What is it?
The Sony XAVC format is based on H.264 level 5.2, with video and audio wrapped in an OP-1a MXF. An MP4 wrapped format is also available as XAVC-S which is available for consumer cameras. The XAVC format goal is to develop a family of professional production tools that can handle High-Frame-Rate (HFR) HD, UHD and 4K imaging formats. XAVC also provides Intra frame and long GOP schemes to maximize quality and reduce bandwidth.
|Range||Resolution||Frame Rate||Colour||Max Bitrate||Intra / Long|
|4K||4096×2160||23,98p to 59,94p||4:2:0 8 bit to 4:4:4 12bit||960Mbps||Intra / Long|
|HD||2048×1080||23,98p to 59,94p, 50i/59,94i||4:2:0 8 bit to 4:4:4 12bit||440Mbps||Intra/ Long|
|Proxy||1920×1080||23,98p to 59,94p, 50i/59,94i||4:2:0 8 bit||28Mbps||Long|
Note – this chart excludes any off-speed recording capability (over/under cranking) that some XAVC products may offer.
XAVC and UHD/4K Acquisition and Mastering
In the last couple of years Sony XAVC cameras have become a very popular choice for shooting a range of programme formats from sports/news to documentaries and dramas. At each price point there is a camera with XAVC recording capability offering cost effective high quality images at HD, UHD and 4K.
ContentAgent provides the ability to automate the ingest of XAVC material to create files for editorial, viewing copies (with burnt in metadata if desired) and mastering. With more productions shooting at 4K or UHD resolutions ContentAgent can be used to provide high quality downscaling to HD (for editing or mastering) for productions finishing at HD but with the benefit of using a higher quality source image to create different outputs.
As UHD “transmission” gains a foothold in the industry disruptive players such as Netflix and Amazon are pushing higher resolutions to the general public for playback on compatible devices. Without a global mastering standard in place, Netflix for example, has chosen IMF as its required delivery format. However, many companies are using XAVC as the mastering format of choice for their finished programs. If another format is required for a specific delivery standard, the file can be transcoded as required.
ContentAgent offers the ability to take SD and HD content and upscale to UHD/4K at 50p/60p for example. The Advanced Frame Rate Converter along with the Dark Energy plug-in provides high quality image scaling, denoise/degrain and renoise/regrain with texture simulation to provide superior UHD/4K resized images.
For a real world case study on mastering UHD (using the XAVC format) click here to learn how BT Sport are using ContentAgent.
In summary, XAVC is a versatile format which can be used from acquisition, to editorial to mastering at multiple resolutions.