Sony Catalyst Browse software released for download

By technical editor Matt Allard:

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We recently gave you a glimpse of Sony’s new Catalyst Browse at IBC and now the product is available for download.

Catalyst Browse is a free, clip-management tool specifically designed for Sony camcorders and decks such as CineAlta, SR, XDCAM and NXCAM series, this includes cameras like the new FS7.  Versions are available in both Windows and Mac OSX. Sony always prided themselves on good end-to-end solutions from capture to delivery, but in recent years the software has been poorly designed and not very user friendly. There were just too many ingest and viewing applications – XDCAM viewer, Content Browser, SR viewer and Sony RAW viewer all did similar things but for different codecs. The new Catalyst Browse and Catalyst Prepare are supposed to streamline and replace all those products. 

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Catalyst Prepare is not available yet and is supposed to compliment Catalyst Browse with the addition of image enhancements, backup and metadata options. Prepare will also allow you to assemble a rough cut. Catalyst Browse is free but Sony will charge $199 for Catalyst Prepare when it ships.

I think Sony will have a tough sell trying to charge customers $199 for Catalyst Prepare – a piece of software that is primarily designed to make their products fit into a regular workflow. After all, if Blackmagic can give you Davinci Resolve for free then how can Sony charge $199 for something less fully specified? Customers who paid a lot of money for Sony cameras are likely expecting free software at this point.

Anyway let’s have a look at what you do get for free. Catalyst Browser offers the following: 

• Browse — Quickly browse the files on your device using a thumbnail view or detailed list.
• View — See the details of each clip, check focus, mark in and out points, adjust colors, and edit metadata.
• Fast Copy — Copy all clips on the media, a subset, or only the desired portion of a clip to save time and space.
• Ultra Wide Color Gamut — Review with confidence the full range of color captured by your S-Log and RAW Sony cameras. Apply color looks, and import/export standard ASC-CDL files with other workflow tools to save time.
• Clip Lists — Create, import, and export Sony Professional Disc clip lists for quick play-out needs.
• Transcode and Cloud Upload — Transcode clips to the most popular video production formats. Upload clips directly to the Sony Ci media cloud for collaborative team review.
• OpenCL GPU accelerated video engine for smooth playback and fast rendering
• Precise color engine featuring ultra wide color gamut and large dynamic range capabilities for previewing and adjusting S-Log, S-Log2, S-Log-3, RAW, and Rec.709 source footage
• Comprehensive format support for all the Sony Professional cameras. 

I downloaded the software and have found it far easier to use than the muddled and complicated interface of Content Browser, which it replaces. It also replaces SR Viewer which was an equally horrible piece of software. Catalyst Browse provides a much more user friendly interface but I did have the program crash on me on several occasions without warning. 

Previewing clips is easy in Catalyst Browse
Previewing clips is easy in Catalyst Browse

One of the great new features is the ability to easily copy your material or transcode formats like XAVC to more popular codecs such as Apple ProRes. There is however no way of transcoding to anything higher than 2K resolution into ProRes.

Transcoding to Apple ProRes is a welcome option
Transcoding to Apple ProRes is a welcome option

You can also transcode to MP4 variants for uploading to the web or to put directly onto a iPad etc. – possibly useful for rapid sending of rushes in news situations. There is also the ability to transcode into variants of XAVC or DPX files. 

Basic adjustments can be made in the software
Basic adjustments can be made in the software

Built into the program is also the ability to do basic colour correction and have split screen views etc. You can view the material in an ultra wide colour gamut, but because this gamut pretty much exceeds all displays out there, what you actually see is always going to limited by the monitor you are using. You can apply basic colour correction and then import/export standard ASC-CDL files to use later on. 

Camera metadata is easily viewed
Camera metadata is easily viewed

There are various other features including the ability to view the material at any size as well as view with an anamorphic squeeze and horizontal or vertical flip. You can also listen to and pan up to 4 channels of audio – another good feature. 

Catalyst Browse looks like a good step in the right direction for Sony. Hopefully it will make the process of reviewing, browsing, copying and transcoding your material just a little bit easier. 

To download Catalyst Browse go to this link.

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