15 of 57
Unless you are recording clips on your cellphone or cheap point&shoot, why in the hell would you record at anything less than 720P? Especially considering decent HD video cameras cost the same as SD cameras from only a few years ago.
960x540 for a brand new format? right....
post #16 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abracadabra View Post

What? Are you kidding? I don't record anything below full 1080p HD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

Thank you for sharing. Now calm down.



Great another format for soccer Moms. Maybe this will be used on future iPod video devices.
post #17 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

Unless you are recording clips on your cellphone or cheap point&shoot, why in the hell would you record at anything less than 720P? Especially considering decent HD video cameras cost the same as SD cameras from only a few years ago.
960x540 for a brand new format? right....

well congrats, you figured it out! this new format is clearly optimal for PMP's like the iPod and iPhone where smaller file sizes and low-power chip editing really matter. what is interesting is it combines DVD quality with a native 16:9 aspect (SD DVD's stretch a 4:3 image to widescreen or worse crop it to letterbox), so it's a new format all right. it's for casual everyday use, not prosumers masterpieces.

expect to see it along with iMovie "light" on the iPhone certainly next June if not sooner. and the touch as soon as it has a camera. and the new iTab? all January i bet.
post #18 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

Huh? AVCHD is NOT MPEG-2, it is MPEG-4 PART 10 (that is: it uses H.264/AVC compression) and practically everything you wrote is wrong.

I believe he was referring to the MPEG2 Transport Stream (m2ts) container used for AVCHD and Blu-ray. I do not understand why he's differentiating the multiplexing from the container, as far as I know, they are for all intents and purposes the same.
post #19 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

Unless you are recording clips on your cellphone or cheap point&shoot, why in the hell would you record at anything less than 720P? Especially considering decent HD video cameras cost the same as SD cameras from only a few years ago.
960x540 for a brand new format? right....

Well,

1. It does depend on the target media. Recording, importing/converting and storing four times as much data as needed (if all you do is training DVDs, company internal video podcasts or YouTube uploads) is not really desirable.
2. There is more to video quality than resolution. My old DVCPRO50 camcorder does outperform most current prosumer HD camcorders easily in most situations. Less motion artifacts, better low light performance, better and more natural and consistent colors... Upscaling its footage to full HD is normally no problem at all.
3. None of the iFrame camcorders introduced by Sanyo offers 960x540 only. It is just one selection and users can choose it when it is the right choice. Both models record 1080p60 and other formats in addition.
post #20 of 57
looking forward to this dying like AAC to MP3
post #21 of 57
<sigh> couldn't Apple have created a better than than iFrame?
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post #22 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

<sigh> couldn't Apple have created a better than than iFrame?

Tell me about this than than. I truly want to know know.
post #23 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

Unless you are recording clips on your cellphone or cheap point&shoot, why in the hell would you record at anything less than 720P? Especially considering decent HD video cameras cost the same as SD cameras from only a few years ago.
960x540 for a brand new format? right....

It does seem like a waste and I have to wonder what the thought process was here. Ideally you should record in standard formats for your originals. It would be a different story if this format was something Apple transcoded to for smaller file sizes. Shipping full length HD movies around is time consuming.

Maybe I will see the light but right now I don't get it.


Dave
post #24 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

It does seem like a waste and I have to wonder what the thought process was here. Ideally you should record in standard formats for your originals. It would be a different story if this format was something Apple transcoded to for smaller file sizes. Shipping full length HD movies around is time consuming.

Maybe I will see the light but right now I don't get it.


Dave

it's really for iPhones/touches/iPods folks. get that?
post #25 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

Thank you for sharing. Now calm down.

I beg your forgiveness for my highly inappropriate comment. However, I feel constantly disappointed by Apple consumer video offerings, while this hardware: http://www.macworld.com/article/1432.../wdtvlive.html
gets me super excited! This box plays my 1080p videos the way I want and I will not accept anything less!
post #26 of 57
Yes, most useful for those who want to create simple clips for posting on youtube or own small video library.

How about Panasonics new(ish) 'AVCHD Lite' format though, maybe that's a middle ground in terms of actually being HD, but not full HD.
post #27 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfiejr View Post

well congrats, you figured it out! this new format is clearly optimal for PMP's like the iPod and iPhone where smaller file sizes and low-power chip editing really matter. what is interesting is it combines DVD quality with a native 16:9 aspect (SD DVD's stretch a 4:3 image to widescreen or worse crop it to letterbox), so it's a new format all right. it's for casual everyday use, not prosumers masterpieces.

expect to see it along with iMovie "light" on the iPhone certainly next June if not sooner. and the touch as soon as it has a camera. and the new iTab? all January i bet.

