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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old March 4th, 2008, 08:53 PM   #1
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AVCHD file playback

I'm setting up a home theater pc and the last bit I'm having problems with is the avchd file format. I have an ATI video board that supports hardware playback of avc files through cyberlink's powerdvd ultra and through windows media player. When they work, the files played through HDMI look fantastic on my HDTV . My issue is - I'm trying to narrow down a purchase of a HD camcorder that records in avchd format- don't want to deal with tape anymore. I want to be able to copy the raw files to the htcp and play them without editing. I've been downloading files off the internet from different camcorders to see if they'll play on my computer without problems. But it seems avchd files from different camcorders react differntly- some will playback fine with hardware support, others won't and revert to software playback, which makes them choppy and unplayable. Maybe these aren't really raw files , but they do have the mp4 extention . I've created avchd files with vegas 8 using the blue ray 1080i preset and those play fine and have the avc file extension (except for the fact that they all have a purple line across the bottom during playback, but I'll figure that one out in the vegas forum). I'm wondering if each camcorder manufacturer uses different encoding properties when they make their raw files. More importantly, are any of you doing what I'm trying to do with your AVCHD camcorders- play back raw files down loaded from the camcorder on your computer with hardware assisted playback from your ATI video card ( even if it's hardware assisted from an nVidia card) . If your are successful, what camcorder are you using?
I'm trying to pull it off without having to upgrade my htpc cpu and mother board as I know the ATI card can handle it fine with some files. I also don't want to have to re encode every file to make it into an exact spec an ATI or nVidia card can play. That would defeat one of my major reasons for wanting to go tapeless.

Thanks,
Bill
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Old March 4th, 2008, 10:21 PM   #2
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This software is usually recommended.
http://www.coreavc.com/

Another option is buying a PS3.
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Old March 5th, 2008, 05:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Jernigan View Post
some will playback fine with hardware support, others won't and revert to software playback, which makes them choppy and unplayable........ More importantly, are any of you doing what I'm trying to do with your AVCHD camcorders- play back raw files down loaded from the camcorder on your computer with hardware assisted playback from your ATI video card ( even if it's hardware assisted from an nVidia card) . If your are successful, what camcorder are you using?
I have a canon HG10 and playing back raw MTS/M2TS files on my PC (also with an ATI card), they were choppy and unplayable when I had only the software that came with the camcorder. After getting coreAVC the problem was solved. output looks perfect now.

I wondered how Canon could even sell the camcorder w/o something like coreAVC included.....most new users (it was my first camcorder ever (and what a beauty I must say)) will see a file that came off their new fancy tapeless camcorder and will want to click it and have it play on their PC. The fact that it was basically unplayable before I got coreAVC was shocking to me. Almost made me think of returning it. For the $8 or $15 that it costs for coreAVC they should just include it on the CD :)

BTW, am also planning to get a PS3 to be able to play the raw files to my TV over the network (PC is not in the same room).
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Old March 5th, 2008, 10:47 PM   #4
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I purchased the CoreAVC profesional pack and installed it.Here's where I'm at so far:

files I've downloaded from the net with .mp4 extension are using the coreavc decoder, but I'm getting some studdering ( it plays much better with the coreavc pack , but still not flawlessly though).Plays through wmp 10 and Media Center. Problem with the net files, I'm still not 100% sure if they are indeed raw files. Changing these file's extensions to .avc still uses the coreavc decoder.

files I've created with Vegas 8 using Sony AVC blue ray 1080i preset use the ATI hardware on playback, no matter what avchd file extension. With the .avc extension, they play in wmp 10, but aren't recognized in Media Center. With .m2t extension, they play in both wmp 10 and Media center. With .m2ts or .mp4 extension they play in wmp 10 but cause an error in Media Center.

Apparently, there is a difference on how the files are created as to whether or not they will let the cyberlink decoder kick in to utilize the ATI hardware playback. Don't know if that is tied into the cyberlink software or the ATI drivers.
My htcp computer has a P4 3 ghtz, but I'm assuming to get stutter free playback through software would require a dou core processor. I don't want to go that route right now as at least I know I can watch avc files as long as they are done through vegas. Since it's the Sony preset, maybe sony avchd camcorder files are the same. I'm hoping.

If I get my hands on raw avcd files that I know are truly unprocessed I'll post the results. I only need 1 or 2 sec clips to test them. Thinking about a trip to local retailer this weekend and see if they'll let me record files onto my own storage card to test out.

Bill
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Old March 6th, 2008, 05:04 PM   #5
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I have a Panasonic HDC SD5, And they state to use the included software to copy, play, and do cuts-only edits. This means the clips are never re-encoded. The camera (and the software) use a fairly complex folder structure to keep track of everything. What appears to be cuts-only editing is really a playlist coupled the ability to divide clips.

The same thing can be accomplished with the bundled DVD burner connected to the camera. The discs can be played back through the camera's HDMI out, or in a Blu-ray player.

It really is a very SIMPLE system. What an easy to shoot and view HD at home. If you want a fancy production - it's much tougher!

Hope this helps,
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Old March 6th, 2008, 08:13 PM   #6
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I received a raw avchd file from an hg10 and sr11, both play back with hardware acceleration in media player10 and media center using the ati card.

Getting the ATI card was a cheap fix, it was a ATI 3450 and picked it up for $49. The Cyperlink H .264 pack was $39, or you can buy powerdvd ultra for $99 ( needed it for Blue Ray Disc playback anyways).

Still appears though that any editing of the raw files, with Vegas 8 at least, requires re rendering the entire file. Vegas only does smart render on HDV files at this time. Maybe that will change with updates.

Anyways, thanks all for your help

Bill
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