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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old January 8th, 2009, 08:55 AM   #1
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AVCHD and Menus on DVD

I am interested in knowing how creating menus on AVCHD is working out for folks. In particular when playing back on the newer generation Sony players. Using Toast to burn AVCHD on a regular DVD the menus are not working. Some Toast users also report that menus are not working on Blu-ray disc either? Most of the users appear to be using the newer Sony players. Are the non Apple users fairing any better with their burning software?
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Old January 8th, 2009, 11:10 AM   #2
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There are a couple of hacks involved but for pc users Yes You Can!
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Old January 8th, 2009, 04:30 PM   #3
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There are literally over a half dozen programs which make AVCHD disks with menus that play beautifully on both BluRay players and PC software players. All allow direct AVCHD authoring.

Most of these provide motion menus of the same type found in typical DVD releases, with some programs allowing multi-tiered menu structures. One program (DVD Movie Factory 7) also adds the ability to do the latest menu structures available only on BluRay which are overlaid on top of the playing movie to be selected without interupting program flow. This software is about $60.

The PC world is very rich with AVCHD authoring and menuing, and reflects trememdous advantages over the (outrageous) attitude of Apple/Steve Jobs regarding the lack of support for BluRay.

The 7 specific programs which allow AVCHD high def video and menu creation are:

Sony DVD Architect
Cyberlink Power Director 7
ArcSoft Total Media Extreme
Corel Video Studio X2 Pro
Pinnacle Studio Ultimate 12
Nero Vision
Corel DVD Movie Factory 7

I own and use all 7, and each can be played on my Sony BD350 set-top player, a PS3 Playstation, or on virtually all of the PC players which support AVCHD menued disks (presently there are 4 such players I am aware of).

Adobe's latest CS4 also provides this functionality so I am told but I have not tried it.

Larry
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Old January 8th, 2009, 06:51 PM   #4
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Thank you.

Tom & Larry
Thank you for your replies. I am becoming increasingly upset about my switch to Apple. I really wasn't planning on going the Windows on an Apple route. I may have to look into Adobe, but I seem to recall it's price is up there.
If windows folks are doing menus then I guess my issues is with Roxio and not Sony.
Thanks again for the info.

Tom
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Old January 8th, 2009, 07:22 PM   #5
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Bootcamp is your friend............

As is Parallels....................
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Old January 8th, 2009, 10:05 PM   #6
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DVD Architect 5.0 does not create AVCHD disks, only true Blu-ray BDMV formats. That's the reason why it needs the hacks I referred to for putting Blu-ray onto legacy DVD media.

A few good questions to ask,

Q - What's the difference between AVCHD and BDMV?
A - AVCHD is for legacy DVD media only. BDMV is intended for BD-R/RE media. The hack is what allows BDMV to play from legacy DVD media.

Q - If AVCHD already plays on legacy DVD media, what's the reason for having BDMV on legacy media?
A - BDMV supports a few things AVCHD does not, like 24p *not* wrappered inside 60i. This means a Blu-ray player can output native 1080/24p to a HDTV that supports 24p frame rates just like a commercially replicated Blu-ray disk. BDMV also supports AVC video bit rates of 40mbps and beyond, and Dolby Digital AC3 5.1 surround at 640kbps. The latter two advantages are rather pointless for legacy DVD media, since BD optical drive read rates are much lower for legacy DVD media types, and limited storage space is consumed.

Q - How do the hacks work?
A - There is nothing inherently obstructing BDMV format playback from legacy DVD media except the maker's intent to promote sales of BD burners and media. The hack tricks the Blu-ray player into seeing the legacy mounted BDMV as a legal format, by putting it inside an AVCHD container, sort of a "bait and switch."
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Old January 9th, 2009, 05:38 AM   #7
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Tom,

Up until late last year Tom I would have agreed with you. The latest release of DVD Architect, dated in the November 2008 time frame, actually DOES support red laser menued AVCHD disks, and does so superbly.

This is a profound improvement in my regard, and is understated by Sony for whatever reason.

I have made quite a few menued red laser AVCHD disks with DVDA and they play beautifully on set top, PS3, and PC players. They can have motion menues, delayed buttons, multi-tiered menus, and all the other embellishments other than the floating menu palette menus which do not interrupt movie playback. Only Corel DVD Movie Factory latest version 7 can do those, and only on blue laser media.

