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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old February 13th, 2009, 11:20 AM   #1
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What's the advantage of AVCHD over HDV? Speed is not one of them, it seems.

I'm looking to buy a new, small camcorder. I want to make some clips for YouTube. The camcorder, preferably, needs to have a mic-in jack, so we can do interviews.

I'm looking for a speedy video-to-YouTube solution. I already own a rather bulky, yet powerful XH-A1, but I found the capturing/rendering of tapebased media slowed me down.

However, it's not really better in solid-state-based camcorders, since every clip you want to import, needs to be rendered into an intermediate codec (which I'm fine with, since everything goes to YouTube anyway).

I've been trying some .MTS clips I found from the internet and what I found (on a Mac) was that it took me longer than real-time to actually import stuff into iMovie.

So, why are you into AVCHD and what do you think my options are?
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Old February 13th, 2009, 11:27 AM   #2
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A. Stay with tape

or

B. Go to Flash based camera but move to an NLE that doesn't make you transcode

Pretty easy.


AVCHD's advantage is that it offers similar quality to HDV in less space, or better looking video in the same space. User's choice.
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Old February 13th, 2009, 12:55 PM   #3
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I wrote something about the advantages of AVCHD over HDV, but realized that was confusing...so cutting to the chase:

Let me suggest this; get an AVCHD camera, and get Final Cut Express. Final Cut Express let's you preview the clips, and log what you want, and then transfer just those parts. ASSUMING you don't need to use everything that you shot, then that saves a lot in processing. The actual transfer speed depends upon your computer, but it will more than likely be more than 1:1 (i.e. 1 minute of video will take more than that to transfer.) BUT that will get better as computers get faster; HDV will stay at 1:1!!!

And if you run the ingest overnight, it's not a big deal.


I still like HDV, and - at the moment - I couldn't convincingly argue that AVCHD is better than HDV for most production uses (even though it supports a higher resolution than HDV.) Tape has archive advantages, and transfering from tape and dealing with the HDV video can require much less horsepower. But I think AVCHD is the future...


P.S. Final Cut Express will only import AVCHD files from a volume that has the correct folder structure....it's a bit of a drag, but will also probably be fixed in future updates (and there's at least one third party tool that will convert AVCHD files without them being in the folder structure.)


P.P.S There are some low cost flash memory cameras that save at 720p...but the quality of the video isn't as good, so even though thats your ultimate distribution format, I would suggest something a little better.
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Old February 13th, 2009, 04:22 PM   #4
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P.P.S There are some low cost flash memory cameras that save at 720p...but the quality of the video isn't as good, so even though thats your ultimate distribution format, I would suggest something a little better.
Yeah, that's what's keeping me from deciding what and how.

As my direct, short term objective is video for YouTube, it could be argued that I spend 300 euros for say an Standard Def. flash-memory camcorder (like Canon's FS100 or smth). That records in MPEG2, so no transcoding, only importing.
However, that would feel like throwing money out somehow, since that would be almost like buying a new Hi8 camcorder at this point in time.
And I'm looking to get a camcorder with microphone in, because I want to be able to interview people.

Thx for your 2cts. (same goes for you, Perrone)!
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Old February 13th, 2009, 05:32 PM   #5
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If capturing and rendering tape is slow for you, wait till you get an AVCHD camera. You still have to export your edited project. In my experience exporting (FCP, 2.6 dual Intel 17" Macbookpro) a finished HDV timeline goes faster than one that has gone from AVCHD to ProRes. In initial capture, the AVCHD coverts to ProRes and that takes probably just a little longer than real time, but not a lot longer. I haven't actually timed it.

The only tapeless system that, in my opinion, would save time is the yet-to-be-on-the-market two new JVC cameras that record in a format that allows you to drag and drop right to your FCP project. Assuming you use FCP, this should be faster, although you still have the copy time to move the files from the camera card to the computer. I'd guess it would be a little faster than doing the AVCHD-to-Prores, but I don't know because the camera isn't even on the market yet.

In addition to the above, once you've finished a program, you may want to save your original. You'd have to copy the files to something you consider permanent, so that's more time. With tape, you just put it in a box and save your project files but dump all the media.

I realize that tape is going to die out one of these days. We're all saying "tape is dead," just as we all said "film is dead" starting back in the '80s. They'll both be dead eventually, but at this point I would not go tapeless for my work projects. For personal things, it's OK. I shoot mostly with an XH A1 for business. Recently I got a little Sony TG1 pocketcam just for home movie things-it fits in my bag or in a jacket pocket, so it's always with me, unlike the XH A!. With that camera, it takes me longer to edit something, from start to finish, than HDV. But it's not a big hassle because I don't shoot that much with it. If I did, I would stick with tape at this point. I do think that in the near future more cameras like the upcoming JVCs will arrive, or NLEs will get more AVCHD-friendly. AVCHD is, I think, about where HDV was a few years ago. I didn't buy into HDV until FCP was able to handle it easily, ie., just like DV.

Another thing about the little single chip consumer AVCHD cameras...they don't have viewfinders and they make manual focus a bit of a pain. The Canon HDV cameras, the HV30 (now up to the HV40, I think) is the only one I know of that has an actual focusing knob. It's one of those little knobs on the side, like the old PD150, but that's better than touch screen or a lever on the screen.
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Old February 13th, 2009, 05:52 PM   #6
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Bill makes some great points!

