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Old August 25th, 2009, 07:55 PM   #1
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AVCHD, the future of HD video ?

This post is intended to get some conversation going about the future of HD video in the home and specifically AVCHD as the future standard for HD. The format is certainly an expensive project to handle for home users - the PC number crunching power needs are very high. However, it appears that Blu-ray in it's present form is floundering judging by the lack of competition in the various equipment needed to burn and play it back. AVCHD appears to be a better format for home use since it does not need a blu-ray burner, just a Blu-ray playback unit. And it makes much better use of the recording medium in terms of total recorded capacity.

As for home AVCHD video editing and production what consumer friendly software is best equipped to handle AVCHD in all it's grandeur - Premier Elements 7, PowerDirector 8, Pinnacle Studio 12, VideoStudio X2 ?????

Al
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Old August 25th, 2009, 09:24 PM   #2
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I think home use needs to be defined precisely to answer that question. Home use to me means for family recording of family events, parties holidays birthday parties etc. In this regard I am not sure editing software is needed at all. Most, if not all of the present AVCHD cameras allow "in camera" editing. All video can be backed up to PC for archiving and then a playlist can be created for any single project while leaving all the video still on the camera especially if it is one with a big hard drive. This can be played out from the camera directly to the HD TV via HDMI or simply to a DVD recorder to make a SD DVD.
The latest Sony cams with the direct to disc capability can even create a simple DVD with menus no software needed.
None of the above require editing software to view a DVD or playback directly from the camera. Large hard drive based cameras really support this approach really well. I think this will increase in the future with some very large hard drives coming in camera and direct menu based Disc creation just like the latest Sony cameras. My daughter uses about 30G a year to video her two boys etc on my old Sony SR7 with 60G hard drive. With one of the new 240G Sony's she could go for 8 years before she would need to delete anything!!!!! Everything is instantly available to view. In camera editing is easy to delete shots of ones feet etc!!! For family video I think the approach adopted by Sony of the integration of cameras and disc burners etc will become more prevalent and for the casual user there will be no need for editing software at all.
IF you want to get more elaborate you will need a powerful computer and some good software. I use a quad core with 8 G RAM almost 5T of hard drive space etc and edit with Edius and Vegas.

Ron Evans
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Old August 25th, 2009, 10:07 PM   #3
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That's one approach, Ron, and it will probably serve a "legion" of home users. My only concern is folks will tend to keep that stuff on the camera and what do you do when the internal hard drive goes south?

We can say, "back it up on the computer", but I see a lot of folks just let it accumulate on the camera media. My daughter and her husband bring their still camera over to show us their pix. I have to pull the media card out and copy everything to a thumb drive and we look at it on the TV from the WD TV media player.

It does beat the old "clunk and whirr" slide projectors. But then I also burn their pix onto a CD, seems like they never think to do that themselves. Many will do the same with video.

But on to Al's question. Most of my video comes out of Canon HF100's in AVCHD, I edit both in Pinnacle Studio 12 and PowerDirector 7 Ultra (8 Ultra on the way). I've tried burning in AVCHD to regular DVD media and it worked but I think I've found an even simpler way to go.

I have one of those Western Digital WD TV media players that stays hooked up to my TV with HDMI. I edit the MTS files in AVCHD (with no transcoding) and render first to SD on regular DVD media for "family distribution" and then from the same timeline render to HD WMV file format. Copy that over to a "thumb" drive which I can plug into one of the WD TV units USB inputs and play my HD content from that "thumb" drive. I use anything from 2GB size "thumb" drive to 16GB and have yet to run out of space.

My brother's memorial service (shot on an HV20) runs 48 1/2 minutes and rendered to 1920x1080 is only 1.75GB. A 24 minute program rendered to 1280x720 at 60p (very smooth video) is just under 1GB.
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Old August 25th, 2009, 10:44 PM   #4
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Bruce's opinions are always worth reading!!!

I was a true skeptic when AVCHD came out and Bruce talked me thru it to the point where I bought two new AVCHD cams and sold the SD ones!!! I had no faith in the format and especially the cards!! With Panasonic alone bringing out 3 new pro cams in the HMC series was enough for me too!! Judging by the wedding forum an awful lot of wedding pros are shooting on HMC150's already which should say something.

Panasonics P2 cards are good as are the Sony EX but look at the price of the cards...some cost more than my camera!!! AVCHD is a pretty good format for both domestic (who will probably never edit the footage) and pros who almost always will. Even at high bitrates you can store a huge amount of footage in HD on an external drive (far more than captured SD video!!) so I have seen no downsides so far with the format.

Ok, it's a little slow on your computer to edit if you are in a rush but even my little DuoCore only takes around 2 x realtime to render back to a DVD!!! Plus, of course you can also transcode to "easier to edit" formats but they take more space.

