Superproducer Ted Hope on...

December 28, 2012

Sound Devices Gets into the ProRes 12-bit 4:4:4:4 Game with Free PIX V3.0 Firmware Update

The Convergent Design Gemini 4:4:4 might be the cheapest RAW recorder on the market, but it just got some company as far as 4:4:4 recording is concerned. Sound Devices, better known for their superb audio recording equipment, has just announced that they are offering a free upgrade to their PIX series of external monitor/recorders that is capable of giving access to the full power of the 3G-SDI, thereby allowing you to record in the 12-bit ProRes 4:4:4:4 codec at up to 30fps.

If you've never heard of the PIX recorders, here is an introduction to the PIX 240i:

Here is Andy Shipsides from AbelCine on the announcement:

With this upgrade, the PIX240 can now record in ProRes 4444 in 12-bit at up to 30p, which means it will work well with cameras, such as the the Alexa and Sony F3 (with the RGB 444 upgrade), that output 10-bit RGB 4:4:4 over 3G-SDI.

To take full advantage of the 12-bit ProRes, you can combine the PIX240 with the Canon C500, which features 12-bit RGB 4444 3G-SDI output. ProRes 4444 is used as the primary recording method on many major television productions, so giving this option to all PIX240/PIX240i owners is big news.

If you can't record RAW, ProRes 12-bit 4:4:4:4 is the next best thing -- and, depending on the RAW output, can actually be better. The new firmware update is much more significant for the PIX 240 and 240i, which both have 3G-SDI, but the PIX 220 and 220i certainly weren't left out, as noted in the video above. One of the other benefits to the PIX recorders is that they are able to do 3:2 pulldown on the fly, which helps recording the HDMI output of many cameras, as they send out 24p footage wrapped in a 60i stream:

The PIX recorders will run you anywhere from $1,750 to $3,300 depending on the model.

If you own a PIX recorder, head on over to the Sound Devices website to see the rest of the additions and fixes, and download the 3.0 update.

Link: Download PIX Firmware 3.0 -- Sound Devices

[via AbelCine]

Your Comment

15 Comments

Free? Whoa. The bar has been raised.

December 29, 2012

0
Reply
Soosan Khanoom

Prores is my friend

December 29, 2012

-1
Reply
ThunderBolt

Didn't know this recorder ! Does someone know if it can support high frame rate (120 fps and up) with the Sony Fs700 ?

December 29, 2012

0
Reply
Etienne

Wow this is great!
I wish it did 1080p 60fps and then I would buy this.

guess they can't quite get it there!

then it would unleash 60fps from the Sony F3

December 29, 2012

-1
Reply
Ed David

I'd like to unleash 60fps on the F3, too. Is the Sony recorder the only one capable of this? What is the difficulty in making this work on other recorders?

December 29, 2012

0
Reply
dixter

well you have to use 2 hd-sdi conncetors I think to be able to go 1080p 60p so maybe that's the problem there.

December 29, 2012

0
Reply
Ed David

The Sony F3 has 2 sdi connectors for, among a few other things, the purpose of over cranking . What I'm wondering is if any other recorders besides the Sony (SR-R5?) recorder can record 60fps @ 1920x1080?

December 29, 2012

0
Reply
dixter

Cinedeck Extreme.

January 3, 2013

0
Reply
Simon

Would anyone care to expound on the difference in ProRes 4:4:4:4 and RGB 4:4:4, 10bit 4:4:4 and 10bit 4:2:2, why ProRes 4:4:4:4 might be better than RAW in some cases and/or any other info that would help us less tech-informed people understand what this stuff means?

December 29, 2012

0
Reply
dixter

+1 on ProRes 4:4:4:4 vs RGB 4:4:4

December 29, 2012

0
Reply
Steve

Well Pro Res vs Raw - disk space. Gigs and gigs saved. In terms of quality - yes I am curious too how much better RAW is vs a Pro Res Log profile . That would be a good test to show via the BMC

December 29, 2012

0
Reply
Ed David

The results are entirely going to depend on the quality of the RAW converter being used. The in-camera or in-recorder realtime RAW converter may be different than ones applied in various non-realtime software programs. In practice I imagine manufacturers share a lot of the code to ensure a consistent look regardless of when the debayering is applied but it's entirely possible different 3rd party developers can tweak them or even rewrite them entirely. And RAW formats are typically cooked at least somewhat, with compression and NR applied in various ways to keep the file sizes and data rates manageable.

ProRes 4444 is intended as a data interchange format for various post applications to share. The 4th "4" is for an alpha channel, which lets you use a separate compositing program from your NLE without much loss of quality or processing/storage burden vs. using uncompressed RGB. Recording direct into that format saves you time and space vs. RAW though it does burn-in your choice of RAW converter.

If you can afford to work in 12 bit ProRes 4444 you're probably not going to miss much vs. the typical RAW format. It has enough dynamic range to map the entire sensor output and there is no chroma subsampling. But 10 bit ProRes 422HQ at the capture stage is pretty good as well though it loses you chroma information and overall fidelity. If you are compositing and/or doing extreme grades for 4K delivery then yes you should be working in 12bit ProRes 4444. For 2K/1080p delivery with more modest compositing/grading needs ProRes 422HQ is just about as good at enormous media and bandwidth savings.

December 29, 2012

0
Reply
Peter

Thanks Peter for this info! Very helpful. Is there such a thing as 12bit 4:2:2?

December 30, 2012

0
Reply
dixter

I think that people consider ProRes 4444 to be much better because the quality is just really slightly less good than RGB 4444, but it takes much less space on your hard drives ... And the problem with RAW is not only processing power but size of files ...
About 12 bit ProRes being better than 10 bit 444, well, with 10-bit color, you get 1,024 shades of each primary color, and over a billion possible colors. With 12-bit, that's 4,096 shades and over 68 billion colors.
About the why 4444 better than 422, you have much, much more information of chrominance and luminance contained in 4444 files, which make the color grading so much more better.

December 29, 2012

0
Reply

Size of files actually favors raw...at least with bayer sensors. The raw version of an image will be a third the size of the debayered RGB image.

December 30, 2012

-1
Reply
Gabe