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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
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Old October 11th, 2006, 08:58 AM   #16
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This is all only true if you have a hardware chip that can encode AVCHD with decent quality. Remember how no two mpeg-2 encoders are alike and will give different results? The same is true with mpeg-4 encoding. Some encoders at a bitrate of x may totally blow you away while another encoder at a bitrate of x may look not so good.

If you want to spend 8 hours encoding a small sample of uncompressed HD to AVCHD using a high quality software encoder on your computer then yes chances are it would look better than if you took that same uncompressed HD source and encoded it as HDV.

We are not talking software encoding but realtime hardware encoding. mpeg-4 encoding is hard to do at a decent speed let alone realtime encoding at 30 frames per second in a tiny camera. 4 years from now perhaps we will have a hardware encoder chip that can give equal to software encoding results but not today.

Heck look at a quad core computer. Even with 4 cpu's you still cannot encode AVCHD in realtime. Hardware encoders in cameras today have to limit the encoding and cut corners in order to run in realtime. There are some lower end DVD mpeg-2 capture cards out there but the quality is just ok compared to software encoding. Stand alone DVD recorders have a hardware mpeg-2 encoder but some of the lower end ones are just ok in terms of quality. To buy a good hardware mpeg-2 encoder board you are looking at thousands of dollars. So unless we start buying $1,000.00 cameras with $8,000.00 boards inside as a gift do not expect AVCHD cameras to ever perform the same as a clean AVCHD encoding from a computer.
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Old October 11th, 2006, 09:46 AM   #17
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There are big differences between a general purpose computing platform, programmable logic devices and a purpose built hardware device. In this competition the purpose built hardware will always outperform the others. In other words a custom device is ALWAYs faster than a computer with software. The only downside is that almost nothing can be changed if there is something wrong!!! A compromise is a device with some firmware that allows minor changes to the algorithms, slightly slower than the pure hardware device. As far as MPEG encoding I mainly use my Panasonic ES15 to encode from the timeline as I have found this gives a better encode especially at low bit rates for DVD's over 2 and half hours. I have encoded, transfered to computer and authored with DVDLAb Pro before the software encoder would have finished on my dual core PC. I have no doubts that the AVCHD devices in the cameras will be far superior to using software encoders on a PC for some time because of the ability to parallel process faster than the software in PC. The change may come for software that can use the processors on the video cards like ATI is suggesting.

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Old October 11th, 2006, 10:34 AM   #18
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Yes hardware is better in terms of speed but not yet for AVCHD. Maybe in a few years that will be true but do you want to wait 2 or 3 years to buy a AVCHD camera or get one today and enjoy using it?

I'm not sure what software encoder you are using but with Cinemacraft encoder I can encode a 2:30 minute video on a single core system in half that amount of time. If I had a dual core system I could do a software encode and author in DVD lab in less time than 2:30 and the quality would be amazing. This again goes back to how all encoders are different. Even with hardware encoders. There are a lot of cheap mpeg-2 encoders out there that are garbage. Right now the AVCHD hardware encoders used in these cameras are cheap and low quality. In a few years they may be better but do not expect a $8,000.00 encoder chip in a $1,000.00 camera. You are missing my point here. I agree with you that in a few years that AVCHD will mature to the point where it will look good. I am not debating that at all. My point is that we are a few years away from that yet. Yes a hardware mpeg-4 encoder can look great but not at a pricepoint to fit in a $1,000.00 camera. It is going to take a few years for the high quality encoders to come down to the pricepoint to work in a camera. Even a $4,000.00 camera would loose money on a high quality AVCHD encoder chip right now. Could we have a high quality AVCHD camera right now? Yes of course we could but it would cost more than the Canon XL-H1. Do you really want to spend more than $9,000.00 right now for a high quality AVCHD camera?

If hardware AVCHD encoders and decoders could be that cheap and easy to make then why can't somebody make a pci board with a mepg-4 chip so we can encode and decode AVCHD in realtime on our systems?
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Old October 11th, 2006, 02:04 PM   #19
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Can you explain how you know all this detail about the quality and speed of the current AVCHD chips? Have you actual seen any? For your information I have CCE, Main Concepts, Procoder and TMGenc encoders. For short,just a few minutes, it is faster to use one of the software encoders but when the task is several hours there is a difference. For the lower bit rates I also find that the Panasonic hardware encoder deals with transitions to black ( stage blackouts and scene openings) a lot better than any of the software encoders I have which pixelate for these conditions with the lower bit rates. My prefered software encoders are TMPgenc or Procoder which for a long program with two pass VBR and AC3 encoding will take close to two times realtime for a 2 hour program on my AMD X2 4200 with 2G RAM.

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