Image Formats

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Image Formats

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Navigation:  Pandoras Box > Content >

Image Formats

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Pandoras Box supports the most common file types. Version 6.5.0 can import:


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 graphics 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 would 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.

The Pandoras Box Software License offers two options for the color depth. A color depth of 8bit per channel results in 16.7 million colors whilst the higher color depth of 10bit offers 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 information about the color depth  has been added to the File Inspector. 10bit rendering can be enabled in the Configuration tab > Render Engine. In other words, content will always be rendered in 8bit 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 Video 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 and many tools cannot edit or display this format natively. Adobe's Photoshop for example offers dedicated plug-ins to support the format. For Adobe AfterFX, Media Encoder and Premiere Pro you can download our Adobe Plugin if you would like to encode DDS image sequences (or other formats). Further, 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 saves playback 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. Similar to the JPG format, DDS compression is lossy and does reduce the image quality. Depending on the content it is more or barely noticeable. But especially if used in a playing image sequence the much higher performance makes up for the loss of image quality. In fact, the DDS format is nowadays the first choice (for most content) when looking for optimized playback. The equivalent video format is the well known HAP codec. There is also the option to include transparency using the DDSA format (same file ending "dds"). YCoCg (file ending "yds") aims for a higher image quality and is especially recommended when the content shows gradients as for example computer generated (CG) renderings do often. But even then, you might notice artifacts and color banding.
Regarding the file size, DDS images with the same resolution have always the same size which in other words mean, that the file size is independent from the image content. DDSA and YCoCg files with the same resolution have both a doubled file size which affects directly the band width and hence playback performance.

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, the Quicktime Converter and the new Adobe Plugin 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.