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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old May 9th, 2009, 09:34 AM   #46
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Larry. Since you are using Vegas Pro 8, I am going to assume that you are pleased with the final video/audio product. Is this true? How is it to work with? What is its tool suite like? Better than Neros?

Mike

Mike,

Sony Vegas Pro is stable, full of features, and produces very good output and I particularly like their excellent forum and support. Unlike the cheaper programs including Pinnacle, Ulead, Cyberlink, Arcsoft, they have a real support organization in Madison Wisconsin with knowledgable people, as well as a very active online forum with many real experts. It is also priced reasonably, all considered.

You can also use the DVD authoring program it contains (called DVD Architect) to make fully menued AVCHD disks. If you feed it raw .mts files, it will make an AVCHD with NO rerendering, retaining original quality. You give up the editing tools of the companion program, Vegas, but for some jobs this is still just fine.

You should give it a free trial. Same for Edius. Only YOU can decide which one will work best for YOU.

Larry
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Old May 9th, 2009, 03:54 PM   #47
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Just to clarify a couple of points about "rerendering" AVCHD to digital intermediate codecs for editing.
1) Converting AVCHD to Cineform DI, for example, expands the AVCHD to a wavelet compressed, I Frame only .avi file- not something like HDV, which is another varient of mpeg, and would be lossey. It is a lightly compressed file with a data rate of around 100 mbs, and at 10 bit, 4:2:2, has a lot of redundancy. That's why it's near "lossless".
2) Conversion time on an up to date system is real time for tape capture (HDV), and often exceeds real time for file based media (AVCHD, XDCam). In my case, I simply insert the raw media card and "capture" the footage as Cineform DI.
3) Render times during edit, for previews or output, are quicker with the big DI avi codec than with the more complex AVCHD codec because it is less demanding of system resources.
There are many possible workflows available to meet the various objectives of a particular project, or client.
If you can do everything you need to "in camera", and your goal is to preserve the original look as faithfully as possible, then it's desirable to keep the original AVCHD untouched all the way thru to BD.
In my case, I often need to CC and color match, adjust gamma, blacks, insert/overlay AE comps, and on top of that often make global adjustments to the finished movie- Magic Bullet Looks, etc. That's way too much whammy for the original codec. The DI formats make it possible in an easy, efficient workflow.
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Old May 9th, 2009, 07:40 PM   #48
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Thanks Bob for making a very important distinction.

Cineform's intermediate format is quite different from the method used by Vaast Upshift, Voltaic, and other programs which transcode from AVCHD into mpeg2 / HDV. The Cineform process and format avoid the severe recompression penalty, and presumably can be used subsequently in the workflow to create, for authoring, an AVC file once again without yet another degredation due to expanding GOPs temporarily created in the inrtermediate. Their approach is comparatively "gentle" and should be much less destructive. Edius Neo most likely enjoys the same advantage.

The Vaast, Elecard, Voltaic method of transcoding to HDV leaves much to be desired in my own limited usage / experience, most likely due to their recompressions.

Larry
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Old May 9th, 2009, 08:03 PM   #49
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Mike,

Sony Vegas Pro is stable, full of features, and produces very good output and I particularly like their excellent forum and support. Unlike the cheaper programs including Pinnacle, Ulead, Cyberlink, Arcsoft, they have a real support organization in Madison Wisconsin with knowledgable people, as well as a very active online forum with many real experts. It is also priced reasonably, all considered.

You can also use the DVD authoring program it contains (called DVD Architect) to make fully menued AVCHD disks. If you feed it raw .mts files, it will make an AVCHD with NO rerendering, retaining original quality. You give up the editing tools of the companion program, Vegas, but for some jobs this is still just fine.

You should give it a free trial. Same for Edius. Only YOU can decide which one will work best for YOU.

Larry
Thanks Larry.

I will try the free trial of both programs.

What is your opinion of the regular Sony Vegas movie studio 9 Platinum? Worth looking into, or just a waste of time?

