August 8, 2016

Sony Takes Aim at RED with X-OCN

Compressed files with the benefits of RAW are hard to make, but Sony is going for it.

RAW file formats offer a lot of benefits: by skipping in-camera processing, taking the raw sensor data, and wrapping it into a file, you get the largest amount of information for manipulation in post. But RAW formats generally come with some pretty big files, which can add up to slower on-set downloads and post workflows. Sometimes, they are simply not worth the headache on productions without a lot of time to spare.

With the .r3d format, which uses wavelet compression, RED has long had a format offering the benefits of RAW with more manageable file sizes.

Now, with the new X-OCN format, Sony has created a product with a great combination of reasonable file size and impressive quality that it claims is visually identical to F55 RAW.

OCN Bit Rate
Data Rate information for X-OCN.Credit: Sony

As you can see in the above chart, X-OCN is available in both ST (Standard) and LT (Light) versions, with LT coming in at about 1/3 the data rate of traditional RAW for the same settings. X-OCN stands for Extended Original Camera Negative; OCN was the technical term of yesteryear for the piece of film that went through the camera (hence "original camera," as opposed to the film that was duped or printed in the lab).

Sony is currently working with vendors to ensure maximum compatibility in the market for post pipelines. As with other RAW platforms, ISO and color balance will be adjustable in post.

X-OCN was announced at NAB back in April. The first product to implement the new platform will be the AXS-R7 recorder, which we wrote about back in February, and is shipping soon.

X-OCNCredit: Sony
X-OCN tech specs

  • 16bit encoding
  • ST and LT variants
  • ISO and Kelvin Balance post-processing
  • Up to 142% shoot time, 59% transfer time
  • MXF file format

Your Comment

22 Comments

here comes RED's lawyers.... -_____-

August 8, 2016 at 6:13PM, Edited August 8, 6:13PM

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Because Sony have a compressed raw format?
There's nothing to suggest it infringes on Red's wavelet compression patents.

August 8, 2016 at 6:34PM

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Richard L
Camera assistant, DIT, DOP
165

RED already went to war with Sony when F55 and F5 were announced, but I don't believe it came to anything. My hunch is that RED will not try to take them on because they have matured and seem wiser compared to the past, and have just announced Helium 8K which is a solid achievement, so may just want to trade on the good publicity and reputation for innovation rather than being seen as hawkish lawsuit types.

August 8, 2016 at 6:35PM, Edited August 8, 6:44PM

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Saied M.
899

Having said that, I know first generation red camera owners who went out of business because of the GH4 or even the Canon lines.
Now with Arri Alexa, Red has bigger problems then Sony.

August 9, 2016 at 12:44AM

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bjones
Filmmaker and Photographer
114

Agreed with ARRI, but the A7sII is such a damn good camera. (it's like a way better and cheaper version of the original prosumer scarlet concept) You just have to know it's limits. I honestly think RED is most likely going to be a sensor supplier down the road or some sort of third party R&D for other companies, unless they focus on software development or some other thing that can give them a competitive advantage. It's not 2007 anymore and companies have already caught up with sensor technology. Well they were always caught up, they just didn't want to release anything so fast and the prices they are now XD .

August 9, 2016 at 1:38AM

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Wavelet compression isn't that unique...

August 8, 2016 at 7:51PM

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Well raw filming is not the only reason why filmmaker are using RED. I've choosen RED, because of the great sensor/color it delievers. The big resolution, the high framerate and the Raw/ Prores codecsare a big plus as well... I don't think RED will bother much about this announcement. They've already got a lot of problems woth the Scarlet-W/ Raven productions.

I wonder how long the editing tools will need to support the new Sony raw.

August 8, 2016 at 6:51PM

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Sandeep Abraham
Director, DoP, Editor
48

ok , color balance sure but ISO adjustment in post? huh?

August 8, 2016 at 7:09PM

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This is a feature of any raw capture. Simply put, the sensor (any sensor except the VariCam I guess) has a single, native ISO, and changing the ISO is just gain manipulation through software. Same with the white balance - the sensor has a native WB setting (usually 5600k I think, at least it is on REDs) and changing it is essentially "post" manipulation, even if it happens in-camera.

