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AVCHD Format Discussion
Inexpensive High Definition H.264 encoding to DVD, Hard Disc or SD Card.


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Old April 28th, 2009, 07:40 AM   #16
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Jim,
As you have others have alreasdy commented, your computer hardware is very adequate for AVCHD editing. Although I too have extra eSATA ports added with another controller card, I seldom if ever use them, and a single SATA drive does perfectly adequate AVCHD editing, with two being optimal.

Regarding software for AVCHD editing, I own and use all of them, and can recommend Video Studio Pro X2 for light use and Sony Vegas 8 Pro for more serious use. Both work well, with each having advantages depending upon your work style, willingness / interest to learn new software, and cost.

Both offer trial versions so my suggestion would be to try both of them before making up your mind.

Not sure what camcorder you have selected but I would only add the caveat that the 24 Mbit/sec Canon AVCHD camcorders do create a temporary but significant problem since neither Sony or Corel software can retain the pristine 24 Mbit/sec bitrates when rendering to final output. I'm guessing this will be corrected soon, but who knows.

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Old April 28th, 2009, 09:35 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mel Enriquez View Post
To Bruce:

I suspected the 3ghz might be the reason. And you may be spot on with that. I guess 3ghz is really the nice sweet spot for AVCHD files. My guess that even 25mbps files would not be far off in performance. Of course if we can go higher the better :-) These Intel cpus overclock well (and easily) with the Asus boards. The P5Q se-2 isn't even the top or upper tier models.
You may not gain much by taking your overclocking further. Comments in various forums by folks with quad core running at about 3Ghz are having good luck with AVCHD and it sounds like you are already in that "sweet spot". And see Larry Horwitz' comment on the higher (24Mbps) bitrate on the new Canon's.

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Originally Posted by Mel Enriquez View Post
And yes, I love my hf-100. I wish I could afford the newer hf-s100, but I know it would just break my heart to find out it is only U$600 by next year. :( Besides, I might just be opting for something else instead. Such is the curse of technology - constant changes. Constant upgrades.
I have been following the HF S100 videos posted around with great interest. I think the feature of greatest interest to me at the present time is the larger "roller" for manual focus control. I missed the smaller "roller" that was on the HV20 and the joystick control of manual focus on the HF100 is something I tolerate at best.

Just the same it looks like I will stay with the HF100's for awhile, at least until the HF S100 comes down a lot. But again looking at Larry's comments (and I place a lot of stock in what he says) if I had one now, I would have to set it for the same res/bitrate as the highest setting on the HF100 (FXP I believe).

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Thanks for the feedback!
Welcome. I get a lot of good info out of these discussions.

Bruce
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Old April 28th, 2009, 11:30 AM   #18
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drives and work

Thanks, Bruce and Larry . .

Let me approach my question on work flow from a different perspective. Let's assume I have the hardware configured as indicated in my earlier post AND that in addition to the system drive and the 2nd 7,200 1 Tb drive, I also have 2 esata drive (raid 0 - 2 disk) arrays plugged in to the separate raid controller. Now, how would you arrange things to use your drive resources most effectively for speed. E.g.; NLE on system drive, original vid files on one esata, the other esata for renders (writing activities) and so on?

I read the comments on NeoScene. I have Neoscene and can convert my avchd to AVI. Is this step necessary for my purposes with Vid Stud Pro x2 or vegas?

How do I set the properties in the Video Studio Editor before I bring in my avchd clips? When I'm done with editing in Pro X2, what will my choices be in the share step subsequent to menuing? That is, how do I choose either AVCHD disk or BluRay disk?

Jim
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Old April 28th, 2009, 11:34 AM   #19
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camcorder.

Larry,

Forgot to mention, I'm still using a Sony HDR SR8 100Gb camcorder for my avchd . I will eventually get a newer cam, but I'm just not sure what is the best move. My video work is mostly grandkids, travel and a few family events for folks who ask; such as weddings, christenings, etc.

Jim
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Old April 29th, 2009, 01:14 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bigg View Post
Thanks, Bruce and Larry . .

Let me approach my question on work flow from a different perspective. Let's assume I have the hardware configured as indicated in my earlier post AND that in addition to the system drive and the 2nd 7,200 1 Tb drive, I also have 2 esata drive (raid 0 - 2 disk) arrays plugged in to the separate raid controller. Now, how would you arrange things to use your drive resources most effectively for speed. E.g.; NLE on system drive, original vid files on one esata, the other esata for renders (writing activities) and so on?
I'm going to leave this mostly for Larry, I've never had the need for it before and when others were swearing you should always have a separate drive for rendering, I was always just stuck with the C: drive and never had a problem with dropped frames. Now with no tape capture it would be even less of a problem for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bigg View Post
I read the comments on NeoScene. I have Neoscene and can convert my avchd to AVI. Is this step necessary for my purposes with Vid Stud Pro x2 or vegas?
Both of these were "Johnny come lately's" to native AVCHD editing but both are now supposed to be fully functional in this respect so converting AVCHD to AVI should not be necessary. I looked into Neoscene to get around my slightly slow quad core but the main NLE I use (Pinnacle Studio 12) does not read Cineform AVI, so I ordered a Core i7 920 Dell yesterday morning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bigg View Post
How do I set the properties in the Video Studio Editor before I bring in my avchd clips? When I'm done with editing in Pro X2, what will my choices be in the share step subsequent to menuing? That is, how do I choose either AVCHD disk or BluRay disk?
Some NLE's allow you to set "project preferences" ahead of time, or alternatively let you select "set preferences from first clip on timeline".

