HitFilm 3 Pro Output/Codec question?

Hi HitFolks, 

i am am brand new here, just starting out with free trial of HF3Pro, which limits outputs to just YouTube.

With licensed version, can I output to AVI with my third party codec (Ross Ltd. Xpression version 5.xx) and along the same lines, can I output to QuickTime using Avid DNxHD codecs? many thanks for your reply....


  • Hitfilm currently only outputs to MP4 with AVC/H.264 video and AAC audio, and Image sequences. On Windows you can do AVI uncompressed. On the Mac you can use Quicktime.



  • Thank you for your response and link, Norman. Much appreciated. I am coming from a typical HD Broadcast TV background (U.S.), so I have not yet encountered  the Open EXR format. I'll be looking  for a conversion software to get to Win Quicktine, Custom AVI, or to the kinds of MXF or OP1a files I am used to. Question: does Win AVI still have a 2GB file-size limit? Do HF3Pro  users have ability to Import their Open EXR archive ? or AVI Uncompressed or WIN QuickTime using Avid HD Codecs?  




  •  Hitfilm will open Quicktime files for import. Windows and Mac. I have tested Qt DNxHD and Qt Cineform files. I have also tested Cineform AVI import.

    OpenEXR was defined by ILM, and has a lot of features designed for compositing software. No surprise there. 

    Hitfilm will open image sequences. EXR, DPX, PNG, TIF and so on.

    Hitfilm can import most things. It is only the export options that are limited.

    I have tried importing some XAVC Intra 1080p MXF files but Hitfilm gagged on them showing only a blank solid color screen.

    The only thing "missing" from my view is support of an intermediate lossy codec for export. Things like XAVC Intra, Cineform and DNxHD/HR. Image sequences are surely the king of the hill, but are overkill for most of us. AVC/H.264 is just fine for a playback export format and we have that.


  • edited September 2015


    Thanks again, Norman. I see that Avid MetaFuze v.2.5 will import OpenEXR and convert to DNxHD, so I guess I'll go that route to get into Avid, where I can also output AVIs encoded with Xpression codec v5.xx that will import into the Ross Expression CG as key-able graphics. (well that's the plan). I have much to learn about Mocha and 3D concepts. It was nice of you to explain I/o concepts so thoroughly.



    • "...Avid MetaFuze v.2.5 will import OpenEXR and convert to DNxHD, so I guess I'll go that route to get into Avid"

    Do you mean Avid Media Composer?  It should be able to import image sequences directly.  Maybe not EXR but one of the PNG/JPG/BMP options should work.

  • edited September 2015

    I guess I need to learn how HFP3 deals with alpha channels. I want to start by creating a simple 3D "bug".

    Do I get that my alpha info embedded in each single frame PNG export and will Avid Media Composer use it while assembling single-frames  into a masterclip (i.e. movie, sans sound), I suppose that's easy enough to learn.  OR: do I need to export an alpha-matte version from HF3P as well? Or must I use a color background intended for chroma keying?

    Too many questions, I know. But I have a hunch MetaFuze & open EXR has some value in certain workflows-- perhaps it is alpha data + audio.

    btw, Following up on your last reply, I was indeed able to Import into HF3P an AVI movie file encoded with Ross Video Ltd. Xpression video codec 5.7,, so that's good news.


    Near the bottom of the export options is a dropdown for RGB or RGBA export. Set to RGBA and Hitfilm will export alpha for PNG and Open EXR image sequences, and (I think) AVI. JPEG sequences don't support alpha. 

    Avid should support the alpha. You might have to set the clip properties of the imported sequence to "Premultiplied."

    If you don't need 16-bit color, I would recommend PNG sequences. They take less drive space than Open EXR and uncompressed AVI, and also render faster. Hitfilm in general seems to render image sequences faster than AVI or MP4. I suspect this is because it only has to deal with a frame at a time and can close the file instead of keeping a long movie open for constant ammendment. 

  • Thanks Triem23,  for the heads up and render speed tips. 

    I was poking around with HF3P's Mocha and was able to import a still, but I couldn't   for the life of me figure out how to get it and the mask I thought  I made back into HF3P... I'll look at Mocha tutorials tomorrow.

