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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old February 5th, 2009, 04:56 PM   #1
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How much power do you really need?

Hey, new guy here. I'm getting ready to embark into the HD camcorder world, and need to know if I need a new laptop as well.

My question is: how much power do you really need for basic edits of AVCHD? By "basic edits", I mean simple transitions, adding a title and an audio track. That's about as fancy as I get. I'm probably going to use Sony Vegas Platinum, unless somebody has a better suggestion. I'm using Vegas Studio now for my Sony HC96, and it works great.

I've searched the forums, and most of the answers are "a lot" of power is needed. Does this mean fast processor, RAM, graphics card, front side bus, etc???

Any help is appreciated.
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Old February 5th, 2009, 06:03 PM   #2
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The problem is that AVCHD is a hugely processor-intensive compression scheme. Once you get the clips transcoded to something your editor can understand, editing is just like any other clip. Getting there is the problem.

Suggestion: look at the system requirements for the particular edit software you want to use. Adobe lists specs for Premiere Pro and Apple for Final Cut; I don't know but assume Sony does the same for Vegas, with which several people here have said they have great success in AVCHD. Then you'll know for sure what horsepower, video card, etc, is supported and will avoid expensive surprises.... Battle Vaughan /miamiherald.com video team
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Old February 5th, 2009, 11:13 PM   #3
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The Sony page recommends a 2.8 GHz CPU, and 512 MB RAM. I have a 2.0 GHz dual core with 2 GB RAM and I don't have enough horsepower (but I'm close). A 2.8 GHz CPU (dual core required, quad core preferrable) would do fine for simple work like you describe.
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Old February 6th, 2009, 06:43 AM   #4
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Thanks guys.

Chris - The laptop I'm looking at has:
Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 (2.1 Ghz/800Mhz FSB, 3M Cache)
4 gig RAM
256MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT

Given that, it sounds like I need to bump up the processor speed. Man, this stuff just gets more expensive by the day. :)
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Old February 6th, 2009, 04:51 PM   #5
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FWIW my personal computer is a quad Q9550 2.83 ghz, 4 gigs ddr3 ram, Premiere Pro CS4, and it handles avchd ok but I have the feeling it's struggling. The office Macs are quad Intels with 8 gigs and, for the small amount of avchd we get from a couple of Vixias in the equipment pool, they work fine. Believe me, more is better, the specs the software makers put out are the bare minimum the program will function with, in my experience.../Battle Vaughan
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Old February 6th, 2009, 06:53 PM   #6
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Just to confirm Battle's comment, I ultimately got a QX9650 which is only slightly faster than his machine and is a 3.0 GHz quadcore. It handles AVCHD well, but I would say that some AVCHD tasks like rendering still take a lot of time.

Another useful way of speeding up some AVCHD work is to look for an nVidia graphics card starting in their 8800 series and above. These support the "Cuda" technology which can accelerate certain AVCHD software. So far, two programs I am aware of use Cuda, and each gets another 50% speed-up in some AVCHD processing. The two programs I use are Cyberlink PowerDirector 7 Ultimate and TMPGE Express 4.0.

A number of people on this and other forums are using Q6600 quadcores for doing AVCHD work and this would appear to be about the minimum platform I would ever consider.

On the bright side, a really fast quadcore in the 3.0 GHz speed range was a $2500 purchase 10 months ago and is now about half that cost 10 months later. The newer (October 2008) Nehalem chips from Intel such as the i7-920 through i7-965 are considerably faster, and are driving the cost of the previous Penryn chips down dramatically.

Larry
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Old February 6th, 2009, 08:19 PM   #7
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Thanks for all of the info and advice. Is HDV any less taxing on a system? If not, then I might have to stick with my SD Sony HC96 for awhile. Bummer. :(
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Old February 7th, 2009, 12:37 AM   #8
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HDV is definitely less demanding of computer resources. Yet I still recommend the fastest dual core processor in a laptop you can make yourself afford.
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Old February 7th, 2009, 12:39 AM   #9
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Something worth considering, if you already have some AVCHD-capable software is to download some test clips and play around with them on your machine. See how bad it really is. I *can* edit this stuff on my old machine here, but I have been planning a computer upgrade for a while, and this is just the last reason on the end of a list of other reasons I want a faster computer.

