Apple’s new MacBook Pro has received endless praise for its high performance, power efficiency and impressive battery life thanks to its M1 System on a Chip (SoC). Apple is taking advantage of the tight integration of software and hardware, allowing optimization to achieve performance that has traditionally only been possible with a holistic approach to hardware.


The new combination of hardware and software is especially helpful for creating video content. In the Pro Mac, Apple used the ProRes codec to achieve workstation-level performance. Let’s take a look at why ProRes is important to the future of the Mac.

What is Prores?

Developed by Apple, ProRes is a popular video codec because of its image quality and ease of use during editing workflows. Depending on its quality, it can be used in a variety of ways, from the flexible Proless Raw to the more universal Proless 422 HQ. ProRes uses minimal data compression. That’s why the post-editing process is smooth. Instead, it has the disadvantage of increasing the size of the data file.

In general, ProRes is used in professional video cameras such as the Arri and Red, as well as external recorders such as the Atmos Ninja V. Now, iPhone 13 Pro is also supported as an option, and the user base is slowly increasing. The main reason for the rapid spread of ProRes is the ease of use of post-editing.Other video codecs, such as H.264/H.265, which are highly compressed, are generally slow on systems that lack adequate hardware support. At the expense of larger data volumes, ProRes offers superior performance in a wide range of environments.


prores and mac

Within its ecosystem, Apple directly manages critical aspects that affect performance, such as the operating system, chips, and ProRes. It manages the entire video workflow from acquisition of video files to editing and final distribution. That’s why a lot of content creators use Mac computers and prefer the portable MacBook Pro. As for software, Apple’s Final Cut Pro is also popular, but you can also use DaVinci Resolve or Adobe Premiere Pro. On the other hand, if you move too far away from Apple’s Final Cut Pro ecosystem, Proless Raw support will be limited.

Aside from Proless, Apple R3D delivers incredible performance in a small piece of hardware with high efficiency for all users of RAW and other powerful codecs. The decision is to give up the flexibility provided by some non-ProLess codecs that are efficient and relatively easy to use in exchange for the impressive ProLess performance that Apple Silicon offers in the future.

Best ProLess performance on the 2019 Mac Pro requires a 28-core Intel Xeon W CPU and an Afterburner card to accelerate ProLess playback and decoding. The two powerful GPUs also help with advanced color grading. Of course, all this is very expensive.


Getting started with M1 Mac MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro’s M1 Max has two ProLess encoders and two decoders that outperform the single decoder on the Mac Pro’s Afterburner card. If you look at the benchmark results comparing ProLess performance between M1 Max MacBook Pro and Mac Pro with the best alternatives, you can see how important Apple ProLess is to performance.

M1 Max: ProRes export speed


As a result, the decoders and encoders of the M1 Max easily outperformed the top-end 2019 Mac Pros. In addition, the playback performance of multi-stream 8K content is greatly improved. It also helps with color grading in general, and Final Cut Pro’s noise reduction and stabilization speeds are even faster. This has traditionally been the domain of ultra-powerful workstations or Mac Pros with expensive GPUs, but thanks to ProRes, the entry cost of using this display has been dramatically reduced.

Of course, there are still drawbacks. When it comes to GPU performance, it lags behind the 2019 Mac Pro, which handles other workflows like R3D Raw, and 3D applications like Octane X. Future Apple silicon will fill this gap, and it will be interesting to see how fast Proless performance gets and whether Proless adoption grows.

iPhone 13 Pro: Proless for All

One more thing should be mentioned with respect to the potential for future growth. The fact is that Apple hasn’t developed the Proless codec just for professionals. The iPhone 13 Pro can shoot using the camera Proless. Mobile phones have already become the most popular cameras in the world, so it was only natural to integrate them into the iPhone for video optimization. For a 10-bit 422, you’ll generally get better quality in ProRes, and edit smoothly on Apple’s M1 Mac.

There are disadvantages too. ProRes content takes up a lot of storage space compared to the more compressed iPhone codecs. On desktop, you can work with NAS and RAID arrays, but on iPhone, when it comes to storage and bandwidth, you can reach the limit. Because of this, the current iPhone ProRes is more of a ‘novel feature’. However, it is also a useful tool for professionals depending on the situation.

As the storage capacity of smartphones increases in the future, so will normal users using it more often. So, you still have no need to sell used RED or Ahri cameras. The iPhone plays a very important role in Apple’s strategy for the Proless ecosystem. With its vast user base, the iPhone will be the driving engine for accelerating Proless adoption.

The Future Driven by Prores and Apple Silicon

Online content has already shifted from static images to video-centric. Indeed, Instagram has transformed from a powerful photo platform to a video platform. Macs play an important role in this content creation workflow and should lead to a more efficient and productive hardware ecosystem with ProRes.

Taking it a step further, a significant portion of online content is produced using the iPhone, which inevitably raises the need for high-quality codecs. With Apple building on this synergy between its mobile device and Mac lineup, ProRes also needs to improve the user experience across multiple devices.

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