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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 December 15th, 2010, 05:55 PM   #1
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AVCHD Newbie ?

So I have been reading now for about a week and I see the concensus is editing AVCHD on a dual core is rough. I have an older dell computer I use for audio recording that I would like to also use for editing video. Nothing professional but maybe some music video editing. I was thinking about purchasing the Vegas movie studio platinum because I heard it can take AVCHD. Does anyone here have any experience or opinions on this?

My biggest question is about converting the footage. Ive read alot of confusing stuff on converting the footage to make it easier to edit. Is this something I HAVE to do? Purchasing a newer computer right now is not gonna happen so if this is something that can help me manage editing on the older PC, im all for it. I own the Nikon D3100, Sorry, im completely new to HD video and obviously under prepared for it. Thanks in advance from a newbie.
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Old December 16th, 2010, 12:50 AM   #2
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Hi there, Shawn:

How do you plan on sharing your video? Blu-ray? DVD? Or mainly online video sharing services like YouTube?

I like Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 ($50-$70) for doing quick AVCHD editing because of its speed and native AVCHD support. You can trim and join clips without any transcoding (provided no transitions or effects are used), which results in quality identical to what you get straight off the camera. This is often referred to as "smart rendering." Relatively few NLEs do it (Vegas is another that does, I believe). Corel's disc-authoring software needs a lot of help, though!

For disc authoring or more involved edits, I currently use Adobe Premiere and Encore, though I'd recommend a serious look around if you're ready to spend that kind of money. AVCHD support in Premiere is mediocre at best.

Converting footage can help performance, yes. Think of it as decompressing your video ahead of time instead of trying to do it in realtime. That's all it really is. If you find that the trial versions of Vegas, VideoStudio, or whatever you try can't make it through your video as-is without totally choking, converting may be worth considering. As a means of improving the *quality* of your final product, it is unlikely to help unless you're moving your video from one application to another, adding effects and making changes in each one before finally compressing to a low-bandwidth distribution format. And, in fact, if you're not adding any effects or doing anything that would prevent an application like VideoStudio or Vegas from "smart-rendering" your video, then converting your footage to a different format will be damaging (as it implies a re-conversion later), and will result in quality lost. I've never bothered to do it.

In short, I recommend playing with some free trial versions of these apps and judging for yourself whether the performance is acceptable. If you don't yet have a camera, you might poke around for some raw AVCHD clips to download and play with. An older dual-core machine certainly isn't going to provide the most pleasant editing experience, but with a faster, lighter-weight application and relatively uncomplicated projects, you might just make it. :)

Best,
Aaron
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Old December 16th, 2010, 07:45 PM   #3
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Aaron, first thank you for replying. Im pretty sure I will be mainly sharing through online sites. Maybe being able to burn it blu-ray later. Mostly online though.

I will definitely download the trials and see what works if anything works. Im in no rush so if anything I guess ill be saving up for a new computer. Also when it comes to converting is it normal when trying to bring in the footage for it to take a while? I can play it right away but I guess what im wondering is will it help to copy it to the computer before trying to put it in the editor or will there be no difference in putting the file in the editor straight from the memory stick?

Thanks again for replying and thanks in advance for those that take the time to read this.
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Old December 16th, 2010, 08:46 PM   #4
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Hi again, Shawn:

It's definitely possible to load the footage off the card (or other random-access media) directly. Whether this performs acceptably depends a bit on your camera or, if using a memory card slot in your computer, the speed of your on-board memory card reader. SDHC cards and Memory Sticks will certainly be a lot slower than the average SATA hard disk, even moreso when separated from your computer by a slow USB connection. Most of the time, when I hear about people editing directly off the cards, they're using more expensive systems that record to, e.g., Express cards, Compact Flash, etc. These types of memory cards are much faster.

I always copy the video files off the memory cards (in my case, Memory Stick) before bringing them into VideoStudio or Premiere. It's faster but, perhaps even more importantly for me, it clears the card off so that I can keep recording to it! I tend to generate raw footage much faster than I do a final product. :)

Best,
Aaron
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Old December 17th, 2010, 08:49 AM   #5
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Hi Aaron,

Regarding your comment "AVCHD support in Premiere is mediocre at best.", you might reconsider if you tried CS5 on a Core i7 machine with Mercury Playback - looks like you are CS4 still according to specs at bottom of your post.

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Old December 17th, 2010, 09:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Pulera View Post
Regarding your comment "AVCHD support in Premiere is mediocre at best.", you might reconsider if you tried CS5 on a Core i7 machine with Mercury Playback - looks like you are CS4 still according to specs at bottom of your post.
Hi Jeff - I do understand that Mercury is faster; "faster" is most of CS5's sales pitch! I am unmoved. :-) My comment was about the fact that AVCHD gets no special treatment in Premiere as it does in far cheaper, more "consumery" NLEs (e.g., smart rendering, which not even the MainConcept MPEG Pro HD plug-in currently supports, though it supports it for almost every other long-GOP format). On top of that, the horrible bugginess/hanginess/crashiness of CS4 relative to previous releases has also just gotten me thinking about taking a break from Adobe products for a while as a punitive measure. Seriously. Once a product is out the door, bugs are never fixed (except for Acrobat Reader). You buy the next version if you want the bugs fixed. I can no longer reward that approach to customer service. Premiere still litters my project directories with random DLL and TGZ files every time I start it up! Gimme a break!!!