And when ready to burn to disk, again the authoring section or authoring program should give you a selection menu. Personally, I see no reason to burn to AVCHD format on disk if you have a Blu-ray burner. In the early stages of the HD to disk "game" AVCHD was an option for standard DVD media as long as the program length was not over 20-30 minutes because the AVCHD and Blu-ray data structure were so close.

Someone with a Sony PS3 or Blu-ray player but no Blu-ray burner could burn to regular disk and play it back that way. But in a practical sense I see no reason to make AVCHD disks (although some may if they can count on smart rendering).

If I'm not correct with anything here, Larry should catch it.
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Old April 29th, 2009, 08:48 AM   #21
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My experience with editing and authoring using any recent vintage computers and software is that disk performance is a non-issue so long as directly connected SATA drives are used, and only 2, at most, are required.

Any software I have used which allows for designating where the work files / render files should be placed typically runs just about the same whether these files reside on the same drive as the editing program itself. Most of us normally install our software on the boot drive, typically drive C:, since this is the default location most installers chose. Any experimentation I have done in recent years to use other drives for creating work files, output files, etc. seem to demonstrate little or no benefit.

I think the reasons for this are pretty simple:

Unlike the video editing of long ago where huge files were being created, edited, saved, etc., the files created in AVCHD and HDV are so highly compressed that disk I/O is no longer a bottleneck. When you compare how very much larger the AVI files would be if you were using AVI (which I would NOT recommend for any HD work), and recall that AVI formats and lightly compressed MJPEG were the common standards used before HD video arrived, the disk performance was far more crucial than it is now. Consider that a normal HDV or AVCHD file might be moving through the editing software at speeds of maybe 10 times the nominal playback speed for the scenario where you have a fast enough CPU to render at 10X real time. This is about the fastest I have ever seen, and only occurs when smart rendering is occuring. Normally, much slower speeds are typical, with 1-3X real time. Even at 10X rates, with a video file being created / transferred from the NLE at 250 megabits/sec, you are still well below the nominal performance of a typical SATA drive, most of which can truly deliver actual rates of 500 to 600 megabits/sec (despite claims of 1 gigabit and above). My point is therefore that drive performance is not a big bottle-neck even if the "worst case" 10X speeds are being encountered, which seldom occur in most real editing situations.

RAID and multiple drives can often make a great deal of sense for production reliability, and I for one like to have all sorts of backups. I just don't personally encourage these as offering a real boost in workflow speed.

There are, to be sure, examples to the contrary. Those, for example, using HDMI capture with Blackmagic cards have a much higher data rate, and my comments do not apply for them.

Regards BluRay versus "RedRay" AVCHD disks, I feel rather strongly that the standard red laser disks make more sense for distribution to friends and family mostly due to economic reasons. The burners are $23 rather than $300. The blank disks are 20 cents rather than 5 or 6 dollars apiece. The burn times are shorter. And the disks play with identical appearance except for play time. For the content I personally deal with (mostly grandchildren/family movies, travel, etc.) I would not want to subject anyone to more than 35 minutes in a viewing session, so the standard single layer red laser disks are just great with AVCHD at 17 mbits/sec. If I had to double the time for some reason, I would still greatly prefer a dual layer conventional disk.

My bluray burner is pretty recent and pretty fast, but it takes a long time, and the coasters are just way too expensive.

Many if not most of the BluRay home players can now handle AVCHD just fine, as can the PS3, so I consider this AVCHD format to make a lot of sense.

Larry
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Old April 29th, 2009, 09:47 AM   #22
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Larry, curious why you don't recommend avi for editing HD ?

All the pros seem to agree that uncompressed avi is better for heavy corrective editing and is easier to work with. I've been editing native HDV for years because my HW/SW could handle it and I was only doing minor color correction. I'm now converting to avi because of problems editing native 60p MP4 footage.

Have you had bad experiences with avi ?
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Old April 29th, 2009, 10:15 PM   #23
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vid studio pro x2

Thanks again to both Bruce and Larry.

I guess I get lost somewhere in the concept that if a drive is reading, it can't be writing? So if one separates those functions, then reading and writing could occur simultaneously. This would be faster, no? :-)

Relative to vs pro x2 . . . is it a 64 bit program? When I started to install it on my new computer today, it was installing to a folder with "(86)" in the title? I discontinued. Shouldn't I be using a 64 bit program to take advantage of all the computing power now at my disposal?

