Hey all,

What do you reckon is the fastest and "best" way to export/convert movies for sound/music work in your DAW of choice? Which programs and settings do you use to do it?

Thanks in advance, and please excuse my lack of knowledge and newness to this field.

Background: I tend to get huge files from the editors and I end up using Photo-JPEG (same frame-rate, low quality, and a substantial decrease in the aspect ratio), and I'm thinking whether I should try to standardize a faster workflow for myself at this point.

  • you should maintain the aspect ratio when creating a PhotoJPG version
    – user49
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 0:36

6 Answers 6


I usually do an export in QT 7, reducing frame size and audio quality (I keep the audio track intact as a guide track, but use compression to help reduce the file size). This tends to help make the video file easier for the DAW to handle.

I'm interested to find out how others approach this.

  • I do the same as you Colin, just run it through QT 7 and export with different compression. For the first couple of HD projects I received, I kept wondering why Pro Tools was reacting so slow, then realised it was the HD video file! Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 19:10

After running some tests on my system with various codecs, I've come down to DV for SD material (I still use the ol' Canopus on my home rig) and DVProHD for HD material at 720P... PhotoJPEG and ProRes came in a very close second in my CPU tests. I have FCP on my systems so I usually use Compressor to Convert.


We tend to use DV Streams a lot because, in our recording facility, we use those old Canopus DV out boxes. DV Streams are pretty big, but i actually quite like them. They're very fast to convert (using Quicktime Pro), and don't put much strain on the system when you're running it with your session - my guess is that this is because it's pretty much uncompressed. Of course, the downside is that you're limited to SD quality and the files are pretty big.

At my old film school, our practice to ask for either DV or motion jpeg A. mjpegA is legacy now though, so most editors have no idea how to export one.

So i guess, in summary, DV is the easiest for me. It runs quickly, and you can "Play Video out DV/PCIE" if you have an external monitor. And who doesn't have room for a few extra GB these days?


I'm new to video post production, so I may not do it the best way. I use Reaper as a DAW and it likes DV so I export a low rez version out of Vegas. I've tried mixing audio in Vegas and I don't like it as much as Reaper.


We often get 1080p QTs but until I upgrade to a faster Mac for my HD2 rig I down rez to 720p and use the PhotoJPG codec.... I use the free app StreamClip to convert as does a good job and has a batch list so can set all the seperate QTs for the reels of a film going....

get StreamClip for free here: http://www.squared5.com/

(most important: never use h264 to work to!)

  • @tim about 2008 i worked IT in a post sound facility and when i was asked which codec to use to convert from HD for programs that couldn't run HD i suggested h264. It worked fine and nobody complained, even when directors used the mix theatre as a viewing room. I haven't had a need since i worked there to transcode video until lately, what are the issues that make it unsuitable to work to?
    – ofa
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 9:27
  • 1
    the problem with h264 is that it uses interframe GOP compression, which is fine if all you do is play forwards, but sound editing requires playing backwards/scrubbing etc... All you have to do is open an h264 video file and try to play it backwards & watch how the performance suffers... In comparison PhotoJPG compresses discrete frames, so stepping back a frame or playing backwards is instant. It is not directors playing down in real time that is the problem, it is the people who work intensively with sync sound
    – user49
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 20:53

Open in QT Sync, burn in timecode, export to Photo JPEG Quicktime.

Firewire people may want to use DV.

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