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Sony CineAlta Workflow Guide

RAW, SR File and XAVC production with the F65, F55 and F5 - Version 2.0

Sony CineAlta Workflow Guide

HD and beyond

While all Sony® CineAlta® cameras provide HD recording, the latest models also venture far beyond HD. They go beyond HD in resolution, with 2K 4K and 8K image capture. They go beyond HD in highlight handling with S-Log 2 and RAW recording. They even go beyond HD in color palette, with the deep greens and reds of the S-Gamut color system.

To take advantage of these new recording options, a full spectrum of third-party vendors has developed workflow solutions of extraordinary power and flexibility.

No matter what Sony CineAlta camera you choose for your next project, you’re always assured of four important benefits:

- Choice of traditional HD or beyond HD. Every Sony CineAlta camera can shoot Rec. 709 HD, ready for efficient, cost-effective postproduction. Or choose super quality workflow beyond HD, based on S-Log 2 or RAW recording.

- Compatibility with third-party tools. Sony CineAlta cameras work with a world of third-party solutions. We recently counted more than 30 vendors supporting our XAVC™ recording system and over 30 supporting our SRFile system. Because more and more third-party solutions are coming on board, we expect to continue to update this guide.

- Simplicity. Producers are discovering that the new workflows are easy. For example, Sony SRFile, XAVC and RAW files can all play back on a PC using free Sony software.

- Speed. Sony has developed fresh compression codecs, original recording media and high-speed card readers to make your workflows smooth and efficient.

There’s an amazing world of production possibilities out there. And nobody brings it to you like Sony.

Basic Workflows

The workflow for CineAlta® cameras can include the following stages:

- On-Set Look Management: The workflow for CineAlta® cameras can include the following stages:
- Data transfer and backup: Offloading data from cards, performing checksum and archiving.
- Dailies: Transcoding original camera files to as many different formats as the production requires, such as ProRes, DNxHD, QT and H.264.
- Edit:The essential process of selecting clips and cutting them together to tell the story. Native: Using the camera original files. Transcoded: Using files generated in the dailies process.
- Color Grade:Correcting the color for shot-to-shot consistency and to achieve the desired looks. Native: Grading final images from the camera original files for the highest quality. Transcoded: Grading compressed files, for example HD final delivery from RAW acquisition.

We will examine Sony features and third-party support for each of these stages in turn.

On-Set Look Management

A rapidly growing segment of the workflow, on-set look management enables you to decide the intended look on-set and pass it through Dailies and on to the final Grading process. The most common deliverable is an American Society of Cinematographers Color Decision List (ASC CDL).

An ASC CDL entry includes ten values that specify how the image color was changed: Slope (R, G, B), Offset (R, G, B), Power (R, G, B) and Saturation. You can capture this ASC CDL data on-set and then repurpose it for generating Dailies deliverables and in final Grading

Data transfer and backup

The first process after shooting content with any flash memory camera is to offload data from the cards and back it up. Sony makes this fast and easy.

F65 data transfers

The F65 offers two methods for offloading the recorded data.The SR-PC4 transfer station provides the highest data transfer rates for SRMemory™ cards. It can achieve up to 320 MB/s transfers over 10 Gigabit Ethernet while concurrently generating checksum data.

The SR-PC4 also supports real-time playback of files directly from the SRMemory card via HD-SDI output. You can control the SR-PC4 via built-in GUI using a standard internet browser or with the SRUtility application, a fast, easy full-featured approach.

SRUtility software transforms backup operations with an elegant interface and efficient features:

- Easy configuration for NFS (Macintosh® OS) or CIFS (Windows® OS)
- Auto selection of All Files on card
- Auto Checksum capability
- File transfer logging
- Shortcut keys
- Direct access to the standard SR-PC4 GUI operation screens
- Viewer, Import, Setup, Format & Diagnosis

The SR-D1 drive supports both eSATA and USB3 interfaces. Operation is easy and transfer speeds extend up to 200MB/s.

F5 and F55 data transfers

For the F5 and F55 cameras, Sony offers a card reader for offloading SxS® cards (for XAVC™, SRFile and MPEG-2 50 Mbps assets) and another for offloading AXS cards (for F5RAW or F55RAW files).

The SBAC-US20 transfers files from SxS cards. It incorporates a USB3 interface for speeds up to 170 MB/s.

The AXS-CR1 transfers files from AXS cards and achieves up to 200 MB/s via USB3 interface.


Not so long ago, cans of exposed film were shipped off to the lab where a considerable amount of work was done. Film was developed, printed and transferred to tape while offline files were created for editorial. Today's digital productions don't need film labs. But they still need copies created for backup, editorial and client review. On-set dailies systems can undertake all of these functions, plus an expanded list of deliverables that can include audio syncing, applying a color grade, on-set streaming to tablets, and pulls for visual effects.

