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Old May 6th, 2009, 05:56 AM   #1
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Regarding editing AVCHD-new news?

I know there has been much discussion about editing AVCHD (a fair amount by myself). I have been away for awhile and am wondering about updated opinions and/or new programs that may have come out. I have the newest version of Nero and am not totally pleased with it (limited tools/options in AVCHD). I also have the newest Pinnacle 12 Ultra (or whatever) and again, am not totally pleased (rerendering).
My requirements are:
1. no rerendering.
2. very easy to use (intuitive)
3. full sound in HD (AVCHD)
4. full array of tools
So has anything changed since last December? Are there new programs on the immediate horizon?
Larry, are you there?

Mike
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Old May 6th, 2009, 07:02 AM   #2
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get a powerful cpu

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Burgess View Post
I know there has been much discussion about editing AVCHD (a fair amount by myself). I have been away for awhile and am wondering about updated opinions and/or new programs that may have come out. I have the newest version of Nero and am not totally pleased with it (limited tools/options in AVCHD). I also have the newest Pinnacle 12 Ultra (or whatever) and again, am not totally pleased (rerendering).
My requirements are:
1. no rerendering.
2. very easy to use (intuitive)
3. full sound in HD (AVCHD)
4. full array of tools
So has anything changed since last December? Are there new programs on the immediate horizon?
Larry, are you there?

Mike
Mike,

I think things haven't really changed and will not for a long time, unless they come up with another codec that is as efficient but less cpu intensive as avchd. If they do, it better be acceptable to the NLE makers as this will take some time to be used by them. AVCHD alone is still not natively used by some NLEs and that alone shows you that adopting a new codec is not the right direction at this time.

Your best option still is to get a powerful cpu, good gpu, a solid mboard that you can OC, and some good ram. The HD isn't much of an issue nowadays and you can go as high as 2TB without giving up an arm and a leg. That means going for an i7 and m'board combo.

As for being intuitive, you are probably aware that most NLEs have their own way of doing things. So, what may be intuitive to me in Sony Vegas may be tedious with Adobe Premier.


The sound in AVCHD I believe is standard for the codec. I believe your camera must have the mic to get anything more than you want (like 5.1). Again, perhaps the best recourse is still to record sound separately if you want better options.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 02:19 PM   #3
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Hi Mel. Yes, I am aware of most of what you say, and I agree with you. As for myself, my computer is up to date with a good quadcore and 4 GB of ram. My camcorder is an SR11 and I also have a Sony FX7. My disappointment is with the editing programs that I have purchased.

I have the latest Pinnacle and latest Nero, and both are left wanting in seperate areas. The Pinnacle rerenders video and thereby loses video quality, while the Nero lacks the wide array and flexibility of tools that other programs offer. If only Pinnacle were to do away with their rerendering, or if Nero were to have the tool suite of Pinnacle, then I would be happy.

The difference in video quality between Pinnacle and Nero when producing HD (AVCHD) video on DVD and playing it on a plasma HD screen is very apparent. Likewise, the flexibilty and vast array of tool choices in Pinnacle makes the Nero DVD seem rather simple, with poor title selections and transition options (for instance). Likewise, adding sound is much simpler with Pinnacle than with Nero.

So, I was and am still hoping, that another product has come along that has more tools which are effective and easy to use, without rerendering the video in the final product. Of course, I might add that I wish for these things without an exhorbatant price tag.

It seems that the trend nowadays is for producing your video to be shown on Youtube, etc., with all kinds of cute cheesy effects to wow your audience with. That I can do without. My video from my camcorders is very good and all I need is a good package to present it with. Therefore, I want a good product that produces great video with a nice suite of tools to make a "professional" looking product without having to pay an arm and a leg.

Thanks again Mel for your response.

Mike
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Old May 6th, 2009, 02:41 PM   #4
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No major news of any new AVCHD editing / authoring software I am aware of.