However this software manipulation that happens in-camera - your WB and ISO settings - are:

1) being applied to the raw data BEFORE it is written to memory, which means there is no generational loss, or image compression to deal with.
2) is done on a proprietary system (the specific camera) tailored to the needs and quirks of the particular sensor - and even perhaps aided by processors/chipsets which have the sole purpose of aiding your WB/ISO changes.

Which is why it is much better to nail your WB or ISO setting in-camera, than to try and fix it in the color grade, even if both are "software" operations.

HOWEVER if you have access to the RAW, un-interpreted and un-compressed (or mildly compressed) data, your color grading software can replicate the processing as it is done in-camera, giving you WB and ISO changes virtually indistinguishable from those made on set.

August 8, 2016 at 10:40PM

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Einar, how is losslessly compressed RAW any different than uncompressed?

August 13, 2016 at 11:17AM

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zetty
Filmmaker
785

Honestly there is no benefit to shooting RAW video over ProRes (or similar codec). At most you may lose like 1/3 stops of dynamic range. The highest bit rate I would ever use is ProRes LT. Anything over that is usually overkill.

August 8, 2016 at 11:08PM

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Zachary Will
Cinematographer
702

I don't think many VFX people would agree with that. Shooting 422 LT would potentially be very limiting for a lot of shoots. I wouldn't mind using it for basic documentary work though.

August 9, 2016 at 11:59AM

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Richard L
Camera assistant, DIT, DOP
165

Mmm, no way. As you move up in clients/higher level work, you will see the benefits. Professional color and fx use more info than what's available in prores lt. That throws away SO MUCH info compared to raw. It's not just about dynamic range.

August 9, 2016 at 12:27PM

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As I understand it, the main advantage of shooting RAW is better a de-bayered image. This can only be done in post, as it does not have to be real time. Also you can throw more CPU power at it as there is only so much the cameras on-board CPU can do.

Also the maths behind Debayering are evolving so there is access to better algorithms.

Wether or not that is worth it is a question each production has to consider, as there are obvious impacts on workflow. Most VFX prefer RAW as it gives cleaner keys (we are talking high end movies here).

I'll shoot RAW when the production has the time to crunch the data properly, there is no point doing it if they are just going to edit on laptop, but most of the time I'll shoot XAVC or Prores 444 for when they want a good key but time is limited.

August 10, 2016 at 4:24AM, Edited August 10, 4:26AM

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Then to be honest you shouldn't describe yourself as a cinematographer. That is an incredibly naive statement.

August 10, 2016 at 9:18AM

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keith
347

So.....

They offer a new compressed RAW format, but I still have to buy the R7 recorder which already has the original RAW, to use X-OCN?

Who the hell is going to buy the R7 just to use X-OCN?

August 9, 2016 at 8:36AM

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Have they published a list of cameras that will get this format? FS5?

August 9, 2016 at 10:28AM

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There's no way the FS5 will get it—it doesn't record internal raw now.

August 9, 2016 at 2:06PM, Edited August 9, 2:06PM

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David S.
2917

Never a huge fan of Sony's colorimetry but good to see something else on teh Market so RED don't think they are almighty. YOU GO SONY PEOPLE!!!!

August 9, 2016 at 12:48PM

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Wentworth Kelly
Director/DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2050

I'm pretty sure that it's more than just raw. Sony already has compressed raw, and they seem to be trying to differentiate the format from raw but aren't explaining how yet. It seems to produce a processed video look, but through metadata so you have the same control that you would with raw.

I guess we'll see in September.

August 10, 2016 at 1:28PM, Edited August 10, 1:28PM

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It's not an acronym, so it's not "RAW." It's just "raw."

And if it's still buried in Sony's mess of a file structure and has to be recorded on Sony's bullshit media on an overpriced external recorder... YAWN.

August 14, 2016 at 1:31AM, Edited August 14, 1:33AM

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David Gurney
DP
1278

like Red's overpriced Red "Mags"? Sorry dude, that is a piece of overrated and overpriced proprietary BS

August 14, 2016 at 9:42PM

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