I think you hit something. I wonder if the development of this format has anything to do with the video quality on the iPhone & where Apple hopes to take iPhone/iPod Touch/iPod Nano type devices This format seems like it's targeted towards the casual home user who doesn't care about having 720p or 1080p.

Telling ya, something else is going on here for Apple to create a new format. They aren't just looking to speed up the import/export process for a few 3rd party vendors.
post #28 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

Huh? AVCHD is NOT MPEG-2, it is MPEG-4 PART 10 (that is: it uses H.264/AVC compression) and practically everything you wrote is wrong. AVCHD uses interframe and intraframe compression and therefore it must be decoded for editing, as most frames do not include all picture data. Even the Sony Vegas software that pretends to edit AVCHD "natively" does internally read in entire GOPs, calculates each single frame and then edits. It just does it "on-the-fly", while Apple does it on import. AVCHD is not an editing format, it is a distribution format and editing will always require the software to fill up the partial frames first.

AVCHD defines a variety of H.264 video, a variety of AAC audio, and an MPEG2 container. The container is just as important as everything else. An MPEG2 container can be built progressively while an MPEG4/Quicktime container can not be built until the video is complete.

Frame dependencies are nothing new to QuickTime and not a problem for editing. The original video stream is used to render cached key frames for use at points of editing. Apple has to convert AVCHD to another format only because the QuickTime H.264 codec doesn't support the features used in AVCHD or Blu-ray. (My guess is that licensing fees are too high.)
post #29 of 57
1. Apple should support most AVCHD implementations from major camcorder manufacturers.

2. Apple should support such implementations without any transcoding involved until final render.

3. Apple should leverage the new massive power of the consumer Macs and Snow Leopard to have iMovie work great with 1080p.

4. Apple should support writing of 720p or 1080p video, and high-res slideshows out of iPhoto/iMovie to BluRay. Seriously. Why iMovie cannot burn BluRay for archiving purposes, and sharing, etc., I have no idea. Cost? Profit margin? Not a priority?

5. 1080i from most camcorders should be handled natively rather than iMovie asking you to up- or down-convert.
post #30 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by OskiO View Post

looking forward to this dying like AAC to MP3

Ah, gawd bless AAC and its short life. May it have moved on to a better standard in the afterdigitallife.
post #31 of 57
Just what the world needs... another f'in video format.
post #32 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinmcmurtrie View Post

The difference between MPEG4/QuickTime and AVCHD isn't in media multiplexing. It's how the table of contents is stored....

Yeah exactly. I don't think the multiplexing part opts for a new format. But in order to edit an i-frame based codec (no pun intented) such as h.264 the software needs to decode what happens between the i-frames blazing fast, backwards, forwards, sporadically, jumping between frames here and there without frame drops and stalling the cpu.

What I think has to be done in order to use h.264 in a video editor such as iMovie or Final Cut they must reinvent a new editor specific h.264 decoder that figures out what's in between the i-frames in real time, in draft mode. Doesn't matter if the frames go low resolution in between edits while you play or while you scrub, as long as there are no frame drops.

The coolest thing would be in the end to be able to save such an edit losslessly, without changes to the actual stream, other than coding new iFrames only where they're needed such as between edits and where the image has been altered. But this would only make sense the day QuickTime is color correct... Oh well.
post #33 of 57
You know, I can now play on my Macbook Alu 2.0ghz with 4GB RAM 9400M GPU ... 4 standard def H.264 clips at once, and at any time scrub through them, jump between points, all while they are all playing and only hitting both cores about 50% CPU. With a lot of other stuff open in the background (but not running).

The tech is there. Most GPUs have H.264 decoding down easy. Now we have OpenCL and Grand Central.

Of course all editing would be lossless because except for transitions/ compositing it's all just pointers to parts of files.

iMovie '09 is good, as I outlined above Apple could do some amazing stuff with iMovie '10. But it seems they might cater to the sub-720p market for most of 2010/2011?

Apple could do it easy if it wanted. But then maybe if it started working so well on consumer Macs people would stop buying Mac Pros and FCP packages.

