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Review: Apple's new iFrame home video standard

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 15 Oct 2009 4:02 User comments (4)

Review: Apple's new iFrame home video standard With the simultaneous release on Tuesday of Apple's iMovie 8.0.5 update and two new Sanyo HD camcorders came the introduction of a new video standard called iFrame. According to both companies iFrame is a revolutionary new format designed for computer editing.
But the specs for iFrame don't appear to be a new format so much as a new standard for existing formats. It uses 30fps H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) video and AAC audio. What makes it unique is the video resolution, which is 960x540.

According to Apple, "iFrame produces small file sizes and simplifies the process of working with Video recorded with your camera."

There's no doubt the resolution, which is a mere quarter of the 1920x1080 offered in the highest resolution camcorders, should result in much smaller file sizes. Of course those small files will have lower resolution than even a 720p video by almost 50%.

In fact it's only 50% higher resolution than a standard definition digital camcorder.

The real question seems to come down to whether the decrease in file size is worth the loss of quality and a resolution that doesn't match either a DTV or optical disc format.

Looking at Sanyo's online information for one of the new camcorders, the VPC-HD2000ABK you won't find the bitrate of iFrame video. But based on the specs listed for 1080p video it looks like it should be somewhere between 1GB and 1.5GB per hour.

By comparison a 720p video at 30fps, which is what iFrame uses, would come in at just under 4GB per hour. If you have even a small modern hard drive that's a relatively trivial difference.

Unless you're using your computer for long term home video storage that probably won't matter to you. What may matter is the quality you'll lose if you convert your video to a standard HD resolution like 720p or 1080p.

And that's exactly what you (or your playback hardware) will have to do if you want to watch it on a HDTV.

In the end it looks like iFrame is a solution in search of a problem. It trades quality and compatibility, the two things most consumers want, for decreased file sizes they probably don't need.

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4 user comments

115.10.2009 9:14

How is it a new standard when they are the only ones doing it?

215.10.2009 11:49

I don't see how this is a good idea at all. It's not even close to what is usually considered an HD resolution, 720p. I'm glad it's only in two cameras because it shouldn't become a standard with those specs.

Also, they picked what is possibly the worst name. Apple has a bad habit of naming things i(insertsomethinghere) and iFrame just takes the cake. When I think of iFrame I think of the evil Web 1.0 Frames that where all the rage at one point in time.

315.10.2009 14:40

I think this would appeal to a lot of people and give them better quality than their 480. When I went to 720 ACVHD Lite with my Lumix DCM ZS3, I got stuck in a hardware and software bind. I had to buy a better computer and get program that would edit 720p ACVHD Lite (Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 9). Really my computers won't even play 720 smoothly, but they do well when played through YouTube and Vimeo.

I now have a much better video editing arrangement, but occasionally still edit film shot at 480 and play on my 42" TV, with upconverting DVD player. The videos look fine for what they are, and I don't wince thinking "I wish I had shot in 720."

This will probably give more people the chance to actually edit their footage into something they'll actually watch, instead of just filing it all away on a harddrive.

416.10.2009 0:56

Anyone who does video knows there is a problem. This doesn't sound like a solution though.

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