I share the same disappointments with Nero and Pinnacle, but consider Cyberlink PowerDirector 7 Ultra to do some things quite well. It has a smart render which doesn't always work right, but it does make AVCHD disks with nice menus, sometimes smart rendered, and is pretty stable.

I wish there were one really excellent program which made reliable, high quality AVCHD disks with AVCHD input files, but I have yet to find one and I own them all.....

Larry
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Old May 6th, 2009, 04:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Horwitz View Post
I wish there were one really excellent program which made reliable, high quality AVCHD disks with AVCHD input files, but I have yet to find one and I own them all.....
Hi Larry,
Are you saying Premiere CS4 cannot do this reliably either?
This is a sincere question as I have been leaning towards purchasing it for AVCHD editing and output.

Thanks,

Allen
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Old May 6th, 2009, 04:56 PM   #6
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Allen,

Adobe, for whatever reason, does not offer the ability to only do rendering when neccesary, and therefore re-renders all AVCHD content. The consequences are considerable processing time as well as quality degredation compared to the original footage from the camcorder.

My opinion is probably quite extreme, since re-rendering if done well can be hard to distinguish from footage which has not been re-rendered. And I will readily admit that most editing results in changes which force re-rendering to occur even in programs which (unlike Adobe) support so-called 'smart-rendering' methods.

CS4 is a fine suite of software, and my intention was not to exclude or knock it with my prior post.

I do wish that a reliable program would be released which was relatively low cost, had the ability to smart render whenever the footage itself had not been modified but only trimmed, edited on I-frames, split, or joined.

The closest to date I have found is Cyberlink Power Director 7 Ultra or Corel Video Studio Pro X2, but each is fraught with specific issues as well.

Although 3 other programs offer smart rendering of AVCHD (from ArcSoft, Ulead, and Nero) these have other limitations.

AVCHD is just a very very tough format for the software developers to understand and come to deal with properly.

Larry
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Old May 6th, 2009, 05:28 PM   #7
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I have found it easier to edit my AVCHD with Vegas Pro8 and then render as MPEG2 for Bluray as being a lot faster than re-renders to AVCHD. IF you have a Bluray burner and player ( or PS3) I think this is the fastest and easiest solution for edits that will result in re-renders( colour correction, transitions etc). I mix my SR11 and XR500 outputs with HDV from my FX1 in Edius and output Canopus HQ from the timeline or HDV and then encode for Bluray or SD DVD from that. Vegas Pro8 is the easiest to use of the more pro NLE's in that it will run its preview at a lower resolution so that preview is at full frame rate during editing. For this reason I use it for single track AVCHD editing of family video. For projects I transcode to Canopus HQ for editing in Edius.
The easiest of all for simple edits is to do it "in camera" and create a playlist.

Ron Evans
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Old May 6th, 2009, 05:54 PM   #8
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Hi I use Corel Video Studio Pro X2 and have turned Smart Render off because of it's poor results at some edit points, ie, misplaced frames or parts of a frame freezing over 2 or 3 consecutive frames, the Canon HF10 at it's highest output is 17Mbps and although the Pro X2 say's it is using 18Mbps max bitrate to output AVCHD the average however is only 11.2Mbps and there is a slight drop in quality, I have recently tried Premiere Elements 7 and although it will only re-encode (no smart render) at least it gives you the option of adjusting the bitrate up to 35Mbps if you select AVCHD High profile 4.1, I did some experiments and found using 20Mbps it gave excellent results just took 8 time real time on my Core2 Duo 3HGz computer, so it seems from reading about other peoples experiences we will just have to keep battling on with what we have.

PS just thought of something else if you are making a standard DVD don't forget to change the field order to upper field first if you are using interlaced AVCHD.

Bryan

Last edited by Bryan Sellars; May 6th, 2009 at 05:57 PM. Reason: Want to add a bit more
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Old May 6th, 2009, 05:59 PM   #9
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try edius

try edius or edius neo... free trial... seems to do a great job...
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Old May 6th, 2009, 06:47 PM   #10
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Another vote for Edius.

