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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old December 15th, 2008, 07:23 AM   #31
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A lot has changed since February when virtually all of these prior posts above took place.

AVCHD on the PC is now available with 9 mostly low cost editing and authoring programs, some of which (IMHO) are much better than iMovie, particularly the newer iMovie in terms of functionality. Among these 9 choices, Pinnacle has released a newer version which adds a number of new features.

AVCHD remains a very difficult format to handle unless the computer is a recent quadcore, and any of the machines without this capacity will either take a long time to convert AVCHD to another format for editing, or will perform slowly and lack smooth editing when editing AVCHD directly. The good news is that quadcore chips have fallen into the $200 range so that adequate PCs can now be had for well below $1000. The Mac still does not do quadcores except in the MacPro family, and is thus a comparatively expensive choice for AVCHD. Also, the Mac family has yet to provde any Apple products, software, or support either for AVCHD authoring on red laser disks or BluRay authoring on Bluray burners, leaving you with no way to distribute your output.

I agree with the advice to avoid AVCHD if your hardware is not up to the task, and 1440 by 1080 HDV offers a much less demanding option. If you are looking for the ultimately in portability and razor-sharp video however, the 1920 by 1080 video with AVCHD camcorders is outstanding.

Several of the PC programs offer trial versions, thus allowing a complete comparison before making a purchase. This also allows someone with an underpowered piece of hardware to see what type of sluggish performance they will encounter without making any expensive purchase in advance.

The 9 PC programs which handle AVCHD nicely are:

Corel VideoStudio X2 Pro
Pinnacle Studio Ultimate 12
ArcSoft Total Media Extreme
Sony Vegas 8 Pro
Nero Vision
Corel Movie Factory
CyberLink Power Director 7 Ultra
Adobe CS4
Sony Vegas Home

There are also other AVCHD editing and other tools such as TMPGE Express, Vaast Upshift, Elcaset, and others, as well as freeware / shareware which round out the toolbox for those of us who like to dabble further.

Larry
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Old December 15th, 2008, 07:36 AM   #32
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adding on to what Larry said, you can also shot AVCHD in 1440x1080, which is far less demanding on the computer than 1920x1080 is, and the lower the bit rate, the lower the demand on the computer to process it. granted, lower bit rates have lower visual quality. 1440 vs 1920 in and of itself is subject, and you may or may not notice an appreciable difference in quality, so shooting 1440 @ 12Mbps may look just as good to you as 1920 @ 17Mbps.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 08:04 AM   #33
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I have tested most edit packages currently available on the market and by far, I found Corel VideoStudio X2 Pro the best to handle AVCHD video. It does not play AVCHD faster than any other package but there is a very neat background processing feature that allows for converting AVCHD clips to low res 320x240 AVIs proxies. That process is pretty fast, about realtime on a mid-range dual core laptop. Editing is then very easy and picture and video are always in sync. When choosing to ouput your sequence, the program will use the AVCHD clips for final export. There are a few shortcomings in the editing interface but overall, this is a fantastic piece of software to edit AVCHD.

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Old December 15th, 2008, 08:38 AM   #34
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I share the opinion of Thierry, and personally own and use 8 of the 9 PC programs I listed, (as well as Final Cut and iMovie on the MacPro up until recently). I refuse to buy any more Adobe video software after having bad experiences with Premiere and Premiere Elements.

There is a small splicing issue with VideoStudio X2 Pro which is now partially if not entirely corrected with a patch. It may not effect all AVCHD camcorders but did show up for some of the modes of the HF10/HF100 until the patch was released.

I would hate to only have to use one AVCHD program for all of my content here, but if I had to choose only 1, I would probably go for Cyberlink Power Director 7 Ultra with VideoStudio X2 Pro being almost neck-and-neck. On a dual core, I think VideoStudio X2Pro would be my first choice.

Larry
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Old December 15th, 2008, 09:28 AM   #35
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most of the programs that larry listed have demos available for them. download them and try them out to see how well they run on your computer and what you think of the interface. you can find AVCHD sample files on the internet. you may find that you love a particular program and hate another.
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