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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old May 21st, 2008, 09:42 AM   #1
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Computer requirements to edit AVCHD

Hey guys,

I have a ton of video to edit from my honeymoon. I realize I may need to assemble a new computer for this task. What are the minimum requirements to do this? Right now I have a Radeon 1600 pro card, a 3200 Athlon 64 and 3 gigs of memory running XP pro. I can upgrade the CPU to an 939 slot FX or X2 running at 3600 up to 4400. I am hoping that that may be enough because I don't want to assemble another monsta.

Let me know.

Regards,
Mario
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Old May 21st, 2008, 11:07 AM   #2
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What you need in the way of computer upgrade may be affected by your NLE software too.

I have a Canon HF100 and I've been using Pinnacle Studio since one of their very early versions. Version 11 with latest update patches will edit AVCHD .mts files without any transcoding and will render to SD DVDs, AVCHD format on SD DVD (playable in BluRay players or PS3, and various file formats.

But...Pinnacle says minimum specs for 1920x1080 AVCHD editing is quad core processor with 2.66GHz minimun clock speed. Mine is quad core Q6600 at 2.4GHz and it is kind of just barely handling it.

I had ordered a Dell refurb XPS 420 with the quad core Q6600, 4GB RAM, and a separate ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics card...Hoping that would be enough.

For now, I set the camera for 1440x1080 at 12MBps and Pinnacle on that Dell handles that just fine and the results look great.

Check out:

http://www.vimeo.com/926994

To see.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 01:11 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info Bruce.

This is a major monkey wrench for me. It seems that Pixela (ImageMixer 3 SE) will not guarantee that it will work with a duo AMD processor. THey said it will not support 64bit. The thing is that it works on my current Athlon64 system, so I don't see why a different processor would make that much of a difference. I hope I don't have to go quad core. Also, I am hoping that my ATI X1600 Pro w/ 256mb of memory will provide enough horse power. We will see.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 09:48 PM   #4
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Which camera do you have and how did you have it set?

The HF100 has max resolution of 1920x1080 at 17Mbps, hi res of 1440x1080 at 12Mbps and two lower res 1440x1080 choices with lower bitrates.

If you had the cam set for the 1440x1080 at 12Mbps there's a chance your current computer would handle it with Pinnacle Studio.

Otherwise I would go for the fastest quad core processer but none slower than 2.66GHz clock speed that I could make myself afford.

Pixela ImageMaker works fine on my Quad core Q6600. It is a very awkward to use editor but in a pinch I suppose I could use it. On my trial sessions with it my biggest complaint is the supper sluggish way it responds to attempts to "trim" clips. I'm used to almost single frame accuracy in trimming "in" and "out" points.

Pinnacle Studio has these advantages:

1. Edits AVCHD natively-no need to transcode to anything else.

2. Very intuitive workflow. Especially with AVCHD

3. Many transitions and effects come with it.

4. Plus version has a second video track. Makes cutaways, picture in picture, greenscreen and stuff like that a lot easier.

5. Music generation: This is a big plus for me. It comes with some music you can use freely, scoring with music couldn't be simpler. Mark the scenes or sequence you need to score, select the music, and the computer and software "compose" it to the length needed with a beginning, middle passages, and most of the time a good ending.

6. Renders to a variety of file formats, DVD, and you can even render to an AVCHD file on standard DVD that plays in BluRay players or PS3.

7. Inexpensive. Best Buy has Studio 11 Plus for $99.95. The basic version is less but does not have the second video track and you don't need the more expensive Ultimate version.

But I would start building or saving towards a high performance platform. You'll need it.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 10:49 PM   #5
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Please forgive my somewhat off topic comments, but why is transcoding always mentioned such a big deal? I just don't get it. Is the five minutes it takes to setup an import really that big of a concern? It's not like you're forced to stay in the room and watch the progress bar while the import and transcoding is taking place.

The larger file sizes of intermediate formats are obviously a concern, but if you have a machine that's in the ballpark for editing AVCHD natively, then storage is likely not a problem for you either. So if you can transcode your footage into a format that allows you to do your editing work with a smoother computer response (if not real time), then why not?
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 06:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mario Salazar View Post
Thanks for the info Bruce.

This is a major monkey wrench for me. It seems that Pixela (ImageMixer 3 SE) will not guarantee that it will work with a duo AMD processor. THey said it will not support 64bit. The thing is that it works on my current Athlon64 system, so I don't see why a different processor would make that much of a difference. I hope I don't have to go quad core. Also, I am hoping that my ATI X1600 Pro w/ 256mb of memory will provide enough horse power. We will see.

What windows are you running, 32 bit XP or 32 bit Vista? If so your processor is only running in 32 bit, not 64 bit.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 08:31 AM   #7
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I am running xp pro. The cam is set at the highest res. I bought an imac to see if it works any better than a pc. We will see. It has a 2.8 duo in it and can play the files. Still learning how to edit in I movies.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 10:34 AM   #8
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Bruce;
The Q6600 is famous for being overclockable up to well past 3.0GHz. I have never tried overclocking because of overheating problems that need an extra CPU fan, but I intend to as soon as I get around to building my next computer. I suspect overclocking will be very useful with AVCHD.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 11:25 AM   #9
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I have a Panasonic SD5 AVCHD camcorder. My existing 3GHz P4 would edit very satisfactorily using the Panasonic software that came with the camera. It is cuts-only (actually a playlist of existing files) creates a disc which plays on the computer, or can be copied back to SD card to play in the camera. The disc also plays fine through the camera or in a BR player.

