Unveiled, from Sony Creative Software: Catalyst Prepare


File-based workflows have all sorts of advantages, compared to the old linear days of video tape and film. But with new technology comes new hurdles. Arguably one of the biggest challenges brought by the digital revolution—since it costs virtually nothing to just let the camera roll all day—is what to do with all that footage. With tape, things were simple. The editor (or more likely assistant) pressed "capture" and hopefully took copious notes while the tape (or logged clips) digitized in real time. Now we can get video and audio onto the computer almost as soon as it shot, with terabytes of hard drive space costing next to nothing—which sounds like a boon. But more often than not, one is left with a heap of files distinguished only by date, time, and a file name something like this:













And that's just from camera A! With the time spent figuring out where all of these clips belong, one would have been better off watching the pot boil while tape after tape got ingested, especially when working on productions being shot out of sequence. Clips from C0001.MXF shot today might intercut with footage from C0036.MXF shot last week, and there's probably separate audio out there too, floating around somewhere at the sound person's station.


To address the demand for a pre-post-production solution, enter Sony Create Software with Catalyst Prepare. Prepare features the same media browser and transfer function as the company’s free Catalyst Browse, with which a7S users will already be familiar, but adds a host of tools to help the post team (or individual) get a head start on the editorial processes. Among these, the ability to make a rough cut and create storyboards, color correction with support for Sony's Ultra Wide Color Gamut, support for S-Log, and support for many RAW formats. Media can be imported in toto, or partial clips can be designated, much like old school tape logging, to save storage space or get rid of unusable takes right off the bat.


Once media is loaded, logged, organized, and ready to go—complete with meaningful metadata—you can create backups with the confidence of checksum verification, export proxies in NLE-friendly codes such as XAVC and H.264, or even upload to the cloud for multi-location, collaborative projects.


While it is optimized for large productions churning out massive volumes of footage, prosumer and freelance shooters will find a lot to appreciate in Prepare as well. It can be loaded on a laptop as an alternative to a full-blown suite of editing software, providing the user just the tools he or she needs while out on location. And for shooters who let others do the editing, it saves time getting the footage prepped and ready for delivery to the client.


Catalyst Prepare isn't just for Sony cameras, by the way. It works with GoPro, Canon cinema cameras and DSLRs, and more, and I'm sure we'll see more camera support added as time goes on. Not to mention, the software is fully supported on both Mac and Windows.


Digital has been sold on the promise that it saves time. But reality hasn't always lived up to expectation as productions find they are overwhelmed by more media than they can possibly sift through. Since time is money, and with competition from the Internet driving tighter deadlines, anything that can get the ball rolling on the editorial process sooner will be very much welcome. To this end, Catalyst Prepare fills a very important niche.




I PURCHASED (not rented) the Catalyst Suite back in May 2015 soon after I purchased my FS7 camera. I used it to help grade my footage and was pretty impressed at how color was made easy. However, the 2016 version of Catalyst offers no option to purchase an upgrade. It also forces me to pay for the software, not as a stand-alone, but as a yearly subscription, at close to the same price offered by Adobe for a much broader stable of software. And I was surprised that you took out the video clip playback envelope function in Edit that someone in Wisconsin put in for me.

Also a now disgruntled Sony Vegas user, I'm pretty much done with Sony Creative. Sorry guys, but you can't keep customers by treating us like orphans, only so you can attract new customers.

I tried Catalyst Prepare to convert XAVC-S "4k" to Avid DNxHD or DNxHR.    It didn't work.   

I hope that Sony will create a plug in to get XAVC-S into Avid 8.3 with the new DNxHR 4k editing codec.

Tried the trial version of Catalyst Prepare and was not impressed.   The idea sounds good, but the execution not so good.   Standard AVCHD is not handled properly.  Contiguous clips broken into 2GB or other size segments are not handled correctly and cannot be recovered without audio and/or video dropouts.  (Unlike Sony's non-professional products Play Memory Home and Vegas Device Explorer which handle the segmented clips just fine).

Product doesn't seem to be ready for real work environment.  Wait a year or two before buying.