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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 October 5th, 2010, 08:39 PM   #1
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Please help me with a few terms

I'm new to this and I'm trying to maximize quality/resolution. I have a Canon HF20 and a brand new HP. I'm still trying to pick my video editor, but after trialing Pinnacle, Corel X3, and Vegas Movie Studio, I'm thinking I'm going to go with Pinnacle.

1) Can someone explain interlacing/deinterlacing? No idea what this is and how it affects quality.

2) Can someone simplify what all these video templates are? There is NTSC, PAL, HDV, DV, all with different levels of what I think are resolution and frame rate. I have no idea what all this means and how it affects my video output. The only thing I've noticed is that I tend to get the best quality the farther down the list I go (HD 1080-50i (1920x1080, 25.000 fps tends to be the best)

3) What is p vs i? As in 25p vs 50i.

4) How do I choose frame rate? Is there a difference between 25fpi and 29.7?

If it is too much effort to type the answers, where can I read/learn about this stuff? Thanks for any help, I'm sure other newbies have similar questions. I'm moderately computer savvy, but this is a new realm for me.
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Old October 5th, 2010, 10:44 PM   #2
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Short and simple:

1. Interlacing is when the 'electronics' scans an image in lines and/or presents it that way. Progressive is when the entire image is captured and/or displayed in one go. Depending on what your objective is, both can be either beneficial or detrimental. Deinterlacing is software/hardware trying to 'progressify' an interlaced video.

2. NTSC, PAL and HDTV are television standards. NTSC for the US mainly. PAL for the rest of the world. Both are standard definition formats. HDTV is the standard for high-definition content. Luckily, it's not country specific. HDV/DV, etc are all recording formats (codecs) that compress data into different forms so the workflow gets more efficient/faster/etc. What you choose depends on what and for whom you're shooting. How did you figure 25 fps is the best? Best for what? No standard is 'good' or 'bad'. Depending on what you want to achieve, you will find the most appropriate format.

3. p is progressive, i is interlaced

4. You choose a frame rate based on what you want to achieve. There are no absolute answers (otherwise why would the systems have them?).

Go to wikipedia for more in depth definitions. Google these terms. DVinfo itself has a million posts with explanations of these terms. The info I've given is drastically simplified for your understanding.

If you care to be more precise about what you're trying to achieve, I can give you more specific answers. Hope this helps.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 01:03 AM   #3
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EDIT: Odd... at the time I replied, Sareesh's reply wasn't shown (despite having been posted hours earlier). Derned glitchy web-board software! :-)

Hi, Greg!

Welcome aboard! Lots of question there. Any chance you could first describe what it is that you'd like to do with your HF20? Are you mostly going to be sharing videos online, for example, or do you plan to make DVDs? Blu-rays?

I ask because terms like "NTSC", "PAL", "interlaced", etc., are all sitting right out in the open on sites like Wikipedia, although I expect what you're really trying to find out is whether they're relevant to you and how. If we don't know what you're trying to accomplish then the answer for most of them is, "it depends."

Best,
Aaron
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Last edited by Aaron Holmes; October 6th, 2010 at 11:08 AM.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 08:06 PM   #4
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Aaron and Sareesh, thanks for taking the time to respond. Aaron, you're right, I guess my question is more "How do I choose between these settings based on what I'm trying to do" rather than just trying to figure out what everything means.

What do I plan on doing with my HF20?: Collect videos from vacations to put on DVD (not blue ray) and the web to save for memories and share with friends. Nothing complicated, just basic titles over clips and background music on videos. I don't care about the time it takes to render anything, I just want the highest quality images in ALL output types.

Unfortunately, I'm dealing with both clips in HD and Standard Def because my first vacation I tried to save memory space and decided to record in SD. From now on, I am using the HD setting.

For SD recording: What are the optimum settings for burning a DVD for playback in a normal DVD player? Frame size? Frames per second? Progressive or interlaced?

For SD recording: Same questions as above for making a windows media player movie for playback on the computer or for uploading to youtube

For HD recording: What are the optimum settings for burning a DVD for playback in a normal DVD player? Frame size? Frames per second? Progressive or interlaced?

For HD recording: Same questions as above for making a windows media player movie for playback on the computer or for uploading to youtube


Thanks again to anyone willing to help me out. I'm frustrated, overwhelmed, and don't have the time in my life to devote to doing all the research to figure all this out.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 10:58 PM   #5
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I don't understand what you mean by 'ALL output types'. Anyway -

SD Recording: If you're in the US, your camera will be recording NTSC in SD mode anyway. So you just need to drag the clips into your NLE, edit and export to DVD (depending on the NLE you're using, the options vary)

SD Rec2: Same steps as above but export to WMV according to specs on Youtube. Each site has different specs (Vimeo is different, etc). Better to make one export each for different settings to preserve quality.