I picked up Pinnacle plus 11 for half price from a Best Buy Sunday ad. It was not advertised as such at the store - but rang up at $50. It would not even play files in my P4.

I ended up building a Q6600 computer overclocked to 3.0GHz with an overclocked Invidia 8800GTS video board. It runs flight simulator well too!

That did the trick! I can see where the very easy-to-use Panasonic software could meet the needs of many. In fact, you don't even need a computer with the bundled burner. I'm afraid more flexible editing is going to require a computer upgrade!

Good luck,
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 11:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom O'Farrell View Post
Bruce;
The Q6600 is famous for being overclockable up to well past 3.0GHz. I have never tried overclocking because of overheating problems that need an extra CPU fan, but I intend to as soon as I get around to building my next computer. I suspect overclocking will be very useful with AVCHD.
That's an avenue I need to look into. I am seeing comments on forums and hearing that the Q6600 in the Dell XPS 420 series is on a mother board that is locked with respect to overclocking. I'll be contacting Dell for info on that.

Thanks.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 12:47 PM   #11
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I have set my HF10 to 1440x1080 at 12Mbps because Final Cut Studio cannot handle the full 1920x1080 resolution. If I import the movies into iMovie to transcode the AVCHD file into MOV files (for import into FCE), it takes forever on my dual-core Mac Book Pro with 2.4GHz processor and 2GB RAM. Importing about an hour of footage takes up to 3 hours in my computer. As said before, it's best you don't sit in front of your computer and watch the status bar. It takes about the same amount of time to import the footage on my dual-processor Mac G5 2GHz 2 GB RAM computer.

Now, what's even more important is that the generated MOV files are huge. I had to purchase two 1 TB Lacie Big Disk Firewire 800 hard drives (one to store the footage and edit, one for backup) to be able to store and handle the footage.

So again, my 2.4 GHz dual-core and my 2 GHz dual-processor machines can handle everything just fine, but takes some time.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 01:07 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Stefan Immler View Post
I have set my HF10 to 1440x1080 at 12Mbps because Final Cut Studio cannot handle the full 1920x1080 resolution.
Are you using an older version of FCS? The current FCP 6 seems to handle 1920 x 1080 just fine.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 01:41 PM   #13
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Sorry, that was a typo. I use Final Cut EXPRESS.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 08:42 AM   #14
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great to hear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefan Immler View Post
I have set my HF10 to 1440x1080 at 12Mbps because Final Cut Studio cannot handle the full 1920x1080 resolution. If I import the movies into iMovie to transcode the AVCHD file into MOV files (for import into FCE), it takes forever on my dual-core Mac Book Pro with 2.4GHz processor and 2GB RAM. Importing about an hour of footage takes up to 3 hours in my computer. As said before, it's best you don't sit in front of your computer and watch the status bar. It takes about the same amount of time to import the footage on my dual-processor Mac G5 2GHz 2 GB RAM computer.

Now, what's even more important is that the generated MOV files are huge. I had to purchase two 1 TB Lacie Big Disk Firewire 800 hard drives (one to store the footage and edit, one for backup) to be able to store and handle the footage.

So again, my 2.4 GHz dual-core and my 2 GHz dual-processor machines can handle everything just fine, but takes some time.
I was just wondering about this since I have a same G5, about to get a MBP and my first AVCHD camera. Thanks for the info.

so when apple says you need an intel based to work with AVCHD they mean NATIVE AVCHD, right?

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=305997

Stefan..what about after those 3hrs per hour of footage? do you have to render a lot? any real time effects? slow scrubbing? any problems?

wuao...I see...big files....means more $$$$$

I'm debating between my first MBP or go for the Mac Pro...also I wonder if my be better to go straight to P2. I wonder if the $$$ will even out between P2 cards and faster computer with a lot of storage for AVCHD.

Any advice, opinions?

Thanks again.

Osmany
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 01:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Osmany Tellez View Post
So when apple says you need an intel based to work with AVCHD they mean NATIVE AVCHD, right?

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=305997
That is not correct. None of Apple's software products are capable of working with AVCHD nateively. You have to transcode to either AIC or preferably one of the two variants of ProRes 422.

If you weren't already aware, you can download all of FCP's documentation (other than the Help content) from Apple's web site. The document "Final Cut Pro 6 Working With High Definition and Broadcast Formats" would probably be of particular interest to you along with User Manual Appendix called "Video Formats Supported by Final Cut Pro."

http://www.apple.com/support/manuals/finalcutpro/

As for performance, you may want to take a quick look at my recent experience at an Apple store. I didn't play with the same machines you are considering but my experience may give you a bit of perspective of where the options may stand relative to each other.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showpost....83&postcount=6
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