Previous testing of the ProRes codec comparing it the Avid DNxHD codec yielded some unexpected results when Adobe After Effects was used to generate test media. While the Avid codec made the round trip from Media Composer 2.7 to After Effects and back without issue, the ProRes codec showed what appears to be an YUV to RGB conversion issue.
Further testing reveals that the issue is not consistent between a recent beta release of Adobe After Effects 8/CS3 and After Effects 7.
Pictured (click to enlarge) are the waveform and vectorscope images when the original ProRes 422 HQ material is placed on V1 of a Final Cut Pro 6 timeline and the same image placed on V2 after being run through After Effects with no changes made to the image – the clip was placed in an AE timeline and simply re-rendered with ProRes 422 HQ.
For the time being I don’t recommend using Adobe After Effects to render ProRes 422 material. While we can be confident this issue will be addressed shortly, this is exactly the kind of gotcha that can be expected when a new codec is released in the latter phases of a beta cycle. I’ve been transcoding clips to the Animation codec with Final Cut’s Media Manager before going to After Effects. Allowing FCP to handle the YUV-RGB conversions seems to work well.
The bigger lesson is that whenever a new codec is introduced to your workflow it should be tested in the applications it will be used in.
Looking down the road, color space, codec, and file format, and frame rate conversions will be with us for a long time. Make hardware and software decisions with eye towards the future and compatibility.