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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
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Old September 9th, 2012, 10:13 PM   #16
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

Yes you will need to use an authoring/burning program. Don't know Toast but on a quick look at the info looks like it will do the job. Just do not let it re-encode the data just burn in BLuray format to Bluray disc. IF you have a PS3 just make a data Bluray disc and just copy the files as is. The quality will be identical since the files are the same. Only time quality could change is when the data is re encoded after editing. If the data rates are the same or greater after editing there should be no difference that is noticeable. Even then it is not noticeable on most consumer TV's as they are just not good enough to tell the difference.

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Old September 10th, 2012, 06:52 AM   #17
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

Edit: Just read Ron's post, his advice is the best, just burn data discs.

I guess you can burn your files without using an authoring program, but on a mac I don't know how.

You might find it easier to buy a media player, like the one by Western Digital, and you can download your clips to it, and it will play them back for you via an oncsreen menu. For what you're doing it's what I would do. I can't give you details but google "WD Media player" or something, they are like $150. People that have them seem to like them very much.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 08:21 AM   #18
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

Hmmm, very interesting. Not sure if it plays MTS files, but I will check out the WD media player.

However, that's still not a final solution for two reasons:

1) The file structure on the Canon SD cards is pretty cryptic and depending on the files type, they are scattered. It's not really practical to try and enjoy watching home movies from unorganized, unlabeled MTS files. The only reason I wanted to burn files from the SD card was to test that the quality looked the same off camera. I thought Blu-Ray offered the best chance. Keep in mind, I already tried wrapping the MTS files as .MOV (no encoding) and they looked different playing back off the Mac with VLC. I can't imagine a $150 WD media player would do any better...

2) My end-game is to edit the video in either Premier C6 or FCP and preserve 100% of the quality... This is why I'm trying to determine what playback method will preserve 100% of the original quality.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 09:47 AM   #19
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

Not sure about the Canon but the software that comes with my Sony camera will transfer and join the clips if needed and name them the date and time they were taken. Playing AVCHD is processor intensive and if the MAC or the player is not up to the task then the playback will not look as good as from the camera. I know that early MAC users transcoded AVCHD to PRORES 422 for playback and editing. You should ask on the MAC forums for more information.

However done correctly there will be no loss in quality that you could see in normal editing and playback. If there is then you are doing something wrong.

Can't help on the MAC but I am sure people on tthe MAC forums will tell you what to do.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 12:20 PM   #20
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

I may be barking up the wrong tree here but could this be a playback / monitoring issue? I transcode on a Mac to Prores and monitor via the Matrox mini (via the express port on my model) and the footage looks identical to the original but if I monitor out of the DVI port (using a conversion adapter to HDMI) it does indeed look different (worse). Don't know about HDMI direct as my machine does not have that but I can't help feeling it is due to the Mac graphics card.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 03:15 PM   #21
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

Geoffrey, thanks for your response. That could DEFINITELY be the issue. Especially since I tried rewrapping an MTS file as a MOV (no encoding) and played it from my Mac Mini's HDMI port.

I optimistically thought that since the Canon's HDMI port looked amazing hooked directly to my HDTV, then the Mac's HDMI port, playing the same file, would look identical hooked up to the same HDTV.

(MY hope was to eventually use the MacMini as a dedicated media server, including my new HD Movies from the Canon M50.

So... really there are two questions:

1) What can I watch the movies with that will have the same quality as the Canon M50? (Blu-Ray, any other streaming method besides Mac)

2) Once we can match the playback quality of the camera, what can I edit in to preserve that? Premier C6 / FCPX)
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Old September 10th, 2012, 03:43 PM   #22
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

I can't help much I'm afraid but my gut feeling is that whatever you do the quality will be a bit compromised and it's not due to transcoding but the playback medium. So far all my projects have gone to DVD which inevitably means a downgrade but funnily enough they look better than on the web / computer because the colour space and issues with interlacing (not an issue for you) go away.

I think any decent NLE will be fine, I really don't think that is the issue - it's what you chose to play back on that's the problem and that is not going to be your camera. But I have no experience of Blu-Ray so that could be the answer. Have you tried making a Blu-Ray disc and watching it on a proper hardware player? I found with ordinary DVDs that they still look relatively grim played on the computer but very nice on a decent DVD player.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 05:24 PM   #23
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

I just bought a Blu-Ray burner to test and see if the playback will look as good as the Canon. (I have a PS3) My immediate issue is I still don't understand the proper way to transfer the SD card contents to Blu-Ray. Am I supposed to copy the entire folder structure with all the subfolders? Or use a third party program to sort through all this stuff.

If it looks as good as the camera, then I can take the next step into deciding which NLE and format I can use to edit...and burn some more Blu-Rays.

I'm just bummed that I can't find a computer based plackback option that can look as good as the canon... my goal was to have a media server for all this stuff. I thought we were past having to depend on physical media for video playback in 2012.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 07:31 PM   #24
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

Where ever the files are on your network the PS3 can find them and play them just fine. I think you are worrying about the wrong issues. Lots of us have used AVCHD cameras for some time now , edit and produce either Blurays or SD DVD or even stream the files over our home networks to a PS3. I see no difference between my source from Sony's NX5U, SR11, XR500 and CX700 and the edited video. I use Edius 6.07 on a WIN7 64bit OS, Intel 2600K Sandy Bridge processor at 3.88Mhz, 16G RAM and about 5T of disc storage. For monitoring I use a Grass Valley SParkHD card feeding a 23" 1920x1080 TV over HDMI. I can view the finished edit on my PS3 that is in another room on the home network connected to a Panasonic 42" plasma.