  • The tutorials will help, but, basically with Mocha you save your results (whether splines or camera solves) as Hitfilm Composite Shots (.hfcs) and import the Composite Shot back in Hitfilm. 

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator
    edited September 2015

    It's been a while since I subjected myself to torture used Avid MC so anything I say might be out of date. Avid MC won't import OpenEXR, DPX or CinemaDNG but it does import PNG, Jpeg, TIFF and Targa images.

    First side note - Avid MC does have an import Photoshop PSD tool but what this does is create a Targa copy of the file and imports that.

    Being Avid importing an image sequence is a little more complicated different than it is in others editors. You have to select all the images, click the options button and check the Autodetect sequentially numbered files option. If you don't do both the sequence won't be imported. Here's a video going over the process. (That also describes how most people end up doing it because they don't know about the two step process and can't get it to work)


    Avid expects straight, unmatted alpha channels and just simply won't work right with a premultiplied alpha. You'll end up with halos and washed out colors. Luckily HitFilm doesn't produce premultiplied alphas so this won't be a problem.

    Second side note - Premultiplying is actually a lossy compression technique so no lossless compression scheme produces a premultiplied alpha. As this relates to HitFilm, PNG and OpenEXR are lossless and the AVI export option is uncompressed so it also uses a straight alpha. Technically speaking according to the AVI spec the only time an alpha channel can be included is if the video is uncompressed so for anybody else reading this if you've had problems in other programs rendering an AVI with an alpha channel using compression this is likely why. 

    Back to the original topic - Last but not least there's one more thing you have to do in order to import an image sequence with an alpha channel into Avid MC and that is invert the alpha channel. Avid, in its infinite wisdom, uses transparency values that are the exact opposite of everybody else in the world. 

    Avid Alpha - Black = fully opaque

    Normal Alpha - White = fully opaque

    Once again for anybody else reading this if you've ever tried to use an alpha channel with DNxHD and couldn't get it to work this is why, the alpha channel is encoded bass ackwards. 

    Anyway you can invert the alpha channel on import using the same option screen you use to import an image sequence. The alpha options are in the lower right corner.

  • Good info, @Aladdin4d thanks! 

  • Thanks Aladdin4d for the Avid import reminders and video... I appreciate the strikeouts , very much!

    As a longtime Avid editor, but with just enough graphic experience to get into trouble, I should ask you about the AVI spec. and HF3P's exports to it.

    As Triem23 ?? questioned above,  do we get to export an RGBA with AVI? I assume AVI does not include alpha channel.

    Also: Is there still a (2GB) file size limit on AVI files?

    Part of what I hope to do with the help of HF3P is to create importable media for eventual use in a Ross Expression CG, which requires their proprietary AVI codec for media files to playback from their software and into their studio production switcher.

    I've got much to learn about their system.

    I believe Ross has a complete software package to do necessary conversions to it, but I'm not sure I can get my hands on it. I'm also not sure if or how their CG makes use of alpha channels. I know their associated production switcher allows chroma-keying on a variety of colors. And that their CG can place movie files on 4 key-able layers at the same time.

    Thanks to the free trial, the excellent support and this superb lively forum, I am headed towards purchasing HF3P, so soon enough I'll be able to stop asking so many hypothetical i/o questions.

    BTW, I read up on Avid MetaFuze 2.5 and it seems this software has been improved.


    One answer to high end single frame workflows , which until now I've been blissfully unaware of. 

    Says it now accepts Open EXR for conversion to DNxHD.



  • edited September 2015
    • "...do we get to export an RGBA with AVI"

    Uncompressed AVI export can have alpha. Select RGBA output just like with image sequences to include the alpha.

    Image sequences might be the best option for primo output from Hitfilm. You get some compression with those. If you want/need 16-bit output then EXR is your only option. Sadly Hitfilm does not support 16-bit PNG output.

  • edited September 2015

    Thanks so much, Norman. Good to know about PNG, too. Any thoughts on AVI file-size limitation? 

    I came across a 2GB limit on my Win7pro workstation when I tried to generate a 30+  second Highest quality (100) Ross Expression Encoded file. Had to bring duration down near 24 seconds. Lossier settings allowed much greater durations, of course.

    But the real issue for me is how to generate an AVI with alpha, encoded with Ross Xpression v5.7. (Avid cannot export Alphas). I am not sure if Ross offers an affordable stand-alone product to add their codec to  popular formats like AVI or Open EXR or single files that include alphas.