But I would wholeheartedly recommend NOT editing AVCHD (nor HDV for that matter). GV has a utility to transcode AVCHD to Canopus HQ (similar to, if not better than, Cineform*). Edius has always done the absolute minimum rendering possible--since before Edius.


*quote from Mike Downey of someone else's research--don't remember who, sorry.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 07:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Burgess View Post
Hi Mel. Yes, I am aware of most of what you say, and I agree with you. As for myself, my computer is up to date with a good quadcore and 4 GB of ram. My camcorder is an SR11 and I also have a Sony FX7. My disappointment is with the editing programs that I have purchased.

I have the latest Pinnacle and latest Nero, and both are left wanting in seperate areas. The Pinnacle rerenders video and thereby loses video quality, while the Nero lacks the wide array and flexibility of tools that other programs offer. If only Pinnacle were to do away with their rerendering, or if Nero were to have the tool suite of Pinnacle, then I would be happy.

The difference in video quality between Pinnacle and Nero when producing HD (AVCHD) video on DVD and playing it on a plasma HD screen is very apparent. Likewise, the flexibilty and vast array of tool choices in Pinnacle makes the Nero DVD seem rather simple, with poor title selections and transition options (for instance). Likewise, adding sound is much simpler with Pinnacle than with Nero.

So, I was and am still hoping, that another product has come along that has more tools which are effective and easy to use, without rerendering the video in the final product. Of course, I might add that I wish for these things without an exhorbatant price tag.

It seems that the trend nowadays is for producing your video to be shown on Youtube, etc., with all kinds of cute cheesy effects to wow your audience with. That I can do without. My video from my camcorders is very good and all I need is a good package to present it with. Therefore, I want a good product that produces great video with a nice suite of tools to make a "professional" looking product without having to pay an arm and a leg.

Thanks again Mel for your response.

Mike
Mike,

I used Pinnacle, with all it's limitations, way back in it was v7. But have stopped using it 3 years ago because it was buggy. I think it's not going to be fixed that easily unless they overhaul most of the code w/c is not going to happen that easily. I believe, howeer, since they were acquired by Avid, many of the good codes from the Liquid and avid (I'm guessing here) is being used with the newer products.

Still, Pinnacle, Ulead, and the like are considered as consumer/entry level NLEs. Nothing wrong with entry level even for pro use, but I believe some of the codecs they use aren't really robust or that good. Mainconcept, cineform, etc are considered the heavyweights or better codecs and I presume they cost more to license. I believe the codecs are part of the problem. I remember Pinnacle 7-9 was terrible rendering mpeg1 files or VCDs. Really terrible as it blurs the video and loses detail a lot! Their mpeg2 too was not as good either, but not as bad as their mpeg1. Their mpeg2 or their implementation of it was not very good in slow-mo and color correction. When I switched to vegas, w/c uses Mainconcept it was BIG difference. So, I guess codec and their implementation of things play an important part in it.

I think it would be wiser to go for better heavy duty NLEs like Adobe, Edius, or Vegas, or FCP if you are on Apple. Again, nothing is perfect. Somewhere along the way "ease of use" will be sacrificed.

If IQ is your goal, your best bet is still to transcode using a good codec and work on the transcoded material. That slows you down, but nothing is free at this time. Even FCP does transcoding as you import.

Sony Vegas pro is the only option I know that is reasonable in all areas. Again, not perfect but as I said, a "reasonable" in a sense of avoiding transcoding but with it using decent codecs. Trouble is, you have to learn its ways. As I said before, what may be easy in Vegas, Adobe users may find it difficult or clumsy, and vice-versa.

I would also question the quest for IQ as an end in itself but each of us have their reasons. In any case, 17mbps is already good, but many say, for certain applications, the limit of 25mpbs is as good as it gets. Now, the trouble with 25mpbs is it is more taxing with resources, and your other problem is I am not aware if the SR11 is capable of 25mpbs? In any case, perhaps its the source mpbs that is the culprit? I guess the only way to go way above the 25mbps is to get those very expensive videocams or get the 5d mk2 w/c is rated at close to 40mpbs.