HD: Same as SD. Drag your files to your NLE and burn to DVD.

Now here's the place I think you're confused about things: DVD is standard definition ONLY (when it works like a movie DVD). The only way you can get HD into DVD is by using DVD as a data disc, but that won't play on your DVD player. So no matter what you shoot (HD or SD), when you burn to DVD, it gets converted to NTSC (if you're in the US) at a standard resolution and frame rate (don't bother going into details now, your NLE will take care of it). Just make sure while you are burning your DVD from the NLE, export at less than 6.5 bps so that most players will play your DVD (the max is 9, but don't ever go there). I also export to CBR instead of VBR but in your case that might be different.

HD rec 2: You can export to a HD WMV and upload HD to youtube according to their settings.

Follow these suggestions and try burning a few DVDs/files and see if the results are okay with you. If you have any specific questions along the way, let me know.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 11:01 PM   #6
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Hi again, Greg:

The HF20, as far as I can tell, does not have a standard-def mode. The manual (which I just pulled up), refers only to 1920x1080 and 1440x1080, both of which are high-def modes. So, to create a DVD (standard-def only), you'll always be scaling the result down significantly. Not a big deal, and people do it all the time. It looks fine, but yes, the render times can be horrific! (Plan on clicking "Ok" and going to bed!)

Assuming you have the US version of the camera, PAL is irrelevant. As Sareesh says, that's for the "rest of the world." :-) You get NTSC, which means your choices of framerates are 60i (60 fps interlaced), 30p (30 fps progressive), and 24p. In the PAL version, they'd be 50i and 25p.

Here's my recommendation: Shoot in 60 fps interlaced (60i) in 1920x1080. You'll want the smooth motion that 60 fps gets you, and interlaced is your only choice there. The HF20 appears to offer a few choices for quality, however: FXP and MXP. The record time is much longer for FXP, and as you're already going to be throwing out so much when you scale down to DVD, my inclination would be toward FXP. Once scaled down to standard-def for DVD, I'll venture a guess it'll be really hard to tell the difference between FXP and MXP quality. Try both and see, however. Why not?

Ignore the 30p and 24p modes. Their progressive-ness makes them extremely tempting, as we're all being constantly conditioned to believe that progressive=better, but their low frame rates make them all but utterly useless for casual home video shooting. Unless shots are carefully planned, motion in the shot is understood, shutter speed is chosen properly, etc., shooting in 30p or 24p will produce video that is either too choppy, too blurry, or both, especially if viewed on a large flatscreen TV. IMHO, these 24p and 30p modes are mostly a gimmick on these small camcorders, as they're totally useless to all but the 0.001% of folks who'd buy them as a backup camera for their pro video kit and might actually use them to shoot B cam on an indie flick or something.

For burning to DVD, you'll render as 720x480 NTSC 60i (confusingly, this is also often referred to as 29.97fps interlaced) in MPEG-2 format. Chances are good that you won't really have to think about this with Pinnacle and it'll just figure it out when you tell it you want to make a DVD. Hopefully it also automatically chooses a data rate that gives you the best quality for the size of recordable DVD you're using. My recommendation is to stick with single-layer 4.7Gb DVD-R media if at all possible. Even today, dual-layer burns are notoriously incompatible, short-lived, and otherwise much less reliable than a single-layer burn. At maximum quality (well, maximum data rate, anyway), a single-layer 4.7Gb DVD-R will hold about an hour of video. Of course, you can fit 10+ hours on there if you don't mind really ugly video! :-)

I'll let somebody else talk more about YouTube. I seldom upload to YouTube, and when I do, I usually just send the raw AVCHD clips straight from my camera (which takes forever, but it really looks nice when it's all done :-))

Best,
Aaron
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Old October 7th, 2010, 08:36 PM   #7
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Sareesh: By "all output types", I mean burning to DVD/HDVD, windows media player, uploading to youtube, etc (different output types)

Aaron: You are right, the HF 20 only records in 1920x1080 and 1440x1080. My original setting was "SP", which I confused with "SD". I hope that clarifies things. I assume 1920x1080 is the higher quality and preferred setting for my uses.

Do many agree with avoiding the 24p/30p settings or are you unlike the majority (just curious)? On my camera, 60i is listed as "standard", so I assume it is commonly preferred.

