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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
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Old April 28th, 2010, 05:31 PM   #1
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VIXIA HF S100 + new MacBook Pro compatability question

Does anyone know if the Canon VIXIA HF S100 plays nicely with a 15" i7 HiRes MacBook Pro? I'll be using iMovie and/or Final Cut Express for editing.

To be more specific, is there a certain frame rate I should avoid because of heavy processing of codecs? Is there an "easiest" frame rate to work with (with the above set-up?)

Advice or suggestions greatly appreciated!

Last edited by Lars McCall; April 29th, 2010 at 04:34 PM. Reason: specificity
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 11:26 PM   #2
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Yes, it will play nicely. I spend 98% of my editing time using AVCHD footage from my HF100 (the predecessor of HFS100). Macs using iMovie, FCE or FCP don't edit native AVCHD footage - on import it is transcoded into another codec that is more edit friendly - iMovie and FCE use Apple Intermediate Codec, FCP uses ProRES. These intermediate codecs require significantly less CPU power to work with then AVCHD, but on the down side, they require a LOT more space (like between 3 and 10x the space of the original footage) Depending on the Mac you have, CPU power, amount of RAM, etc. will determine how long it takes to transcode from the source AVCHD into the codec of your editors choice.

Some other tidbits if you've never used an AVCHD camcorder with a Mac tho:

DO NOT take the mts files out of the folder hierarchy to import them into Final Cut or iMovie - instead use Log and Transfer (FC) or the appropriate equivalent in iMovie and either it will auto find the SDHC card in your SDHC slot, or the camcorder if you have it hooked up via firewire and list the footage available for log and transfer.

IF there are photos or SD footage on the card, you need to make sure it is off the card otherwise you *MIGHT* have problems getting the software to recognize the existence of your HD footage

IF you need to backup the files on the card and clear the card prior to importing - create a folder on your computer and drag the top level "PRIVATE" folder into your new folder on your computer - doing this will preserve the AVCHD folder hierarchy and allow you to import your footage right from your hard drive rather then having to copy it back to the SD card (you will need to navigate to where the footage is stored - in Final Cut, in Log and Transfer, there is a little folder icon in the upper left hand corner with a + on it, click that to locate your footage)

IF you NEED to use your internal OS drive for scratch /render media (this is NOT advised, you really should use an external drive as a scratch/media drive, eSata if you get a macbook that has an express slot (you will have to buy an express card eSata adapter) or Firewire 800 external drive), you will need to make sure you're not using a bitrate hungry codec. (FCE and iMovie both use AIC as a codec, so it will be ok, but you'd be better off using an external drive - this is easier to deal with in FCE - at least from what I understand, I never use iMovie - I only use FCE and FCP)

Usually I stick with 1080i60 on my HF100 - if I set to one of the pf modes, I have to reverse telecine it to convert it from the 60i container into the p24 or p30 framerate. This is easier to do with Final Cut Studio as we have Compressor to handle that task - I'm honestly not sure how to handle it with FCE. This note doesn't apply if the HFS100 has a NATIVE pf24 mode - I don't *think* it does, but best to check your manual.

IF you want to play your AVCHD files natively, without launching iMovie or FCE etc. (ie: just to check to look at or to show someone else, etc.) there is a post on the forums here (I read it earlier and posted to it) about a program called Movist which is free and will play AVCHD files without transcoding a LOT better then VLC.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 08:24 PM   #3
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Wow. Tony, thank you! That was exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. It will make my start with video much easier. A million times thank you; I'm sure you've saved me a lot of time already.

I've got a Glyph FW on the way, and I won't use the internal as a scratch drive.

The HF S100 doesn't have native 24 frame rate, it's "progressive." I'll avoid it- and use the 1080i60 you suggest. I won't have need for those kind of tricks anyway. Advertising a non-native 24fps seems a little marketing heavy to me.... Heh, ain't using it.

Also I'll use FCE and avoid iMovie. And definitely use the Apple Intermediate Codec instead of straight AVCHD. The extra space requirement is a bummer, but the Glyph is 1TB, and I don't plan on making movies longer than 3 minutes. Just short, instructional videos.

I won't take stills with the camcorder to avoid any possible connectivity issue. I'm just going to follow every bit of your advice.

Seems like AVHCD isn't exactly perfect, but I did want a tape-less system, and will just have to deal with the format. Man Tony, just the practical kind of advice I needed.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 09:19 AM   #4
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Glad to help.

honestly, you won't have a choice on converting from AVCHD - it's done automagically whether you like it or not when brought into FCE or iMovie (or FCP) :).

I'm sure once you get the initial things down - you'll have smooth sailing with your editing. I've edited footage from my camera on a wide variety of hardware (from a mac mini up to a mac pro) and it's always worked well.

Since you're going to use FCE, make sure in the preferences that you setup your media folders to be the ones on your firewire drive prior to log and transfer your footage.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 12:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars McCall View Post
The HF S100 doesn't have native 24 frame rate, it's "progressive." I'll avoid it- and use the 1080i60 you suggest.
You may want to try a couple of recordings using the PF30 frame rate before settling on 60i. I typically record in PF30 with my HF-S100 and find that it reduces motion artifacts. (BTW I'm using FCP; but I don't think that would affect the results.)

The HF-S100 actually records the PF30 frame rate in 1080i60 format. The difference between PF30 and 60i is in how the video is captured.

When using 60i the camcorder does interlaced capture: first it captures one field (540 lines, every other line of the frame) of video, and records it; then it captures the other field (the other 540 lines) and records it. If your subject moves in the 1/60th second between these fields, then you'll see a sort of zig-zag motion artifact when the two fields are combined into a 1080p playback frame.

When using PF30 the camcorder does progressive capture: it captures all 1080 lines at once. Then it writes out half of these lines as the first field, and the other half as the second field. The video is recorded in interlaced format, but it's captured all at once, so the subject doesn't have a chance to move between fields.

Sorry if that didn't make sense -- my writing skills aren't the best :) Maybe an ASCII illustration of a moving box would help:

Code:
60i Frame Rate
##########
  #________#
#________#
  #________#
##########

PF30 Frame Rate
##########
#________#
#________#
#________#
##########
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