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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old June 29th, 2006, 12:33 PM   #1
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AVC-HD Camcorders - When?

Any news or announcements?

Personally I think that the Picture Quality should exceed that of HDV, in theory at least.

Both bitrate and resolution are better than that of HDV - 20Mbps of MPEG-4 AVC is like 40Mbps of MPEG-2 and 1920x1080 of AVC-HD versus 1440x1080 of HDV...
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Old June 30th, 2006, 09:54 PM   #2
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The AVCHD camcorders are said to have 18MBPS, not 20. Since the camcorders arenít released yet, it wouldnít surprise me if it gets to be higher than the announced 18MBPS. Where did you hear that it was going to be 20MBPS?

The release date will be anywhere from the end of this year to the beginning of next year but I think at least one of the camcorders will be out by this September.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 05:50 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Paulo Teixeira
The AVCHD camcorders are said to have 18MBPS, not 20.
I stand corrected. Still even at 18Mbps MPEG-4 AVC is like 30-35Mbps of MPEG-2.

So in theory with the better bit rate and higher resolution, AVCHD should be better than HDV.

I say in theory, because actual products are quite different in reality! Take Blue-Ray for example. In theory Blue-Ray should beat the crap out of HD-DVD, but so far it is sucked big time compared to HD-DVD and is vastly inferior...
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Old July 6th, 2006, 08:46 AM   #4
 
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Originally Posted by Hse Kha

I say in theory, because actual products are quite different in reality! Take Blue-Ray for example. In theory Blue-Ray should beat the crap out of HD-DVD, but so far it is sucked big time compared to HD-DVD and is vastly inferior...
I'm surely curious to know how BD is "vastly inferior" to HD DVD. Do you know something that everyone else doesn't?
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Old July 6th, 2006, 08:50 AM   #5
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The AVC-HD format was only recently announced... give it sufficient time to ramp up into production. Camcorders aren't built overnight. As Paulo says, I'm sure it'll be closer to the end of the year before we see the first offerings in this format.

This question reminds me of RED a little bit... the project is just announced and everyone is already asking, "where's the footage?" Geez, give it some time. There's something called development. It takes awhile.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 02:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Hse Kha
Personally I think that the Picture Quality should exceed that of HDV, in theory at least.
In theory perhaps, but a lot will depend on the actual design of the cameras and what recording mode you run them in. If early models are released as consumer-oriented products with inexpensive lenses and sensors, I wouldn't expect that to outperform good HDV cameras. And the initial limitation of 10 minutes of full-quality recording per disc doesn't sound very useful compared to 60 minutes on an HDV tape, so that's another consideration if you shoot long-form projects. The JVC proposal for a camera recording AVC at 50 Mbps is more interesting than the basic AVCHD format - but then you'd have to compress that down to lower bit rates for final delivery.

I'd welcome an affordable AVC camera which gives me something I don't already have with HDV, but so far I don't see it materializing. Maybe in the second generation using Blu-ray discs for greater recording capacity, and if there's a version of the cameras designed with professionals in mind. In the meantime, HDV works fine for what it is and you can buy blank tapes almost anywhere in a pinch. AVC is looking promising as a delivery format, but we need some real-time encoders to make that practical.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 02:25 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
I'm surely curious to know how BD is "vastly inferior" to HD DVD. Do you know something that everyone else doesn't?
I've seen reports that the initial batch of Blu-ray movies has less than stellar encoding quality, possibly because they didn't use the full MPEG2 bandwidth. But HD DVD is also struggling because it takes forever to load and play even regular DVDs, and I saw someone returning one of those players to the store for that reason. So far I'm not convinced that either HD player format is going to be a big hit with consumers, at least not until the prices drop dramatically. That should be at least 2-3 years away given previous new product pricing trends, so I'm in no rush to buy an HD burner. Wake me when the war is over... :-)
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Old July 6th, 2006, 03:12 PM   #8
 
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Kevin,
I too, have seen the "reports." I too, have seen pre-releases that I'm not permitted to comment on due to NDA, but having seen both, and having seen both early and more recent BD encodes, I can't by any stretch accept a comment such as "vastly inferior."
Bear in mind that any/all reports relating to BD, quality, etc are related to beta products, or products under development.
I dunno that either will be a hit or failure, the game, adult, and Walmart industries will be the determining factor. We know PSP/UMD movies have failed because of poor market strategy, BD and/or HD-DVD could suffer the same fate. Then again, DVD nearly did too, and Beta did as well...So? I guess it's a wait and see.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 03:20 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
Bear in mind that any/all reports relating to BD, quality, etc are related to beta products, or products under development.
What, aren't Blu-ray players and movies shipping now? If not, what's the official release date?

I've suspected that such early reports are a bit biased, so it's encouraging to hear that in your opinion things aren't all bad. I know what MPEG2 at 25 Mbps can look like coming out of my camera, so I'd expect at least that level of quality from a professional Blu-ray disc.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 03:32 PM   #10
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I've seen both players running movies, nearly side by side, but through different tv's (Blue-Ray/Samsung tv, HD-DVD/Pioneer tv) so it's not scientific, but the HD-DVD LOOKED like the best tv picture I've ever seen and the Blue-Ray looked merely average.