Mike
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Old May 10th, 2009, 06:59 AM   #50
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Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum is a cut down version of Vegas just like Neo is a cut down version of Edius. Both have the more pro features missing and may be good for a beginning or casual user. Vegas 9 Platinum is the latest upgrade so would be more similar to the about to be released Neo 2. Neo has the HQ codec capability but Vegas will smoothly edit AVCHD by reducing resolution in the preview window to match the PC capabilities. Both give an idea of how the pro versions operate and have upgrade paths too.

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Old May 10th, 2009, 07:29 AM   #51
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Mike,

I tried the "Movie Studio" version of Vegas after using Vegas for several years and found it lacking. Had I started with it, I may have not been so disappointed by its limitations.

I would again suggest a download and a trial. Each person has their own comfort zone and individual preferences regarding complexity, feature set, user interface, and performance on their specific hardware, so I really am reluctant to "reccomend" a solution for anybody. You may find that the Platinum Movie Studio version is just right for your situation.

Larry
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Old May 10th, 2009, 08:29 AM   #52
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Thank you both, Larry and Ron.
Two things would hold me back from getting the Vegas Pro, and that would be:
1. I am not in business for myself, or at least not yet, to cover the added cost. I am a retired teacher with a small pension with little room for the expenses of my hobby. So my expenditures must be thought out carefully. Although such a purchase would seem warranted, if I am to make this hobby into a business, I am reluctant. Perhaps after trying the free trials, I will feel differently.

2. My demands are not all that great. I do not need many of the extra features that the "upper level" or "higher tier" programs offer. My future products will not be targeted to broadcast television, etc., but rather to private individuals who share my interest in the subject matter. With that in mind, I need a program that will present my video in a pleasing, straight up "professional" manner, without all (well, some but not all) the bells and whistles. I do not film cutsie family/vacation video type things, so all those "cute" or over the top graphics type tools are unnecessary. Chapters, transitions, titles, music, narration capabilities, and the ability to produce quality video/audio in the DVD, AVCHD, and BR formats in a straight forward manner is all I need.

I will download the free trials and give them a look. Who knows, maybe after trying them, I will opt for their more complete brothren.

Mike
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Old May 10th, 2009, 09:20 AM   #53
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Movie Studio platinum looks and acts just like the Pro version except a few options/features are not present. For $85 Studio Platinum is excellent.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 09:22 AM   #54
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Sony Vegas Pro has a little brother called Vegas Movie Studio. The Platinum version will do avchd. It's not as detailed (obviously) as Vegas pro, but it's only around $100.

The advantage is that the interface is very much the same to the pro version so when you feel that you have out grown VMS.... it's not like having to learn a whole new program if you decide to switch up.

EDIT: I see some one beat me to the answer!
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Old May 10th, 2009, 09:57 AM   #55
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So basically to sum this thread up in laymen's terms is that AVCHD's time has not yet come and we were premature in buying AVCHD format camera's... Would that be a fair statement?
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Old May 10th, 2009, 11:24 AM   #56
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So basically to sum this thread up in laymen's terms is that AVCHD's time has not yet come and we were premature in buying AVCHD format camera's... Would that be a fair statement?
If you said, that 2 years ago, I'd agree with you. But nowadays, not really. Us Sony Vegas users have a slight advantage though that we can edit avchd natively. But of course that still requires a good quad cpu. Even if native editing within the NLE was available 2 (or even a year ago), without the matching hardware, it would still be a pain.

But even without native avchd editing, avchd is really not "conducive" to editing. It was meant more to record video in a small file without giving up IQ or PQ a lot. The trade-offs are obvious, but it's either that or we prepare ourselves for very large files. And 2 years ago, sdhc files were very expensive and 8gb is probably the biggest size then.

The use of cineform or other intermediate codec is really not a step back. It's just the nature of avchd and if you want to edit it properly, one way is to not edit avchd but some form or codec that doesn't present us the problems of avchd editing.

