Image Formats

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Image Formats

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Image Formats

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Pandoras Box supports the most common file types. Version 6.5.0 can import:
bmp, dds, dpx, jpg, tga, tif, png, snp.

Image Resolution

There is no resolution limit for images set by Pandoras Box. However, if images exceed the maximum texture size of your graphics card they would be scaled down automatically.

When using graphic (as well as video) content with more than 2048 x 2048 pixels you might need to alter the texture size in the Configuration > Render Engine. Some FX and features like deinterlacing and FluidFrame need to buffer the media file. The memory space for that purpose is limited to 2k per default. Choosing another texture size will enlarge the buffer for all textures, which increases the used memory space. Thus it will consume plenty of graphic card memory. Please use the option only if needed. This is the case when the rendered image is displayed perfectly until the last pixel line is repeated to the right or bottom edge.

Alpha Channel

Alpha is the transparent part of an image where you can see through. Pandoras Box will play both alpha file types: Straight Alpha and Premultiplied Alpha.

If you like to create logos or images with transparency, choose an appropriate format that supports the alpha channel in addition to the RGB color information. From the supported formats from Pandoras Box, you can choose: bmp, dds, dpx, tga, tif or png.
Some formats, like jpg, are designed to save only the RGB color information.

Color Profile and Color Depth

Please make sure, that the images are saved with an RGB color profile as CMYK is not supported.

Since Pandoras Box version 6.5 we support a higher color depth. PB Managers and Players offer a color depth of 8 bit per channel which results in 16.7 million colors. PB Servers on the other hand are capable of 10 bit rendering with a total of 1 billion colors. More contrast, cleaner color transitions and HDR rendering become herewith possible and uncompressed content can be displayed without artifacts or color banding.

In order to render in a higher color depth, the inserted content needs to provide it too. You can either import png and tiff with a color depth of 16bit per channel or dpx images with a color depth of 10 or 12bit per channel. The color depth information has been added to the File Inspector. 10bit rendering for Servers can be enabled in the Configuration tab > Render Engine. In other words, content will always be rendered in 8 bit or 10bit, according to the render engine even if the imported file format provides a higher color depth. Hence, when rendering images (or image sequences) in 10bit, 10bit dpx files are the most efficient ones.

When working with different file versions pay attention how the color depth is named: per pixel, per channel or per file. In Pandoras Box we talk about 8 or 10bit per channel, of course referring to the RGB(A) channels.

Image Compression, Quality and File Size

Bitmaps and Targa images provide uncompressed images; this means that there will be no loss of color depth or resolution. In general, uncompressed files have a larger file size than compressed data, thus they are using more memory on the hard drive. However, Pandoras Box converts any image to an uncompressed format anyway to play it back in real-time. Both formats support alpha.

The tif format is a bit more complicated as it supports many different things. To make a long story short: the tif format for image sequences is only supported when the images are saved uncompressed, with a color depth of 8 or 16bit and with or without transparency. The playback performance of tif image sequences equals the one for bmp or other uncompressed files. The performance specs can be found online in the Download-Center. For importing tif still images (i.e. single images, not imported as a sequence), you can also choose other tif saving options like image or layer compression but the above recommendation gives you the best quality and performance. Note that multiple layers are discarded as the file can only be assigned to one Layer in PB, e.g. a Graphics Layer.

The dpx (Digital Picture Exchange) image format is a common format for uncompressed still frames. If you have not heard from dpx, you can think of it as a bitmap format that can be saved with more variety in color depths. Pandoras Box accepts dpx files with a color depth of 8, 10 or 12bit per channel. When rendering with a color depth of 10bit per channel, the 10bit dpx option becomes very interesting due to its performance. All other formats support only 8 or 16bit.

The jpg image format does an image compression that leads to a lower image quality. The conversion of jpg to bmp does not enhance its quality, it only maintains the quality. If you save a jpg as jpg again, the quality will decrease even more due to the re-compression.

The png image format does an image compression too, but other than jpg it is a loss-less data compression. Pngs can be imported with a color depth of 8 or 16bit per channel.

The dds format is a special format. Different to the other mentioned formats, most tools cannot edit or display this format. Adobe's Photoshop for example offers dedicated plug-ins to support the format. The Pandoras Box Image Converter supports the dds format as well, thus it is possible to convert images and provide them for Pandoras Box systems. You may use them as single images or for image sequences.
The dds format claims to perform better than other formats like jpg, png or bmp. In comparison to these formats dds images save performance because it is a texture format that can be interpreted by the graphics card directly. In other words, the CPU and the bus have no load regarding the decompression.

To be accurate, the .snp (snappy) format is actually not an image format itself but a compression library offered from Google. So if you have a jpg, png, bmp or dds image, snappy compresses the file size but keeps the available quality, as it simply reduces the file data. If you work with snp files, the saving or reading process does not need more time, as the (de-)compression works in highspeed and real-time. In other words, Pandoras Box can decompress snappy image sequences on the fly.
The result is a much smaller file size whereas the size difference depends on redundancy in your visual content, such as alpha channels or same colors in motion graphics. This way you gain a lot more drive space which is especially interesting for SSD systems as their drives normally offer less space.
The tools Dome Master, Splitter, Image Converter and the new Quicktime Converter offer to save images using the snappy format.

 

The first topic described the display and content formats in general. Please click these links, if you are interested in other content formats, such as audio, image sequences and videos.