[EDIT: noticed you said you would be getting Vegas MS Platinum, which means you don't have it yet. Just download the trial version of it, download some test clips, and go to town.]

If you're doing a minimal amount of editing, and you find your current computer to be *acceptable* then you're set. You *will* get a faster computer at some point, and won't it be nice *then* if you have a bunch of HD footage that you have shot over the years?
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Old February 7th, 2009, 05:06 AM   #10
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I got hold of some AVCHD clips and tried them in my T7200 2 GHz laptop. I compared it to m2t clips from my XH A1.

Playing from within Pinnacle Studio Ultimate V12
AVCHD: 100% cpu, motion jerky - I wouldn't like to edit like this
m2v: 33% cpu, motion smooth

Apply a Brighten effect to both 48 second clips:
AVCHD: 17 minutes at an average 65% cpu load.
m2v: 12 minutes at and average 55% cpu load.

I'm about to buy a companion camera to my XH A1. I'm not planning to upgrade my laptop - even though I should - so it looks like I'll be going for an HV30 instead of the HF100.

Ian
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Last edited by Ian Wright; February 7th, 2009 at 05:07 AM. Reason: corrected typos
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Old February 7th, 2009, 09:09 AM   #11
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I use a q6600 and it edits and renders fine. My only problem is when I try to use another monitor to display full screen what I'm editing it gets choppy (the preview)and is unacceptable. Not sure if this is due to my video card or my processor. So far I view at a quarter size preview in vegas and I have no prob.
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Old February 7th, 2009, 02:10 PM   #12
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I use the 6600 quad core but I also use Vegas pro 8.1 which supports 64bit operating systems. I am happy with the level of performance I get with AVCHD..

my sr11 does 16mbps avchd. I have not tried a flavor of avchd that is a higher bitrate.
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Old February 7th, 2009, 06:14 PM   #13
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Why not just buy the $130 NeoScene from Cineform if you're using Vegas or any other professional type NLE and encode your AVCHD files into the Cineform .AVI's and edit those? Quality is virtually identical, the video is converted to 10-bit 4:2:2 for better processing, and it edits about the same as HDV on the timeline.

Jon
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Old February 8th, 2009, 01:49 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Wright View Post
Playing from within Pinnacle Studio Ultimate V12
AVCHD: 100% cpu, motion jerky - I wouldn't like to edit like this
m2v: 33% cpu, motion smooth
Download the latest free trial of Nero 9 and see if you’ll find it more stable although I’m not sure how crippled it is compared to the full version. Maybe someone can help out?

The end of December I received an extremely good deal at the Sony Style store in Boston for a brand new 16.4” 1920x1080 laptop with a Core2Duo processor, 4 gigs of RAM, a 512MB video card and a Blu-Ray burner. Playing with downloaded AVCHD clips from the HMC-150, I’m noticing that Nero 9 (full version) is very smooth. I have a free trial of CS4 but I’m not able to experiment since I have to purchase it, in order for it to be able to edit AVCHD files. At least the trial version is able to edit files from my A-HD+ camcorder but surprisingly Nero 9 is smoother.
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Old February 8th, 2009, 02:50 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon McGuffin View Post
Quality is virtually identical, the video is converted to 10-bit 4:2:2 for better processing, and it edits about the same as HDV on the timeline.

Jon

I can vouch for that. I'm editing all my AVCHD files in CS3 easily - don't have the need to buy CS4 now.
I've got Premiere Elements 7 as well which does edit AVCHD, and in the export comparisons I've made, I can't see the difference between the Cineform converted files and the original AVCHD files.
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