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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 July 7th, 2006, 03:57 PM   #16
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File this under "Area 51", but there's been plenty of scuttlebutt that the FX1 is already discontinued, which would certainly imply an FX2 is on the way. It would be most interesting to see if it would be AVC-HD.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 04:04 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
Plus there's still the question of how we'll effectively edit the footage from such cameras,
There's always that question, of course. JVC HD1 users had to wait over two years for Apple and Avid to add support. That's the way it is with all new formats.

However, keep in mind that H.264 is showing up everywhere, and graphics card manufacturers like nVidia and ATI are going to be adding H.264 decode chips on their graphics boards. Hardware-accelerated decompression is going to greatly simplify the transition to editing the new format. That said, I don't have any indication when it'll be editable in a realtime fashion of course.

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and how the finished output will be delivered to viewers.
That question has nothing to do with AVC-HD, as it's the same question HDV and DVCPRO-HD and HDCAM users are already facing.

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But even then you'd still have the problem of using a new type of recording media which could take a while to become widespread and affordable, as opposed to recording to existing tape stock or flash memory cards. I don't get the point of that design choice, other than for Sony and Panasonic to try to make money selling AVCHD discs. Good luck with that in a world where consumers are already getting used to using flash memory cards in their still cameras.
Did you see the press release where Panasonic said that they're releasing AVC-HD on SD memory cards? It was a separate press release; there were two announced on the same day (the joint one, and then a separate one where Panasonic said they would make SD-card AVC-HD cameras). I agree that the mini-DVD idea makes no sense to me either, but recording straight onto SD cards makes a lot of sense. AVC-HD isn't just about the mini-DVD. Sony will make it to mini-DVD, and Panasonic may or may not, I don't know, but Panasonic has said that they're going to record AVC-HD straight to SD cards. With 4GBs already on the market, and 1GB cards plenty cheap, and larger sizes coming, that should address the adoption concerns.

And, AVC-HD is likely variable bitrate too. 9mbps, 12mbps, 15mbps, 18mbps etc. I think 18 is likely the highest-quality format, but I can't see why it wouldn't support variable bitrates, for longer recording times.

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AVCHD recording to specialized red-laser discs with limited capacity makes no sense. Someone should deep-six this proposal before it comes to market and get on with the business of designing flash-based video cameras.
Again, I agree. And that's what Panasonic is doing. But -- how well have DVD camcorders been adopted by the marketplace? If they're selling truckloads of them, then it would make sense as to why they'd make a high-def version. That's something I don't know, haven't bothered to keep track of market adoption rates of DVD camcorders. Clearly it makes little sense in a professional realm, but if consumers are adopting them then it makes sense for Sony to extend it by making an HD version.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 05:19 PM   #18
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As I understand it, ''AVC-HD'' is disc-based by definition, just as HDV is tape-based by definition. We will no doubt have other cameras using the AVC codec to record to other media, and that has some potential for professional purposes. But 10 minutes of recording time per AVCHD disc at maximum quality, or 20 minutes at marginal quality? That's just silly, and suggests they should have waited until they could release a blue-laser version. I'm interested in what Panasonic is proposing here, but the Sony disc-based solution sounds like a dud.

As far as distribution is concerned, my issue there is whether we'll have to further compress AVC footage for final delivery on standard HD media. Specifically, does either HD DVD format support AVC playback at bit rates matching what the cameras will produce? If so that improves my impression of all this; if not we're stuck with yet another cumbersome production format.

It does sound like AVC recording may be the next big thing, and I'll probably have to eat some crow for saying I didn't think much of it. But I'm still skeptical it will be a realistic production option before 2008 at the earliest, and in the meantime I've got videos to shoot. The AVC cameras are going to have to be compelling to make me want to ditch the HD gear I've already bought.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 07:26 PM   #19
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It wouldn’t surprise me if the successor to the Z1u gets a blu-ray drive because all they have to do is use the same media that’s on the XD CAM. Or they can use standard blu-ray discs that will allow the media to decrease in price. Just keep in mind that a unit of this caliber will never get released this year but I suspect a February/March 2007 date.