We can expect, that maybe this year or next year Adobe or some other NLE will handle avchd editing without transcoding. That is possible. Vegas has shown the way. Or maybe some clever programmer can think of a way to work around avchd's limitations. But I doubt if at this juncture, we can expect another codec to come in to replace avchd. That's harder to do than learning to adjust to it. And it will take years again before the software gets around to working with that new codec. So, I'd rather learn to live with avchd warts and all.

What is significant that is happening, however, is that the hardware (cpu, hard drives, memory cards) are all getting the power, capacity, speed, at a lower than before cost, w/c in turn is necessary for working with avchd. All we need to wait further is for NLE makers (software) to step up and make this process more seamless and easier, without sacrificing IQ/PQ in the final delivery output.

You could, still wait a year and stick with HDV w/c is easier to manage. But that has it's own issues. The good side is the NLEs already have an easy time with them and even dual cores can handle them quite well. The down side is I notice that the camera makers are moving away from tape or HDV. One way or the other, the handwriting is on the wall for tape, whether we like it or not. If you are just moving away from SD to HDV or HD now, I'd rather go directly to HD or tapeless solutions than go to HDV at this time. This is just me of course. But I have no doubt that next year, we would hardly see 2 tape based HDV cameras coming out per manufacturer and we will see 6-8 non-tape based models. If this is any indicator at all, these are clear signs of where the industry is moving into. I'd rather start hedging my bets on that.

The other downside is to edit avchd either natively or with the use of some intermediate codec means you have to upgrade your computer system if you want to have a smoother and painless editing experience. It's not that you can't do it with your dual core cpu, but it will take longer and it may be unpleasant. Though the price of hardware has gone down a lot, it is still expense that you have to factor in if you want to edit avchd. In that respect, yes, maybe you can say, avchd editing is not yet mature. But surely the word is not "premature." And it may mean you may have to add an extra U$600-800 for a new quad core cpu.


In summary, I don't think it's premature. It still has some ways to go, but definitely we are no longer in stage one. We are about 1/3 there. But we should not expect avchd to be an easy codec to handle. Hence, hardware and now software must step up the plate to make editing them like we are editing SD files with a dual core cpu. For now, if your NLE does not support it, the best recourse, though it will add to your storage requirements and extra time, transcoding, for me, is still the better option.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 12:31 PM   #57
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Good news for AVCHD EDITORS!!!

Hey check this out!!!

VEGAS MOVIE STUDIO PLATINUM 9 free at Fry's this week.
Price: $ 70.00
After Rebate: $ 0.00
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Old May 10th, 2009, 02:34 PM   #58
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So basically to sum this thread up in laymen's terms is that AVCHD's time has not yet come and we were premature in buying AVCHD format camera's... Would that be a fair statement?
Not true. For the consumer who follows the intent of the manufacturer then they are great. For the pro who has a reason for a small easily carried B camera or for inconspicuous video its also great. For the people in the middle who want to be better, at a consumer price point for equipment ...you may be correct. The consumer doesn't need a computer really for edited Sony output. Buy the camera and the stand alone disc burner and learn how to create playlists and your done. For the pro who has pro NLE and a powerful computer there is no real problem. For the people who do not have a powerful computer or NLE and want something special its not there and likely never will be. A powerful computer is the minimum.

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Old May 10th, 2009, 04:15 PM   #59
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I agree with you Ron, and Mel, but have to disagree on one point. I have a fast computer. That is not the issue with me. My issue is the lack of a good all around affordable package. Pinnacle comes with a great suite of tools, but the final product when producing AVCHD is less than it ought to be (video quality). Nero, while producing a beautiful picture, lacks in the tool department. If one could take both programs and combine them, then it would be a very good program with a good tool suite and able to produce a great quality video/audio presentation. Hopefully there are, or soon will be, such a program. Perhaps when I try Neo or Vegas I will surprisingly find that one of them is what I am looking for. Who knows?

Mike
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Old May 10th, 2009, 08:15 PM   #60
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I know I sound like a broken record, but there is a current solution for $185

$85 Vegas Movie Studio Platinum
$100 Cineform NeoScene

Both have free trials for download on their site.
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