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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old July 15th, 2012, 01:09 PM   #1
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hi, needing help if possible

My partner bought a cheapy camcorder to record the kids with. I was away when she bought it. I'm needing help to figure out what i can do with it, editing wise !??

I've only ever used standard definition camcorders, such as the jvc gyhd100e. I've noticed this camera has 1080i Hd recording, 720 50i hd, and 520 standard def recording options.

I've tried recording on all three and i've imported it into my computer. I'm only running xp, windows media player. All three types of footage have problems playing, jumping/juddering etc.

Can anyone offer any advice on the simplest way to play the footage on my computer, to check that all is ok, then the process i'd have to follow to burn it to a dvd disk to save for the future. I have already tried searching the forum/internet but there seems to be a million answers and i don't know where to start! ;-/

Obiviously i'm wanting the best quality i can as they are going to be memories for the future BUT, i think my pc system needs upgrading.

Any help GREATLY appreciated! Thanks Andy

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MPEG4 file format.
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Fixed focus.
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27 exposure modes.
10 special effects.
Optical image stabilisation.
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Face detection - up to 5 faces.
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General information:

AV output.
HDMI connection.
Battery level indicator.
Rechargeable Li-ion battery supplied.
Includes wrist strap and USB cable.
Weight 226g.
Size H5.66, W11.97, D4.95cm.
Manufacturer's 1 year guarantee.
EAN/MPN/UPC/ISBN: 8806071272894 .
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Old July 15th, 2012, 01:33 PM   #2
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Re: hi, needing help if possible

The plain fact is your computer isn't up to the task. This is a highly-compressed format and takes some serious horsepower to decode and play back smoothly. Also, dvd's are standard-definition only, so you would have to convert the HDV to standard definition files, or move up to a Blu-Ray disk system to record as high-definition.

All of this takes more than an XP system with, in all probablility, a several-generations back CPU and limited RAM, can handle.....
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Old July 15th, 2012, 01:54 PM   #3
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Re: hi, needing help if possible

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

D'oh! I was expecting a reply saying as much, but I was hoping i was able to get away with something. lol

I guess i'll look at updating my system.
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Old July 15th, 2012, 11:50 PM   #4
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Re: hi, needing help if possible

You CAN store the files since this is a solid state camera - you probably should use whatever software was provided with the camera IF it will work with XP.

And the odds are your computer is simply underpowered... as already noted, a computer upgrade to one that can comfortably handle video playback (which is pretty much standard NOW, vs. 3-4 years ago...) is in your future!
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Old July 16th, 2012, 12:44 AM   #5
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Re: hi, needing help if possible

Originally Posted by Andrew Carter View Post
Can anyone offer any advice on the simplest way to play the footage on my computer, to check that all is ok, then the process i'd have to follow to burn it to a dvd disk to save for the future.
To check your footage, play it from the camcorder to your television using a mini HDMI to HDMI cable. If your television doesn't have HDMI use the included AV cable. Record in the highest quality mode available. On the H300 this appears to be super-fine full HD 1920x1080/60i mode.

Always save the original files, because they are HD quality and could be used to make a nice blu-ray disk in a year or two. Many people use two USB HDs to save the files. That way if one drive breaks, your video is still safe on the other. I recommend two drives of similar size but made by different manufacturers. Don't forget to copy each video file to both drives.

Although your computer is too old to play the files, it can still convert them to DVD format. Typically this will take about 10 minutes for every 1 minute of video you want to convert. For example, to master a 1 hour DVD start the conversion before dinner and it will be ready the next morning. I've followed this workflow using a single core 2.2Ghz AMD Sempron. Make sure the computer isn't set to automatically go to sleep at night.

Last edited by Eric Olson; July 16th, 2012 at 02:30 AM.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 01:03 AM   #6
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Re: hi, needing help if possible

Originally Posted by Andrew Carter View Post
I've tried recording on all three and i've imported it into my computer. I'm only running xp, windows media player. All three types of footage have problems playing, jumping/juddering etc.
Something you could try before an upgrade:

1. Backup and create a system restore point. Run msconfig.exe and uncheck ALL startup programs - nothing bad should happen - but you're doing so at your own risk! Make a list of those programs that are checked in the first place.
2. Reboot
3. Copy your video files to an EMPTY 7200rpm external hard disk
4. Make sure your anti-virus is swtiched off
5. Optimize windows for maximum efficiency - turn off graphics, effects, etc. Defrag and chkdsk. Clear temp folder and cache. Make sure you have at least 30% free space on your C:/ drive (where the software resides).
6. Reboot and try playing back your 1080i files.

