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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old December 5th, 2008, 09:59 AM   #1
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Considering AVCHD

Got an offer to produce a video, but they're requesting AVCHD. I'd love to give it a try, but I've heard a wide range in what is needed for proper playback in editing.

My editing machine:

CS4
Radeon HD 4850 video card
2.8 quad core Intel
4 gig RAM
32 bit Vista

They're wanting 1920x1080. I've heard that going the 1440x1080 route presents less of a problem when editing, but I'd rather hear it from someone that's used it. Any thoughts / cautions? I don't want to pick this job up if I'm going to have to deal with major editing issues.
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Old December 5th, 2008, 10:19 AM   #2
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Hi,

A lot depends upon what you mean by "proper playback", "problem when editing", and "major editing issues."

CS4 has had a spotty record with users (from my experience in reading this and other forums), although my experience has been fair.

If they asked for 1920x1080, I'd likely give that to them. If you have a camera that produces that output, give it try and see what you think. If you are looking for a purchase decision, download some clips to see how your system handles the content.

Mike
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Old December 5th, 2008, 10:28 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Gunter View Post
Hi,

If they asked for 1920x1080, I'd likely give that to them. If you have a camera that produces that output, give it try and see what you think. If you are looking for a purchase decision, download some clips to see how your system handles the content.

Mike
I messed with the Sony SR11 about 6 months ago, but that was before CS4 offered their AVCHD support. I'd most likely use the same camera.

The issues I've heard about include very choppy playback inside Premiere Pro, as well as issues navigating through the clips. A video put out by Adobe said that playback will vary considerably based on your system, as it's very difficult to work with the native file format. Premiere Pro doesn't change it to something else, and unfortunately, I'm not familiar with any other editing software.
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Old December 5th, 2008, 11:34 AM   #4
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Hi,

The CODEC is processor intensive, but of course, it also depends upon how much you plan to pressure it, too. Several layers and a lot of effects will make more difference than a straight line with a few cuts - and on it goes.

My camera, an HF100, is "in the shop" getting a hack for a 35mm adapter, and I plan to do some posting of some straightforward clips for downloading in various sizes. There are other locations you can download, too, and give it a go.

I don't mind the CODEC's lag time so much, but I've been doing this since the days of yore... When we were using Wite-out to correct errors on the screen.

Generally, I use Vegas to edit, but I also use TMPGEnc Xpress to remove pull down - I can edit in either Vegas or Premiere or any other NLE, and make a high quality HDV 24P 1920x1080 9bit file for editing. There isn't any lag time at all. It isn't native, but then there isn't any quality hit I can see.

Mike
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Old December 5th, 2008, 11:42 AM   #5
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Found some m2ts files hosted on some site. Going to take them back and see what sort of damage they do to the processor. I generally mess around with Magic Bullet Looks, but there's a good chance that's really going to kill processor time. I'll keep you updated. Thanks for the comments.
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Old December 5th, 2008, 12:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Maurer View Post
My editing machine:

CS4
Radeon HD 4850 video card
2.8 quad core Intel
4 gig RAM
32 bit Vista

They're wanting 1920x1080.
Does the CS4 allow you to use intermediary low-res files which at the end of the project you can just replace at the end? What I mean, this is what I do when I am facing AVCHD (I am using Vegas, which allows for this):

I export 2 versions of the footage, the full res 1080p and another one at lower res such as 480p (for each clip/scene you have). For an organized person, this should not be a problem.

I usually go by a folder structure let's say FOOTAGE/HD/ and another folder FOOTAGE/INTERMEDIARY. Both folders contain same files (same format etc) except one is lower res and another one it's the full res.

Then, I am editing the 480p files found in the INTERMEDIATE folder. When you are done with the whole editing process and you are ready for the final master, just save everything, close down Vegas and rename the INTERMEDIATE folder to OLD_INTER and the HD folder, name it INTERMEDIATE. That's it, open your project again and export full HD :)

Sounds more complicated than it is, just try this with a little clip in CS4 and see if it allows you to do the same.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 12:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mugurel Dragusin View Post
Does the CS4 allow you to use intermediary low-res files which at the end of the project you can just replace at the end? What I mean, this is what I do when I am facing AVCHD (I am using Vegas, which allows for this):
The old PROXY trick. :) This would be great for AVCHD, but it requires timecode which you only get with tape and expensive camcorders. Of course, HDV can be edited most everything so you don't need.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 08:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Gunter View Post
Hi,

My camera, an HF100, is "in the shop" getting a hack for a 35mm adapter,

Mike

Mike,


I am curious to know what the 35mm hack is, how much it costs, where it can be done, etc.