I can honestly see BD players fading away in the future and solid state players will be able to play video directly from a card. They are also dropping in price!!!

Chris
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Old August 26th, 2009, 03:00 AM   #5
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AVCHD - the present standard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Sudy View Post
This post is intended to get some conversation going about the future of HD video in the home and specifically AVCHD as the future standard for HD. The format is certainly an expensive project to handle for home users - the PC number crunching power needs are very high. However, it appears that Blu-ray in it's present form is floundering judging by the lack of competition in the various equipment needed to burn and play it back. AVCHD appears to be a better format for home use since it does not need a blu-ray burner, just a Blu-ray playback unit. And it makes much better use of the recording medium in terms of total recorded capacity.

As for home AVCHD video editing and production what consumer friendly software is best equipped to handle AVCHD in all it's grandeur - Premier Elements 7, PowerDirector 8, Pinnacle Studio 12, VideoStudio X2 ?????

Al
Al,

I don't believe that AVCHD is the future standard for HD. It is THE standard. One need only look at the no. of HDV vs avchd cameras that are coming out.

As to the issue of needing better hardware to handle avchd, we can look at the past history that all these setbacks are temporary. We must also divide the issue of playback vs editing. It is in the latter that is causing the need for a H/W upgrade. But most PCs and devices can playback AVCHD with no problems. As with the past, there has been groaning and moaning about the need to spend for the upgrade. We've seen this from hi-8 to DV, then DV to HDV, and now from HDV to avchd. Quite amazingly, the computers/cpu are keeping step with the demands of the codec. My take is that if you get a quad core now, or the new i7's (or i5's when they get out), you are basically safe for 3-4 years. Hopefully, CUDA or openCL will be mature by then so that GPUs will participate in the processing of these files.

If any, as far as editing goes, it will be the software that needs a more rapid response to the changes. By next year we will see 8-cores and 6-core cpus. No, not a hyperthreaded count 8-core, but really 6 or 8 cores not counting the hyperthread streams. The question is, will our current software handle more than 4 cores? In essense, if any segment of the video industry that needs to get trucking, it will have to be software. That is the one sorely lagging.

As for Blue Ray or BD, well, it seems that Sony and its allies main concern in the battle is to win the standard in order to protect their film/movie titles. After that win, it seems we, or at least speaking for content makers such as wedding/event shooters, still are not given an easy path to creating BD. Sure, they are there, but it isn't fraught with lots of requirements, not to mention, that clients seem not to keen on getting on the bandwagon themselves. There is a lot to mention why this is so, but part of that is the expensive players w/c to this time has not gone down to acceptable levels. From the content providers/makers, the lack of software and other restrictions of BD is a turn off.

As it goes, it may be possible, as others suspect, that BD will just be leapfrogged by other media such as memory sticks/cards, etc. As a wedding shooter, I would not mind delivering an 8gb or 16gb (1 hour -1.5 hour) wedding in an sdhc card to be played in a mulitimedia box. I bet a software programmer can get rich if he can make a menu system that will be accepted by WD or some company so that we can have those menus like those in the DVD, with chapters, submenus, audio type selection, subtitles, etc., etc. But it will be running on a HD or memory stick, not a disc, and it will be in HD. This is not a difficult project. What makes it difficult is that the multimedia boxes must agree on that standard. Not going to be easy. It may start on a PC first and if it can be accepted, then it will be licensed to the boxes. This will bypass the disc and BD all together.



In 3-5 years, someone will push a 2k camera. That would require an AVCHD ver 2.0 standard or at least a standard the majors will agree on, w/c I see no problems. But excited as I may be on a higher rez camera, we are still in transition. Most especially in software.

I foresee an overhaul of the NLE market. I think some will close shop. As the demands of HD and higher resolution and more feature sets and codecs go up, the poorly designed NLEs will fall by the wayside. Too much bugs and the poor design and coding will simply not go away as what they require is a re-write from the ground up. They probably got away with it in the SD days, but as we move further, and the demands go higher (24p, 30p, 60p), the poorly coded and designed NLEs (and codecs) will not be sustainable. The bugs will destroy them. Customers will move away from them because they will hardly be usable.

For me, the weakest point for me is the software and the final delivery platform. The cameras are getting better. The sensors used getting bigger. The low light issues getting better. AF is getting better. So is image stabilization in camera. The convergence of stills and video is on its way. The computers are getting faster and better in all respects. But software is lagging. And it will remain so for quite some time. And I am very cynical if anything will come out of BD as the final delivery platform for all these outputs.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 04:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Foreman View Post
That's one approach, Ron, and it will probably serve a "legion" of home users. My only concern is folks will tend to keep that stuff on the camera and what do you do when the internal hard drive goes south?

