XAVC-S and Media Composer

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The XAVC-S codec was announced April 8, 2013. Four years later, support for the codec still requires third party tools or some user intervention to work with these file types in Media Composer. Avid’s Sony AMA page does not help users looking for this support by suggesting the different solutions available.

Following is a list of solutions that range from free to paid. Each comes with their own advantages and disadvantages and will be up to the individual user to decide what’s best for them based on time and budget.

FREE

Change extension from .mp4 to .m4a: Use at your own risk. This can be done on a per file basis or with a batch renamer of your choice. While this is a quick trick, it will lose timecode if present in the original file and it will not work for 50fps and higher. OS X and Windows.

Sony Catalyst BrowseCatalyst Browse transcodes to several formats but not DNxHD. That requires Catalyst Prepare (compare and see below in subscription). It offers LUT and color correction management. OS X and Windows.

DaVinci Resolve:  Transcoding is always a solution. Resolve does come in a free version but is limited to 4K UHD (3840×2160) resolution on export. Of course, Resolve can do a whole lot more than just transcode and with that some responsibility in properly converting based on REEL and file format. Transcode times and media management need to be considered. OS X and Windows.

 $24.99

 MP4 to QT: Videotoolshed’s MP4 to QT  might be the best balance of cost and time when dealing with XAVC-S. It is a rewrap of the existing codec with no transcoding involved and allows resulting files to be directly accessed via AMA link in Media Composer. A user can now choose whether to edit native or use Media Composer’s to transcode. OS X and Windows.

 $49.99

Divergent Media EditReady 2:  EditReady 2 is a very popular program that balances ease of use offering rewrap and both fast transcodes for several formats and great controls for burn-ins, color management, frame rate adjustments, resize, audio track management. OS X only.

$99.00

MediaReacter AMA: Drastic Technology’s MediaReactor offers a lot of different codec support in the full version, but they also offer any one of the codecs as a single AMA plug-in of which XAVC-S is one of them. You need to reach out to the company to purchase. OS X and Windows.

Subscription

 Sony Catalyst Prepare ($149.95/year): Provides all of the transcoding functionality of Catalyst Browse but includes DNxHD and a host of other management functions and a few additional export formats. See the comparison chart for details. OS X and Windows.

 ???

For those with Adobe CC, Adobe Media Encoder can provide a transcoding solution but is not available as a standalone subscription. 

Nablet who has taken over all Sony development for Sony based AMA does not yet support XAVC-S as noted on their site. There has been talk about them adding XAVC-S support in the future, but whether that was to be made available for free as with their other plug-ins, or at a cost is still to be determined.

Avid forums have also suggested there was going to be support for this wrapper and codec with Media Composer, but nothing of note has been formally announced. I thought it might have been available with the release of Media Composer|First, but perhaps will be part of a future update.

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