But if you ask me, transcoding is still the best way to go if you don't want to degrade your image in editing. Once you apply color correction or anything in there that is global, that's it. You can't really expect it to be the same as the original avchd files. The trouble is, our shots are often not perfect and requires adjustments. AVCHD isn't that really great for editing.

Perhaps in time, NLEs will be able to edit AVCHD files natively and somehow transcode on the fly real time without affecting our experience as we edit. But that would still require a powerful cpu (or cpus). Again, nothing is perfect. The closest I can get to that is with Sony Vegas. I wish they release v9b or v10 where Vegas can use your video card for rendering or at least fast playback. That would, however, be a tougher thing to do, as that would need a good hefty re-write of the display preview algorithms. It would take probably v10 to have that in, maybe even v11.

As for the final output, we cannot dismiss Youtube types of output. They are as valid outputs as our own, or your own quest for quality. If any, these types of outputs are our allies and not our enemies. When many people post their video this drives camera sales up, and this drives R&D to help produce cheaper and better products in the long run. Not everybody is an indie. Not everybody is a wedding/events shooter. And I am sure there are more teens or 20-30 year old out there who don't care less of what I do or you do. But if they get hooked on video for their own reasons, then it's good for us overall. Even NLEs will adjust if only to accommodate them.

And in the end, there's going to be more of them than you and I combined! :-) So, they do help drive the prices down, more manufacturers offering more products for us to choose, opens up the mid-to-higher segment cameras, more products with better feature sets, makes NLEs easier to use (to cater to the youtube crowd), etc. In short, a lot of trickle down and side-effects when these folks who post in youtube, vimeo start creating their stuff. So, I would not consider their way of doing things really "bad." They're just different. Either way, they help us all in getting products that improve through time.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 08:39 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bryan Sellars View Post
Hi I use Corel Video Studio Pro X2 and have turned Smart Render off because of it's poor results at some edit points, ie, misplaced frames or parts of a frame freezing over 2 or 3 consecutive frames, the Canon HF10 at it's highest output is 17Mbps and although the Pro X2 say's it is using 18Mbps max bitrate to output AVCHD the average however is only 11.2Mbps and there is a slight drop in quality, I have recently tried Premiere Elements 7 and although it will only re-encode (no smart render) at least it gives you the option of adjusting the bitrate up to 35Mbps if you select AVCHD High profile 4.1, I did some experiments and found using 20Mbps it gave excellent results just took 8 time real time on my Core2 Duo 3HGz computer, so it seems from reading about other peoples experiences we will just have to keep battling on with what we have.

PS just thought of something else if you are making a standard DVD don't forget to change the field order to upper field first if you are using interlaced AVCHD.

Bryan
Bryan, this may not be of interest to you since you have switched to Premeire Elements, but I'll mention it in case it helps. There are two ways to preserve the bit rate of the original AVCHD clips with Corel VideoStudio X2 Pro.

I use VS X2 Pro with a Sony SR11, which is AVCHD with a 16 Mbps average bitrate. I was finding that AVCHD files generated by Pro X2 had a much lower bitrate than the original clips -- it varied between 9 and 12 Mbps, which is similar to what you found. The lower bitrate resulted in noticeably lower quality when compared to the original clips. This is with Smart Render off - I never use it.

I discovered that instead of creating a file, if you do a "Share/Create Disc/AVCHD" directly from the project timeline, the AVCHD file that ends up on the disc has the same higher bit rate as the original clips (I use standard DVD+R's for writing AVCHD to disc). The quality looked identical to the original clips when I did an A/B comparison, even though the video had been re-rendered. If I want to use the file for playing on the PC or a hardware media player (like WDTV), I copy the .m2ts file from the disc to a hard drive.)

