Pro Tools 2019 Supports 4K Video and Higher Frame Rates

By in Audio Post, Pro Mixing

The October release of Pro Tools 2019 supports 4K video resolutions and higher frame rates, enabling better frame reference accuracy and smooth collaboration with video editorial.

 

Higher resolutions and frame rates are becoming more common

As ultra-high-quality, 4K content creation becomes more commonplace it is important that Pro Tools is capable of easily accepting a wide range of video formats, frame rates and sizes, and thus remaining a smooth part of audio post production workflows.

With compatibility for higher resolution video and higher frame rates, these improvements enable smoother, more efficient collaboration between editorial and sound mixing with less time-consuming conversion or transcoding. Plus, the flexibility to select rates and resolutions independently, and work with non-standard video sizes, is critical to support a range of projects such as web-based video, gaming, or new formats that become popular in the future.

 

Support for higher frame rates

The latest version of Pro Tools 2019 introduces support for a much wider range of timeline frame rates. Previously, Pro Tools had a maximum of 30fps on the Main Timecode Counter, which required the user to choose half frames or another grid value to accurately display the video frames above 30fps. This was an issue in certain parts of the industry such as gaming, where these frame rates are used.

With the new improvement users are able to easily reference current frame rates accurately in the timeline and no longer need to perform additional video frame rate conversion when using these formats in Pro Tools. Furthermore, enhanced frame rate support provides for future formats as they become more readily used in production. This also means your main counter frame grids can match the actual frame rate of the video file.

Session Frame Rate Selection

Main Timecode Count with 3-digit fps display

1 frame Audio Clip at 30/60/120fps with 30fps Session/Grid

1 frame Audio Clip at 30/60/120fps with 120fps Session/Grid

Support for higher video resolutions, including 4K

A video raster (or “size”) refers to the file’s resolution. Previously, Pro Tools did not support 30fps 1080p or multiples of that.

With this release Pro Tools now supports 4k resolution—in alignment with Avid’s video editing software Media Composer. Pro Tools will recognize standard formats when adding those video clips to the timeline making them easy to identify. And it will have the ability to play clips outside those standard recognized formats. This means while commonly identified formats will be selected automatically, users will also be able to select and play back rasters that may be required for non-standard video sizes, such as web based or installation video, or new rasters that become popular in the future.

The Video track now displays the frame rate and raster size independently, rather than fixed settings of frame rates and size.

Previous – fixed raster and frame rate settings

Pro Tools 2019 – Independent control of raster and frame rate settings

Improvements to H.264 Playback and Performance

 Additionally, we have developed our own decoding for H.264 files which enables us to deliver smoother, more stable playback and performance without directly using 32-bit QuickTime APIs.

H.264, while extremely popular for its relatively good quality versus file size and wide playback device support, can be a difficult codec to playback smoothly in an editorial environment. This is partly because the many different possible encoders but also the way in which the frames and information are organized in the file itself. For example, it doesn’t lend itself well to nudging, scrubbing and shuttling. However, this release delivers much improved the performance of this important codec.

It’s worth keeping in mind larger raster and Frame Rate files and potentially more CPU intensive codecs will mean performance will be dependent on the host computer, disk speeds and video hardware.

As a general rule having high demand video files on a separate drive is recommended and there are several third-party tools to verify if disks have sufficient performance for various video rasters and codecs.

 

To learn more about the October release of Pro Tools 2019, please visit www.avidblogs.com/pro-tools-2019-fall

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I’m a Kiwi living in Tokyo, Japan. From Audio Post and now an Audio Application Specialist at Avid, while staying in touch in the industry with the occasional spot of mixing and sound design for TV. Sound, music and technology have been my career for the last 17 years and my passion for a lifetime.