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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old January 18th, 2009, 08:07 AM   #46
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My 2 pfennigs.....

AVCHD disk authoring has been a frustrating process for most of us in one way or another, as this thread and other threads have demonstrated. The software is buggy for PCs, hard to find for Macs, runs slowly, and produces disks which may or may not play depending upon the specific BluRay player.

Despite all of this, it is the only current inexpensive way to distribute HD content to family and friends while still preserving full resolution, since web methods and other methods are either expensive, lack image quality, or are very inaccesible to most people.

I take a bit of encouragement from the fairly low cost players now available which truly do properly support and play AVCHD, and consider them a reasonable solution until something better comes along. I too mourn the loss of HD DVD, having many hundreds of authored disks here which will fade into oblivion now that the format is officially dead. Such may eventually become the fate of AVCHD disks as well, as the manufacturers have managed to add such market confusion and incombatibility that even technically advanced users like us are bewildered by all of the caveats.

I personally do not put too much stock in the transcoding to wmv or DiVX or other formats, and feel they add another uncertain layer with image quality degredation to the mix. AVCHD is inherently a very nice looking and good sounding format, and I dearly wish it was a universally supported format with more software and set-top players. The fact that it retains the navigation features of conventional DVD Video makes it particularly appealing to me. Only time will tell if any of this current AVCHD disk support will be around for a few years or not.

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Old January 18th, 2009, 08:17 AM   #47
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Sony continues to push their AVCHD camcorders and the ability to make menued discs on normal BD5/9 discs using their supplied software or the stand alone disc writers. The Sony Motion Browser software is slow but does work. I have no experience of the stand alone writer but assume they work too. The latest camcorders can even make playlists for burning etc. So I think HD content on BD5/9 is here for a while though personally I use DB-R/RE for longer programs and just backup files on normal discs. I only tried the Browser software when I first got the SR7 a couple of years ago and haven't bothered since I got my SR11 I either just copy the files or use DVDA 5.0 to author Bluray discs.
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Old January 18th, 2009, 12:25 PM   #48
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Sony continues to push their AVCHD camcorders and the ability to make menued discs on normal BD5/9 discs using their supplied software or the stand alone disc writers.

Ron Evans
I do agree, AVCHD seems alive and well on Sony and Panasonic players at least, but a problem is the falling prices of players like the Insignia, Funai and Sylvania which at $160 have much appeal for people who buy into the format for the movies, and there may not be a way for them to watch your collaborations on them.
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Old January 18th, 2009, 04:38 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by Larry Horwitz View Post
AVCHD is inherently a very nice looking and good sounding format, and I dearly wish it was a universally supported format with more software and set-top players. The fact that it retains the navigation features of conventional DVD Video makes it particularly appealing to me.
Hmm, I must admit my ignorance here because I didn't know AVCHD supported DVD-like navigation features. This makes it more interesting to me. How does this work? The m2ts container doesn't support menus, so I guess the disk format must use a collection of files like DVD? Another dumb question: when we talk about "AVCHD disks" in this context, does that imply red laser disks, or can they also be on blue laser disks?

I have read that the Samsung BD-P2500 supports AVCHD, so hopefully they will be another manufacturer that supports the format going forward.

The Matroska (mkv) container format also seems to have some interesting potential. I believe it is capable of containing native AVCHD video and audio streams (i.e. without transcoding) along with navigation features in a single file. I don't think the software support is up to speed yet, but down the road it could be an option for playback on media players like the WD TV.
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Old January 18th, 2009, 06:17 PM   #50
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Agree but Blu-ray itself is not long-term enough of a format to worry about, my $0.02.
There is NO alternative to BD because it is already is world-wide and growing rapidly in installed-base. It grows cheaper everyday. The entire movie industry has no choice but to keep pushing BD for as long as it takes. The bad economy only adds time to make cheaper components and increase the size of the library -- which is still way too small. There is no alternative for those buying HDTVs because upconverting SD for 50" (and larger) HDTVs is absurd.

Streaming FullHD at 60i is not possible. And, FullHD at 60p will be a fantasy for years. (Needed for 3D.) Try streaming even 720p24 at your lake cabin or for those who live in the country. Streaming simply won't work in the USA until the entire infrastructure is updated. And, the more streaming/downloading that occurs, the more inadequate any network becomes. If you make wedding videos, are you going to have an extended family streaming the wedding video? You want to provide discs.

ATV is dead -- twice.

AVCHD exists ONLY when generated by an AVCHD camcorder. Which is why it is not produced by ANY professional application. Home brew AVCHD discs play only because BD player firmware hasn't locked them out -- YET. And, because Sony hasn't sued the companies yet.

