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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 January 27th, 2011, 09:03 PM   #1
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avchd quality

Just curious as to which direction to go. Looking at a Canon xl2, but avchd seems impressive. Can someone let me know if you have used avchd in final cut 7 and how it looks on dvd?
Amanda Duncan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 29th, 2011, 04:49 PM   #2
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Full raster (1920x1080) AVCHD at a good data rate (24 mbs), shot with a good lens, etc. will produce absolutely excellent images.
I don't use FCP, but all the major NLEs will deal with this codec one way or the other.
Professional level delivery output to Blu Ray, DVD, web, etc. can be expected from well shot AVCHD.
One caution, AVCHD editing requires up to date, powerful computer hardware.
So, you need to take a close look at that before making the jump :)
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Old January 29th, 2011, 09:17 PM   #3
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The quality of AVCHD is dependant on how it is implemented. Earlier AVCHD cameras had slower bitrates (approx 13mpbs) and were prone to motion artefacts. Now, the codec has matured and the quality has improved vasstly, not only with higher bitrates but also because of better quality encoding hardware.

Picture wise, if you were to compare the image from an XL2 with a fairly recent, prosumer-level AVCHD camera such as the NX5 or HMC150, then there is no competition at all. The HD camerass have approximately 4x the resolution of the XL2 and completely blow it away.

As Robert said though, it will require a very powerful computer to edit.
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Old January 29th, 2011, 09:41 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by John Wiley View Post
As Robert said though, it will require a very powerful computer to edit.
Well, not necessarily. FCP cannot even directly recognise original AVCHD files. In their wisdom, Apple decided that AVCHD takes too heavy a toll on your computer and makes serious work extremely frustrating, so they offer a different solution: transcoding. When you hook up an AVCHD media (either by connecting the camcorder via USB, or by inserting SDHC card into your Mac), FCP will offer to ingest your AVCHD video by converting it into Apple ProRes 422 format. The files will be roughtly 8-10 times larger than the original AVCHD files, but you'd be able to effortlessly scrub through them back and forth, layer and process them in any way you wish, with very little effort on the part of your Mac.

There are some people who genuinely believe that there would be a visible loss of quality due to conversion from one format to another. There won't. For them, though, there is a third-party solution. Clipwrap is a software tool that changes video container of AVCHD files from MTS (or MT2S) to MOV (i.e. puts it into QuickTime) without every touching original video or audio. Files are essentially identical clones of original AVCHD, except now Final Cut can recognise them and work with them. That way, you can work on original, raw source material, without transcoding them. If editing goes beyond simple cuts and dissolves, it might be a bit frustrating, but it will work.

As for how AVCHD looks on DVD, you are talking about down-sampling a high quality Hi-Def source into an ordinary Lo-Def (Standard-Def) DVD. Obviously, it will look as good as DVD can deliver, since AVCHD has wider colour gama, in addition to much more pixels.
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Old January 30th, 2011, 06:33 PM   #5
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AVCHD is pretty much the same as the codec used for blueray.

Downsampling to DVD looks great. Added bonus of shooting in HD for SD output is te ability to "zoom" into a frame in post without quality loss (till you hit the SD amount of pixels).

I did that with a second cam that shot 1080p, that had no operator. Zoomed and panned in post.
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Old February 9th, 2011, 06:19 PM   #6
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Hi Amanda,
AVCHD is great format with great quality, and yeah Apple can not recognize it, I also use FCP 7, when I attach my media (I use FMU from Sony) FInal Cut will Transcode it with Apple ProRess, I noticed there is a little loss of quality, but still it's a great quality...:D
And I like this tapeless workflow, so I don't have to worry about DV tapes anymore,you just have to have many SDHC cards or FMU..
I use 27" iMac with i7 processor with 8Gb of RAM and 2Terra of storage,it can edit my footage smoothly..:)
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