A friend of mine made a discovery today. He found that he could view a ProRes file on a computer that DID NOT have Final Cut Pro installed. This was amazing, because as far as we knew, and in our past experience, this should not be possible. ProRes, like DVCPRO HD, HDV and XDCAM (and XDCAM EX) encoded quicktime files could NOT be viewed on any machine that didn’t have FCP installed. They were proprietary QT codecs that came with FCP only. So when you captured your footage and then gave the raw files to your client to view, all they’d get is a white screen and a notice that they needed to download some codec…that of course they couldn’t do (not available online).

But then Apple was nice to come out with free Quicktime decoders for ProRes, for both Mac and PC.

NOW…the interesting thing is that my friend did not download and install the decoders on this other machine. He just went to open the files, and after watching them said “hey, I shouldn’t be able to do this.” He wondered if this was some part of the latest QT update, 7.6.2. So I tested too. I grabbed a ProRes file (small one) and took it to the reception desk to the iMac sitting there…FCP not installed, but QT 7.6.2 was. And sure enough, it showed up in cover flow, and opened in QT.

I’ll be damned.

Looking into this I noticed something. On the download page for ProRes for Windows it says something…

“Apple ProRes QuickTime Decoder is also included in QuickTime 7.5.5 and later.”

Well blow me down. Did you know that? I didn’t know that? Where was that in the release notes? Well even if it WAS there, I wouldn’t have seen it. Who reads those anyway? Well, I guess it is time to start. Interestingly that note is not a part of the ProRes for Mac. Being a Mac guy that would be the only one I really look at…but being a help forum whore who posts links like this across 5 forums, you’d think that I’d READ them.

So apparently this decoder was included with QT for Macs too…at some point. At least in QT 7.6.2…maybe earlier. Experiment with this on your own if you can. If you have a ProRes file…you can simply transcode anything you captured into ProRes by using compressor…take it to a Mac without FCP installed and try it out. Report back if it does or does not work, and what version of QT that machine had. This way we can track when it was deployed.

Now I have tested and this is not true for DVCPRO HD…darn it all. I hope they do that soon. And HDV….and XDCAM.