Thanks for the info,

Larry
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Old December 9th, 2008, 08:10 AM   #9
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Brian,

Just for completeness here, I want to make you aware (if you are not already) that several AVCHD NLEs are available which run very smoothly on a 2.8 GHz, 4GB, Vista 32bit quadcore using native AVCHD content. Among them are programs from Corel, Nero, Pinnacle, ArcSoft, and Sony. They will NOT be choppy as you fear when running 1920 by 1080 HD content with a system of your level of performance.

You can download and try the various programs (with the exception of Pinnacle which offers no trial version). The software programs I refer to are all in the $100 or less range, and the 30 day trials are mostly full function versions, Nero being the exception. Sony Vegas 8.0 Pro Suite is closer to $300, but Sony also offers a less expensive and comptent AVCHD editing program as well.

I understand that your editing needs may be more complex and professional than most of these programs support, but they are certainly worth a look. Vegas in particular is an excellet, full featured program.

Larry
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Old December 9th, 2008, 10:04 AM   #10
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Larry -

Thanks for following up. I actually just upgraded to Creative Suite 4. I found some m2ts files on the net, and gave them a test run in the new program. I didn't see any sort of chop issues while navigating through them. I did have to do a quick render at first; I'm guessing that CS4 requires this for some reason to make navigating through the native files easier. Either way, I think all is good. I gave Sony Vegas 8 a test run, and notices that it was quite a bit different than CS4's Pro. I think another reason why I might lean that way is that I tend to use Photoshop and AfterEffects quite often as supplementary to my editing process. Anyway, hoping to find some more m2ts files (hopefully something rather new, as I get the feeling these m2ts files I found were from the first gen cameras), to give it another test run.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 04:42 PM   #11
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CS4 question

Just got APP cs4, on a machine identical to yours except nVidia 8800gts 512kb video. I can import avchd natively and smoothly, somewhat to my surprise, no hiccups. I have only had small sample files so far, however, but ingest, edit and output to mov and avi have been uneventful. ACVHD is 1920, the 1440 format is HDV, using a non-square pixel, and is a different animal, afaik not a format supported on avchd....but I could be wrong on that....
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Old December 9th, 2008, 05:10 PM   #12
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I'm in the middle of editing a 1hr, fairly complex travel program that was shot in AVCHD. I'm using Premiere CS3 and Cineform ProspectHD DI (1920x1080). Once the raw AVCHD video is imported as Cineform HD.avi it's just like editing DV. I've done some test exports to DVD, BluRay, and Flash- it all looks great.
Only thing- Cineform doesn't have its product release for CS4 out yet, so it's only for CS3 or older right now.
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Old December 10th, 2008, 08:27 AM   #13
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Well, so far I'm pleased with all my tests. Just like you, I don't have a lot of test m2ts files laying around. I found some online, but again, I wouldn't be able to tell you what camera they're from. Otherwise, all tests seem to work just fine. I'm considering the Canon HF10. Found some good deals here and there. Just dropped a load on a Senn 416, so not sure that I've got the cash to back up another camera purchase. AVCHD is an exciting format, and I'm interested in seeing where it goes. I imagine it'll stay in the consumer range, but it might dip into the pro-sumer. Who knows?
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Old December 10th, 2008, 03:48 PM   #14
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Already in the pro-sumer range - Panasonic HMC150...

I'd expect the software to mature jsut a bit more this year, and make it easier to deal with the footage, but it's doable now, and has been for a while if you're patient (or transcode).
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Old December 17th, 2008, 07:27 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mugurel Dragusin View Post
Does the CS4 allow you to use intermediary low-res files which at the end of the project you can just replace at the end? What I mean, this is what I do when I am facing AVCHD (I am using Vegas, which allows for this):

I export 2 versions of the footage, the full res 1080p and another one at lower res such as 480p (for each clip/scene you have). For an organized person, this should not be a problem.

I usually go by a folder structure let's say FOOTAGE/HD/ and another folder FOOTAGE/INTERMEDIARY. Both folders contain same files (same format etc) except one is lower res and another one it's the full res.

Then, I am editing the 480p files found in the INTERMEDIATE folder. When you are done with the whole editing process and you are ready for the final master, just save everything, close down Vegas and rename the INTERMEDIATE folder to OLD_INTER and the HD folder, name it INTERMEDIATE. That's it, open your project again and export full HD :)

Sounds more complicated than it is, just try this with a little clip in CS4 and see if it allows you to do the same.
Would love to know if and when others discover this working for other editing programs on both computer formats.
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