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Sound Devices adds 4:4:4/RGB recording to PIX recorders via firmware update

With ProRes4444 recording, PIX recorders instantly become the most affordable 4:4:4/RGB recorders on the market.

By Allan Tépper | January 04, 2013

Sound Devices just announced firmware update 3.0 for its PIX recorders, which (among other things) adds the option of ProRes4444 recording. The capability of recording 4:4:4/RGB is quite desirable when footage is to be graded, especially if your camera can output this color space. Although the press release indicated that after the update the PIX recorders would accept 4:4:4 via 3G-SDI, I immediately asked: “What about 4:4:4 over HDMI?”

Many ProVideo Coalition magazine readers will recall my articles about external 4:2:2 recorders, especially the most recent Record progressive 4:2:2 or beyond from your HDMI camera with an external recorder from October 2012. Many will also recall my 2011 article Untapped features in Sony NXCAM’s new HDMI output. One of the untapped features mentioned in that article was the RGB 4:4:4 over HDMI (when requested via EDID). Since even before then, I had been asking why so many ProRes recorder manufacturers who had licensed the ProRes422 códecs (including ProRes422LT, ProRes422, and ProRes422HQ) had neglected to include the ProRes4444 códec. (The last 4 refers to alpha channel, which is typically not necessary or appropriate in a camera, but often required with animation files.) So since the press release only mentioned 3G-SDI with higher-priced cameras like ARRI ALEXA, Canon C500 and Sony F3, I ran to inquire: “What about 4:4:4 over HDMI?”

Sound Devices quickly responded:

The PIX 220 and PIX 240 (plus the “i” versions) have HDMI connections which support 4:4:4 RGB, up to 10-bit. We do inform of this capability via EDID.

This is excellent news, especially for those who plan to grade their footage, even though the NXCAMs (so far) will only output 8-bit over HDMI. However, Sound Devices has not (yet) been able to confirm this potential compatibility with NXCAMs since currently they don’t have any NXCAM in house to test. I am attempting to arrange the courtship between a recent NXCAM and a PiX recorder which has been updated to firmware 3.0 in order to test this. After the update, the input type and bit depth is now displayed on the PiX’s onscreen display, so theoretically a recent NXCAM connected to an updated PIX recorder will show up as either 4:4:4 or RGB... and 8-bit. I will publish another article this once I have been able to confirm it.

 

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