Is JVC now included in the AVCHD fold? This is the first I've heard this. Good news, if true.

I wish someone could give us some idea when, and what cameras, are coming using this format. But I really wish there were HD-DVD camcorders in our future, instead of Blue-Ray or it's watered down variant.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 08:18 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by John Trent
Is JVC now included in the AVCHD fold? This is the first I've heard this. Good news, if true.
Sorry, I should have said Panasonic, not JVC. Sounds to me like they may make an AVC-based version of the HVX200 using a higher bit rate than AVCHD, and that will be the most interesting camera to come out of all this. AVCHD itself sounds like a dud for professional purposes, since the recording time is limited to about ten minutes per disc at full quality. Might as well just buy an HVX200.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 11:15 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
Sorry, I should have said Panasonic, not JVC. Sounds to me like they may make an AVC-based version of the HVX200 using a higher bit rate than AVCHD, and that will be the most interesting camera to come out of all this.
AVC is shorthand for MPEG-4 Level 10, aka H.264, also known as Advanced Video Coding. Different formats will make use of AVC. So what Kevin is talking about is that Panasonic announced they would make a 50-megabit format called AVC-Intra, which is intraframe-only (i.e., no long-GOP). Sony and Panasonic are introducing AVC-HD, a format initially targeted at consumers, which uses H.264 but in a long-GOP structure for lower-bitrate recording.

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AVCHD itself sounds like a dud for professional purposes, since the recording time is limited to about ten minutes per disc at full quality.
Well, now, hold on... I'm no fan of long-GOP, that's well-known, but if HDV can be accepted by professionals, surely AVC-HD will be embraced and rejoiced over. Better encoding efficiency, no dropouts, no head clogs, full-raster recording in all modes, native 24p supported in both resolutions, and killer audio (7.1 channels of uncompressed PCM, 5.1 channels of Dolby Digital AC-3). Not to mention that it'll be fully cross-compatible between manufacturers, so no more HDV format incompatibility issues. It's as good as HDV in every way, and substantially better in many ways.

Kevin makes a very good point, a lousy camera head recording to a better format will likely result in a worse overall picture than a great camera head recording to a lesser format. But considering that the very first HDV camera launched was the prosumer FX1, followed immediately by the aimed-at-pros Z1 & HD100 and then the clearly-aimed-at-pros XLH1, I really don't think there's any reason to suspect AVC-HD will be launched any differently. Yes AVC-HD will also be offered in cheap DVD-recording camcorders, but keep in mind that it's not only to disc. Sony has chosen to announce it to disc, and they're limited by today's 1.3gb mini-DVD capacities. But eventually there will be blu-ray mini-DVDs (at least, I believe that's what they're counting on) and that could extend the recording times by six to 12 times as long.

And mini-DVD isn't the only option. Panasonic's announced that they'll put AVC-HD on SD cards, and 1GB cards aren't all that expensive now and will record for about as much time as that mini-DVD. 2gb and 4gb cards are available now too, and will only continue to get bigger and cheaper as time goes on. Any significant recording-time limitation is likely to be a temporary issue, at least as far as the SD cards go (and when the blu-ray mini-DVD discs are out).
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Old July 6th, 2006, 11:22 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Trent
I've seen both players running movies, nearly side by side, but through different tv's (Blue-Ray/Samsung tv, HD-DVD/Pioneer tv) so it's not scientific, but the HD-DVD LOOKED like the best tv picture I've ever seen and the Blue-Ray looked merely average..
That may have been because the HD-DVD was hooked to the Pioneer. Did you see the display at Tweeter?
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Old July 7th, 2006, 12:06 PM   #14
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Since AVCHD should look a lot better than HDV you should expect to see a Z1u replacement before Sony decides to release a consumer AVCHD camcorder. To my knowledge this would be the first time a consumer camcorder gets a better codec than their professional camcorders which is why I think a Z1u version will be released first. Lest just wait and see how Sony is going to resolve this issue.

As for Panasonic, they donít have a consumer HD camcorder yet so September would definitely be a good date for them. Also their AVCHD version will have 3 CCDs and a focusing ring.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 12:30 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Barry Green
if HDV can be accepted by professionals, surely AVC-HD will be embraced and rejoiced over.
As currently defined for the AVCHD format as such, I doubt it. Those of us who need long recording times won't use it because of the miniscule disc capacity at full quality, and people who don't care about that are buying the HVX200. Plus there's still the question of how we'll effectively edit the footage from such cameras, and how the finished output will be delivered to viewers. It's taken several years already to sort out some of those questions for HDV since that was first proposed, and it's looking like it's going to take a similar length of time to do the same for AVC cameras.

I don't see AVCHD being anything but a niche product for consumers until a better version is released using blue-laser discs to increase the recording capacity, and maybe then we'll have something to talk about. 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.

I'd say Panasonic has the right idea to take the AVC codec and adapt it to record on flash memory cards in a camera similar to the HVX200, hopefully at a lower camera price. I could see such cameras becoming commonplace in another 3-4 years or so, by which time flash memory will be more affordable and computers will be powerful enough to process MPEG4 footage in real time without too much heartburn. Until then, HDV will remain the best compromise for practical and affordable HD production, and DVCProHD will pick up the slack if you want something more robust.

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.
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