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AVCHD Format Discussion
Inexpensive High Definition H.264 encoding to DVD, Hard Disc or SD Card.


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Old December 20th, 2008, 12:12 AM   #1
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AVCHD H.264 vs "normal" H.264

Please forgive this newbie question, but I haven't been able to find a clear answer anywhere. I keep reading that AVCHD is based on H.264, but the MTS (AVCHD) files from my Sony HDR-SR11 are not playable by any H.264-capable software I use (e.g., QuickTime Pro, VLC Player, etc.).

Of course I can convert my Sony MTS files to normal H.264 MP4 videos using Toast, Handbrake, FCE, VoltaicHD, or any number of other tools, but I don't really understand why I have to if AVCHD is a form of H.264.

Can anyone explain in plain English how AVCHD can supposedly be based on H.264 while being incompatible with most software that plays H.264, like QuickTime and VLC? I assume it's not just AVCHD container formats that confuse "normal" H.264 players, but a more fundamental incompatibility, right?
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Old December 20th, 2008, 12:21 AM   #2
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AVCHD - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old December 20th, 2008, 12:34 AM   #3
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That clarifies why Sony's M2TS is not the same as Panasonic M2TS or Canon M2TS. However, it doesn't quite explain why tools like QuickTime Player can't handle any of these H.264-based formats despite claiming to support H.264. Did Apple also screw up by supporting only its preferred flavor of H.264?

In other words, if there was a player that conformed 100% to the H.264 specification, would it be able to play Sony M2TS, Panasonic M2TS, and Canon M2TS, or would there still be incompatibilities? Have the vendors deviated from the H.264 standard, or simply implemented non-overlapping subsets of it?
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Old December 20th, 2008, 12:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek Cusack View Post
However, it doesn't quite explain why tools like QuickTime Player can't handle any of these H.264-based formats despite claiming to support H.264. Did *Apple* also screw up by supporting only its preferred flavor of H.264?
Magic word, Apple. Ask yourself this... Why does Apple still use an editing codec specific to ONLY it's platform? Actually two... AIC and ProRes. And until a few months ago not even THEIR OWN PLAYER would decode Pro-res, and it still wont decode AIC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek Cusack View Post
In other words, if there was a player that conformed 100% to the H.264 specification, would it be able to play Sony M2TS, Panasonic M2TS, and Canon M2TS, or would there still be incompatibilities? Have the vendors deviated from the H.264 standard, or simply implemented non-overlapping subsets of it?
This is the same thing we saw with HDV being based on Mpeg2. Each company made sure you couldn't share tapes across manufacturers even though it was all HDV and all based on legal mpeg2. AVCHD will get there, hopefully. I still can't open Panasonic HD files in Sony Vegas (without a 3rd party tool). And Panasonic doesn't even have a competing product. It's been what, 4 years now?

Sorry, it's just crap.
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Old December 20th, 2008, 12:59 AM   #5
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Depressing, but it makes sense. Thanks for the clarification.
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Old December 20th, 2008, 04:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
Magic word, Apple. Ask yourself this... Why does Apple still use an editing codec specific to ONLY it's platform? Actually two... AIC and ProRes. And until a few months ago not even THEIR OWN PLAYER would decode Pro-res, and it still wont decode AIC.
You mean their Windows QT player.

And, Avid uses its own codec as does EDIUS. It's not only Apple.

The Casio EX-F1 uses ordinary H.264. Plays fine BUT not FullHD only 720p under OS X 10.4.11. The free H.264 codec -- now discontinued -- that does FullHD doesn't do interlace correctly. And, every Apple app will play the audio from the Casio -- except imovie 08.

The HDV FIREWIRE world was far simpler, yet not perfect as you say.
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Old December 22nd, 2008, 07:34 PM   #7
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I think sometimes we get confused by the compression codec used, and the container.
From what I've read, there is no "real" difference between AVC and H.264.
see:H.264/MPEG-4 AVC - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If you look at the history of BluRay, it started out with only supported MPEG-2 compression, but then they added AVC and VC-1. VC-1 is another name for Windows Media 9, and AVC is is equivalent to h.264

Now it seems crazy to me that simply changing the file name from mts to m2ts makes Windows Movie Maker in Vista, capable of reading in the file and editing it. I'm able to then export this edited video to Windows Media 9 (vc-1)
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