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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old July 28th, 2008, 10:03 PM   #1
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Truly Outstanding AVCHD disks?

I've been experimenting with several programs which can make menued AVCHD disks, using an HF-100 for video and some very high quality still photos.

My experience in making comparisons so far indicates that few programs do any form of 'smart' rendering, and therefore spend a lot of time transcoding the AVCHD content, losing quality in the process. Nero Vision 8 seems to be one of the few which does not alter the video, nor does Ulead.

To my critical eyes, these seem to do the very best job, all considered.

Has anybody done other comparisons to see just who really makes the very best looking AVCHD disks?
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Old July 31st, 2008, 02:00 PM   #2
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Nobody else making AVCHD disks?
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Old July 31st, 2008, 09:08 PM   #3
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I do make DVD-R BR disks from AVCHD footage, but my route is circuitous. I convert the source AVCHD clips to Cineform CFHD .avi for editing, transcode the edited avi to Blu Ray h.264, author a Blu Ray program in Encore, build an image .ISO file, and burn the image file to DVD-R with ImgBurn. The disks will play on BR player and look stunning on HDTV- easily as good as HDV tape out via HDMI.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 06:19 PM   #4
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Your workflow does sound a bit circuitous as you say Bob, and I am glad to know that the AVCHD to avi to h.264 transcodes preserve the original quality.


Do you encode the eventual h.264 at the same bitrate as the original AVCHD content? Also, could you author directly to DVD-R from Encore as an AVCHD disk, or do you need to use the iso image with ImgBurn?
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Old August 1st, 2008, 07:14 PM   #5
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The Cineform HD.avi is bullet proof. No matter if you are acquiring in HD, HDV, AVCHD, capturing and editing in cineform is near lossless, and, once on your timeline, is as simple as editing DV. Output to DVD, BR, Flash, iTunes, or whatever gives great quality images.
Encore will only burn BR to BD. I have to use ImgBurn to get BR on DVD-R. For burning to DVD-R, I encode h.264 2 Pass VBR 18Mbs (23Mbs max rate). I get BR playback errors (stutter, freeze, audio drop out) with higher rates on DVD-R.
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Old August 2nd, 2008, 08:11 AM   #6
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Thanks for your reply Bob. Your approach is an attractive alternative which offers flexibility in mixing formats on the timeline. Also glad to know the Encore/ImgBurn route to a playable AVCHD.

I've been evaluating each of the 'off the shelf' AVCHD creation alternatives using low cost software such as those programs from Ulead, Cyberlink, Pinnacle, Vegas, and Nero, all of which ingest AVCHD and directly output AVCHD disks. My "Gold Standard" for comparison is to use HDV 'identical' content from one of my HDV camcorders (the HV20) encoded in mpeg2 25 Mbits/sec onto HD DVD or Blu Ray, both of which I burn also. It has been quite revealing and surprising to see how much variation there is between AVCHD finished disks, particularly when examining still frame captures which are cropped and enlarged, and compared directly to the originally ingested video content which is also cropped and enlarged in the identical frames containing highly detailed material. Inevitably, the 'smart rendered' programs which do not attempt to render the AVCHD but merely re-write the original clip preserve the integrity of the original content to a visibly greater extent. This is also evident when the clips are played via HDMI onto a very high quality 1080p monitor or directly from the TIFF captures on my computer monitor, also a very high quality 1080p display.

Most ironic is the fact that the very nicest looking AVCHD disks are generated by the video editing program "Nero Vision" within Nero 8 Ultra, a cheap suite of burning and editing software for 70 bucks. Neither Vegas Pro or Final Cut Studio can match it, despite their substantially greater cost.

My experimentation with a clip from the new Canon HF11, a 24 Mbit/sec improved version of the 17 Mbit/sec HF10 which I am presently using, convinced me last night that Nero can also 'smart render' this higher bitrate, now hitting the consumer AVCHD bitrate limit, and DVD-R disks I burned late last night played with no stutter on my Sony PS3. I had anticipated this result since I have previously been able to play 25 Mbit/sec DVD-Rs within both HD DVD and BluRay players with mpeg2, but I was anxious / delighted to see that AVCHD playback does not appear to sacrifice smooth playback in any way.

I wanted to mention that I have enjoyed looking at your website and applaud your activities. As a 5 time visitor to Maui from here in the Northeast U.S., I also applaud / envy your choice of residence. (-8

Best,

Larry
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Old August 2nd, 2008, 12:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Horwitz View Post
I've been evaluating each of the 'off the shelf' AVCHD creation alternatives using low cost software such as those programs from Ulead, Cyberlink, Pinnacle, Vegas, and Nero, all of which ingest AVCHD and directly output AVCHD disks.
What is your verdict on Ulead VideoStudio 11.5 Plus? It is supposed to have smart render like Nero as well. I am still undecided which one to get, I have an old copy of VS, so upgrading it would be the lowest cost for me.
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Old August 2nd, 2008, 03:17 PM   #8
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Vince,
The user interface of VideoStudio 11.5 Plus is a bit unwieldy, particularly for timeline editing, but the set of features and supplied content is quite impressive, and the Smart Render is a huge attraction in my opinion. I also find the various output formats supported to be very extensive, especially considering that the program can be had for as little as 69 bucks occasionally. It makes very nice animated menus with HD DVD and BluRay, but for some reason omits the animation in AVCHD disks, not a major criticism. If you are unsure about whether this or Nero is the better choice, you might download both trials, and give them each a workout. VS is definitely a richer feature set than the Nero Vision program, but for pure speed and highest quality output, I (with embarrasment) admit that I use Nero almost all the time now for AVCHD, even though I have virtually all the other programs here to chose from.
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