...ok, ok, ok... that was a sensitive topic :) Standing down...

Best,
Aaron
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Old December 17th, 2010, 10:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Nyquist View Post
So I have been reading now for about a week and I see the concensus is editing AVCHD on a dual core is rough. I have an older dell computer I use for audio recording that I would like to also use for editing video. Nothing professional but maybe some music video editing. I was thinking about purchasing the Vegas movie studio platinum because I heard it can take AVCHD. Does anyone here have any experience or opinions on this?

My biggest question is about converting the footage. Ive read alot of confusing stuff on converting the footage to make it easier to edit. Is this something I HAVE to do? Purchasing a newer computer right now is not gonna happen so if this is something that can help me manage editing on the older PC, im all for it. I own the Nikon D3100, Sorry, im completely new to HD video and obviously under prepared for it. Thanks in advance from a newbie.
I have roughly 10 times the computing power you do and editing AVCHD on my 8-core machine is no picnic. Convert your footage to something more useful for editing. You'll be a lot happier.
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Old December 17th, 2010, 11:35 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
I have roughly 10 times the computing power you do and editing AVCHD on my 8-core machine is no picnic. Convert your footage to something more useful for editing. You'll be a lot happier.
Hi Perrone:

You do some pretty involved stuff, though! I think it's hard to make a general case for converting up front; I think you really have to consider the type of work being done on the video. If you're not visiting each frame a dozen times to add more and more effects, then it seems to me to just come down to a question of "now or later?" with decoding your AVCHD. I don't know--are you the type of driver who would rather wait for an hour at the highway entrance, or would you rather skip the wait and lower the speed limit instead? If you're not getting too fancy, you'll get there at the same time either way, perhaps sooner in the latter case if your NLE is smart enough.

The other problem with converting up front to, e.g., Cineform (besides needing a NLE that supports it), is that your video takes up 8-10x as much space on your disk now. If you were worried about space already (I'm getting this from the question above about editing directly off the cards), then the idea of having your one-hour AVCHD program explode to over 100Gb may not be too cool! :-O

In short: I totally get converting to an intermediate codec if you're doing heavy stuff. It's not a clear winner otherwise. At least not IMO.

Best,
Aaron
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Old December 17th, 2010, 12:41 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Aaron Holmes View Post
Hi Perrone:

You do some pretty involved stuff, though!

The other problem with converting up front to, e.g., Cineform (besides needing a NLE that supports it), is that your video takes up 8-10x as much space on your disk now. If you were worried about space already (I'm getting this from the question above about editing directly off the cards), then the idea of having your one-hour AVCHD program explode to over 100Gb may not be too cool! :-O

In short: I totally get converting to an intermediate codec if you're doing heavy stuff. It's not a clear winner otherwise. At least not IMO.

Best,
Aaron
Have you tried to cut AVCHD on a dual core? I have. In fact, my old editing machine is still fired up in the edit suite and it's a dual core. It's an exercise in futility. You can't even get enough playback speed to see where to cut. I don't do effects until after my cut is done, so that's not the issue.

As for disk space, $100 will net half a terabyte. Disk space should be the least of anyone's concerns these days.
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Old December 17th, 2010, 12:53 PM   #10
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Not on a dual-core, no. But my four-year-old quad-core is no speed demon either! OTOH, I can trim and join two hours worth of maximum-quality AVCHD clips from my NX5 in VideoStudio in less than 20 minutes and have a result that looks exactly like what came off the camera. If the NLE is smart enough to know that it doesn't have to decode the frames, then your CPU is not a big part of the equation. Unfortunately, apps like Premiere, which are optimized for the case where you are modifying every single frame, always decode everything and you pay *enormously* for it. Picking the best weapon for the job is very important. If you're not doing anything fancy, a tool designed for fanciness is really worth avoiding in this case!!

Best,
Aaron
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Old December 17th, 2010, 01:17 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Aaron Holmes View Post
If you're not doing anything fancy, a tool designed for fanciness is really worth avoiding in this case!!

Best,
Aaron
That is the TRUTH right there. Which is why I keep so many tools on my editing machine.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 10:37 AM   #12
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I use AVCHD on a 3.2g i7 machine with CS5 and it works great. Zero crashes and very smooth playback. Before that I had a dual Zeon machine which is not much different from a dual core and I HAD to go to cineform and that was with CS4. AVCHD is pretty unusable on anything but the newest fastest machines. I liked cineform but it has it's issues as well (not to mention being expensive).

I understand the Premiere bashing, I have felt the same but CS5 might be the first time Adobe got it right. I am really, really pleased with the performance and stability.
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