Get your answers about Sony's new recording format

What is XAVC format? Could you tell us more about it?

XAVC is much more than a format. It is the key to a professional and consumer 4K world, driven by Sony. It demonstrates Sony’s ability to bring innovation beyond HD to the whole industry.

What is the main purpose of Sony XAVC?

XAVC brings to life the “Beyond HD” vision and has been designed to serve the quality requirements of feature films, HDTV and commercials beyond 1080.

Will XAVC replace existing Sony codecs?

XAVC will not replace but complement existing formats including MPEG-4 SStp, MPEG-2 (the de facto standard for HDTV).

Will XAVC obsolete MPEG4 SStP?

XAVC will not replace the MPEG4 SStp codec. MPEG4 SStP has been adopted by many key broadcasters around the world as in the form of HDCAM-SR tape format for programme exchange, mastering, and archiving. The image quality is virtually lossless, and many consider HDCAM-SR undistinguishable from base band recordings. SStP will remain as the reference mastering codec.

Sony has been strongly promoting the benefits of MPEG2 50Mbps over the last few years. Why introduce another codec at this point?

The prime objective in introducing the XAVC format is to establish a cost efficient digital imaging eco-system for 4K and high frame rate content. Although the development of XAVC started off as a 4K codec, most of its attributes are also valid for HDTV, complementing existing codecs such as MPEG2 and MPEG4 SStP. On the one hand XAVC provides better or equal image quality vs MPEG-2 due to 10bit sampling and advanced compression technology. On the other hand MPEG-2 has better efficiency vs XAVC due to smaller file size, and less processing power requirements. Due to this fact, MPEG2 50Mbs is and will remains the de facto standard for today’s News and Mainstream HDTV production.

Why couldn't we just use an existing format?

None of the existing formats could efficiently deal with the production and quality requirements above HD 1080/50Mbs.

What are the differences between XAVC and AVCHD?

XAVC format provides 4K/HD, 4:4:4/4:2:2/4:2:0 and 12/10/8 bit sampling which can cover a wide range of applications from professional to consumer products, from high-end 4K production through to online streaming and consumer imaging applications. AVCHD, by contrast, is capped at 24Mbps for 1080 50i/50i or 28Mbps for 1080 50P/60P at 4:2:0 8bit sampling and is fully compatible with the Blu-ray disc format. Both XAVC and AVCHD formats adopt the same MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression technology, but there is no compatibility between them.

What is XAVC S?

XAVC S is a subset format, using many of the superlative techniques and technologies used in XAVC, but intended for consumer products and workflows. It supports 1920×1080 HD and the 3840×2160 pixel version of 4K, known as Quad Full HD, QFHD, UltraHDTV or UHDTV. XAVC S is a lighter codec with Long GOP compression and relatively small recorded file sizes. XAVC S uses the .MP4 file wrapper for greater compatibility and suitability in consumer workflows.

Which products support XAVC?

XThe first products to support XAVC were the PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 modular camcorders. These offered XAVC Intra Frame recording and were specifically designed for digital cinematography production. Since then Sony have introduced a wide range of new camcorders and other supporting products that offer both Intra Frame and Long GOP XAVC recording, covering every production scenario from high end digital cinematography, to general broadcast, industrial and consumer.

Are XAVC products only capable of recording in XAVC?

All XAVC products include a multi-codec design and are capable of switching between the new superlative XAVC codec and other legacy codecs. The range of codecs in each product depends on their intended market area. This concept offers choice and a chance for camera operators to contribute to both cutting edge, beyond HD, production scenarios as well as conventional shoots.

Why not use RAW as the default codec for 4K?

XAVC is designed for moderate data rates of high resolution, high frame rate material, with an industry standard .MXF file wrapper for use in conventional production workflows. RAW captures the entire output from the camera sensor for the highest quality recording, but with very high data rates in a non-interchangeable format. RAW is different with every camera capable of RAW recording and is inextricably linked to the camera’s sensor. It offers you all the flexibility you need using a heavy postproduction process.

How consistent is the XAVC wrapper vs existing Sony MXF formats?

The XAVC MXF file wrapper is identical to current MPEG2 & MPEG4 SStP MXF OP-1a files. Ideal for file delivery and server operation.

Which editing software package can handle XAVC native editing?

Sony continues an active discussion with major NLE manufacturers and other post production application developers. XAVC has been developed as an open format, providing a license programme for other manufacturers in the broadcast and production industry to develop their own high quality and high frame rate products.

‘XAVC’ and ‘XAVC’ logo are registered trademarks of Sony Corporation.

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