It should just about work. If it doesn't, you can recheck all the programs you had unchecked in msconfig.exe and/or restore your computer to its original state.

Hope it helps.
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Old July 18th, 2012, 05:43 AM   #7
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Re: hi, needing help if possible

Several thoughts.
Video should be stored to a separate physical drive from your system (usually C:) drive.
For best results while capturing or playing, AV should be off - it eats a lot of computer clock cycles.
That is your computer: processor, memory, drive configuration, etc.. More recent XP era machines can do single stream AVCHD video OK if appropriately configured.
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Old July 18th, 2012, 11:28 AM   #8
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Re: hi, needing help if possible

All of the foregoing is useful advice, particularly that about using a separate media drive.

When Don said "Video should be stored to a separate physical drive from your system (usually C:) drive" I think he was talking about where to hold media files for playback and editing. I mention this because you also asked about storage for future use, and that will involve different kinds of solutions.

As for working with your current computer, that is certainly possible and it might or might not work well. To understand this, it helps to understand what is going on when you edit AVCHD video, which is what your camera generates when shooting high-definition fomats like 1080i. AVCHD is a highly compressed recording format. The problem for the computer is that it has to decompress it in order to play it or edit it. Do you understand how compression works with MPEG2 and AVCHD/h.264? If not, here's a very brief and oversimplified summary that will help you understand why AVCHD video (as from your camera) can impose a heavy load on a not-so-new computer and then get some ideas about what you can do to live with that for the time being.

You know that video, like film, is actually a series of still pictures (frames) that are played back in relatively rapid sequence. A film camera takes a series of snapshots. Every frame is a full picture lke you might snap with a still camera. Both AVCHD and MPEG2 (MPEG2-DVD) work with groups of pictures (GOPs). The first picture in the group is called an "I" frame and is like a full jpeg for a still photo. For the next, say, 14 frames in the GOP, the program records only the pixels that change from one frame to the next instead of recording a whole new still photo for each frame. (These frames are called "B" and "P" frames.) Then, a new GOP starts with a new "I" frame, and repeats the process for the next 14 pictures, etc. This makes for compact (or "efficient") storage of the recording.

That gross oversimplification gets us to the point about editing difficulties. When you put this compressed recording on the computer and want to play it back or edit it, the computer has to convert all those B & P frames into full video, and do it on the fly and then feed it out the graphics display card. In other words, it has to take the pixel info for each B and P frame and build a full still image. That can be a large processing load for an older computer which is also running the editing application. XP Computers can generally play standard definition video (DV) and play back DVDs, which are standard definition MPEG2 files. They need more processing resources when working with high-definition MPEG2 files or the even more highly compressed AVCHD/h.264 (MPEG4) video from newer cameras. The images have a lot more detail in them (for example, 1080 lines in HD versus 480 or 520 for SD). Having more RAM and newer video cards, and more powerful CPUs will help, but WinXP has limitations on how much of that it can use. So, an XP system may be able to play back DVDs using standard-definition MPEG2 but may not have enough capacity to smoothly play back all the frames from compressed high-definition formats.

There are several things you can do about this, some free and some not.

First, Don's point about getting a separate media drive is an important one. Simply put, hard drives cannot do simultaneous reading and writing, but that is what you are asking the computer to do when you try to edit from the system drive. Adding a 7200 rpm drive to a desktop computer is very simple. If you are working with a laptop computer, I'm guessing that yours has a firewire port which you could use to add an external firewire drive. An external USB 2 drive is a last resort. It may work with single tracks of AVCHD in an editing application.

Second, your NLE (editing application) may allow you to set playback resolution lower than full quality, say half-resolution. This does not reduce the actual quality of your video but, by reducing how much data the editing application has to feed to the monitor, it lightens the computing load during editing.

Third, you could try converting your AVCHD video to an "intermediate" format with GoPro/Cineform's Neoscene or the newer (and free) GoPro Studio. I used to used NeoScene with my XP laptop and later a 4gb Vista 64 laptop when I needed to edit AVCHD with them rather than working on my main workstation. I believe you may be able to find a demo version to test out at:


A newer program from the company is GoPro Studio. The program is free, so you just download it. Here's a link to the web page where the program is described:


Basically, what these programs do is decompress your camera's recorded *.mts files into high-definition AVI files, basically by converting all those compressed B & P frames of video into "I" frames. The converted files will be 5 to 7 times larger than the originals but they allow XP playback without the resource-consuming decompression that "native" AVCHD requires. The conversions take time and disk space, but are a proven workable method for editing with XP.

