With sales of Sony's larger 4K cameras (the "CineAlta" range) kicking off - apparently more than 2000 F5 and F55s have been sold - Sony has introduced a version of their 4K codec that is more "consumer friendly"
Dispensing with the decidedly "pro" MXF wrapper, XAVC S uses MPEG-4 instead. It is based around the familiar h.264, which should ensure wide compatibility once applications support the XAVC S format.
Designed to "encourage growth of 4K content in the consumer market", we can probably take this announcement as a prelude to Sony's launch of a range of consumer and prosumer 4K cameras.
Sony is presenting XAVC (and presumably XAVC S) as an "open format", which will "serve as a driver to promote and establish 4K content production infrastructures"
It proposes to licence the format to other manufacturers, and apparently over 60 have already applied.
Here's Sony's press release in full
Las Vegas, April 7, 2013: With the successful sale of new CineAlta 4K cameras expected to reach more than 2,000 units shipped worldwide by the end of April 2013, the XAVC format has been widely adopted in the marketplace. The format holds various advantages for high quality image reproduction including 4K pixel resolution, 10 bit colour depth, wide colour space (S-Gamut) and refined gamma (S-log).
Sony is today announcing a Long GOP (4K 4:2:0 and HD 4:2:2) high-efficiency codec to serve the broader requirements of the content production market. In addition, to serve the consumer market, “XAVC S”, which employs a MP4 wrapping format, is also being introduced as an expansion of XAVC. This expansion will encourage growth of 4K content in the consumer market.
“XAVC S” profile
Resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160), HD, and Proxy
Compression: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264
Wrapping format: MP4
Audio: Linear PCM and AAC
Note: Each manufacturer will decide which profile and operating point of XAVC they will implement in their products.
Sony also assures that XAVC is a video recording format that covers both the professional and consumer market.
XAVC is introduced as an open format, to serve as a driver to promote and establish 4K content production infrastructures. A license program is proposed not only for editing software manufacturers but also for hardware manufacturers. Currently, over 60 manufacturers have filed a request to become a licensee, and 31 manufacturers’ products plan on their support for the Sony XAVC format and workflow.
XAVC Format Supporters
Abekas, Incorporated / Adobe® / Assimilate Inc. / ASTRODESIGN, Inc. / Avid Technology, Inc. / Blackmagic Design Pty. Ltd. / Cinegy LLC. / Codex Digital / Colorfront / CyberLink Corp. / Digital Vision / EVS Broadcast Equipment / FairlightAU Pty Ltd. / FilmLight Ltd. / Final Cut Pro X / Firefly Cinema /
Grass Valley / Harris Broadcast / IBEX Technology Co.,Ltd. / Imagination Technologies Limited/
Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd. / MTI Film / Pegasys Inc. / Quantel Ltd. /Rohde & Schwarz DVS GmbH / Rovi's MainConcept / SAKURA EIKI Co.,Ltd. / Sobey Digital Technology Co.Ltd. / Sony Vegas ™ Pro 12 / YoYotta Ltd. / Zaxel Systems Incorporated