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XAVC FAQs

Get your answers about Sony´s new recording format

XAVC FAQs

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 1080/50p.

Will XAVC replace existing Sony codecs?

XAVC will not replace but complement existing formats including MPEG-4 SStp, MPEG-2 (the defacto 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 program 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 MPEG2 Long GOP benefits over the last few years. Why introduce another INTRA Frame 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 Intra provides better or equal image quality vs. MPEG-2 Long GOP due to 10bit sampling and more power consuming compression technology. On the other hand MPEG-2 Long GOP has better efficiency vs. XAVC Intra 100 mbps 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.

Why announce this now and not at IBC?

We were keen to introduce the XAVC format alongside a number of number products in development that support it, namely the PMW-F5 and PMW-F55.

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

XAVC is designed for moderate data rates of high frame rates data (50p frame rate, 50p and 4K). RAW brings very high data rate and can't be used as a interchangeable format. RAW offers you all the flexibilty you need using a heavy postproduction process but is always linked to the camera sensor.

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

It 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 is actively in discussion with major NLE manufacturers. At launch (October 30th 2012) Grass Valley EDIUS (HD only), Adobe Premier Pro + Main Concept Total Code plugin (HD-4K), Avid Media Composer + Sony AMA Plug-in (HD) can handle XAVC files. Moreover, XAVC has been developed as an open format, providing a license program for other manufacturers in the broadcast and production industry to develop their own high quality and high frame rate products. 

The following 14 leading manufacturers’ products are due to support the XAVC format and workflow: 

Non Linear Editors : Adobe® CS6 with Rovi Total Code Plug-in installed, Avid, Final Cut Pro X , Grass Valley, Quantel, Rovi, and Sony Vegas Pro 12 

On-set dailies : Assimilate, Codex, Colorfront, FilmLight, MTI, and YoYotta 

Colour Grading : Assimilate, FilmLight, and Quantel 

Software codec : Rovi Codec board : Matrox 

Note: Each licensed manufacturer will decide which profile and operational characteristics of XAVC they will implement in their products.

Additional information

"XAVC" and “XAVC” logo are registered trademarks of Sony Corporation.