However, writing directly to disc doesn't lend itself well to a workflow where you want to create draft output, review it, and then re-edit the project. You have to use a recordable disc for each draft, unless you use a re-writable DVD.

Then a user in the Corel user-to-user forum suggested to me that when creating an AVCHD file using "Share/Create Video File", instead of choosing AVCHD as the file type, choose "Same as First Video Clip" (assuming all the clips in the project are AVCHD clips from the same camcorder.) That worked for me and now I can create AVCHD files with the original bit rate preserved.

Either approach will preserve the bit rate and quality of the original clips when using Pro X2 with AVCHD (if it handles your Canon clips in the same way as it does the Sony).
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Old May 7th, 2009, 02:07 AM   #13
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Thanks Dale I will give it a go using "Same as First Video Clip" I always thought it was just like using smart render so will see how I go with it, I have just received a reply from Corel on the problems I have been having with glitches at the edit point and if there was a fix to enable a higher bitrate, this is what they have said ("As of the moment there is no patch to address this issue. I will send this to the Video Studio team in case they are not aware of this problem") they do however have a patch that is supposed to give better playback of AVCHD as well as fix other problems, the patch is VSX2PROPATCH.exe so will try it out tomorrow.
I was only trying out Premiere Elements 7 but don't think I will bother buying it, it's like most of the programs I have tried it seems to have it's own set of problems, and given equal bitrates Corel Pro X2 does just as well as the Professional programs out there if only they would up the bitrate there would be very little to beat it, I've always used Premiere starting with 4.2 and later 6.5, and was rather reluctant to look at other programs, so was pleasantly surprised at the ability of Corel VS Pro X2, especially considering the price.

Bryan
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Old May 7th, 2009, 02:45 AM   #14
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My video from my camcorders is very good and all I need is a good package to present it with. Therefore, I want a good product that produces great video with a nice suite of tools to make a "professional" looking product without having to pay an arm and a leg.
Mike- I am afraid that the sad truth is that if you want to do fully edited projects that look like pro level productions in HD on a big screen, you will end up paying for the tools that can deliver it.
To me that means converting the AVCHD source material to a hunky, lightly compressed digital intermediate file like Canopus, ProresHD, or Cineform for the edit.
Cineform, for example, takes the 16 mbs, 4:2:0, 8 bit AVCHD and converts it to 100 mbs (ballpark), 4:2:2, 10 bit .avi file. Editing with this DI is as simple as editing DV used to be. You can hammer it with effects, CC, etc. with no significant quality loss. And when you are done, you can deliver it out to anything from UTube to 35mm film and it looks just great.
I think that the problems with decompressing/recompressing/transcoding such a highly compressed and complex codec as AVCHD are inherent to the codec. Certain workarounds as described in this thread can certainly help, but for me, the bulletproof solution for all situations is to get the footage into a more durable codec for editing.
Take a closer look at the marketplace- I think Cineform has an inexpensive version of their product now (NeoScene??) that works with a number of NLEs. I'm not that familiar with the GV and Apple products, but it wouldn't surprise me to see them offering an affordable solution as well.
P.S. A considerable portion of "Slumdog Millionaire" was edited in Cineform DI.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 04:11 AM   #15
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AVS Video Editor 4: Low-cost AVCHD Editor

The whole package of over a dozen separate AVS programs costs $60. (U.S.). You can try if free, with a watermarked screen. It works for AVCHD and AVC, as well as the Canon MOV files for the SX1. It has a few gaps in its functions, such as not stretching 1440 X 1080 AVC video into a widescreen aspect (it does work properly with HDV) and the AVS Player doesn't smoothly play original AVCHD, AVC and MOV video (many other players will, however). I find that the Xvid MPEG-4 format for publishing, works the best with the most playing programs, for the edited versions. Needless to say, a fast computer is necessary and your CoDecs must be up to date, especially Quicktime.

AVS offers a wide range of publishing options. I'm surprised that it doesn't seem to be discussed here. I guess many people don't trust something that's so inexpensive.
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