Late last year, Sony released a set of cameras (The PXW-X70 and PXW-FS7) which record in a new format, XAVC-L. The L in this case stands for “long GOP,” a compression technique that allows Sony to more efficiently encode the signal. This efficient compression means these cameras can record 4:2:2 10-bit H.264 in the MXF format. The quality from these cameras is pretty impressive, but early adopters quickly found that the files didn’t work with their existing editing applications like Final Cut Pro X.
If an editor already supports XAVC-I (the intraframe version) and an editor already supports other long GOP formats like AVCHD, why wouldn’t it support this new format? It turns out that the Mac OS X video framework has one set of codecs for intraframe H.264, and a separate set for interframe H.264. The intraframe codecs can’t do interframe, and the interframe codecs can’t do 10bit 4:2:2.
Up until now, EditReady has been dependent on the same Apple frameworks used by Final Cut Pro X and many other tools. However, we really wanted to support the PXW-X70 and PXW-FS7, and we didn’t want to wait for Apple. So we decided on a different approach. We took the step of incorporating a new H.264 decoder, thanks to the open source FFmpeg project.
This isn’t a project we undertook casually. Behind the scenes, EditReady incorporates different encoder and decoder backends via a technology called XPC. Adding another decoder to the mix means testing all the possible combinations of formats – for example, going from XAVC-L to DNxHD versus XAVC-L to ProRes will exercise the technology in very different ways. In addition, the FFmpeg project uses a completely different format for storing decompressed images, which isn’t supported by the Apple technologies. Fortunately the EditReady OpenCL backend can handle these types of conversions very efficiently.
The result is that we were able to ship EditReady 1.1.3 relatively quickly after deciding on this approach. It wasn’t easy, but it shows just how powerful the EditReady technology is. And now our users can begin working with XAVC-L from their PXW-X70 and PXW-FS7 footage on tools like Final Cut Pro 7, Final Cut Pro X, and more.
If you haven’t tried EditReady yet, try it today!