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Material eXchange Format (MXF) - Something You Gotta Known


Most people have no too much knowledge about MXF, but we can not deny the importance of MXF format. If you wanna join the team of advanced and professional camcorders lovers, you should learn something about it. And in this article, we will explain what a MXF file is, how to open a MXF file or how to convert a MXF file to another file format for easier playing, editing or other use.

A Brief Summary of MXF

The Material eXchange Format (MXF) is a file format for the exchange of programme material between servers, tape streamers and to digital archives. Its contents may be a complete programme as well as complete packages or sequences. There are basic facilities available for cuts between sequences and audio crossfades. This way the sequences can be assembled into programmes. MXF is self-contained, holding complete content without need of external material.

MXF bundles together video, audio, and programme data, such as text - together termed essence - along with metadata and places them into a wrapper. It's body is stream based and carries the essence and some of the metadata. It holds a sequence of video frames, each complete with associated audio, and data essence, plus frame-based metadata. The latter typically comprises timecode and file format information for each of the video frames. This arrangement is also known as an interleaved media file.

Aims for MXF Format

For users, the aims for the new format were that it should be:
- Easy to understand and apply
- Open and, when ready, standardised
- Compression-independent
- Useable on major platform operating systems and networks

How to Access/Open MXF files

Files in MXF format are a type of media file (either audio or video, depending on the specifics of a file) designed to be played on a computer. You can access MXF files by adding a few different pieces of software to your computer. You can pick between special media programs that support the MXF format, or you can install specialized codecs that support this format.

Here we recommend you to use VLC Media Player. VLC is a lightweight media utility that won't use a lot of your computer's available system resources while playing video files. Among the many different types of audio and video formats supported by this program is the MXF format, so once you have VLC Media Player installed on your computer just drag your MXF file over top of the main program window to get it to play.

Non-linear Editing Systems (NLEs) and MXF

As of Autumn 2005, there were major interoperability problems with MXF in broadcast post-production use. The two data-recording camera systems which produced MXF at that time, Sony's XDCAM and Panasonic's DVCPRO P2, produced mutually incompatible files due to opaque subformat options obscured behind the MXF file extension. Without advanced tools, it was impossible to distinguish these incompatible formats.

In 2010 Canon released its new lineup of professional file-based camcorders. The recording format used in these camcorders incorporates MPEG-2 video with bitrates up to 50 Mbit/s and 16-bit linear PCM audio in what Canon has called XF codec.

In fact, most of the incompatibilities were addressed and ratified in the 2009 version of the standard. And there are an increasing number of professional NLE's that can work with MXF files natively including Avid, Adobe Premiere Pro 3.1 or above, Sony Vegas, and GrassValley EDIUS or via import operations like in Final Cut Pro using the Sony XDCAM Transfer plug-in.

But still, MXF is a self-container format, which is not ideal for editing/postproduction anyhow. If you want to import MXF videos shot by Canon/Sony/Panasonic camcorders to FCP, iMovie, Sony Vegas, Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, etc, you need to transfer the format first.

MXF Converters

FFmpeg, an open source project added support for muxing and demuxing of MXF and MXF D-10 in FFmpeg 0.5, released in March 2009.

Brorsoft MXF Converter (Click here if you are running on Mac OS X)

Brorsoft MXF Converter is a professional MXF Converting tool(separate Windows & Mac version) which features transcoding MXF recordings shot by Panasonic P2 camcorders, Canon XF series camcorders and Sony XDCAM camcorders to edit-friendly formats like Apple ProRes, AIC, MPEG-2, DNxHD... compatible with Video Editing Software: Final Cut Pro, iMovie, Final Cut Express, Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, Apple Aperture 3, Kdenlive, Sony Vegas, Pinnacle Studio, Windows Movie Maker, Cyberlink, DaVinci Resolve, iPhoto, etc.


Import MXF clips into FCP without losing audio
How to load Sony XDCAM MXF files to Premiere Pro
Convert/Import P2 MXF files to Davinci Resolve
Transcoding Canon MXF footage to DNxHD for Avid MC

Besides compatible with NLE, this MXF converter can also convert MXF to a common video format for smooth playing on Home Theater System: WD TV Media Player, HDTV, etc; Portable Devices: iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, PS3, Xbox 360, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2/Tab 3, Kindle Fire HD, Google Nexus 10/7/4, Surface RT/Pro, HTC One, Galaxy S3/S4, etc; Media Players: QuickTime Player, VLC, iTunes, Windows Media Player and more.


How to Play MXF files with VLC
How to upload MXF clips onto YouTube

What's more, the built-in video editing feature of this MXF utility, let you merge, trim, crop, add watermark, attach subtitles(*.srt/*.ass/*.ssa ), etc for your video clips in a simple way.


How to Merge MXF files

Learn more MXF file conversion tutorial, please reference MXF Column.


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