They did say that both discs will coexist with each other so my theory may actually be correct. Mini DVD discs for a HC1 type camcorder and blu-ray for the Z2. Also chances are, it will definitely not be called Z2 because that will confuse people, which is why Sony went from PD170 to Z1u and the design may look very different.
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Old July 8th, 2006, 08:44 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
As I understand it, ''AVC-HD'' is disc-based by definition, just as HDV is tape-based by definition.
I googled it and came up with this, which is a press release I hadn't seen before.
http://panasonic.co.jp/corp/news/off...n060511-6.html

They're saying that it will be AVC-HD compatible, so whether it's bound to the mini-DVD or not, it's going to be the same data (or compatible data). So just as HDV is defined by the tape, yet HDV recorded on a FireStore is still HDV, it seems that AVC-HD will be AVC-HD whether it's recorded to tape or card.

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Specifically, does either HD DVD format support AVC playback at bit rates matching what the cameras will produce? If so that improves my impression of all this; if not we're stuck with yet another cumbersome production format.
Blu-ray players can play back AVC-HD discs.
http://www.camcorderinfo.com/content...ong-for-HD.htm
http://www.camcorderinfo.com/content...der-Format.htm

Don't know about HD-DVD; neither Sony nor Panasonic are members of HD-DVD, they're both members of the blu-ray association.

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The AVC cameras are going to have to be compelling to make me want to ditch the HD gear I've already bought.
Complete agreement.
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Old July 8th, 2006, 12:39 PM   #21
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I've gotten in trouble here at DVi, so before I step in another heaping pile, let me say my next camera purchase could be from ANY brand. I show equal prejudice - I think they ALL have something wrong with them.

I'm hoping Panasonic ditches the SD card recording for their AVCHD camcorders and moves to mini-disc or at least includes both as an option. Pretty unlikely on either account, I know. The solid state memory card for recording may be a little too slightly ahead of it's time for me. I've read and heard reports of people having corrupted and lost files on the high quality "error-proof" P2 cards, why would standard cheap SD cards be any more reliable?

I think Sony moving to mini-disc instead of Blue-Ray is just an excuse to create another format to be discarded later. "Buy a new camcorder latter this year, buy a new camcorder late next year because we like to dribble the technology to ya", kind of thinking. They say BR drives are too big, expensive, and power pigs, yet they're are putting them into laptops today. I guess size would be a factor. (I wonder how much time a mini-Blue-Ray disc will hold?) As far as the 10 minute time limit, I don't like it either but a mini-DVD RW goes for what, five dollars? For ninety dollars I can shoot for three hours, bring it home dump it into the computer, burn it to the big DVDs and go out tommorrow with my mini-DVD RW's and do it all again - like a less expensive P2 workflow but I don't have to screw around with it in field. A big plus in my book.

I wonder what Canon and JVC will do? Why haven't they joined up with AVCHD? Be cool if they created something of their own and went HD-DVD, but again, not likely. It took the giants - Sony and Pannasonic combined and what was it, two years work, to come up with AVCHD?

If you take your AVCHD footage and burn it to Blue-Ray would it look any different from the same footage burned to HD-DVD? From what little I've seen, I like the HD-DVD better but would it matter in this case or is the AVCHD footage the "bottleneck"?
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Old July 8th, 2006, 01:21 PM   #22
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Oh, and if you think I'll be one of the early adopters of a AVCHD mini-DVD camcorder, think again. I'll wait to see if long-GOP HD goes down well onto the mini. I've heard people complain about DVD camcorders too. I've heard the XDCAM disc system is reliable but mini-DVD is smaller, less robust, and no doubt, built cheaper. We'll have to wait and see.
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Old July 9th, 2006, 02:25 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by John Trent
I'm hoping Panasonic ditches the SD card recording for their AVCHD camcorders and moves to mini-disc or at least includes both as an option.
Options are good, but it would be enough for Panasonic to release an AVC camera using high-end standard flash memory cards instead of P2. Flash memory makes sense in the long run because it's already ubiquitous for digital still cameras, which means the media is widely available at a reasonable price. Any disc-based recording solution will be a nuisance by comparison, because the discs will be scarce at first and probably never catch up with flash cards for availability.

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I've read and heard reports of people having corrupted and lost files on the high quality "error-proof" P2 cards, why would standard cheap SD cards be any more reliable?
As a matter of speculation, why shouldn't a stock flash memory card be equally reliable as P2 (or more so) if it's based on a simpler design? Millions of people all over the world are using flash memory for photography and I haven't heard mass panic over lost images from that, so why not expect as much for video?
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Old July 9th, 2006, 02:29 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Barry Green
They're saying that it will be AVC-HD compatible, so whether it's bound to the mini-DVD or not, it's going to be the same data (or compatible data).
Ah, sounds like the terminology is still getting sorted out then. So sorta like all the odd variations of HDV are still referred to as HDV, the different variations of AVCHD proposed by Sony and Panasonic will still be AVCHD? I guess that makes sense then.

