At NAB 2019, Avid will also be showing previews of the work they are doing to improve the Avid Video Engine. There is no timescale for when these improvements will included in a future Pro Tools release, so do not expect these changes to be in Pro Tools 2019.5, but in the spirit of openness, Avid are wanting to show users what they are working on to improve the Avid Video Engine.
As ultra-high-quality, 4K-and-beyond content creation is being used more and more, Avid recognise that it is important for Pro Tools to keep up and to be able to support a growing range of video formats, frame rates and sizes.
Currently, Pro Tools can interpolate video file frame rates and reference to higher frame rate sync sources up to 59.94 FPS, however when it comes to the timeline, Pro Tools is limited to a maximum of 30 FPS on the Main Timecode Counter and requires the user to choose half frames or another grid value to accurately display the video frames above 30 FPS.
At NAB 2019, Avid is previewing ‘true HD’ and higher frame rate support in the Pro Tools timeline up to 120fps. This will mean that at last the main Pro Tools counter frame grids will be able to match the actual frame rate of the video file.
Session Frame Rate Options in Pro Tools 2018
Session Frame Rate Options in Tech Preview Version
Main Timecode Counter In The Tech Preview Version With A 3-Digit Frame Rate Display
1 Frame Audio Clip At 30/60/120 FPS With 30FPS Session And Grid
1 Frame Audio Clip At 30/60/120 FPS With 120FPS Session And Grid
Support For Higher Video Resolutions
Currently, Pro Tools can play back a 29fps 1080p video but cannot play back a 30fps 1080p video or higher. This limitation has become a big issue especially in game production, because of the growing use of higher resolutions and frame rates. Currently to work in Pro Tools you need to down-convert these formats to one that Pro Tools does support.
Consequently, Avid plan to support a much wider range of of resolutions and frame rates including 4k resolution, to align Pro Tools with Avid’s Media Composer.
In a future release, Pro Tools will be able to recognise a broader range of formats, when adding video clips to the timeline. Avid also plan that Pro Tools will allow non-standard video resolutions and frame rates that might be used in web based or installation video.
Separate Resolution And Frame Rate Options
As you will see in the two images below, on the left hand side is the video track as it appears in the current version of Pro Tools. Whereas the image on the right hand side shows how the video track currently appears in the tech preview version with options for frame rate and resolution being independent.
Improvements to H.264 Playback and Performance
Avid has always recommended users to avoid using H.264 encoded video files, and to convert them to an Avid DNx format. At NAB 2019, with the tech preview version of Pro Tools, Avid will demonstrate the work they are doing to develop their own decoding for H.264 files to enable them to deliver smoother, more stable playback and performance without using the obsolete 32-bit QuickTime APIs.
Subject To Change
Please remember that when Avid shows a Tech Preview, the features you see, may change as development work progresses and features may change if they come up against unforeseen technical challenges.
Thanks to Daniel Lovell one of the audio application specialists at Avid, for his help with this article.