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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 16th, 2010, 11:43 PM   #1
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AVCHD viewing & converting help with CX500V

Please bear with me as I know these questions are going to sound basic.

Recently just received my (Sony) CX500V. Recorded some videos...(obviously) and now want to play them on different laptops etc etc. I think I recorded all the videos in the highest quality setting.

Now if I try to just play the MTS files on a dual core laptop, using VLC, of course I get choppy video (and seems grainy/noisy). I tried using hand brake to convert them, but I don't think I'm using the correct settings.

Even after all that the videos looked 'mediocre' at best.

Then tonight while at the 'day job'. I installed the Sony PMB and the videos look and play amazing (which is why I bought the camera)

I read the handy cam manual, but doesn't state how to best view / convert the videos.

A) How can I convert these videos to a format that's less intensive CPU wise to distribute to family?
B) How can I convert these videos to a format that is compatible with Vimeo/Youtube?
C) What do I need to do to import these into an editor (such as Sony Vegas) and have it retain the HD feel? I tried importing footage into Vegas, and it played back similarly how VLC did.

Playing the same footage on my quad core pc via VLC plays back without stutter, however doesn't 'look' HD. I don't know how to best explain it. Maybe it's not interlacing the footage?

If you can point me in the right direction, I'd REALLY appreciate it. My wife intends on using the camera, but she needs a step by step / full proof way of converting so she can take video and send to the grand parents.
Sean Scarfo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 17th, 2010, 09:01 AM   #2
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Since you are on a PC ALWAYS use the Sony Motion Browser to bring clips into the PC as this brings all the meta data from the recording. This SMB software will create a nice archive of your videos and you will be able to view as either the folders they are stored in ( the date you transferred to the PC, you can set the default directory ) or a calendar view which is the date they were taken. You can then backup this whole directory source and know that your videos will be backed up safely . I backup mine to LTO3 Data tape since I have a lot to backup but you can use any backup media. I use the calendar view to look at my videos of family as it is easier to find what I want. Click on the day and video and it will open another window and play ( with the clips ordered down the left side). This same software will make an AVCHD disc or a normal DVD too if you want. Read the manual for detailed instructions. It's a little slow but it does work.
In Vegas ( or any other NLE) load files from the transferred directory created by SMB. You will need to set project properties for full HD in Vegas 1920x1080x60i. On my Q9450, 8G RAM and Vista 64 AVCHD will not run at full resolution in Vegas, even 9.0d , in preview it runs at full frame rate at about 1280x720 preview resolution which is fine for editing. You need to set the preview playback to good /auto and let Vegas set the resolution it can for full frame rate. It will run full resolution, full frame rate in Edius Pro 5.5.
Both Vegas and Edius will make Bluray from timeline or export an MPEG2 file for SD DVD creation with an authoring program like DVD Architect.
The easiest ( and slowest by far ) is to let Sony Motion Browser do the conversion and DVD creation.


Ron Evans
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Old April 17th, 2010, 10:49 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Scarfo View Post
...
I read the handy cam manual, but doesn't state how to best view / convert the videos.

A) How can I convert these videos to a format that's less intensive CPU wise to distribute to family?
B) How can I convert these videos to a format that is compatible with Vimeo/Youtube?
C) What do I need to do to import these into an editor (such as Sony Vegas) and have it retain the HD feel? I tried importing footage into Vegas, and it played back similarly how VLC did.
...
I agree with Ron, make full use of Picture Motion Browser. I ignored it when I bought my first Sony cam, but it is a very effective piece of software now within its feature limitations (isn't a full-scale editor; can't combine two clips on the PC into one; for some unknown reason, doesn't let you rename clip files). It is great for downloading from the camcorder, simple file organization, and clip and JPEG playback. The latter is particularly important if you don't have Windows 7, which is the first operating system where the right AVCHD codecs were included for use with Windows Media Player. AVCHD video is highly compressed and it takes solid horsepower and good software to play it back smoothly on a PC.

As an aside, you mentioned the recording mode. I always record on the highest quality setting. My target playback is a 46" widescreen HDTV and there is plenty of chip memory, so I don't skimp on that. Some people have used lower settings and have been happy with the quality, so this is more of a personal preference. Similarly, I've ended up taking all stills at the 9MP widescreen level. Depending on what kind of TV your family members use, you might be opting for 4:3. It might be time for a TV upgrade - that's what happened to us.

PC playback quality: if your monitors aren't 1920 x 1080, that may be part of what you're observing, assuming you're using 16:9 resolutions.

Conversion notes:

1. For the rest of the family - as Ron noted, PMB will downconvert video to DVD formats for you if you want to burn DVDs for everyone. If you want to provide files instead of a DVD, there are a couple of menu choices inside PMB for converting to MPEG-2 and WMV formats. Most PCs will play those formats back fine. I have not personally converted any clips with PMB so I can't vouch for the end product. I'd definitely try it, though. The second alternative is to buy or get a freeware Non-Linear-Editor program (there are 5-10 commercial ones and others). I have only used Corel's VideoStudio Pro series. With that, you can combine clips, add transitions, add soundtracks, postprocess the video, etc. I use a fraction of its power as I mostly trim and combine clips. Any of these programs will output your video to a wide range of formats which can be sent to other people. Just make sure the program handles AVCHD (maybe all of them now) and preferably includes "smart rendering". There are a number of threads online about editors.

2. Formatting for YouTube - I have a CX500V so this I've tried. YouTube started supporting 1920 x 1080 HD uploads around last November. You can directly upload untouched CX500V clips to YouTube up to around 125MB - 150MB in size. YouTube will post-process your 1080i clip to 1080p, 720p, 480p, and 360 (?) formats, and anyone watching the clip can choose which format to play.

I have had trouble uploading clips larger than that and have had to use the Corel software to produce "MPEG-4 HD" clips from the AVCHD footage. If I do that, I've been able to upload up to the 10 minute limit with no problems. Again, that's a 1920 x 1080 full HD format. I used to convert to 720p for YouTube uploads but that introduced some quality problems. Now that I have reliable 1080 uploads, I use them exclusively.

There's a caveat on the uploads: YouTube typically takes quite a while to post-process your upload into the four resolutions. It will post a low-quality video for people to watch well before the final copies are ready, and it puts up a warning that the video is still being processed. This is normal if you see it. I have always seen it up until last night, when I uploaded a 30 second clip. Someone commented on it only a couple of minutes later, and I was horrified, thinking they saw the bad low-quality version. But YouTube had fully processed that upload by then already! So I don't know if they improved something recently, but maybe the delay is gone or minimal for small clips now.

Have fun, the 500 is a great camcorder. If you want to browse some CX500V footage, there's a lot online at YouTube now. My channel is ThomasAlexHD, and I tried to include CX500V in the search tags where I was demonstrating camera features or abilities. I have some low light clips, Low Lux clips, slow motion clips, etc.
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Old April 17th, 2010, 11:24 AM   #4
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I too had problems getting smooth playback in Premiere using AVCHD on a Daul Core machine. This software converts from AVCHD to MPEG 2 with excellent results. Went from 90% CPU usage to 50%

NewBlue AVCHD Upshift | Batch convert your AVCHD files into standard .M2T files.
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