I am comfortable with VS as I used 10, 11 and 11.5 for my SD projects. I upgraded to use it with my SR8 AVCHD. In looking at the program on my Sony, I can't find where you can select avchd disk or bluray disk after creating menus? Larry, you have used the program I believe. Any insight you can share with me here?

Thanks,
Jim
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Old April 29th, 2009, 10:38 PM   #24
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Vs

Ah, the wonder of logic . . I suppose if I've been looking at VS pro x2 on my Sony, it must be 32 bit as it has a 32 bit OS!!

In doing some other reading, Corel says VS pro x2 "supports" the new quad core technology . . . whatever that means. I believe I'll have to send that to decoding . . .

So, I'm back to what software to use. I want to do menus, so it seems VS is the one, but . . .
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Old April 30th, 2009, 10:17 AM   #25
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I've had good success with this product. It converts avc to m2t which edits as easily as mpg2. It also maintains the original file sizes.

http://www.newbluefx.com/avchd-upshift.html
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Old April 30th, 2009, 10:56 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Jim Bigg View Post

So, I'm back to what software to use. I want to do menus, so it seems VS is the one, but . . .
FWIW, in Pinnacle Studio 12 you create your menus on the timeline at pretty much any point in the editing process. There are also "canned" menus you can edit, some have motion backgrounds, even.

There is a little bit of a learning curve until you get the hang of how they work but once I did I was even creating my own from "scratch" starting with a JPEG created in PhotoShop with the menu text already "laid in", all I had to do was add "buttons" and use the menu editor to set in and out points.

For one DVD (in standard def) I even used a video clip shot in a Cessna as my grandson was "banking" into a turn on final approach. Two menu buttons and the accompanying text superimposed as an overlay and the menu "loops" until a choice is made.

This package is not most folks "darling" but almost everything is done from one interface and it is fairly intuitive and user friendly.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 03:24 PM   #27
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flying is more fun than editing . . sometimes

[QUOTE=Bruce Foreman;. . . . "Cessna as my grandson was "banking" into a turn on final approach . . . ."

Used to own a PA 28-128. Used it a lot when I worked. Not current for over a decade. My brother retired as a pilot with US Air. I miss flying, my wife doesn'i !!

I'm going to look at Pinnacle 12. Thanks, Bruce.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 10:03 PM   #28
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Ron,

I too edited HDV for several years on a relatively low power single processor 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 class Dell machine, and found it to be entirely adequate. Not until I moved to AVCHD/h.264/mp4 did the additional CPU speed become important, and I merely switched to a quadcore QX9650 Dell and my problem was solved.

I have seen no reason to use an uncompressed avi file format. I am using Sony Vegas Pro 8 most of the time for my editing, and find it extremely competent. I frankly see no advantage in going from AVCHD camcorder footage to another format for editing, especially when I ultimately want to share content with others on AVCHD disks. Apart from the time required to transcode back and forth, and the huge file sizes which result, I can't think of any situation where the editing I need to do would be any better than it already is in Vegas Pro using AVCHD. Vegas does generate proxy files which are of lesser resolution for previewing, and this is fine with me. For those who want to see the previews on an HDTV in full resolution, Sony Vegas Pro supports the AJA / Kona PCI Express cards in full 1080p.

Larry
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Old April 30th, 2009, 10:13 PM   #29
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Jim,

Yes, if a drive is reading it cannot be writing, and vice versa. Two drives thus improve performance over one, and it is common for work files to be placed on one drive and rendering done to another for this very reason.

Regarding VS, your Sony apparently has 32 bit Windows installed and thus would not nor would it benefit from 64 bit VS if you were merely running this single program.

As regards VS supporting quadcore........the latest CPUs from Intel and AMD (the two dominant CPU chip makers) put up to 4 separate processors on a single die, and offer their so-called quadcore chips for use in their highest performance CPU chipsets. The quadcores are offered in computers starting at around $700, and allow programs such as VS which are written to exploit this parallel processing hardware. The benefit is, in some caees, greatly improved performance. For AVCHD work in particular, this feature is essential, and if not available results in very sluggish editing, jerky pixellated playback, and other severe problems handling the complex AVCHD/h.264 format.

Both VS 11.5 (with the HD Pack) and VS 12 Pro X2 offer fully menued AVCHD disks Jim. If you need further help in how to make use of them, let us know and I for one will be glad to offer further assistance.

Larry
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Old April 30th, 2009, 10:22 PM   #30
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Brian,
Upshift converts AVCHD to an mpeg2 file format. This conversion / transcoding suffers from some losses going from one lossy compression format to another. In order to retain the original AVCHD quality, it is essential that you use a considerably higher mpeg2 bit rate than the original h.264 file from your AVCHD camcorder. This is because mpeg2 is far less compact, roughly only 50% the efficiency of h.264, and thus file sizes will at least double if you want to preserve image detail and quality.

Given the conversion time to and from mpeg2, and the file growth, and the possible image degredation in transcoding, I personally have avoided using Upshift as well as its competitors (Voltaic, Elecard, AVS Converter, etc.) since they all have the same drawbacks.

Larry
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