We can say, "back it up on the computer", but I see a lot of folks just let it accumulate on the camera media. My daughter and her husband bring their still camera over to show us their pix. I have to pull the media card out and copy everything to a thumb drive and we look at it on the TV from the WD TV media player.

It does beat the old "clunk and whirr" slide projectors. But then I also burn their pix onto a CD, seems like they never think to do that themselves. Many will do the same with video.

But on to Al's question. Most of my video comes out of Canon HF100's in AVCHD, I edit both in Pinnacle Studio 12 and PowerDirector 7 Ultra (8 Ultra on the way). I've tried burning in AVCHD to regular DVD media and it worked but I think I've found an even simpler way to go.

I have one of those Western Digital WD TV media players that stays hooked up to my TV with HDMI. I edit the MTS files in AVCHD (with no transcoding) and render first to SD on regular DVD media for "family distribution" and then from the same timeline render to HD WMV file format. Copy that over to a "thumb" drive which I can plug into one of the WD TV units USB inputs and play my HD content from that "thumb" drive. I use anything from 2GB size "thumb" drive to 16GB and have yet to run out of space.

My brother's memorial service (shot on an HV20) runs 48 1/2 minutes and rendered to 1920x1080 is only 1.75GB. A 24 minute program rendered to 1280x720 at 60p (very smooth video) is just under 1GB.
I find the WD TV Media Player takes some beating using hdmi, my son's and families have Sony Play Stations that will play Blue-ray they will also play AVCHD DVD at 1920x1080i so what I do is make AVCHD DVD's for them, you can get about 30 mins AVCHD on a DVD.

My camera is an HF10 and I edit on a Corel ProX2 which gives me the option of proxy editing, it makes editing on a Core 2 Duo 3GHz easy, and does all the authoring to AVCHD/DVD although I don't like unedited video most of mine is fairly straight forward with very few transitions and overlay tracks, so I'm not taxing the editing system.
Bryan
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Old August 26th, 2009, 08:05 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Foreman View Post
That's one approach, Ron, and it will probably serve a "legion" of home users. My only concern is folks will tend to keep that stuff on the camera and what do you do when the internal hard drive goes south?

.
Backup is absolutely necessary for any of the AVCHD approaches whether its a hard drive or flash cards. Most people with digital still cameras now are fully aware of backups so this is not strange for them. I think a lot of the discussion on these forums is from enthusiasts wanting to get more out of these new cameras, ignoring their intent and the systems provided by the manufacturers. I believe all the manufacturers ( I have Sony so can only really know their approach) have software and give instructions for backup etc. We should be careful that we don't do the equivalent of buying a hammer and complaining it doesn't cut wood very well!!! The software provided by Sony for example is a very poor NLE and authoring package BUT is excellent at archiving video and stills and will produce a reasonable menu based AVCHD disc. It transfers the video as clips not FAT32 files and logs by transfer folder and date ( even location for the new GPS cams). It is simplicity itself to either create a disc( AVCHD) on the PC or for the casual user the stand alone disc burners with one button which will also keep track of the backups for you. BUT you must follow the system.
Do I use this approach? I use it to transfer the files for all my AVCHD shoots. Directing family stuff to one directory and the projects to another. I then choose to use either Vegas or Edius to edit and DVDA normally to author Bluray or DVDLAb for SD discs.
Yes like you, I get the job of doing anything fancy for my daughter!!!!
( We both have full backups too!!)
Ron Evans
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Old September 15th, 2009, 09:43 PM   #8
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Very usable now, points to future direction

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Sellars View Post
I find the WD TV Media Player takes some beating using hdmi, my son's and families have Sony Play Stations that will play Blue-ray they will also play AVCHD DVD at 1920x1080i so what I do is make AVCHD DVD's for them, you can get about 30 mins AVCHD on a DVD.

My camera is an HF10 and I edit on a Corel ProX2 which gives me the option of proxy editing, it makes editing on a Core 2 Duo 3GHz easy, and does all the authoring to AVCHD/DVD although I don't like unedited video most of mine is fairly straight forward with very few transitions and overlay tracks, so I'm not taxing the editing system.
Bryan
That's similar to the setup I use now
- Sony CX12 AVCHD Camcorder for both video and stills, some in-camera editing and straight-to-TV playback until material transferred to:
- QuadCore Vista 64 PC with 6 GB of memory and a 500 GB hard drive
- Corel VideoStudio Pro X2 (Adobe Photoshop Elements for picture editing)
- Sony PictureMotionBrowser to "download" from camcorder and do AVCHD playback on the PC, but most playback is done to...
- two Sony HDTVs with HDMI inputs
- one has a Playstation 3 with a 500 GB USB drive as a feed
- the other has a Western Digital Media Player with a 300 GB USB drive as a feed
- there's a third 500 GB USB drive I keep at work as the "out of house" backup.

