Sony has just announced another milestone in their lineup of external recording devices. This time, the buzz is about the successor to the AXS-R5 recorder, which is designed to be used with the Sony PMW-F5 or F55. The AXS-R7 recorder module has a unique new feature in addition to the pre-existing linear 16Bit RAW capabilities: it is able to record a new 16-bit X-OCN compressed RAW format. The Sony AXS-R7 and its Original Camera Negative Format Evolution tends to produce strange effects, indeed. Not long ago, RAW was the buzzword when it came to high quality acquisition. Being able to record unaltered, well, “RAW” information straight from the sensor just seemed to be the holy grail in terms of image quality. The downsides? Well, the resulting massive file sizes significantly slow down the workflow in post. Shoot, edit, deliver? Better forget that unless you have access to some kind of supercomputer. Sony’s new X-OCN is short for eXtended tonal range Original Camera Negative. Now, that is certainly a clunky term, but the underlying technology promises to produce a raw sensor-level quality just as you would expect from a RAW file, but packed into significantly smaller files (read: lower bitrate) and therefore, greater ease of use in your given post workflow. It’s actually pretty much the same as what RED is doing with its REDcode compressed RAW format. The Sony AXS-R7 recording module It comes in two flavors: ST (standard) and LT (lite), and both of them only differ in the bitrates used while maintaining the full 16Bit latitude of the incoming sensor data stream. The ST flavour promises to be visually indistinguishable from the company’s RAW format. The LT version aims for fast-paced workflows while still maintaining the sensor’s full latitude. note: The X-OCN ST bitrate is only about 70% of the RAW bitrate State of Play It all sounds pretty awesome, but there have to be some downsides, right? Well, of course! First of all, there’s the price tag, which hasn’t been published as of yet. Its predecessor, the AXS-R5 retails for $5,350, so don’t expect the AXS-R7 to be any cheaper than that. Plus, you’ll need AXS type storage media, which also comes at a price. A 512 GB AXS card will dig a $1,800 hole in your wallet. Please refer to the chart below to see which media is needed for different resolutions and frame rates: The other major downside is that the new X-OCN format is only available in the PMW-F5 and F55 with the AXS-R7 recording module attached. It’s a highly integrated hardware upgrade and certainly not something you could pimp your existing Sony camera with. Conclusion The lesson is clear: Sony takes aim at the signature RED workflow with the introduction of the AXS-R7 recording module. It certainly comes at a price, but maybe we’ll see the fruits of this development in other cameras down the road. The concept of getting the most of the RAW sensor data while maintaining reasonable file sizes is certainly welcome! At least as long as these file sizes are requesting tremendous amounts of computing power. you’ll need AXS media in order to record the new X-OCN format with the AXS-R7 recording module The AXS-R7 is not here yet, but will be available in September at the latest. There will be an update for Sony’s RAW viewer software in order to support the new format, and I’m sure many of the major color grading software developers, such as DaVinci Resolve, will follow. What do you think? Are you enjoying editing RAW files or do you prefer already processed data like ProRes? Could this new RED-like compressed RAW workflow be an alternative that works for you? For more information, please refer to Sony’s official site.Read more
In an industry full of obscure acronyms, ACES probably ranks among the most obscure. The Academy Color Encoding System attempts to standardize how color is handled from acquisition through post and delivery. ACES is not even that difficult to understand. First of all ACES is a workflow, it’s a means of interpreting and processing image data in post in a scene referred linear color space with input and output transforms that relate to specific non-linear devices. We’ll first take a look at how ACES handles color information, and why. So what is a scene referred linear color space? The essence of a scene referred linear color space is far simpler than you may imagine. It is a direct digital representation of linear luminance levels as they appear in front of a camera lens. Or, worded differently, it is a one to one relationship between real-world brightness and the data that represents it in an image file. Why don’t we work this way? Imaging sensors actually see light exactly this way; they have a linear response to light. One reason we don’t record image data values linearly in camera but employ a curved or log gamma function (aka log, flat, film look) is that we can reduce the required color bit depth and file size by reassigning values to describe finer increments, or steps in luminance at the darker end of the luminance scale than the brighter end. In other words, when we shoot “log” we are assigning a larger number of smaller “steps” to the shadow and mids, and fewer larger steps to the highlights. This is a clever way to squeeze a higher total range of brightness (dynamic range) into a limited bit depth in a way that is visually unnoticeable. A non-linear gamma function allows for a more efficient assignment of the values in relation to the perception of human vision. Log encoding also better suits some grading functions, which may not behave as expected with linear encoded files. How ACES works The IDT So if our camera files are not encoded as scene referred linear, but ACES works in a scene-referred linear space, then how does ACES handle camera files? The answer is simple, the 10-bit, or 12-bit log encoded values in the camera files are transformed into scene-referred linear space using an IDT, or Input Device Transform. You can think of this almost as a type of LUT. When stored or rendered to file, these are 16-bit half-float EXR files. Because every camera is different, each camera requires a specific and dedicated ACES IDT. The ODT Once we are working with our images successfully transformed into the ACES space, we need to make sure we are seeing them correctly. This is where an ODT, or Output Display Transform comes in. There is no such thing as a perfect, or completely unbiased monitoring device. You can’t monitor scene-referred linear image information. Every monitor display technology has limits and can only display a limited color gamut. A display device expects to receive input data encoded with a non-linear gamma response according to a standard video color space and needs to be calibrated to either Rec709, DCI-P3. Just as every camera needs a specific and dedicated IDT, the same is true for display devices and rendered file outputs from ACES into standard delivery color spaces. Preserving your look The last piece of the puzzle worth mentioning is a unified and platform independent method of retaining your intended look once graded. This is another transform called a RRT or Reference Render Transform. The RRT will ensure no matter what new output devices and color spaces come out in future, your intended grade will always be preserved. As HDR and true Rec2020 UHDTV display technology becomes a consumer reality, demand will increase for content with full and rich colors, encoded in a color space with a far wider gamut than anything we are currently used to. Although it is still early days and ACES does have some technical issues, many believe ACES is the future of digital color.Read more