I suggest you try one of them on a short clip and see if it helps with playback editing, and see if you can put up with the conversion times.

Fourth, I'm not sure what you have in mind when you say you want to "burn it to a dvd disk to save for the future." Are you thinking about (1) making playable DVDs from your footage or (2) are you wanting high-definition disks that you cna play now and later or (3) are you thinking about saving/archiving the Hi-Def recordings from the cameras?

If the first, then every current editing application that I can think of (other than the free version of Lightworks) will have the ability to at least export your edited files to MPEG2-DVD formats. Most will be able to burn DVDs, as well. Some programs do a better job of this than others. Have a look at this relatively recent thread.

Which programs for 64 bit computer?

However, keep in mind that DVDs are a "look-at-it-now" solution. They might not be particularly suitable for a future which presumably will include new computers where you may want to edit clips differently. The problem is that you wil shoot in 1080i high-definition but DVDs are standard definition. Conversion from HD to DVD is called down-resolution for a reason. Granted, your DVDs may look pretty good when played back on a player with upscaling capabilities, but editing from them in the future will still be starting with DVD footage from which you've tossed out a lot of the higher resolution.

For having both a "play-it-now" and future high quality, you pretty much have to use a Blu-Ray burner. The burner can be transferred to a new computer when you get one, so the investment will not be lost when you get a new computer. For burning Blu-Ray disks, most applications will give you a choice between using MPEG2-BluRay format or H.264 Blu Ray. For MPEG2-BluRay, most applications seem to default to 15 mbps (meagbits per second) data rate. You probably will be happier with a higher data rate, such as 30 mbps. You will not get as much footage on a disk as with the lower data rate, but you are less likely to get an compression and motion artifacts. With the footage from your camera, you probably would not see any difference with a higher data rate. Be prepared to just walk away from the computer for hours while it processes your footage into DVD or BluRay formats.

If you want to have a lot of video on each disk, then you use the h.264 Blu-Ray encoding. H.264 gives much better results at much lower bit rates than Mpeg2-BluRay. (That is why it is used for AVCHD cameras.) However, processing to h.264DVD takes much, much longer than Mpeg2Blu Ray.

On the other hand, if you are looking to store your footage for later use (aka archiving), then you have several choices. Whichever one you select, you want to be sure that you copy all of the files that are copied to your computer's hard drive from the camera. The camera will record an "mts" file along with a companion file for metadata that the computers need to be able to properly read the file. (If your clip is named "1234567.mts," the companion file will be something like "1234567.mts.modd.") If you shoot longer clips (say, a child's dance or music recital or sports), the camera will record it as a series of 1 to 2 gb files and the software application will assemble them into a single file with a single companion meta-data file when transferring to your computer. Of course, you can simply copy all the clips and their meta-data files. If you do not copy the meta-data files, your longer clips may not link together correctly. (For instance, you may get short audio gaps at the points where the member-clips are joined).

You can archive files to DVD, but it will be a tedious process because of the relatively limited, 4.5 gB capacity of DVDs. Obviously, you can put a lot more onto a 29 gB Blu-ray disk. You will want to make multiple copies of the data disks because DVDs and BluRay disks are very vulnerable to scratches.

Generally, I agree with with Eric's suggestion about getting USB drives and copying the files to them. You will not be editing from them, so the "passport" sized USB 3 disks will be suitable for copying and storing files. You can write to them using the USB 2 ports on your present XP system. When you get a new system, it will have USB 3 ports and that will give you much faster transfer back to the new editing box. You will need to run the disks periodically (every few months or so would be a good schedule). Just plug them into the computer and let them spin for a while. This helps keep them from seizing up and, if you do have a problem with one of the disks, you get a warning to make another copy of the other.

Sold state drives and media would be better, but their capacities are still not very large and the prices of the larger capacity solid state media will be several times larger than those for 1 tB portable USB drives.

Finally, some "handy-cam" camcorders allow you to plug in the portable USB drives directly and copy the files directly from the camera without needing to go through a computer. I am not familiar with your camera but you might find something about this in its manual. That would give you a simple back-up for the footage but you would still need to import it to the computer to view it.
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