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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old January 11th, 2009, 03:44 PM   #1
New Boot
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: London, UK
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Intermediate or proxy?

I'm currently trying to optimise my workflow from camera to finished product.

I'm shooting with a HF10 and working on the footage on an AMD64 3500 based PC, with 3GB RAM, Nvidia 8800GT, Vista.

As you can see from my PC's spec, I'm nowhere near working natively on AVCHD files. So I'm trying to decide the best way to work considering my limited computing power, and it seems that I should be transcoding to an intermediate codec, or working with proxies.

Either way, I have to transcode, do my edits and then render out.

Could someone explain to me the pro's and con's of the 2 approaches? Should the decision be based on the difference between my capturing codec and my PC's power?
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Old January 12th, 2009, 03:56 AM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 4,100
Both methods have their merits and both are intended to reach the same goals... namely faster work in your NLE. I've edited HD both ways, and used the combination.

The Proxy is going to be fast. You're back to cutting SD or smaller sized images, and in intraframe codecs. They fly. The disadvantage comes when it's time to make critical decisions about shadow, highlight, and anything involved with screen depth. HD just shows up so much more. In a 2 shot or a 3 shot, it's REALLY hard to tell if you've got critical focus on the eyes of the talent, or if something in that gaffers tape you forgot in the background is really visible or not. Bring up the 1080p version and you see it all.

The HD transcode is going to move a LOT faster than AVCHD because you're moving to something with that is intraframe, and hopefully that decodes much faster. You'll maintain the advantage of working in the native resolution or at least close to it. Hopefully, you can preview at full res.

So ask yourself these questions:

1. Can you preview the footage at HD resolution? If not, it makes no sense to cut in HD because you'd have to render it out to see the differences.

2. Is your computer fast enough to work with a lighter codec at 1080p? If not, then cut SD resolution and render cuts to see where you're at.

3. What are you shooting and what is your intended audience? Frankly, it may not matter all that much, so cut in the fastest codec you can, and just render out the full-res version at the end.

Hopefully, this helps you on your path to making a decision.
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Old January 13th, 2009, 01:10 AM   #3
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Location: London, UK
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Thanks for the advice Perrone.

I guess thinking about it, that you could even use an intermediate codec as a proxy!
I have decided that my primary goal is to be able to edit quickly. Therefore I am going to use a proxy as my pc isn't powerful enough to work quickly with native or a high quality HD intermediate codec. I will test out some proxy formats and use the best quality one that my machine will allow me to use easily. Using a higher quality proxy will make colour correction type editing more accurate.

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