Editing options - Sony F55

By John Hoare - DoP.    Last updated: Dec 2014
Sharing my research on what the F55 camera can do, and how to edit it. Drop me a line if you spot inaccuracies: johnhoare65 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Codecs:

  1. XDCAM HD 1920x1080 422; is Sony's vanilla HD 422 50mbs 8-bit codec that all NLEs can handle on a moderately powered computer. No slow-mo capability. If you've no special grading needs and small file-sizes is a priority, this is an excellent broadcast quality codec. Records to SxS cards. You will need to install drivers on your laptop before it will recognise SxS cards. Instructions here.
     
  2. XAVC; a 10-bit 422 codec that Sony developed to handle the higher data-rates of high-speed and 4k. Records to SxS cards (drivers required). Shoots...
    HD 1920x1080 or 2K (2048x1080); 100mbps. Up to 180fps
    4K 4096x2160; 250mbps. Up to 60fps
     
  3. RAW; the highest quality image-capture. slow-mo: 2K = 240fps, 4K = 60fps.
     
  4. SR; a visually lossless compression, SR is the standard for many TV shows that demand the best image quality. No slo-mo, HD only.
    • SStP SR SQ 444 (440Mbs): uncompressed RGB.
    • SStP SR SQ 422 (440Mbs): samples less, and samples YCrCb instead of RGB.
    • SStP SR Lite 422 (220Mbs): lightweight version of the above.

Editing:

 Adobe Creative Suite (Premiere, After Effects, Media Encoder)
CS6: Won't edit XAVC or RAW natively. 4k Raw is supported via the free Sony PLAD-RW1 plugin. Rovi/Main Concept Total Code plugin adds support for XAVC.

Premiere Pro Creative Cloud (replaces CS7): supports XAVC 4k, HD, and edits RAW natively via a plugin.
 Davinci Resolve
A powerful colour grading suite which also has simple editing tools:

Resolve Lite - Will open 4k RAW and XAVC files but export is limited to HD 1920x1080.

Resolve Full - Full support of RAW and XAVC including HD, 2k, 4k input and output. Windows and MAC.
(Sony bulletin board)
 Sony Vegas
Pro 12 has full support for 4k XAVC and SR Codecs.
(Sony bulletin board)
 Avid
Media Composer/Symphony 6/6.5/7: Natively supports 2k XAVC and 4K Raw (not 4k XAVC). Requires the appropriate AMA plugin available from the Avid or Sony download site.
(Sony bulletin board)
 Final Cut
From December 2014, Final Cut 7 and X handle XDCAM HD and XAVC files natively!! No more conversion to MOVs needed!
As Alister Chapman explains:
So, Apple have released an update to the Pro Video Formats available in quicktime. http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1396?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

The main thrust of this update appears to be to include MXF support in quicktime, including native support for XAVC in FCP7 and Quicktime7! I honestly never thought this would happen so I'm somewhat surprised by this. But it's good news for FCP7 users and XAVC shooters in general. It does beg the question now as to whether you need the ProRes options for the FS7 or F5/F55.

Using Quicktime Player 7 you can play back XAVC MXF's on a Mac computer, even in 4K, so VLC may no longer be required and the playback is smooth even with 4K clips. I'm not sure why but Quicktime Player 10 does not recognise 4K XAVC clips at all and HD XAVC clips get transcoded to .mov first. So download and install QT Player 7 for XAVC playback.

Currently it looks like the support is mainly for XAVC-I.


FCPX Version 10.0.8 supports XAVC codec up to 4K resolution. You will also need this Sony "XAVC import support" plugin.

FCP7 From December '14, edits XDCAM HD and XAVC natively, see above.
 Other Software
MXF for Final Cut X from Hamburger Pro Media: "Direct access of MXF to FCP X and seamless integration into Apple's filebased workflow".

Aiseesoft MXF Converter for Mac renders out XAVC files as ProRes in batches. US$29.
 Other Info
Andy Shipsides' How to Import F5/F55 Footage in FCP, Avid and Premiere

John's notes on Sony gammas