Larry

Last edited by Larry Horwitz; January 9th, 2009 at 06:45 AM.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 10:37 AM   #8
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Larry,

The latest version of DVD Architect 5.0 is what I have. If I am missing something, point me to it. In the project propeties, the choices are to burn a DVD or Blu-ray disk. If you choose Blu-ray, you can burn to BD-50, BD-25, DVD8.5 and DVD4.7, by choosing from the dropdown box. If you choose to burn Blu-ray, you can burn to an .iso image or directly to disk. I have burned an image this way, don't remember if I burned direct to disk or not. But the burned UDF2.5 image would play on the PS3, but not with menus for me. After applying the hack, which is to pass the index.bdmv file through the program AVCHD-Patcher, followed by changing one bit with a hex editor inside index.bdmv and movieobject.bdmv files, it does play with full menu functionality.

Perhaps this is because I am authoring to 23.976p which is not an AVCHD supported format? Or is there something you are doing different in your workflow?
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Old January 9th, 2009, 01:47 PM   #9
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Tom,

I burn BluRay to either a 4.7 or 8.5 GB DVD using AVCHD content direct from the camcorder .mts files. You may indeed have an issue using 23.976 fps or perhaps you have yet to try the seemingly erroneous but actually functional combination of "BluRay" and either 4.7 or 8.5GB disk format, either of which will create a fully menued AVCHD disk on a red laser burner.

Larry
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Old January 10th, 2009, 12:25 AM   #10
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Sorry Larry, doesn't work.

- Selected Blu-ray and 4.7GB
- Gave it a 23.976p mpeg-2 file and just let DVDA render it to AVC.
- Let DVDA burn the disk

Insert the disk in PS3 (2.53 firmware), shows up as a DATA DISK. You can navigate to the streams folder and play the file, of course no menus this way. Also, doesn't play in 24p even if you enable 24hz blu-ray output in the PS3.

Been through this before Larry, that's why the hack exists.
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Old January 10th, 2009, 07:28 AM   #11
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Well Tom, I have some good news and some bad news. I will start with the good news first:

Good news is that the 24p content from my HF100 which I authored this morning using the very same process we both discussed produces menued AVCHD disks which play just fine on my Sony BDP350 set top player. (The only re-rendering message I get from DVDA is that the sound needs to be recompressed.) As I stated previously, the AVCHD menued disks I have been making have played just fine and this one as well as another standard 60i disk worked beautifully, menues and all.

Now for the bad news: I updated my firmware on the Sony PS3 to 2.5.3. and now neither one of the disks I made will play, neither the 24p nor the 60i. The disks are, exactly as you say, DATA disks, and navigating to the STREAMS folder will play both the menu clips as well as the media clip regardless of its frame rate, so apprently 24p is supported at least in this manner.

I guess I am drawing the conclusion that Sony's lack of formal announcement here for the updated DVD Architect is perhaps something to do with the lack of consistent support for these AVCHD menued disks, most notably among Sony's very own hardware.

It is altogether odd to me that they support it on their set top player but not on the PS3. If anything, I would have expected just the opposite, but who can figure out their strategy, if indeed there is one.

So the bottom line is therefore that you can make and play fully menued 24p framerate AVCHD disks now with DVD Architect which play on the set top player but not on the PS3. No hack is required for this situation. But your hack is indeed indispensable for dealing with the PS3.

Larry
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Old January 10th, 2009, 10:32 AM   #12
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It's not playing in native 24p from the data disk either. Here's how you prove it:

- Go into Display settings on your PS3 and set your max display resolution to 1080i
- Go into Video settings and set BD 1080p24 Hz Output (HDMI) to either automatic or on.

Your tv will now report the stream as interlaced, but if the PS3 was outputting AVCHD native 24p it would have overriden the 1080i Display setting and invoked the 1080/24p output mode (assuming the tv also supports one)

****************************************

There are a lot of 1080p HDTV monitors that support 1080p but not 1080/24p natively. The AVCHD format does not support 1080/24p. AVCHD content containing 24p will play inside of 1080/60i or 1080/60p containers with 3:2 pulldown (and judder) added.

As far as the change from PS3 version 2.53 firmware, I have a second player with version 2.52. It's the same problem with it. AVCHD playback with menus has been a problem for a long time with the PS3.

