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What is MXF Files?

by Edwin Liu | August 17, 2013 10:27 AM
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What is MXF ?

MXF, the acronym for Material Exchange Format, is defined by Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE). It is mainly used in film and television industry media production, editing, distribution, storage, etc. MXF is a multimedia format used by digital audio and video programs. It contains recorded audio&video data as well as metadata which describes the media stored in the files.

MXF is essentially regarded as a standard container or wrapper format for it can convert media files under a professional broadcasting&television environment. It is a kind file format which can do a medium compression and packing for the audio and video, just like the AVI multimedia format on the PC platform. But MXF format has gone beyond the usual category of AVI format. For example, MXF is designed to a format which can be used to packing MPEG2 stream, DV stream, YUV stream, PCM audio files and several database file formats. Besides, MXF also can handle packing multiple tracks audio&video files and the database files at the same time, for it is designed to support both stream media transmission and files transmission.

What are the MXF files from?                                           

MXF files are from: Sony XDCAM MXF, PMW EX1/ EX3/ 800/ VX10/ 350K, etc; Canon XF series, include XF305, XF300, XF105, XF100 and Canon C300, etc; Panasonic P2 digital video camera, like AG-HPX170 (NTSC version), AG-HPX171 (European version), AG-HPX300, AG-HPX370/371, AG-HPX500, AJ-HPX2100, AJ-HPX2700, AJ-HPX3000 and AJ-HPX3700 .etc

What help can MXF bring us?

At this moment there is not any kind of file container format that can meet all the requirements of broadcast production. While the MXF is designed to satisfy the needs of the most current and future media exchange. We expect to see the media files exchange on different carries, including audio&video server, off-line or near-line storage system, editing workstation, video equipment(with Ethernet file outflow ability), streaming media file format, etc. The most important is that MXF allows different companies or applications exchange their resources freely without depending on a particular file format.

Will MXF replace the file formats which have been widely used at present?

Maybe it still needs a period of time. Now, MPEG, AVI, GXF, Quick Time and DIF are widely used in hard drives and tape storage. If all the format are converted to MXF in a very short, it will need a huge outside power. However, MXF will be used by the equipments primarily, including upgrading of the audio&video equipments and nonlinear equipments(for example P2 camcorder). MXF also can be used as a storage format. But it needs to coexist with other file formats, untile all of those formats are converted to MXF. So the popularity of MXF still requires a certain amount of time.

What is the relationship between MXF and AAF?

When MXF is developed, AAF(Advanced Authoring Format) is also developed by AAF association at the same time. These two file formats are becoming important infrastructures of making film&television programs based on IT. AAF is mainly used in editing and producing media files, its apply emphasis is different from MXF. Before the completion of the development of MXF, a variety of audio&video file formats have already existed, such as GXF, Quick Time, DPX and AVI. But only MXF can meet the applying requirements mostly, especially in the aspects of openness and metadata expansibility. So the MXF file format is applied more and more widely.

AAF is the advanced authoring format. it is designed and formulated by the AAF Association. The AAF file is created according to the MXF standard and can be opened by the programs which supports AAF program. In addition, the MXF file can be embedded into AAF. AAF extends the applications of MXF, but it has no substantial progress. And it is mainly used for carrying the compounding information of complex media segments.

Note: Just like other media container formats, the proper codec must be present in order to make the media that is stored in an MXF file playable.


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