Quote:
Originally Posted by palegolas View Post

Yeah exactly. I don't think the multiplexing part opts for a new format. But in order to edit an i-frame based codec (no pun intented) such as h.264 the software needs to decode what happens between the i-frames blazing fast, backwards, forwards, sporadically, jumping between frames here and there without frame drops and stalling the cpu.

What I think has to be done in order to use h.264 in a video editor such as iMovie or Final Cut they must reinvent a new editor specific h.264 decoder that figures out what's in between the i-frames in real time, in draft mode. Doesn't matter if the frames go low resolution in between edits while you play or while you scrub, as long as there are no frame drops.

The coolest thing would be in the end to be able to save such an edit losslessly, without changes to the actual stream, other than coding new iFrames only where they're needed such as between edits and where the image has been altered. But this would only make sense the day QuickTime is color correct... Oh well.
post #34 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinmcmurtrie View Post

The difference between MPEG4/QuickTime and AVCHD isn't in media multiplexing. It's how the table of contents is stored.

AVCHD is in an MPEG2 streaming format comprised of blocks of media, with each block having its own short description. Cameras can record this format without needing to buffer anything more than the current block of media. Random-access playback requires a scan through the file to build a table of contents. It does not need to be imported before editing as Apple would like you to think. Importing is performed because QuickTime does not support certain H.264 extensions in AVCHD.

The MPEG4/QuickTime file format has one contiguous table of contents. That's great for random access playback but awful for everything else. To produce an MPEG4, a camera would have to write raw data and metadata to two files during recording. When the stop button is pushed, the camera would have to copy the two components to a single file, re-index the metadata into table of contents, then delete the two component files. It's a long process that would make the camera unresponsive and prone to data loss.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

Huh? AVCHD is NOT MPEG-2, it is MPEG-4 PART 10 (that is: it uses H.264/AVC compression) and practically everything you wrote is wrong. AVCHD uses interframe and intraframe compression and therefore it must be decoded for editing, as most frames do not include all picture data. Even the Sony Vegas software that pretends to edit AVCHD "natively" does internally read in entire GOPs, calculates each single frame and then edits. It just does it "on-the-fly", while Apple does it on import. AVCHD is not an editing format, it is a distribution format and editing will always require the software to fill up the partial frames first.

Factual links plz to support your comments, so we can read for ourselves.
post #35 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Just what the world needs... another f'in video format.

And it's suppose to simplify things. riight
post #36 of 57
i don't understand
this format works best for small screens
for yrs steve pushed us ever higher in video quality
well i guess hd iframe will arrive soon
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post #37 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by brucep View Post

i don't understand
this format works best for small screens
for yrs steve pushed us ever higher in video quality
well i guess hd iframe will arrive soon

Steve is slowly releasing control to the rest of the team. The rest of the team probably want to push more iPhone and iPod with video.

Apple is focusing first on a wider group of people with video-enabled iPod and iPhone ... rather than improving support (maybe it is already good enough) for those with 720p or 1080i/1080p camcorders.

Like I said, maybe some people in the "team" at Apple worry about Mac Pro and FCP revenue/profit if iMovie gets too good especially when it comes to full HD video.
post #38 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

Open source vs. proprietary. Guess which wins?

Why can't people just follow the damn MPEG-4 specs that's what MPEG is there for.
post #39 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

...With that said, I can certainly see why Apple would introduce their own format for the masses. Something that can be edited quickly, is relatively small in size and has better-than-DVD quality (if only slightly) will most likely be good enough for most iMovie users out there.

That's what's confusing me. Maybe I haven't seen the stats but I thought we were all moving towards 1080i and even 1080p camcorders by now. But I guess people want quick fast and easy so that has gone against the push towards consumer 1080p camcorders.

Maybe most people trying to edit movies on their Vista PCs can't handle 1080i video so that has been a hindrance to better quality video on camcorders.

I mean, 2 years ago we had fairly affordable Sony 1080i camcorders with USB transfer to Mac and PC.

Can someone shed some light on the state of the camcorder world? Maybe the economic sting and shorter attention spans, YouTube, has contributed to a different way people want to record and use video...?
post #40 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abracadabra View Post

What? Are you kidding? I don't record anything below full 1080p HD.

I dunno, on a consumer HD camcorder, the benefit of recording 1080p seems kind of iffy. I have a couple and the lenses just don't lend themselves to getting good detail at 1080p. Might as well save as 720p and save the drive space and CPU power. If you're using a professional HD camcorder, then you're probably not going to be using iMovie.
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