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Canon XA and VIXIA Series AVCHD Camcorders
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Old August 23rd, 2013, 04:03 PM   #1
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Pre-arrival XA25 tips?

I have purchased the XA-25, two SanDisk Extreme 64GB SD Cards, a BP-828 Battery Pack, the Canon CG-800 Charger and a Kata CC-191 Pro-Light Video Case. But I'm still waiting for it to arrive.

While I anxiously await, I have a few questions that I'm hoping you all can answer.

First, our family trip to Disney World is just 2 weeks away, so I will be practicing/playing with the camera for the next couple of weeks before our flight to Florida. I want to make sure that I know this camera inside and out so I can get the best video quality possible while visiting Mickey.

Since I am going for the best video quality possible, I plan to use the highest (or second highest) bitrate available. But I am not sure if I should be shooting in AVCHD or MP4.

I am also having difficulty understanding the fps standards (I completely understand all of the SD NTSC standards and 3:2 pulldown, etc., but I have lost track with all of the various HD formats available since it seems like Canon, Sony & Panasonic all have their quirky frame rate recording methods). So which frame rates and codecs should I use for eventual Blu-Ray authoring?
  • AVCHD - 1080: 59.94P / 59.94i / PF29.97 / 23.98P
  • MP4 - 1080: 59.94P / 29.97P / 23.98P
  • What should I use if I will be editing using Adobe Premiere Pro CC and then encoding to the highest bitrate Blu-Ray possible. I want to do as little transcoding and encoding as possible in order to reduce the amount of encoding artifacts as possible.
  • What should I use if I will be editing using Final Cut Pro?
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Old August 23rd, 2013, 06:11 PM   #2
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Re: Pre-arrival XA25 tips?

What are you shooting /editing with now?

If not, what kind of computer do you have now?
And do you prefer MAC or PC for other than video uses?

In any case, download and read the manual while waiting, and read posts in the various forums for each product you are considering, and others as well.

Since you bought the XA25, are you using it for professional purpose where you need the SDI interface?

People tend to be very loyal to their PC type, and often to their editing software. Keep in mind that what works for one person may not be best for you.

I currently edit with Edius Pro, and mix HDV (from XH-A1), DV, AVCHD (from XA10 and a Sony) and MP4 (from a GoPro) on the same timeline without problem or transcoding upon import, and use it to produce both for SD DVD and HD BluRay.
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Old August 26th, 2013, 02:59 AM   #3
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Re: Pre-arrival XA25 tips?

Top spec computer avchd, not so good computer mp-4
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Old August 26th, 2013, 09:45 AM   #4
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Re: Pre-arrival XA25 tips?

For Bluray, there are only two frame rates that are supported at 1080 resolution. They are 23.98p and 29.97i. You would select 60i on the XA20/25 to get the 29.97i frame rate. Many players will actually play 1080p60 but, it is not officially supported at this time. I have burned several Bluray discs in Adobe Encore at 1920x1080i29.97 recorded in AVCHD at 24Mbps without encoding and they play quite nicely.

If it were me, recording the family trip to Disney, I would record in 1080p60 at 35Mbps and just transcode if needed later. You can't add information later but you can always reduce it.

I edit on a two year old AMD Phenom II quad core at 2.6Ghz with 8GB ram running Windows 7 and Adobe CC. When it comes to transcoding, processor speed is everything! Crunching the numbers will be the bottleneck in the system.

Bob
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Old August 27th, 2013, 01:17 PM   #5
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Re: Pre-arrival XA25 tips?

Thanks for the replies. The camera just arrived. I am about to start playing. Until I do, let me answer a few of the questions that were asked of me...

"What are you shooting /editing with now?"
Nothing. But my degree is in telecommunication back in the late 90's. I shot Betacam SD at a local ABC affiliate for about a year and decided that wasn't for me. Then I went back home and worked for an NLE/3D Animation Workstation reseller. They were Canon resellers. So I played with the XL-1, GL-1 and eventually the XL-H1. Although I never owned any of those. Frankly, the reason I purchased the XA-25 is because I needed something compact enough for travel with the family, but as a home theater enthusiast I am constantly searching for the best picture quality.

I just happened to find myself in a financial situation where I could afford to drop this kind of change on a nice camera and I want to make sure I am doing things right since I have been out of the video market for about 7 years now.

"...what kind of computer do you have now?"
I have always been a PC guy. I have used Premiere for SEVERAL years.

"And do you prefer MAC or PC for other than video uses?"
Here's the thing. I don't have a loyalty. I want to use what's best in the little amount of time at a decent price. Notice I didn't say "best" price. I am willing to pay a little more for convenience (less transcoding/authoring time.) I understand that Apple products are more expensive, but am I going to eventually be able to do real-time chroma-key with Final Cut Pro vs. Premiere Pro on a PC?
Honestly, I am willing to start fresh. So if Apple products are better for this camera, I will go Apple. If I can do the same thing using a PC that I may already have, PC it is.

"Since you bought the XA25, are you using it for professional purpose where you need the SDI interface?"
I wanted the option to capture live Chroma-Key Footage at the highest bit-rate possible (lossless) without having to go to the SD card. I figured I might capture direct from camera HD-SDI output into the NLE at 1080 24p. Back in the XL-H1 days, the only way to get lossless uncompressed HD was to use the HD-SDI output. I will be doing Chroma Key to place a person into some online training that I develop using Flash (although I know Flash is on its way out too).

