Today, Sony announced that their higher end cinema cameras, the F5 and F55, are both going to be getting Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD recording in a future hardware upgrade. This is a big move for the company, which has so far avoided either of the codecs in both their high-end and low-end cameras, even as competitors like ARRI adopted them for much easier workflows. Read on for more details.
Here is the news from the Sony forum:
XAVC has proven robust, and is well accepted by “mission critical” genres such as Episodic Television, Documentary and feature film. The adoption of XAVC by commonly used platforms has been exceptionally fast, and as a result XAVC is supported by all major workflow applications in the fields of editing, grading, transcoding and media management.
Sony is firmly committed to the continued advancement of the XAVC codec with exciting developments planned for the future. Sony is also committed to our customers and with your feedback the need for diversity and flexibility to support codecs that have been used in our industry for some time.
Our mission is to continue developing the most feature rich cameras on the market. In so doing we are excited to announce support for ProRes and DNxHD codecs as a future hardware upgrade option for both the F5, and F55 cameras.
As it says above, this will be a hardware upgrade, so there may be some cost involved and you will probably have to bring in or send in your camera to get the new codecs, but it's likely that these will be recorded with the SxS cards since all of those other codecs above currently are. What we don't know yet is which flavors the cameras will be getting, but if Sony really wants to make a splash, they will put 4K ProRes into the F55 (if not both cameras). I'm sure at the very least the F5 and F55 will feature 10-bit ProRes HQ and 10-bit DNxHD 220, and I'm sure you'll be able to record in log with the codecs.
This is huge news for the camera and for the industry, and will simplify post workflows even more, allowing people to stay in ProRes or DNxHD throughout the entire pipeline if they choose to. The announcement is one of those things you're happy to be wrong about, as I never thought one of the big three (Sony, Canon, Panasonic) would ever put ProRes into their cameras because of the licensing involved. Clearly that wasn't too much of an issue in this case, as it's going to happen at some point in the near future.
Since Apple requires that companies be approved before they can even announce that they are using ProRes, I can't imagine this upgrade being too far down the line, so we'll probably hear a lot more about it during NAB -- or even sooner. Either way, it's a sign that Sony really wants to take over the mid-range market that has been dominated by Canon, RED, and ARRI, and that they see themselves directly competing against the ALEXA in plenty of cases.
This announcement could also mean that newer cameras from Sony in the $5,000-$10,000 range get these codecs down the road, which would really put pressure on all of the other camera manufacturers to come out swinging in this segment, and really give you some bang for your buck.