I walked away from burning DVDs about two years ago after I realized the PS3 could play all the formats. I also had some seven year old DVDs age out on me, which cooled my enthusiam for them. Even though the PS3 has a Blu-Ray player in it, I haven't bought a burner because I'm just not interested in burning piles of disks now that USB portable media are so incredibly cheap. I moved all the MPEG files I had on DVDs to the USB drive with a regular Windows type folder structure, which I'm perfectly happy using. As I accumulate more stuff, I'll just get a bigger drive and move things to it. I can backup the whole mass of pictures, music files, video, and scanned documents with one command with two USB drives linked to the PC at one time. And it all can be stored outside the house in something the size of a book (or smaller). I'm done with discs of any kind unless a friend needs one.

We went to Colorado on vacation in August and I took something like 500 photos and 150 short HD video clips (highest quality). It took one fairly short evening to transfer it all to the PC, organize it by location into folders, and then copy it to the three USB drives to get a feel for what I had. I had already deleted 100 photos and 40-60 minutes of video fluff while relaxing at "home" near the end of the trip. My family and I checked things out on the TV and I showed a friend some of it at work.

Give it 5-10 years and they'll be selling us holographic storage media that pack all your knowledge into a 1 inch cube. I'm still part of the market for commerical movies on disks but not for working with my own stuff.

AVCHD is really pertinent here not because it determines what happens but because it takes up less space than some other formats at high quality settings. It's really the media changes and CPU horsepower that are driving the future, I think. Triple the horsepower and storage per unit cost and highly compressed formats won't really be as important. But then they'll find ways to move the stuff around so fast you'll still want the compression even with the extra horsepower. So I guess I'm suggesting that AVCHD is one part of a response to a need and that need is clearly part of the present, not just the future. The good news is that it won't be hard for HW/SW developers to continue to pack support for old playback formats into their devices long into the future, so we'll either be able to play them as is if they're stored files, or will be given easy conversion programs. But I think having your material locked onto disks may become problematic much earlier than that - that's part of why I'm happy to have all my recoverable old DVD material converted to MPEGs files and onto the USB drives. There are tradeoffs but I really watch clips and even long files rather randomly and prefer to watch short ones. I do that more now that I can just browse right to them, play some, and then do something else without having to find a given disk, load it, find another, load it - a pain even if you have a multi-disk player. I give up fancy menus to do it (though I could put DVD images on the USB drive in a folder). So there's a personal preference thing going on at the UI level - you like DVDs or you're OK with or prefer using files and a folder structure.

On the recording side, I love the CX12's weight and portability and not having to worry about tape or a hard drive. Again, personal preferences figure strongly into that, but I had a miniDV camcorder I liked but the CX12 is so much easier to cart around and handle. Carrying 5-10 extra new tapes on an average vacation was much more hassle than reusing 16GB chips at will and needing only a small camcorder case for the whole trip. I also worry about hard drives at elevations up over maybe 10,000 feet - where we were a lot in Colorado. I know drives are reliable, not that heavy or bulky, and really big byte-wise. But I just prefer going all solid-state.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 04:45 AM   #9
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As a home user I think AVCHD is now the standard although it is hard for a lot of consumers to justify paying twice as much for a HD camcorder as apposed to a SD camcorder. I guess most who pay the extra, do so in an attempt to future-proof their investment (the footage).

The new crop of home PCs will have the power to crunch the AVCHD format comfortably and new software will become available designed to target the consumer rather than the prosumer. However its only a matter of time, as computers get even more powerful, that new formats will become available and AVCHD will become just another step along the way to even better technology.

At the moment with both Sony and Canon firmly behind AVCHD, AVCHD looks like having a relatively long life.
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Old September 18th, 2009, 09:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Croll View Post
As a home user I think AVCHD is now the standard although it is hard for a lot of consumers to justify paying twice as much for a HD camcorder as apposed to a SD camcorder. I guess most who pay the extra, do so in an attempt to future-proof their investment (the footage).

The new crop of home PCs will have the power to crunch the AVCHD format comfortably and new software will become available designed to target the consumer rather than the prosumer. However its only a matter of time, as computers get even more powerful, that new formats will become available and AVCHD will become just another step along the way to even better technology.

At the moment with both Sony and Canon firmly behind AVCHD, AVCHD looks like having a relatively long life.
There was a section on MSN.COM about HD TV reviews, purchasing, FAQs, etc. It stated that 53% of American homes contain at least on HDTV now. That's much higher than I would have predicted, but if true, that's certainly going to speed up the move to HD home video.
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