You say "For burning to DVD, you'll render as 720x480 NTSC 60i (confusingly, this is also often referred to as 29.97fps interlaced) in MPEG-2 format." What happens if I render as 1920x1080 60i? Will there be quality loss?

My last question: I'm intrigued by burning to a data disk DVD because you say there is no data loss. However, since it won't play on a normal DVD player, what is the use of the data disk? Just for sharing to other computers?

Thanks again to both of you. I'm starting to come around!
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Old October 7th, 2010, 09:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Harrison View Post
You say "For burning to DVD, you'll render as 720x480 NTSC 60i (confusingly, this is also often referred to as 29.97fps interlaced) in MPEG-2 format." What happens if I render as 1920x1080 60i? Will there be quality loss?
There will probably be some loss, yes. Some software, like Corel VideoStudio X2/3 (and perhaps other consumery NLEs) can "smart render", meaning that if you render to the same format as the source material, the software will literally copy the data right over. Most NLEs (even the "pro" ones like Adobe Premiere CS5) don't do that, however, and instead always recompress. In these NLEs, even rendering to the same format as the source yields some amount of quality lost. It's terribly annoying, but it's life. :-(

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Originally Posted by Greg Harrison View Post
My last question: I'm intrigued by burning to a data disk DVD because you say there is no data loss. However, since it won't play on a normal DVD player, what is the use of the data disk? Just for sharing to other computers?
There is actually another option, which is called an "AVCHD Disc", which is AVCHD placed directly on a DVD. Some Blu-ray players can play such discs. A Playstation 3 (what I use for a Blu-ray player) can plan any old video file on whatever kind of disc, however it's "special" that way. :-) If you want to create one kind of disc that almost anybody will be able to play, DVD is that kind. And only standard-def will go there.

I expect you were asking Sareesh about 30p/24p, as I'd already given my opinion there (which is: Stay away!!!) :-)

Best,
Aaron
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Old October 9th, 2010, 12:01 AM   #9
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Avoid 24, 25 and 50. Stick with 60 or 30. The question is: Can your computer handle hours of 60i full HD footage (in a scary compression codec) on your timeline? If yes, stick to 60i. Also, both 1440 and 1920 is 'technically' full HD. The reason why they have the 1440 option is so that people with slower computers can edit the footage. You'll know when the time comes.

Best option: 1920x1080 at 60i

Acceptable option: 1440x1080 at 30i

Choose progressive or interlaced based on what YOU LIKE. To your purposes, this is almost a non-issue. If you were strictly going to DVD, I would have advised to stick to interlaced (DVD is interlaced). However, on youtube or WMV, you can show progressive footage. Note: If you are panning, shooting sports or cars, then interlaced is the only way to go.
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Old October 9th, 2010, 01:12 AM   #10
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AVCHD BD - Clarification

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Originally Posted by Aaron Holmes View Post
There is actually another option, which is called an "AVCHD Disc", which is AVCHD placed directly on a DVD. Some Blu-ray players can play such discs...
Actually, AVCHD BD is part of Blu-ray standard, and properly authored AVCHD Blu-ray discs must be playable by every standard Blu-ray player. All major NLEs (Pinnacle, Vegas, Premiere Elements, etc) can author this type of disc. On a Mac, Premiere (and Premiere Elements), Final Cut Studio 2, as well as Toast Titanium can do this.

For me, this is the best way to produce and share family video in HD. My HF100 captures video in AVCHD. I can edit in Premiere Elements, then export to AVCHD BD and burn on standard dual-layer DVD+R. This plays in full HD resolution on my HDTV, and I can share with everyone who has Blu-ray player (most people around me). What's even better is, Premiere is smart enough to figure out which part of my final edit has not been modified from the original AVCHD files (from my Vixia). Those parts are NOT re-compressed; they are just simply copied into the final edit, which saves tons of time on final render, as my videos mostly contain some fade ins, fade outs, cross fades, titles and simple transitions (I rarely do colour timing on home videos).

Some Blu-ray players will actually play AVCHD video directly taken from the camcorder, without any modification or authoring. You can burn the entire AVCHD directory structure from you SDHC card (or internal memory / hard drive), or you can stick the SDHC card into your BLu-ray player (if it has the slot, and supports AVCHD playback). This doesn't always work, because most AVCHD camcorders use slightly different AVCHD file and directory structure from the AVCHD-BD standard. Panasonic BD players can read that camcorder structure, though, as well as some others (Sony, I believe, as well as PS3).
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Old October 9th, 2010, 01:23 AM   #11
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PAL, NTSC in HD world

Another pet peeve of mine; people continue to refer to NTSC and PAL systems when they discuss HD devices. These TV standards were used for analogue TV in standard definition. HDTV eliminated the differences in TV standards; there is no NTSC or PAL in HD; there is only HD, with various flavours: 720p, 1080p, 1080i.