BD-5/BD-9 is for BD-ROM only. It's not playable on the largest installed based of BD players -- the PS3.
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Old January 18th, 2009, 06:25 PM   #51
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Sony continues to push their AVCHD camcorders and the ability to make menued discs on normal BD5/9 discs using their supplied software or the stand alone disc writers.
You mean they MARKET this possibility. Now go read the Sony DVDARCH manual. They point out these discs will NOT play on the PS3. No PS3 playback -- no real solution.

The stand-alone disc writers simply burn the AVCHD data from the attached camcorder. They are passive.

The Sony Motion Browser software is not a real NLE. It is an AVCHD splicer.

The solution is so simple -- buy a BD burner. Why are folks avoiding the obvious and looking for tricks?
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Old January 18th, 2009, 08:28 PM   #52
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The solution is so simple -- buy a BD burner. Why are folks avoiding the obvious and looking for tricks?
I own several BD burners already. What problem do you think they solve? There are still players that won't play the disks.
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Old January 18th, 2009, 08:33 PM   #53
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I am not avoiding buying a Bluray burner. I have one and that is my solution for output for all my HD video from SR11 and FX1. I agree with you why bother with DVD5/9. I was just pointing out what I perceived to be Sony's marketing push. I also believe Sony Motion Browser is an NLE, not a very good one, but it does have the capability to perform simple editing of AVCHD video and output to both AVCHD and MPEG2 with menus. I have done this before I got a Bluray burner and they play on my PS3. Just as advertised by Sony. Are they technically a BD5 or 9 ? Don't know, but they do play in the PS3 with menus.
Since Authoring with DVDArchitect 5 I have not even tried to burn to other than a Bluray disc so really cannot say if it would work or not and really have no interest in doing so.

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Old January 18th, 2009, 09:17 PM   #54
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I own several BD burners already. What problem do you think they solve? There are still players that won't play the disks.
I don't know what burners or software you own, but there's no reason why BD-R discs would not play on all BD players (other than the first couple that came to market many years ago). As long as it makes BDMV movies.

"I also believe Sony Motion Browser is an NLE, not a very good one, but it does have the capability to perform simple editing of AVCHD video and output to both AVCHD and MPEG2 with menus."

I never bothered to load the Sony Browser, but I doubt you'll find much in the way of normal NLE functions: video filters, color correction, etc. As I said a "splicer" but not exactly even iMovie or Pinnacle whatever. And, as you said it is slow, which isn't exactly a positive point.

My point is if you shooting HD and spend $1000 for a camcorder, the least you can do is spend another $1000 on Vegas Pro 8c and a BD burner.

PS: Vegas Pro 8c is a major upgrade of Vegas. It, and DVD Arch 5, will do everything: 5.1 sound and menus. And, you know it will work on the PS3. It's perfect to run under Bootcamp. Just move ProRes 422 or MJPEG from Apple NLEs to Vegas.
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Old January 18th, 2009, 10:16 PM   #55
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I never bothered to load the Sony Browser, but I doubt you'll find much in the way of normal NLE functions: video filters, color correction, etc. As I said a "splicer" but not exactly even iMovie or Pinnacle whatever. And, as you said it is slow, which isn't exactly a positive point.
How come you know so much about Sony Motion Browser if you have never loaded it? You happen to be correct in that its intended use is to assemble a clip list and transfer to a disc for viewing( with menu) and consequently have a backup from the camera. NLE to me is anything that allows editing in a non linear way. The Sony software does this. IF we are going to get into the actual functions that are included in various editors that is something else all together and will lead us into deciding whether one NLE is actually an NLE based on a person point of view. I happen to own Edius 5, Vegas 8.0C and Vegas 8.1, Adobe CS3, and several other programs like DVDLab 2.0, Ulead Moviefactory, Womble, Pinnacle, Nero 8, TMPGenc Authorworks 4, etc all used for different reasons that they are good at. Depending on the particular function I choose I could eliminate most from the list. It just so happens that the particular useful functions are different for the different products hence the value in owning a number of them. Sony Motion Browser has its place. I don't use it to burn or author discs but it is used to catalog all my AVCHD videos and does so very well by folder date as well as a calendar view. Of no use for the projects I do but invaluable for the family videos and allows an immediate selection and playback of both stills or video and a very good reason to use it to transfer video or stills to the PC.

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Old January 18th, 2009, 10:27 PM   #56
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The solution is so simple -- buy a BD burner. Why are folks avoiding the obvious and looking for tricks?
I can't speak for other people and their reasons, but can only offer my own thinking and rationale:

Do I really want to spend nearly $10 for a single BD-R blank disk when the content I wish to burn fits on a 20 cent disk?

Do I really want to spend 20 minutes burning a disk when I can burn a red laser disk in one third the time?

