H.264 or MPEG-4 Part 10, Advanced Video Coding (MPEG-4 AVC) is currently one of the most commonly used formats for the recording, compression, and distribution of video content. But the problem with H.264, many folks found it's a painful experience to edit edit H.264 file with Final Cut Pro on Mac. In fact, H.264 is an aquistion (camera) and distribution (web streaming) codec. It's highly compressed, which means that the files are small, and Final Cut has to do extra work each time you play your timeline, make an edit, etc. Apple ProRes 422 is an editing codec. It uses much less compression, which means that the files are big, but Final Cut can play it more easily. Thus, when you get many H.264 encoded videos and want to edit them with Final Cut Pro, iMovie, or Adobe Premiere, it's better to take advantage of the ProRes codec.
Editor's Note: Best practice is to edit in ProRes 422, especially if you have lots of layers and effects. That means you spend a little extra time optimizing your files to ProRes 422 before you start, but you save time in the long run.
As you got into more complicated editing such as adding multiple clips and transitions and effects you would start to see a more pronounced difference, i.e. FCP would need to render more often and editing wouldn't be a smooth. H.264 is really optimized to be a delivery codec while ProRes is optimized to be an editing codec. That said, if you just need to do a simple edit and your Mac has the power to edit H.264 you can get away with it no problem, but if you plan to do a heavy edit with lots of transitions and effects and color grading you will be best served by ProRes.
To transcode H.264 to ProRes easily and quickly, EaseFab Video Converter for Mac is highly recommended. This program features high efficiency and seamless conversion. With it, you can do batch conversion from H.264, AVCHD, MTS, MP4, MOV, XAVC, XAVC S, MXF, AVI, MKV, etc. to ProRes in simple clicks of mouse. Here's how to do it.
Simple Steps to Convert H.264 to Apple ProRes on Mac
With the H.264 to ProRes converter, you can directly drag and drop the H.264 files to the converter, or click "Add Video" button to locate the H.264 files you want to load.
Step 2. Choose ProRes as the output video format
Now click the Profile icon to reveal output panel. And and mouse cursor to "Editing Software" category. You'll find several ProRes formats are provided. Generally, ProRes or ProRes LT are suitable choices for H.264 videos shot with camcorders. ProRes HQ is usually for film based source media. To edit your H.264 videos in Final Cut Pro, you can also directly select Final Cut Pro as the output format to get videos with optimized settings to fit the video editing app.
Tip: By clicking the Settings icon, you can adjust video and audio parameters like codec, bit rate, frame rate, sample rate, etc., in that way, you can take charge of the size and quality of the output files. In principle, the larger input values, the better output quality, but the corresponding larger file size.
Step 3. Start converting H.264 to ProRes
At this point, you can change the output filename or output path if you wish. If you feel satisfied with your options, Just hit the Convert button to activate H.264 file to ProRes conversion.
When all conversions completed, you'll get a pop-up notice. Just click "Open" button, you can fast find where your converted files are saved.