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Old October 30th, 2010, 12:28 AM   #1
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Can I manage a large AVCHD workflow on my Macbook Pro?

Hey guys,

I'm going to be taking on a project that requires me to shoot and edit 40 hours of footage in Final Cut Pro on a tight turnaround, and while I'd like to purchase an AVCHD camera I'm worried that my Macbook Pro won't be able to handle it (and thus considering an HDV/tape setup instead).

A couple of quick questions:
- How would I even be able to store this data? If I re-encode into ProRes 422 I figure that it'll take about 2.4 terabytes of space to store 40 hours of footage. Do they even make reasonably priced external firewire 800 drives that are 3+ gigs large? Given my one firewire port can I daisy-chain smaller drives and, if so, how well does that work? Will having all of these large files sitting in Final Cut make it crash / slow down?
- How long will it take to reencode everything into ProRes 422? I hear that it can take double the footage time, maybe longer. Will I be stuck waiting for all of this footage to convert and not be able to edit?
- Any other considerations that I should think about?

For context, I'll be doing all of the editing on my MacBook Pro (2.66ghz intel core 2 duo; 4gb of RAM).

Thanks in advance.
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Old October 30th, 2010, 09:30 AM   #2
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This is a case where HDV makes much more sense. You'll need approximately 520GB to store the native HDV files and you can start editing immediately on your laptop. An even faster workflow is to capture the HDV directly to hard disk or solid state unit.

AVCHD to ProRes exponentially increases your storage needs by 3-6 times depending on the quality setting you choose. Additionally, rendering 40 hours of AVCHD into ProRes adds a lot of downtime to your workflow.
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Old November 1st, 2010, 08:02 AM   #3
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Can't you just transcode the AVCHD to AIC? I shoot on the Canon T2i. We have two of them and edit on my a Mac Pro (Intel) and on an old G5. I transcode to AIC either on the MacBook using Canon's plug-in or on the G5 using MPEG Streamclip. I know that the G5 won't handle the AVCHD, so, I'm going to purchase an iMac. AIC isn't the best quality but the workflow is great (size and rendering time).

In log and transfer, are you forced to transcode to Pro Res? And if you go to AIC, how much quality are you losing? What about proxy editing?

I shot on HDV for years and it was great, however, the tape based workflow is a pain. It seems so crazy to go back to tape. And the tapeless solutions can be costly. In our little studio in my house, we're using the old HDV cameras and capture right to our MacBooks. I've never shoot on location straight to MacBook. And can you capture "progressive" to computer?

I'm considering the little Sony HXR-50u for our little TV show as a on the street camera.
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Old December 21st, 2010, 10:59 PM   #4
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If you really need to use FCP then HDV makes more sense for 40 hours and quick turnaround. You can edit HDV natively in FCP. Transcoding everything to Prores will increase you HD useage to 5 times above the original AVCHD files.

If you want to use AVCHD and not have to transcode it to Prores and you're not married to FCP you could consider Premiere Pro CS5 for Mac. It handles AVCHD natively and is pretty fast. I was a loyal FCP user but now I'm switching to CS5 for many projects just for this reason.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 05:04 PM   #5
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Re: Can I manage a large AVCHD workflow on my Macbook Pro?

Hi guys,

So because of client constraints (long story) I've decided to go to an AVCHD workflow, using the Sony HDR-CX550V 64GB High Definition Handycam. I will switch over from FCP to Premiere CS5. A couple of questions:

At the camera's highest quality rating (HD FX - 1920 x 1080 - 24Mbps - H.264AVC) one hour of footage takes 11 gigs on the camera's drive.
1. How long will it take to import this file into Adobe Premiere (or is it pretty much instantaneous?)
2. To view the file, will I need to decompress/expand it at all? If so, how large will the resulting file be?
3. To edit the file, will I need to decompress/expand it at all? If so, how large will the resulting file be?

Insights welcome ;)
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Old February 28th, 2011, 08:12 PM   #6
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Re: Can I manage a large AVCHD workflow on my Macbook Pro?

Premiere will work directly with your original AVCHD file. You import your original source files into it, which copies the files onto your disk (internal, or external, depending on how you set up preferences in Premiere) and edit those copies directly. No transcoding, conversion, re-compression or any other alteration of video -- just copying, which is as fast as your SDHC card, disk drive and the bus in between will allow.
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Old March 1st, 2011, 01:24 AM   #7
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Re: Can I manage a large AVCHD workflow on my Macbook Pro?

I switched recently from FCP for Premiere Pro in order to handle the AVCHD as well as other codecs that FCP didn't support natively.

Basically you just 'import' the AVCHD directory into Premiere Pro, it finds the relevant MTS files and puts them into a bin, this takes a few seconds. Then you're ready to edit. Depending on you Macbook specs, it may be more or less 'choppy', but you can edit with it, I do all the time with a 1080 60P workflow of the TM700. If you add effects, speed changes, then you'll probably have to 'render' preview files like you needed to do most of the time in FCP in order to play them back in real time.

Basically, you won't have to transcode or duplicate the AVCHD files in any way, and you'll be able to work them right away, this is the main advantage with Premiere Pro, as well as the fact that it utilizes the CPUs and RAM much better than FCP. (However the yet to be released version of FCP may do all this and more - however, in my mind it's still vaporware until it's out.)

Good luck with this and post back with further questions about this workflow.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 12:24 AM   #8
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Re: Can I manage a large AVCHD workflow on my Macbook Pro?

Got it, this is very helpful guys. Also I just noticed that in Standard Def mode, the Sony HDR-CX550V shoots in MPEG 2 PS.

- Is this an XDCAM format?
- Can this be natively edited in Final Cut Pro? If so, how?
- If the Sony MPEG-2 PS can't be edited in FCP directly, what's the fastest / most space-efficient way to get into a more editable format?
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