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Old December 23rd, 2009, 12:48 AM   #1
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So I Edited an HD Project. Now What?

I recently bought a new, compact AVCHD camcorder. I have a 20" iMac running iMovie 6 HD in OS X 10.4 (Tiger). I bought Voltaic HD for Mac v. 2.02, and have been converting .mts files to .mov files that are then imported into the highest-quality type of project supported by iMovie 6, 1080i HDV. Generally I think this works pretty well. But I've been disappointed that outputting an iMovie project (or even an FCE 4 project) to a common HD format playable on a Blu-Ray player (like AVCHD) doesn't seem to be possible.

At this moment I don't really need to create DVDs containing HD footage. I'm currently downconverting HD movies to SD for DVDs. Exporting the HDV project from iMovie directly to iDVD creates a weird-looking result - sort of like interlaced, but with much-thicker horizontal lines. Exporting to Quicktime Pro to create a .mov project file encoded as a DV stream results in a much-better, more normal-looking result when imported into iDVD. Is there a better format to use to encode the project? (As AIC?)

Down the road, however, I'd like to create actual HD output to disc out of my iMovie projects. But (unless I'm mistaken) Apple currently seems to support formats usable only for on-line delivery or Apple TV. I could use Voltaic to trim .mts files and link them together to create a movie saved as a single .mts file. Revolver HD could then be used to burn an AVCHD disc. Voltaic's preview feature, however, runs .mts footage in real time showing only 2 or 3 frames each second (and without sound) on my computer, which makes it somewhat of difficult to create "cuts" at precise spots. And forget transitions, titles, etc. I've heard some people recommend Roxio Toast for previewing and editing AVCHD footage, and then creating an AVCHD disc, but they don't seem to have trial downloads, which makes me hesitate to consider purchasing it. (Because I'm still using Tiger I'd have to use Toast 9.)

I've been playing with a trial version of Sony's Vegas Studio Platinum 9 in Windows, but am not finding the interface to be as intuitive to use as iMovie for simple tasks. It does, however, seem to be a better tool to use for creating what I want to produce. It may be necessary to consider switching to Windows-based software for editing and outputting AVCHD footage, at least until support for output to AVCHD comes from Apple. Am I out to lunch in thinking this? Is Mac-based software out there for burning HD discs, but I'm just not seeing it? Thoughts are welcome.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 08:29 AM   #2
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If you use the "search" feature here on the forum you'll see that posts about Blu-Ray and the Mac abound by the dozens.

In short, you can burn a BR disc on a Mac using either Toast, Encore (part of Premiere Pro) or direct from FCP7 however regardless how it's created you can't view the final disc on any Mac, period. Sounds completely befuddling but true; there is not yet an end-to-end BR solution for the Mac. Yet.

The question of whether or not to use the Windows platform for BR editing has also been covered dozens of times; that's a choice you'll have to weigh based on your own business needs but, only Windows platforms *have* fully-capable BR options.

Do your due-diligence before making any changes or spending any cash but there's tons of information on this forum to pour over and make informed choices with.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 04:54 PM   #3
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You should really research upgrading your entire editing system if you are intending to work in HD. Whether it's a software upgrade to Final Cut Express, iMovie'09 (either requires an OS upgrade) or buying a whole new Windows system (computer and software). Both FCE and iMovie are AVCHD compatible which should get rid of the need for a third party program. iMovie transcodes everything to an odd HD variant to edit in and Apple doesn't seem interested in BluRay for iMovie so FCE is probably the way to go. Once you are in FCE, you can output a HD file but be aware that these are going to be large files that will require lots of space to store. Toast will make a BluRay from the file but once that's burned to a BluRay disc that's where it will stay until someone writes a program that can decode an un-copy-protected BluRay disc.

Does any program, Windows or Mac, let you make a full resolution AVCHD file from an edited timeline? I don't know and at this point in time I probably would not want to do it. The image would probably get all degraded unless the program leaves clips without filters and titles alone. Vegas seems to only export AVC files for use on internet sites but I could be mistaken here. Usually, for quality, we try to get out of the very compressed shooting formats the new HD cameras use (HDV or AVC) and transcode to a codec that's more processor friendly and less compressed. AIC in FCE or iMovie, ProRes in FCP.

A friend of mine who has been recording his world travels with a Sony AVCHD camera uses this workflow: He transfers the footage into FCP using Log & Transfer. Edits his trip into a hour or less program, exports it as a QuickTime movie, uses Toast to create a BluRay on a DVD-R blank (much cheaper this way). He purchased a BluRay player that recognizes burned discs (not all do!) and enjoys his footage on a nice 52" LCD. He then takes the raw footage in the original AVCHD format and backs the files up on data DVDs just in case he wants to use the footage in the future. You can use this workflow in FCE.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 12:37 PM   #4
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Thank you very much for your input, Robert and William. I would like to assure you that I did search for information about this issue, but have found the information I've come across to be difficult to sort through and apply to my situation, mainly because it typically involves using software I am unlikely to ever buy or use. I almost never start a new thread on a forum without first doing a fair amount of research. I posted in this forum because it is devoted to Mac, but wonder in retrospect if I should have posted in the Blu-Ray Authoring sub-forum of Distribution Center.

I'm sitting on the fence regarding getting FCE 4. It has certain features that would be occasionally be helpful in editing. But I've found my version of iMovie (6 HD) to do most of what I need an NLE program to do, at this time anyways. Voltaic HD 2 is already bought and paid for, and has been a good program for converting AVCHD .mts files to AIC, which can then be imported into iMovie 6 HD, and easily viewed and edited there. I upgraded QuickTime Player to Pro a couple of years ago to do certain effects and conversions. I am able to export the edited footage from iMovie as a QuickTime movie to which a variety of compression types can be applied, such as DV or AIC. I can also easily set resolution to 720x480 or 1920x1080. The former resolution works well for iDVD projects. I am hoping a program like Toast can handle the latter, and allow me to burn a Blu-Ray format disc onto DVD media. My projects are quite short, so BD-R media isn't really necessary.

What I find confusing is that there seems to be two different types of discs that can be played on many or most Blu-Ray players - Blu-Ray-format discs, and AVCHD discs that are essentially data discs that contain AVCHD files that can be played on Blu-Ray players. Being able to create either one would be fine by me, although I'm under the impression that I'm more likely to have success with creating the former on a Mac. Frankly, I'd rather stick to using Mac rather than use Windows, for a variety of reasons.

I'm wondering William what your friend thinks of Toast, and which version he uses. I just read a couple of posts in the Blu-Ray Authoring subforum that are less than complementary about Toast 10. I would have to use Toast 9 at this time anyways, unless I upgrade the OS, which I would prefer to not do at this time.

Once again, my thanks for your input. Have a Merry Christmas.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 01:25 PM   #5
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He was using Toast 9 until very recently upgrading to 10. Both seem to have worked fine for his needs. Toast 10 recently underwent an upgrade that seems to address some problems but it never gave me any so I can't say what was improved. I only used Toast 10 once for a BluRay project and it did a decent job although the project was very abstract video art so I can't say if the quality was worse than what FCP or Adobe Encore would do.

I would be careful with trusting a BluRay player with playing AVCHD files directly from a disc until you've tested it. It sounds more like a way to play rough footage from a camera then a way to watch edited projects. Many people never edit their home videos, they are perfectly happy watching rough footage and the manufacturers know this.

By the way, your work flow to DVD sounds good to me. Toast should complete it.
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Old April 19th, 2010, 03:23 AM   #6
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