    Sorry about all this third-party stuff- It will surely be a moot point once I get a workflow figured out. 

  • edited September 2015

    You've been asking about the 2GB thing and I don't know so I just did a test.

    I rendered 2 minutes of 1080p30 video to RGBA AVI uncompressed. The resultant file was 28.8GB. So it seems Hitfilm can output OpenDML compliant AVI files. VLC seemed to play the file fine and that file imported back into Hitfilm fine.

    This may not apply to all Video for Windows codecs. Hitfilm may bypass VfW for AVI uncompressed to work around VfW limitations. VfW proper can/does AFAIK have a 2GB limitation, among other limitations. This is a VfW issue and not the app. With some unknown AVI codec Hitfilm probably has to go through VfW. Without OpenDML and if an app goes through DirectShow to read AVI, vs VfW, then the 2GB thing can supposedly move to 4GB.

    I wish VfW would just die and go away. Video for Windows was depreciated by Microsoft in like '95 and as such has been stagnant since then. Everyone in the editor world just keeps using it. Cineform actually created an SDK that allows apps to bypass VfW and its limitations for Cineform in AVI files. Vegas uses that.

  • An AVI file uses 32 bit pointers for a theoretical maximum file size of 4GB. In the early days there was a software limitation that limited the file size to 1 GB while the Video For Windows api imposed a 2 GB limit mostly because the max file size limit for the FAT16 file system was 2 GB . When VfW was deprecated in favor of DirectShow that limit was dropped allowing 4 GB files as long as you were using DirectShow and FAT32 or NTFS.

    Meanwhile Matrox set up the OpenDML group to develop extensions to the AVI file format to get around the VfW 2 GB limit making the host file system the limiting file size factor. Basically OpenDML seamlessly links multiple 2 GB files within a single AVI container. This is fully supported by Microsoft and these days means you can have an AVI file up to 256 TB in size. OpenDML is sometimes referred to as AVI 2.0 and until this thread I would have said anything that supports AVI's today supports OpenDML because I haven't seen anything that doesn't in a long time. Since you ran into a 2 GB limit that means whatever you were using was not producing an OpenDML compliant AVI. 

    According to Ross the Xpression Codec is installed as a standard codec and can be used by third party tools including VirtualDub. To get to where you want to be I think I would export either a PNG sequence or an uncompressed AVI from HitFilm and import that into VirtualDub to transcode to the Xpression Codec and preserve the  alpha.

    • OpenDML "This is fully supported by Microsoft..."

    Good to know.

  • edited September 2015

    Norman, that's great to hear.  Thank you very much for going ahead and checking that. It's a relief.

    Aladdin4d, thanks for the detailed explanation. And, your suggestion is both familiar and scary at the same time. Back when my gray matter was still ripe, I was fiddling with Virtual Dub and AviSynth and got introduced to the wonderful,  international world of image processing. It was a struggle but I managed to use it to somehow output 24p files from my cheapo Canon camcorder 29.97 HDV files.

    So yes, if anything can do the Transcode of HF3P AVI w/ Alpha to Ross Xpression 5.7 AVI, it is Virtual dub.

    I will eventually call Ross. I believe their transcode product, called INcoder  does not seem to be available as a standalone, but who knows. I doubt I would be able to afford to license it.

    Youtube Ross published describes being able to batch transcode from a variety of formats- including Avid DNxHD, but noticeably, not Uncompressed AVI.  I'm going to try not to worry about that tonight.

    Thanks again, all, for the kind support!

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator
    edited September 2015

    @Hatfarm There's a table in the video you posted @3:15 that lists Uncompressed HD and Uncompressed HD with Alpha as being AVI files so INcoder should get there too depending on price.

  • Suppose you cant, with a professional video converter - Pavtube video converter you can successfully create video for HitFilm Pro.

  • edited September 2015

    Good eyes, Aladdin4d, That's typical negative thinking on my part- -gotta keep that in check.  Things are worked out much better today than 80s&90s-  I'm gonna try getting with the program.

    btw, last night I was watching a free lesson on Mocha 4 for HF3P on Lynda.com and also was amazed by the official YouTube HF3P videos... it's a great  time to be involved in learning video technology. 

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