Anyone hear any rumors about Canon or JVC getting in on all this?
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Old July 9th, 2006, 09:56 AM   #25
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Trent
Oh, and if you think I'll be one of the early adopters of a AVCHD mini-DVD camcorder, think again. I'll wait to see if long-GOP HD goes down well onto the mini. I've heard people complain about DVD camcorders too. I've heard the XDCAM disc system is reliable but mini-DVD is smaller, less robust, and no doubt, built cheaper. We'll have to wait and see.
XDCAM and Minidisc?
How/why would you even mention these two formats in the same sentence? XDCAM and AVC HD won't begin to compare, based on what's been said, what was shown, etc.
This comment and your earlier post about "HD-DVD looks better than BD" make me wonder what message people are hearing from the marketing that's out there.
The only difference at the end of the day (in terms of picture quality) from HD-DVD and BD is the encode/decoder. It's just a disc. "I've seen data from the Seagate and the Western Digital, and to my eye the data from the Seagate looks better..." If you're comparing MP4 to MPEG 2, then you're not comparing the discs, you're comparing the encoding format.
It's all about the encode and decode, once you're looking at the same format. Just like Cinemacraft is a better encoder than Ulead Video Studio.
Just about everything related to AVC HD is speculation at this particular point, and I think we've all been victims of camera format speculation on more than one occasion in the past couple years, yes?
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Old July 9th, 2006, 06:29 PM   #26
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Don't hold your breath!

Sony Z2?

My Pro-video supplier here in Kumamoto plays golf regularly with some of Sony's development team.
Although Kumamoto is the centre for the production of Bravia HDTV's, I think that the staff also have quite good knowledge about the other equipment being produced in Japan.
Here is what they say:

When Sony introduces a new Professional product (NB. not consumer level) the production line is projected to run for AT LEAST 4 years before the unit will eventually be phased out for a new product.

How old is the Z1?
Don't hold your breath waiting for the Z2................
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Old July 10th, 2006, 09:09 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas R. Bruce
Sony Z2?

When Sony introduces a new Professional product (NB. not consumer level) the production line is projected to run for AT LEAST 4 years before the unit will eventually be phased out for a new product.

How old is the Z1?
Don't hold your breath waiting for the Z2................
I agree, but -- production run changes can be done. I fully expect 1440x1080 CCDs to be phased-in. This is a chip level change. Could be a Z2 -- certainly by NAB 2007, but could be IBC 2006.
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Old July 10th, 2006, 10:57 PM   #28
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The only difference at the end of the day (in terms of picture quality) from HD-DVD and BD is the encode/decoder. It's just a disc.
To me, the media imply a certain encoding... and in practice that would be the case too.

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This comment and your earlier post about "HD-DVD looks better than BD" make me wonder what message people are hearing from the marketing that's out there.
IMO, that's not a fair accusation to make.

While BD may theoretically be better, it may not be better in practice. In practice, it did not look better to John. Of course, the comparison may have been unfair since different displays were used. But his comment there was entirely reasonable.

Of course you can have discussions about which system is *theoretically* better, but the more reasonable thing to do is to evaluate the performance as practiced. (Unfortunately that may be difficult to test- which displays do you go with?)
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Old July 10th, 2006, 11:17 PM   #29
 
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Glenn,
I did not imply nor say in my response, that BD is better, theoretically or otherwise. I do feel BD will be the successful format of the future, but that's not a question of "better" nor worse.
The point is, BD supports both MPEG 2 and AVC. So does HD-DVD, with VC1 tossed in there for both formats too.
Seeing a display of one codec/format without the other for comparison in the first place, and most likely different content in the second place, negates the concept of objective judgement.
Can you support the idea of encoding the same media with the same encoder to the same codec at identical bitrate, and suggest that it would appear "better" on one playback format vs another?
If you want to suggest that someone saw an identical film encoded in VC1 vs MPEG 2 vs AVC, and saw all three from the two formats, I'd obviously accept that as a premise for making a judgement, albeit not an accurate nor objective judgement.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 01:03 AM   #30
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My mistake, I erroneously (mis-)remembered that each format was associated with different codecs + resolutions... which doesn't seem to be the case.
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