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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old September 27th, 2009, 04:42 AM   #1
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To cineform or not to Cineform

I'm new at HD editing and have been reading through many of these (and other) posts, but still confused.

In one of the threads I read that putting an AVCHD clip on the time line and render to AVCHD would give better quality results than transferring first to Cineform format (no editing program was mentioned, so I guess this was meant to be generic). In another thread, however, it was mentioned that with vegas Movie Studio you cannot combine clips to a large AVCHD without quality loss. This seems rather contradictory to me. What am I missing here?

Currently I am using Pinnacle Studio, but may to switch to Vegas Movie Studio. Does this make sense if I just want to do some basic editing (trimming, transitions, a few pictures,...). If I switch to VMS, do I need Cineform if I just want to do basic editing If, besides of that, I want to combine all the clips belonging to 1 topic (i.e. the material of 1 edited movie) to 1 file for storage, why can't I just put the AVCHD clips on the time line and render to some format (which?)
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Old September 29th, 2009, 01:24 PM   #2
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OK. I guess AVCHD editing is not really for hobbyists. I've been reading through several articles and forums and when asking questions, either I get no answer or the answer is to read some stuff and come back when I can show I actually did some effort. As I said, I already did a lot of effort, but it is not all that easy.

So, suppose Vegas Movie Studio and Cineform is the way I want to go for simple editing. This is where I got so far:

- downloaded VMS trial and Neo Scene trial
- AVCHD file transfer to Cineform AVI works fine
- Input of Neo Scene files in VMS works fine

What I now want to do now is;

- make a BD image for later use. I guess I should be able to figure this out.
- make a copy of the edited movie for archival. And at this point I am no longer sure. Rendering to Cineform is one of the best options I read. Is it? So, I render to Movie for windows, but there I have to choose a template (not a codec). I choose HD 1080 50i YUV, but then I can further customize and select Cineform codec for Videoformat. Is this the way to go? Why is there no Cineform template, which immediately sets the Cineform conditions?

Then I can still further configure the Cineform codec. Which conditions should I actually choose there?
- Video systems RGB (whatever that means)
- Use ITU.Bt.709 colorspace (whatever that means)
- upconvert 4:2:2 to 4:4:4
- Encoding quality
- Videoformat (original material is 50i)
- Pixel Aspect ratio

I know I will probably be able to find that somehere by the time I get retired:-) But maybe someone here can give me a hint and explain in a few words what all these things mean. That would be very nice and allow me to enjoy my projects before I am retired.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 02:51 AM   #3
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Dirk
I definitely understand your frustration. As I am sure you are beginning to realize, this stuff is complex and arcane. I get the impression from your posts that you are more or less just starting to learn HD video editing and delivery (Blu Ray, DVD, etc.).
The learning curve is big and steep.
In my opinion, the best way to start is to keep it very basic and build your knowledge and experience one step at a time.
If you are shooting AVCHD then
1) Select editing software that will edit native AVCHD (Skip the Cineform for now)
2) Learn the details of the formats you will be using (ex.: AVCHD- 1920x1080, 60 fps, interlaced, Upper Field First, pixel aspect ratio = 1-- Widescreen DVD- 720x480, 60i, par 1.2, etc. etc.)
3) Read the user manual & access any online tutorials or other help that may be available for your editing & disk authoring software
4) Shoot some footage, open an AVCHD project, get the clips into the project and do a simple edit.
5) Export the edited timeline to a single AVCHD movie file.
6) Import the movie into your disk authoring software and find out how to use the software to transcode (if necessary) the movie to the appropriate format for BR, or DVD and burn your disk.
The objective is to just get any kind of movie made and delivered on something people can watch. This is actually quite a handful and represents a major victory.
Once you have that under control then you can start looking at the huge menu of ways to incrementally improve the quality of the final product.
It's a long journey.
Good luck!
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Old September 30th, 2009, 09:06 AM   #4
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Dirk:

As long as VMSP handles the AVCHD files the same as Vegas Pro (which I use), you don't need any transcoding nonsense. You just put on the timeline, edit & render.

I thought I remember some Blu-Ray burning limitations in VMS, but Im not sure.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 11:40 AM   #5
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Bob, Jeff,

Thanks for the replies. I am indeed just starting to learn HD video editing. I bought my AVCHD camera (Panasonic TM300) early this month. Before I was using a Sony mini-DV camera and editing was quite easy: DV-avi file from the tape through Firewire, putting the avi file on the time lime and redering to DVD and to DV-avi again (which I was told was quite lossless and allowed re-rendering multiple times). In that way, I had the original and edited material in DV-avi as well as a DVD.

So I assumed that HD editing would more or less in the same way allow a kind of best practice or codec for DVD and export to file (for archiving), but as far as I understand, it is not as easy as that. I must confess that I have been working with Pinnacle Studio before and that the options there are much more limited than in VMS. So maybe, when sticking to Pinnacle, the question might not even have arised (I must say that the number of options, settings and choices in Vegas are huge).

A final question about the transcoding: Some people swear by going to Cineform, stating this is really a must (also for quality). I see that both of you are having a different opinion. Do I get that right?

