XDCAM, XDCAM HD, and XDCAM EX Format Specifications

XDCAM (SD) records MXF file-based media to an optical disc format. XDCAM HD extends XDCAM to include HD video. XDCAM EX adds full-resolution 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720 modes and ExpressCard-based recording.

Storage Medium

XDCAM and XDCAM HD use a 120 mm disc—like CD and DVD discs—that can record 23.3 GB of media by using a 405 nm blue-violet laser. Although the Sony Professional Disc uses a blue-violet laser, it is not compatible with Blu-ray Disc technology. The Sony Professional Disc supports a transfer speed of 72 Mbps (or 144 Mbps with dual heads), whereas a consumer Blu-ray disc has a maximum rate of 36 Mbps.

XDCAM EX records to Sony SxS solid-state ExpressCard/34 media.

XDCAM and XDCAM HD video and audio content is stored on disc within MXF container files, and XDCAM EX video and audio content is stored on disc within MP4 container files. Much like QuickTime movie files, MXF and MP4 files can store video and audio data in almost any frame rate and codec, as well as metadata about the content, such as the date of recording, GPS positioning data, and so on.

Video Standard

XDCAM supports NTSC and PAL using either the DVCAM or IMX format:

  • DVCAM: 25 Mbps DV
  • MPEG IMX: 30, 40, or 50 Mbps MPEG-2 (I-frame-only)

XDCAM camcorders can also record low-resolution MPEG-4 proxy files (1.5 Mbps) for quick previewing before ingesting into your editing system. Proxy file dimensions are 352 x 240 (NTSC) or 352 x 288 (PAL), adhering to the Common Intermediate Format (CIF) standard. 500 MB of disc space is reserved for storing general-purpose files such as text files, EDLs, project files, graphics, and so on.

XDCAM HD can record 1080-line HD video using MPEG-2 compression at four quality levels.

Format
MPEG-2 bit rate
Frame dimensions
Color sample ratio
MPEG-2 standard
LP
18 Mbps (VBR)
1440 x 1080
4:2:0
MPEG MP@HL
SP (HDV)
25 Mbps (CBR)
1440 x 1080
4:2:0
MPEG MP@HL-1440
HQ
35 Mbps (VBR)
1440 x 1080
4:2:0
MPEG MP@HL
HD422
50 Mbps (CBR)
1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720
4:2:2
MPEG 422P@HL

The SP format uses a constant bit rate (CBR) and is compatible with 1080i HDV. The LP and HQ formats use variable bit rates (VBR) and provide extended recording time with lower-than-HDV quality (LP) and quality that surpasses that of the HDV recording format (HQ). The HD422 format uses 50 Mbps CBR.

XDCAM EX can record footage at two quality levels.

Format
MPEG-2 bit rate
Frame dimensions
Color sample ratio
MPEG-2 standard
SP (HDV)
25 Mbps (CBR)
1440 x 1080
4:2:0
MPEG MP@HL-1440
HQ
35 Mbps (VBR)
1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720
4:2:0
MPEG MP@HL
Aspect Ratio

XDCAM records 4:3 SD video. XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX record 16:9 HD video.

Frame Dimensions, Number of Lines, and Resolution

XDCAM records DV and IMX video. For more information about these formats, see IMX Format Specifications, as well as “Appendix A: Video Formats” in the Final Cut Pro 7 User Manual.

XDCAM HD records 1440 pixels per line and 1080 lines per frame.

XDCAM EX can record either 1920 pixels per line and 1080 lines per frame, or 1280 pixels per line and 720 lines per frame.

XDCAM HD422 can record either 1920 pixels per line and 1080 lines per frame, or 1280 pixels per line and 720 lines per frame.

Note: Variable frame rate (VFR) recording above 30 fps records 540 lines per frame.

Frame Rate

XDCAM supports 25 and 29.97 fps.

XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX support the following formats and frame rates:

  • 1080i60, 1080p30

  • 1080i50, 1080p25

  • 1080p24

XDCAM EX also supports the 720p format at 23.98, 25, 29.97, 50, and 59.94 fps.

XDCAM HD422 supports the 720p format at 50 and 59.94 fps.

A VFR shooting mode is also available on certain XDCAM HD camcorders. You choose a playback frame rate (24p or 30p) and a recording frame rate (from 4 to 60 fps in single increments). Because no duplicate frames are recorded, you can immediately see the results of your VFR footage in-camera without special processing. For example, if you shoot at 60 fps with a playback speed of 24 fps, the resulting video appears to be 40 percent slower than real time.

Note: XDCAM HD records variable frame rates above 30 fps (“overcranking”) by halving the vertical resolution to 540 lines per frame. However, once you capture your footage in Final Cut Pro, its frame dimensions appear as you expect at 1440 x 1080 pixels.

Scanning Method

XDCAM supports interlaced scanning. XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX support both progressive and interlaced scanning, depending on the HD format you are using.