"People tend to be very loyal to their PC type, and often to their editing software. Keep in mind that what works for one person may not be best for you."
Agreed, but I am not one of those people. As I get older, I am trying to force myself to NOT be set in my ways. I am willing to change if it means a better system. Note definitely taken though.
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Old August 27th, 2013, 01:20 PM   #6
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Re: Pre-arrival XA25 tips?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ohlemann View Post
For Bluray, there are only two frame rates that are supported at 1080 resolution. They are 23.98p and 29.97i. You would select 60i on the XA20/25 to get the 29.97i frame rate. Many players will actually play 1080p60 but, it is not officially supported at this time. I have burned several Bluray discs in Adobe Encore at 1920x1080i29.97 recorded in AVCHD at 24Mbps without encoding and they play quite nicely.

If it were me, recording the family trip to Disney, I would record in 1080p60 at 35Mbps and just transcode if needed later. You can't add information later but you can always reduce it.
Bob
OK, so it seems like the best option is 1080p60 at 35Mbps AVCHD and then take it down to 1080p23.98 for Blu-Ray.

I'll try a few tests and see how that looks when played back on my Blu-Ray player, plasma and projector.

Thanks again everyone!
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Old August 27th, 2013, 02:57 PM   #7
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Re: Pre-arrival XA25 tips?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet Kenisell View Post
OK, so it seems like the best option is 1080p60 at 35Mbps AVCHD and then take it down to 1080p23.98 for Blu-Ray.

I'll try a few tests and see how that looks when played back on my Blu-Ray player, plasma and projector.

Thanks again everyone!
I'm not saying it is the best option for everything; just that it is how I would do the Disney trip. The fast frame rate will give you the ability to produce some nice slow motion effects and cleaner action. It wouldn't be my choice for an interview or a short film.

Bob
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Old August 27th, 2013, 10:34 PM   #8
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Re: Pre-arrival XA25 tips?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ohlemann View Post
I'm not saying it is the best option for everything; just that it is how I would do the Disney trip. The fast frame rate will give you the ability to produce some nice slow motion effects and cleaner action. It wouldn't be my choice for an interview or a short film.

Bob
Right. Interview or short film I would shoot 1080p23.98. I would do the same for chroma-key to place the video in Adobe Flash. The frame rate of the project is 24fps anyway.

Thanks for all of the advice. I really wasn't sure between AVCHD or MP4. Seems like AVCHD is the choice for me in this case.
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Old August 28th, 2013, 06:39 AM   #9
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Re: Pre-arrival XA25 tips?

Many people love MAC, but I am not one of them.

From what I've experienced MAC tends to NOT play well with others, tends to be more costly, and offers comparatively limited options. I think the MAC is more for people who hate to get anywhere close to the metal or the code or think about the PC and its software. (On the other hand IMHO the main problem with the PC today is Windows 8, and Windows 8.1, due out in mid October may fix much of that.) If you have a significant investment in PCs, it is probably more efficient and effective to stay with a PC. Either way you can do good editing and a viewer of the end product will likely not know what you used.

As to whether or not you would need an upgraded PC depends on what you have today, the software you plan to use, and your patience. People who are reasonably serious about video editing tend to use a dedicated machine and do not use antivirus (at least when editing) because AV really hogs performance and can caue other issues. They do keep it isolated from the Internet and potentially risky apps such as e-mail, peer-to-peer file sharing, and web surfing.

I've been running Edius 6.0x under Win 7 Pro on a ~2 year old AsRock motherboard with an i7 processor and have no problem editing real-time AVCHD from an XA10 or mixing AVCHD, HDV, DV, and MP4 from a GoPro on the same timeline (not all NLEs can claim that). I am in the process of moving to Edius 7. (I moved to Edius from Liquid and before that used Premiere.
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Old September 5th, 2013, 01:27 AM   #10
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Re: Pre-arrival XA25 tips?

Just bought the XA20 and am upgrading from FCP6 to either Premiere CC or FCPX. Tried and liked FCPX but not keen on the additional storage required for Pro Res files. The attraction of Premiere, unless I'm mistaken, is the ability to edit the AVCHD files natively. Be interested to hear from anyone using these two NLEs and their experience specific to this camera. My work often requires very quick turn arounds so keen to move away from converting files.
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Old September 5th, 2013, 07:31 AM   #11
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Re: Pre-arrival XA25 tips?

I've never used an NLE other than Premiere Pro so I can't speak to the capabilities in FCPX. I can tell you that you can certainly edit AVCHD straight out of the XA20 in Premiere Pro CC.

Bob
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Old September 6th, 2013, 06:39 AM   #12
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Re: Pre-arrival XA25 tips?

Thanks Bob. Is anyone using FCPX with this camera? Are you converting footage prior to edit or not? My experience, with a slightly dated Mac Book Pro, was constant crashes when not converting prior i.e. FCPX trying to convert the footage during the edit. Especially when mixing AVCHD with MP4 files. Resigned to updating to a new laptop if going FCPX route.
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Old September 7th, 2013, 04:18 PM   #13
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Re: Pre-arrival XA25 tips?

The camera's video files are nothing exotic, very ordinary, I would check with the FCP forum for FCPX issues for a more definitive answer to your questions.
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