DVD Architect 5.0 does not appear to be making AVCHD format disks, even though it accepts AVC h.264 streams. It appears to be making true Blu-ray BDMV exclusively, yet strangely allowing you to burn them onto DVD4.7 and DVD8.5 media, where playback can work on some players like the BDP-S350, but not the PS3.
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Old January 10th, 2009, 11:27 AM   #13
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Tom,

My monitor does fall into the category of one which supports 1080p but not 1080/24p natively. Having played the authored 24p disk from DVD Architect through my Sony set-top player, I assume that it does the rate adjustment. The playback does not show any judder but does have the gamma modification and better low light sensitivity arising from the change in HF100 camcorder characteristics when 24p recording is chosen.

Sony has certainly been the exact opposite of straight-forward when it comes to distribution of HD content for the consumer and prosumer world, and this has regrettably been true starting with HDV, continuing with HDV, and now as much or more so with AVCHD. The ability to play these recent AVCHD disks on the BD350 Sony player is a bit encouraging but probably not reliable as a sign of any change in Sony philosophy. I, for one, find it altogether despicable that an 8 GByte 1 hour long consumer/prosumer movie cannot be reliably delivered by Sony Vegas/Architect on a dual-laser AVCHD red disk since it only plays on some BluRay players and not others. HDV was even worse, and forced many of us to make HD DVDs which, in the broad sense, are now essentially obsolete. It really is strange that the DVD Architect software behaves as it does, allowing red laser disks to be burned, and then supporting playback on only some of their own devices. Sony certainly has not advertised menued AVCHD creation for the Vegas 8 suite, despite the ability of a half-dozen competitors of theirs who do officially offer it, yet they provide it but in an oblique and vague manner.

One might conclude that this will be an offical "feature" of the yet-to-be-released version 9 and they are holding it back officially for that reason. Having seen how HDV was NOT supported since my first Sonly FX-1 nearly 5 years ago up until the very present time, I tend to dismiss this theory, however.

Larry
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Old January 10th, 2009, 01:39 PM   #14
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You can't test for actual 24p output then.

But here's something you can try. Go into Vegas Pro and try to render something to AVCHD 23.976p. You can't. AVC h.264 yes, AVCHD no.

So back full circle to my comment about DVD Architect, you can't author AVCHD with it. Blu-ray BDMV yes, strangely even on legacy DVD media, but AVCHD no.

AVCHD doesn't output 24p. Blu-ray BDMV does. That's where the hack comes in, baits the player into giving permission to AVCHD, once it's inside switches to BDMV for full 24p support.

************************************************************

As an aside, all Canon HD camcorders which record true 24p(f), even the XH-A1 which I own, package the progressive frames inside a 60i stream with 2:3 repeat frame flags added. It's true 24p progressive, but it's been containerized. So when we say, "I'm watching true 24p," there is an actual distinction between that and the Blu-ray 1080/24p mode, whereby there are no repeat flags. The latter is negotiated between the player and HDTV monitor, and refreshes each frame typically at 72 hz (3:3 cadence) or 120 hz (5:5) cadence, but the symetry in the cadence (versus uneven 3:2) is what eliminates the so called "judder frame."

You really don't have a way of testing for it. Either way, you are getting the 24 fps look of film, but without having a 1080/24p monitor, it's not obvious to you that 24p (3:3 or 5:5) playback is not happening from AVCHD.
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Old January 10th, 2009, 01:55 PM   #15
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And what they are saying over at the doom9 forums, is that the tricked BDMV disks when authored with AVC video streams, have exactly the same playback compatibility, plays on the same players, doesn't play on others, as the AVCHD cousins.

I may post some links. It's unfortunate, BD-R/RE, AVCHD, nothing plays on all the Blu-ray players. Mention was made of the LG200 player, that originally played AVCHD disks in April, losing that ability with a firmware "upgrade" in June, only to have AVCHD compatibility return when re-flashing it with the older firmware.

Some are concluding that even BD-R/RE is intended for the PC, not intended for playback on standalone players. Standalone players have been targeted for playback of studio titles on BD-ROM exclusively. The LG200 has been mentioned as an example of that, that the recent firmware reserved memory space that formerly was occupied by code enabling AVCHD playback.

It's further speculated that only players from companies making AVCHD camcorders, chiefly Panasonic and Sony can be relied on to continue support for writable memory disks on standalone Blu-ray players.

The good news is you can watch the kids HD camcorder footage on yours. The bad news is that grandpa who bought his for watching Blu-ray movies, may not be able to.
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