That said...(back to tapeless options!)

I considered the FS-100 too, but my understanding is that it's NTSC widescreen (i.e. 720 x 480 but anamorphic?) So it's not HD (I don't know if your objective was to put up HD video on Youtube, or just regular video....I guess I assumed you were trying for HD)

I ended up buying a HF-100 a couple of weeks ago. It has a mic jack and is really small. So far I am liking it; though have only used it on a couple of shoots so far as a secondary camera.

But as Bill points out, it may make more sense to stick with tape...
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Old February 13th, 2009, 09:02 PM   #7
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I have a FX1 and SR11 so shoot both HDV and AVCHD. Advantage of AVCHD for me is for family video. The SR11 has both recording to hard drive and/or to memorystick, has a viewfinder and normal Sony manual controls, mic and headphone jacks and Lanc remote control etc. Playback is excellent over HDMI to my Plasma with easy and visual scene selection not possible with HDV and for me in some instances has a better picture than the FX1. I normally edit with Edius for projects using both HDV and AVCHD using native HDV on the timeline and convert the AVCHD to Canopus HQ. Total time to transfer to the PC and convert to Canopus HQ is about realtime so just like tape. For family videos I use Vegas 8 as I can use AVCHD native on the timeline( copy time to PC is about 1/3 realtime so much faster than tape). AVCHD is much more convenient for the casual family user other than the discipline/need to backup to some other form like disc. IT has the advantage in that it is instant , no tape rewinding and possibility of overwriting etc and one can edit "in camera" for most family videos and even from this transfer to disc with most of the newer AVCHD cams so no editing software is really needed for the casual user.

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Old February 14th, 2009, 09:13 PM   #8
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I use a HMC150 and Sr12s with Vegas pro. For me the Advantage IS speed: shoot, drag/drop onto computer, drag/drop onto timeline, edit.
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Old February 15th, 2009, 06:32 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Bill Pryor View Post
Assuming you use FCP, this should be faster, although you still have the copy time to move the files from the camera card to the computer.
Assuming that you want to free the cards back up right away. For a quick and dirty edit and export, you can edit right from the cards, saving a file transfer.
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Old February 15th, 2009, 06:33 PM   #10
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Assuming that you want to free the cards back up right away. For a quick and dirty edit and export, you can edit right from the cards, saving a file transfer.
But for that, I would need the latest version of FCP, right?
And maybe a USB card reader, maybe?
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Old February 18th, 2009, 02:09 AM   #11
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Did you guys still have some friends stand firm with their OLD Analogue SLR Camera?Yes...some might still Insistence...But why at last Digital Camera will became the popular gear than Analogue Camera in the market?because of the Technology,Saving Time and Space to record+playback+editing+printing...the only point is who's the user behind the camera and how do you control the situation interms of lighting condition and so on issue to make things better...

in Fact, AVCHD will be the new Tech and erra in the future. For now, everyone of us (included me myself) sometimes will feel "suspicion" that "AVCHD really can make things as good as HDV or even DV?"

May ask ourselve, have you ever seen a DVCPro HD user produce a BAD Movie or Clips? i do.haaa...Have you really watch some clips make you impressed by AVCHD?i do so...As some forumer mentioned, All format do have the Pro and Con, just grab the one you like. Like some really trusted on Sony, then why not just grab the Z5, Z7 or even EX1? for who like Panny, then why don't just try out the new tech and format from HMC-150...haaa...

Erm...mayb i'm wrong, but just my 2 cents of humble sharing... :P
cheers...

I'm still looking for HMC-150 at the moment, walk around all forums where mention bout this newbie gear!!!
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Old February 18th, 2009, 09:20 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Paul Lashmana View Post
But for that, I would need the latest version of FCP, right?
And maybe a USB card reader, maybe?
If you don't want to spring for Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express 4.0.1 will transfer AVCHD files from the camera (or a drive with the same file structure as the camera i.e. you can copy all the files from a camera to a DVD and then use that at a later date to import files.) You must have to have an Intel Mac though.

OR, for more flexibility - as it works on non-Intel Macs, and with the AVCHD files even if they are copied to your hard drive - you could get VoltaicHD, a utility that costs US 34.99.
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Old February 18th, 2009, 10:11 AM   #13
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I find that using Toast to convert the files to any codec I desire is the best way to go.

It's great, all you need are the .mts files, so if a client screws up the folder structure, you are still good to go.

I often convert the files to DVCProHD and simply edit away. Toast is clean, fast and, reliable.

No sense in making it any harder than it needs to be.
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Old February 19th, 2009, 10:24 AM   #14
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My understanding is that you have to be on an Intel Mac for FCP or FCE to handle AVCHD. Somebody correct me if that's wrong.
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Old February 19th, 2009, 11:44 AM   #15
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My understanding is that you have to be on an Intel Mac for FCP or FCE to handle AVCHD. Somebody correct me if that's wrong.

If you are going to use the Log and Transfer option in Final Cut Studio or use iMovie, yes you need an Intel Mac.

If you use Toast v9 or v10 or VoltaicHD to convert your .mts files, you will not need a Intel Mac. VoltaicHD is slower than Toast.

Toast lets you convert the file to any codec you have on your machine, you don't have to go ProRes422 (most likely choice on an Intel box) you can choose DVCProHD which is an excellent codec to work with.
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