More import for you is how are you going to edit and re-encode on the MAC and with what software and to what final codec format. Playing any of the HD files on a PC/MAC to the computer monitor is nowhere near as good as a real TV. Specialized cards for the computer can provide the correct HDMI output for a TV but one has to know where an interlaced stream is being deinterlaced or use a progresssive stream at 60P for NTSC. The main problems are poor deinterlacing for display and poor scaling where the display is not pixel matched to the source video. Both are issues for lots of computers. So you will not find out how good the edit is until you watch on a real TV from a player that can correctly deal with the files. But it is possible for the final edit to not look too good on the PC but a Bluray made of this edit to look great played on a Bluray player to a TV. Unfortunate but true. There are lots of add in cards for PC and MAC that help like the BlackMagic series for both PC and MAC etc that allow the monitor in the NLE to be displayed on an external TV in the correct format. Since you are just starting, the extra expense to see it as it will be just doesn't make a lot of sense and so you will not see the real quality until you watch the final edit on you TV.

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Old September 10th, 2012, 08:44 PM   #25
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

Thanks Ron,

I think you hit the nail on the head. "watch on a real TV from a player that can correctly deal with the files." That's the stage I'm at. Other than using a blu-ray or mac, I wasn't sure what my other player options were. But you mentioned PS3 which I have... Perhaps I can try coping the SD card to my computer and accessing it on the network. (I'm scared to access the card directly since that's my original files)

If I can see footage from the PS3 that looks as good, truly as good as the canon, then I'll feel much better about figuring out which NLE to go with.

To make sure I explained myself correctly previously, I am only looking at footage on my Panasonic 58" Plasma via HDMI. The Canon looks amazing and the Mac Mini doesn't. Perhaps it is due to the video card like you mentioned. If there was an external card or box I could hook to the mac to play the footage through, I'd be happy to purchase and test... if not, I could return it.

But maybe the PS3 is the best next step...
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Old September 11th, 2012, 03:26 PM   #26
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

One thing you have to do is decide how you are going to backup your files. Two copies would be best too. Keeping on the card is not secure for precious memories. One on hard drive and one on Bluray would be an option for you as well as the finished edited copy. Did you try viewing your files on the MAC streamed to the PS3? You could get a USB drive and attach to the MAC to copy finished or source files then attach to the PS3 as an option. I have mine set up so the PS3 can just get the files from the PC over the network. I think that is what you are after isn't it?

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Old September 11th, 2012, 03:39 PM   #27
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

Yes, that's definitely what I'm after.

I initially tried copying an FCPX exported file onto a Bus Powered USB drive, which I then hooked directly to the PS3. The PS3 only saw mp4 files, and playback was choppy for the large mp4 and poor quality for the small mp4.

The nice thing about the BluRay Export is that I didn't have to worry about settings. I just dragged in a few clips from the Event into a Project... auto based the Project settings on the Clip, exported to BlueRay and it worked.

What FCPX export settings would you recommend for PS3 playback that look as good as the Original Footage & BluRay?
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Old September 11th, 2012, 04:31 PM   #28
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

If you want them to be just like your original files then you would export to h264, 24Mbps. Will likely take some time on your MAC mini and you may well get as good an output using MPEG2HD at 25Mbps. Try. I would get a BD-RW so that you do not waste Bluray's while you try. Don't know FCPX so not sure what output options you have. Make sure the output format is the same as original as far as frame rate etc. so that you can compare properly. You may well want to find out how to stream from the MAC Mini to the PS3 over you network if you have one set up. It is a lot easier and you can then look at any file you want.

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Old September 11th, 2012, 04:54 PM   #29
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

Hi Ron,

Thanks. Yeah, I'm already set on the Blu-Rays so I don't have to worry about experimenting with that. The issue now is finding the right export settings that will look great on the PS3. I did some initial tests and connected a WD USB drive to the PS3 directly. So far, it seems to only read mp4s. The h264 one was large and played back very choppy on PS3. the smaller mp4 (forgot the settings) didn't look good.

So I'm still trying to figure out what settings to export with for PS3 playback that will look as good as the BluRay I burned.
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Old September 11th, 2012, 06:37 PM   #30
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Re: Please Help - Preserving AVCHD quality off camera

If you just want to watch you original clips then copy the whole card to a new folder on the USB drive and then the PS3 should be able to play the files. It plays AVCHD files native so will find them in the directories you have copied. After you edit then you have a choice of how to encode. mp4 is normally set for lower resolution for a phone or tablet so will not look good on the TV. Mp4 can be set up with the correct resolution and data rate but I am sure the default is for a phone. Files from camera will be mts or m2ts. I know it is not easy on the MAC as all the camera utilities that come with Sony PMB and I think Canon Pixela are for a Windows PC only.

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