Do I really have 25GB of content to fill the BD-R disk from my AVCHD camcorder, and do I really need 3 hours of recording time?

My answers are no, no, and no......

Having spent $450 for a BluRay burner some time ago, I could also add a legitimate 4th question:

Do I really want to spend hundreds of dollars for a burner when I can be a superb 20X red laser burner for $29?

And Sony has added yet the further complication that new profiles have been defined and added over several years now, making the cautious purchaser of a BluRay burner and player properly ask the question:

Is today's purchase of a BluRay burner going to work in the next version of BluRay and beyond?

In all of the above considerations, I am very willing to consider other solutions first, particularly if they work well, are inexpensive, burn quickly, and deliver literally identical image quality.

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Old January 18th, 2009, 10:40 PM   #57
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This is an interesting discussion. Thank you very much to those who are sharing their experience here. Larry, I really appreciate all the info you've posted about the various editing/authoring tools in this and other threads.

I am disappointed to hear all the difficulties and lack of standards regarding AVCHD on DVD media. I'm assuming that the main objective here is to package AVCHD video into a convenient format which can offer a DVD-like playback experience (i.e. menus, chapters, etc.) on a TV. From the posts in this thread, I gather that burning true BD disks for playback on a BD player is currently the only way to reliably accomplish that objective using optical disks.

This makes me wonder if optical disks are really the best solution? Perhaps it would be easier to author electronic files for playback on media players like the PS3, "WD TV HD Media Player", HTPC, etc. There are some formats that can support HD video with menus (at least in theory). The big questions here are what format(s) would work best, what authoring tools are available, and what playback devices are available? I would appreciate any thoughts on this from the experts. I hope this is sufficiently on-topic as long as we limit the discussion to formats that support menus. Thanks.
Glad to help others here Bob and also learn a lot from others as well. As I imagine you may have gathered, AVCHD disks are a standard, menued, red laser format which provide navigation much the same as standard DVDs but play full 1920 by 1080 content. As this and other threads have mentioned, the players as well as some of the AVCHD authoring software are still incomplete, unstable, or both, and thus the disks being created may or may not play on your specific player. It is encouraging that quite a few software NLEs permit authoring of menued AVCHD disks on the PC, and that both set-top players from several manufacturers and also software players from several PC software vendors also play these menued disks properly.

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Old January 19th, 2009, 03:16 PM   #58
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How come you know so much about Sony Motion Browser if you have never loaded it? You happen to be correct in that its intended use is to assemble a clip list and transfer to a disc for viewing( with menu) and consequently have a backup from the camera. NLE to me is anything that allows editing in a non linear way. The Sony software does this.

I don't use it to burn or author discs ...
I didn't load it because I knew it wasn't something I would ever use for editing and burning. Sony has long given away these little apps -- think DVGate.

Bottom-line -- the software that generate AVCHD discs -- all have three things in common: they edit AVCHD natively (SLOW), they cost about $100 (buggy), and they aren't real-time (SLOW again).

And, the Sony "Browser" is a step below them in functionality. Even you say you don't use it for authoring.

I'd jump on AVCHD DVDs if Sony, Canopus, or Apple had applications that supported it. For example, iDVD. I think these big companies know Sony can turn-off the ability to playback any AVCHD video that was encoded by software.

PS: does the Sony Browser support anything beyond splicing existing AVCHD files? For example, titles, video transitions, video filters, and photos to video. Maybe I'm wrong to worry.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 03:59 PM   #59
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Do I really want to spend nearly $10 for a single BD-R blank disk when the content I wish to burn fits on a 20 cent disk?
I was at Frys yesterday and saw a 15 pack of Memorex 25GB BD for $60. Not bad $4 each. I thought they were still $20 each.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 06:03 PM   #60
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Sony Motion Browser is very simple. It allows one to set a main title and can automatically arrange menus based on each clip( start and stop) or day( uses date info) that clips were taken. There is a very limited choice of backgrounds and a choice of whether output is AVCHD or MPEG. Thats about it. So as I said earlier I like it for cataloging all the files etc but do nothing else with it. Editing is done with native files in Vegas for family video and since projects are usually over two hours these files are converted to Canopus HQ and edited with the FX1 tracks in Edius. Output either HQ or HDV from Edius and into Vegas for final audio mixing, setting of markers with names that will be used in DVD Architect for Bluray output. I use the HQ file in TMPGenc for SD encode as I think it has the best encode. AC3 audio from Vegas timeline is used for both discs.
Yes disc prices are coming down. Lately I have used a 5 pack of Verbatim at $45 Can( about $7 US each) and bought some 50G BD-RE TDK for $20Can. I used one of these to backup our Australian holiday of 5 1/2hours of SR11 video and 500 stills!!!!

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