Key Benefits of the MXF Files for Professional Video Production

Key Benefits of the MXF Files for Professional Video Production

Just recently we’ve posted a review of the new Panasonic mid-range (enthusiast-class) camcorders, namely Panasonic HC-X1500, HC-X2000 and AG-CX10. These are great camcorders that give you the opportunity to enter the world of professional video production while not cost you the world.

mxf files

Among other features, these cameras provide you with the ability to shoot 4k UHD video, up to 60 frames per second, with the 200 megabits per second-bit rate. For more specs of these cameras, please see the full review.

To handle such a bit rate, there is one more feature that distinguishes these camcorders from entry-level alternatives – support for micro P2 memory cards and the ability to shoot video in the MXF format.

MXF video format is de-facto a standard for professional video production. Most of the high-end and semi-professional camcorders allow you to record video in the MXF format. On our blog, we do reviews of high-end camcorders, like the mentioned above Panasonic models, or Canon XC10. However, recently, we realized that not all our readers are aware of the advantages of the many features that these camcorders provide. And so, in this article, we decided to share the key benefits you get when shooting video in the MXF format. We will also share some tips on how to work with MXF files.

What is an MXF file?

MXF stands for Material Exchange Format. Just like other common video file types, such as MP4, MOV, AVI, etc., MXF is a container, or “wrapper”, which can hold media data along with metadata that describes the content contained in the file.

MXF was developed by a consortium of leading Broadcast and Digital Production entities and meets a set of SMPTE standards. The idea behind MXF is to transform professional video and audio production to a completely tapeless environment, while providing a universal format, which can be processed using any professional hardware/software, regardless of the vendor.

Unlike other video file containers, MXF can hold multiple different video and audio streams, each encoded with different compression formats for full production and editing. It also has full timecode and metadata support. Other benefits include:

  • Unmatched media capture length of up to 12 hours video in a single file with 2 channels of 48k audio.
  • While most of the video file formats (containers) store media streams at the beginning of the file and the metadata – at the end, MXF files store media content in the middle of the file and the metadata – in the Header AND in the Footer.
  • If the MXF file size is larger than what your file system can hold for a single file, the MXF file can span across different volumes during the import process to support its size.

How do I open MXF files?

Not all generic media players can play MXF files. For example, with a standard pre-installed codecs pack, you won’t be able to play MXF video in Windows Media Player.

However, you can use an alternative free media player, called VLC Media Player. It works both on Windows and Mac platforms and supports pretty much all the video formats you can think of. It also comes with a free codecs pack, which you may need to install along with the player to be able to open MXF files.

Can I upload MXF files to YouTube?

Unfortunately, no – you can’t upload MXF files to YouTube. Below is the list of supported file formats that you CAN upload to YouTube:

  • .MOV,
  • .MPEG4
  • .MP4
  • .AVI
  • .WMV
  • .FLV
  • 3GPP
  • WebM
  • DNxHR
  • ProRes
  • CineForm
  • HEVC (h265)

If you have a video clip that you want to upload to YouTube, but it’s in the MXF format, then you will have to convert it to one of the formats listed above. There is a free video file converted that can help you with this, called XMedia Recode.

How can I repair a corrupt MXF file?

Just like any other video container, MXF files sometimes may have invalid data in their Header and Footer sections. This may be a result of some glitch during the recording or file transferring process. If

you’ve got a corrupted MXF file, you can repair it either with a video repair tool, or by sending the file to a video recovery service. If you can’t open, edit or play your MXF video, we recommend to follow steps from this article, which will guide you on how to fix issues with your MXF file.

How do I edit an MXF file?

There are three well-known video editing tools used by professionals in the video production industry, all of them support MXF files. These are:

  • AVID Media composer
  • Adobe Premier Pro
  • Final Cut Pro X

While all these tools support the MXF container, in some cases, you will need additional plugins to be able to open and edit MXF files recorded with specific camera models. The reason is, different camcorder vendors use different codecs and formats (Operational Patterns).

For example, AVID Media Composer can work with the OP-Atom format out of the box. While Sony XDCAM records MXF files with the OP-1A format.

If your MXF files are recorded with the OP-1A format, then you may need to transcode them to the OP-Atom first to be able to edit them in the AVID app.

This is true with other video editing platforms as well. While some MXF files may be edited out-of-the-box, others may require transcoding, additional plugins, or work-arounds. So, keep in mind – if you can’t open an MXF file with your video editing tool, just search Google, or vendor’s support documentation and forums – there might be an easy fix.

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