Audio sync is particularly important. While CineAlta® cameras have facilities for on-board audio recording of very high quality, cinema-style productions typically record audio on a separate system, staffed by sound recordists.

You can typically use ASC CDL values from On-Set Look Management for Dailies creation, or you can generate an ASC CDL in the Dailies application.


CineAlta® cameras enable productions to choose “native” or “transcoded” editing.

Native editing

processes the original camera files directly. This empowers you to skip dailies processing and transcoding steps prior to edit. As we will see, popular nonlinear editors support native editing with Sony RAW, Sony XAVC™ and Sony SRFile formats..

Transcoded editing

occurs when the original camera files are first converted to another format, typically Avid® DNxHD® or Apple® ProRes® files. These often have lower bitrates and lower quality than the original camera files.

After transcoded editing, productions typically go back to the higher-quality camera original files for final Color Grading. For this purpose, the editing system outputs metadata in Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) or Extensible Markup Language (XML) files. The process of going back to the camera original files is called “relinking” or “roundtripping.”

RAW and 4K On-line editing with AVID Media Composer & ADOBE Premiere

The newly released plug-ins for AVID MC 6.5 & Symphony 6.5 (PLAV-RW1 V1.2) and ADOBE Premiere CS6 (PLAD-RW1 V1.2) enable full demosaic/debayer processing of F65/F55/F5/FS700 RAW files.

Both these plug-ins also allow source selection setting for gamma and gamut. The selection available is S-Log2/S-Gamut or Rec709/Rec709 when working with RAW files. It is recommended to set source setting to S-Log2/S-Gamut to maintain maximum highest quality image processing.

AVID MC7 The latest release of Media Composer will support 4K/HD XAVC and F65/F55/F5/FS700 RAW files via AMA plug-in support. A major feature of MC7 is the added support for 3D LUTs. The newly announced SONY LOOK PROFILES will be available to users that wish to finish their HD project using MC7.

ADOBE Premiere CC now natively supports 4K/HD XAVC with no plug-in required. F65/F55/F5/FS700 RAW files are processed at full resolution using a plug-in (PLAD-RW1 V1.2) available from Sony. This will enable finishing of 4K projects within Premiere CC.

Color Grade

Grading applications that support native XAVC™ HD and 4K files

The color grading process is typically the final step in a project. This is where color corrections are applied. All the major grading applications support CineAlta® camera files. To maintain the highest quality, we strongly recommend relinking back to the camera master files for the grade.

Grading plays a particularly crucial role in Sony RAW and S-Log 2 productions. In the early days of digital cinematography, dynamic range was relatively limited. Productions needed to take extra care to avoid clipping the highlights or crushing the blacks. To achieve the desired look, it was common to “paint” the camera, using Knee, Slope, Multi-Matrix and other camera controls. For these productions, the grading step was often considered optional.

Times have changed. Today, Sony CineAlta cameras achieve over 14 stops of dynamic range—a dramatic improvement. This upgraded camera performance has been matched by upgraded recording technologies, both S-Log 2 encoding and RAW recording, to capture the full range of camera output without clipping highlights or crushing blacks.

For these reasons, there’s no need to paint the camera on S-Log 2 shoots—and the paint controls are completely disabled on Sony RAW shoots. Everything the image sensor detected can now be captured, recorded and delivered to the grading session. This enables both better picture quality and more powerful color correction to produce amazing final results.

You can also adjust multiple F5 and F55 cameras to match during preproduction. This enables multi-cam productions like sitcoms or TV dramas to achieve superb consistency and efficient post-production, even at 4K resolutions.

Sony Look Profiles

Sony Look Profiles are intended to provide an easy starting point for color grading in a TV workflow. The Look Profiles utilize and maximize the wide latitude and wide color reproduction capabilities of the Sony F65/F55 cameras. Look Profiles are provided as 3D LUT files to apply in different color grading applications. Additionally these different Look Profiles can support workflows for RAW, SRFile, XAVCTM and MPEG2 formats.

The input reference for all the Look Profiles is based on S-Log2 (tone curve) and S-Gamut (color space). RAW footage should be set S-Log2 and S-Gamut as the RAW output setting when importing into the grading application. SR File, XAVC and MPEG2 should be recorded with S-Log2 and S-Gamut setting. These Look Profiles can be used for either Input LUT or Output LUT during grading except Cine+709 LUT. This LUT should be applied as an output LUT.

Also, the F65 V3.0 (Release end of June/2013) and RAW Viewer V1.1 will implement Look Profiles. The F65 will be able to record metadata referencing the Look Profile number which is saved with the RAW files. Plus you can select the same Look Profile with RAW Viewer V1.1.

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For more information, please contact a Sony Professional Solutions Specialist.