Dirk
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Old September 30th, 2009, 04:45 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Dirk Wellekens View Post
Bob, Jeff,
A final question about the transcoding: Some people swear by going to Cineform, stating this is really a must (also for quality). I see that both of you are having a different opinion. Do I get that right?
Dirk
Going to Cineform will not help quality in this situation, it is mainly an aid for people with native editing issues. In a few scenarios for applying video effects (not applicable or possible in VMSP), it can help the quality.

Hopefully your editing machine is working well natively. Many do, some just wont handle it.

Your TM300 is a very nice camera and puts out a file similar to the HMC-40 & HMC-150. I have the HMC-150, so I know the Sony Vegas products handle this type of AVCHD file well. The only file Vegas chokes on is 720P60, which the TM300 may not capture.

If I were you and you have not purchased VMSP (Platinum) yet, I would consider looking for some of the many deals/upgrades and getting the full Vegas Pro edition. It offers an incredibly larger amount of functions and can be tweaked in the render settings to provide better quality than the VMSP product. Plus DVDA 5.0 authors Blu-Ray while DVDA 4.5 in VMSP does not.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 05:00 PM   #7
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My input for you to take or leave. AVCHD is not an editing format. It will deteriorate quickly under successive edits.

You can use Cineform NeoScene for $ 99.00 to $ 129.00 to get put yourself into an intermediate format that is specifically designed for editing. The file stands up well to multiple rerenders, and takes color correction and other filters better. Plus it will be easier on you system resources, and in Vegas will probably render faster.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 06:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post
My input for you to take or leave. AVCHD is not an editing format. It will deteriorate quickly under successive edits.

You can use Cineform NeoScene for $ 99.00 to $ 129.00 to get put yourself into an intermediate format that is specifically designed for editing. The file stands up well to multiple rerenders, and takes color correction and other filters better. Plus it will be easier on you system resources, and in Vegas will probably render faster.
I totally agree.
I use Cineform Prospect for all HD editing for many, many reasons.
My only issue in connection to Dirk's post is that I am suggesting that he get the basics under control first, get a movie made & delivered in a viewable format- never mind the details of professional level quality for the moment. Once he's got that sorted out, then moving to Cineform DI for editing is absolutely a great step for boosting the quality of the final product.
I've been doing this stuff for years and I still get easily confused. I can't imagine trying to absorb all of it at once on the first go-around.
As to the broader question "to Cineform or not to Cineform", here's a post from a different thread:

The big question is what do you need in order to do what you want to do.
If you are doing professional type editing, with filtering, effects, lots of color correction, AE Comps, downstream transcoding to multiple delivery formats, etc.; the big, hunky, near lossless Cineform DI will tolerate all of the tweaking & abuse and provide you with broadcast quality HD results that would be very difficult to achieve by editing in native AVCHD.
If you are doing reletively simple editing, for viewing mostly by family/friends/U Tube, etc., it may be effective to just edit the native AVCHD, output the final AVCHD movie to a thumb drive to view with the WD HDMI player on HDTV, or burn it as BR to DVD and play on BD Player, or Playstation, or watch it on a computer.
The type of editing you plan on doing, and the requirements of the final product & distribution will determine what tools you need to get the job done.
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Old October 1st, 2009, 10:15 AM   #9
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Dirk:

I think all the posters have good points.

I really agree that you just need to keep to the basics at first and then expand your workflow. After you start producing projects and later pixel peeping them, you can them start trying to improve the quality of the video and audio.

An intermediate is just one of many possible steps you need to worry about to optimize the video quality. Also, there are lots of intermediates besides Cineform (i.e. Lagarith Lossless Video Codec). Other important steps are using a 3rd party scaling tool if the video wont be delivered in it's native resolution, determining the interlacing method and whether to frameserve, etc.

If you commit to a Vegas product, you should start checking out the Sonycreativesoftware Vegas forum and you can get loads of advice there.

Jeff
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Old October 1st, 2009, 11:32 AM   #10
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One other quick point to throw into the mix that does effect the beginner...

AVCHD is highly compressed and complex, which means it requires a lot of processing power to edit. If the OP finds he can do simple cuts from the timeline without any issues with preview speed then that's fine and a good place to start, but it might be that even two clips faded together won't preview at their full frame rate, let alone clips with captions or any type of filters. That can be very frustrating for someone new to editing, and an area where an intermediary helps greatly.
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Old October 1st, 2009, 01:52 PM   #11
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Thanks for the ideas. I understand now that it will be a step by step process. One further question, though: I think I may go for a Vegas product. Wouldn't it be best to first go for Movie Studio anyway. How can I benefit from the much more expensive Vegas Pro version if the general consensus is to start with the basics and then expand the workflow?

Dirk
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Old October 1st, 2009, 02:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirk Wellekens View Post
Thanks for the ideas. I understand now that it will be a step by step process. One further question, though: I think I may go for a Vegas product. Wouldn't it be best to first go for Movie Studio anyway. How can I benefit from the much more expensive Vegas Pro version if the general consensus is to start with the basics and then expand the workflow?

Dirk
You can easily do simple editing on a Pro level editing suite.
If you plan on sticking with this and improving your skills, having Pro level editing software is an investment in the future- it will have all of the capability & features that you will need as your knowledge & experience progress.
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Old October 5th, 2009, 05:43 AM   #13
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Robert,

I agree with your last statement, so I went for Vegas Pro. Thanks to all for your opinions and contributions.

Dirk
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