Watch previous episodes of ON THE COUCH & ON THE GO by clicking here! Visit our Vimeo and YouTube playlists, and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! In the 23rd episode of ON THE COUCH, I was lucky enough to sit with fellow bloggers and shooters Dan Chung, Clinton Harn from newsshooter.com and Emmanuel Pampuri from pampuri.net. Do we really need raw video? I started off by stating an observation: These days it’s almost as if smaller cameras (like Blackmagic cameras) mean more and higher data rates, often raw – while more advanced camera systems feature more advanced codecs (e.g. XAVC I in the FS7/F5/F55). Dan pointed out that Panasonic is the manufacturer who addressed file size more than any other, because they come more from a broadcast perspective. People start to realize that RAW is not the holy grail for much work, and actually it slows you down – so now the future really is in efficient codecs, the right codec for the right job. Emmanuel mentioned that people need to think about the workflow – the camera is just the first step of a longer workflow and people often neglect to look at the whole pipeline when thinking about what camera to shoot on. Clinton talked about how he shot his first feature film recently, and they decided to shoot RED. He found working with it quite easy and loved the fact that you have different compression ratios of raw, which you can choose depending on how much post production goes into each particular scene or shot. Dan said how it’s not practical for him as a news shooter in any circumstance to shoot raw – he shoots compressed formats like XAVC, MXF and so on … only in very difficult situations where for example he knows he has the time and budget to work on a shot with a blown out window, it makes sense for him to shoot raw to get those highlights back, for example. Backup workflows on set Regarding backup workflow we talked about how everyone processes the massive amounts of news footage he is gathering and backing up. Much like me, Dan makes back-ups on set using small 2.5” drives, and makes three copies. One of those copies should be kept away from the other two for safety purposes. Emmanuel takes the G-Dock with the G-Drives ev for the shoots on the day, the third one is a larger drive at the hotel which is backed up to after the shooting. One of the G-Drives ev goes back to the studio via mail every day in the evening. I mentioned how dual slot recording for instant backup takes a little bit of pressure away from backing up on set, because you end up with an instant copy of the whole card on another card. However not all cameras support this yet, the C300 and the FS7 do though. Clinton mentioned how it makes a lot of sense to use only smaller cards in cameras – just in case something happens, you simply lose less footage. Common sense that should be applied by anyone – however it gets harder with cameras like the Sony A7s which takes 64GB SDXC cards (that take around 2.5 hours of footage) as a minimum size. Dan summed the topic of storage up concisely by saying, “have a storage plan and stick to it – because when you don’t and when you vary the plan, that’s when things get lost or missing.” In the next part of this episode we talk about permanent backup strategies for data – how can your data survive over decades? Check back in a few days for part 2 of this episode of ON THE COUCH. Please visit our sponsors’ websites to keep new episodes of ON THE COUCH coming! Thanks to G-Technology, Røde Microphones, Movidiam, FilmConvert & F&V.Read more
Arri just announced that their newest cinema camera the AMIRA will soon get an upgrade that will enable internal Ultra High-Definition (UHD) recording to ProRes. Arri has been the only major camera developer who has not implemented any form of 4K in their cameras. That’s why this upgrade that will enable the Arri AMIRA to shoot in the UHD flavour of 4K is a very big step.Read more
Watch previous episodes of ON THE COUCH & ON THE GO by clicking here! Visit our Vimeo and YouTube playlists, and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! In a new episode of our talk format ON THE COUCH, Greg Crosby from G-Technology gives us a run-down of their new storage products targeted specifically to the increasing storage needs of professional filmmakers and creatives. Their new Studio series was designed with the new Mac Pro in mind, both in looks and functionality: it supports Thunderbolt 2, uses server-grade 7200 3.5″ HDDs in a 2-bay (G-Raid Studio) and a 4-bay (G-Speed Studio) version with up to a whopping 24TB. The G-Raid Studio supports RAID-0, RAID-1 and JBOD, while the G-Speed Studio is a hardware RAID that supports RAID-0, -1, -5, -6 and -10 configurations. The Helium technology allows individual hard drives to store up to an amazing 6TB now.Read more
You have probably seen our extensive written guide on how to get Magic Lantern’s 24p working on the 5D Mark III, which also includes a step-by-step instruction on how to end up with usable ProRes 4444 files. Well, as it turns out, Sebastian here has found a much more straightforward way to post process the raw files from the 5D Mark III which allows us to skip the relatively cumbersome After Effects conversion process. This new process only utilizes Adobe Photoshop’s raw import module, which allows batch processing of files (which is necessary to apply the same settings onto an entire clip consisting of individual DNG files). Watch our video with a step-by-step instruction on how to end up with editable post-processed files! Software used: Adobe Photoshop Raw2DNG (free) QuickTime 7Read more
When we had our first 1 day no-budget Scarlet-X shoot two weeks ago (see short and field report here) we bumped into one major problem: Backing up the data on this MacBook Pro via FW800 just took too long (30 minutes for a 64GB card) and we ended up not having a second backup (!). This is a situation you simply can’t have. If that backup dies the work (and money) that went into that shooting day dies with it. Read on for the solution to this problem:Read more
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