Unfortunately, the primary culprits for the continued (mis)use of NTSC/PAL terms are camcorder makers. They continue to make different versions of same models for US/Japan (formerly NTSC) and EU/Rest of the world (formerly PAL) markets. These camcorders are almost always identical, with the exception of two things:

1. US models are ALWAYS 30% less expensive;
2. US models have different frame rates form EU models; in the US, you get 30p and 60i (and also often 24p, and Sanyo/Panasonic now has 60p), while EU models only provide 25p and 50i.

These frame rates are the legacy of old analogue TV (which was tied to the frequency of electrical current, which runs at 50Hz in EU and 60Hz in US). Literally ALL HDTVs of today can play any and all frame rates today. There really should be no difference, but there is. Perhaps one other reason for different frame rates is precisely the electrical power frequency issue. When you use US camcorder in EU to shoot indoors with heavy neon lighting, the frequency of flicker of those neon lights won't be in sync with your frame rate (50Hz lights, vs 60Hz or 30Hz camcorder), and you may get very slow flicker in your final video. That is another reason why TV programming in US is still recorded in 30p or 60i, and in EU in 25p and 50i. That way, your neon lighting is in sync with your frame rate, and your images have no flicker.
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Old October 9th, 2010, 11:02 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Predrag Vasic View Post
Actually, AVCHD BD is part of Blu-ray standard, and properly authored AVCHD Blu-ray discs must be playable by every standard Blu-ray player. All major NLEs (Pinnacle, Vegas, Premiere Elements, etc) can author this type of disc. On a Mac, Premiere (and Premiere Elements), Final Cut Studio 2, as well as Toast Titanium can do this.
What makes you say that it's part of the Blu-ray standard? I've always heard otherwise; for one, the Wikipedia AVCHD page says that it's not, and indicates that not all Blu-ray players support it. My expectation would be the most (if not all) Sony and Panasonic players would play AVCHD discs, being as those two companies are the real pushers of AVCHD...

EDIT: On second read, perhaps you just misunderstood me. I was talking about "AVCHD Disc", not AVCHD on a Blu-ray. "AVCHD Disc" is the official name of AVCHD on DVD. We were, after all, talking about DVD. :-) As a video format, I agree with you. AVCHD is just a combination of various things that are a part of the Blu-ray spec. However, quite annoyingly, there are relatively few NLEs that take advantage of that fact!

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Originally Posted by Predrag Vasic View Post
Another pet peeve of mine; people continue to refer to NTSC and PAL systems when they discuss HD devices. These TV standards were used for analogue TV in standard definition. HDTV eliminated the differences in TV standards; there is no NTSC or PAL in HD; there is only HD, with various flavours: 720p, 1080p, 1080i.
Yeah, it is annoying. However, NTSC and PAL are so convenient as existing terms to distinguish American and European resolutions and framerates that it's no wonder those terms live on. There are still differences, after all, however unrelated to the "standards." Now that CRTs are dead and TV refresh rates no longer physically tied to the frequency of mains power, perhaps we'll all eventually converge on a single set of framerates. Personally, I think 50Hz looks awful, but perhaps my eyes have less persistence that the average person's eyes. ;-)

Best,
Aaron
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Last edited by Aaron Holmes; October 9th, 2010 at 01:34 PM. Reason: typo
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Old October 10th, 2010, 12:02 AM   #13
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Confusing everyone...

It looks like my message confused more than it clarified. As Aaron said, AVCHD BD (also known as AVCHD Disc) is a part Blu-ray standard that allows using AVCHD to encode content, and format and structure it as a Blu-ray disc, thereby making it possible to squeeze meaningful length of video onto an ordinary DVD-R.

Meanwhile, camcorders that use AVCHD encode their stuff and put it on card/disc/memory in a very similar format and structure to AVCHD-BD, however that format is NOT Blu-ray standard. This didn't prevent some manufacturers to enable support for them in their Blu-ray players.

As for those various frame rates, I have noticed that US camcorders have a large EU following, especially among independent filmmakers; specifically models that, in addition to 30p, also have 24p. Not only are they cheaper than EU models, but offer a true movie frame rate (more-or-less; that 24p is actually 23.976 fps, but is more than close enough for their purpose).
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