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Old January 5th, 2012, 03:33 PM   #1
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Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

Hello,
I just registered as a member of your Digital Information Network. I am having trouble with digital video and have tried all kinds of internet searches on my own with no success. I finally realize I need someone smarter than me to give me some help.

Let me first tell you what computer I own.. I don't know what is important so will send everything I have and you can ignore most of it. I have an Asus Notebook computer, model X52JC version K52JC . Specifications:

OS Name Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
Version 6.1.7601 Service Pack 1 Build 7601
System Manufacturer ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
System Model K52Jc
System Type x64-based PC
Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i5 CPU M 460 @ 2.53GHz, 2534 Mhz, 2 Core(s), 4 Logical Processor(s)
BIOS Version/Date American Megatrends Inc. K52Jc.212, 8/3/2010
Installed Physical Memory (RAM) 4.00 GB
Total Physical Memory 3.79 GB
Available Physical Memory 2.21 GB
Total Virtual Memory 7.58 GB
Available Virtual Memory 5.78 GB
Page File Space 3.79 GB


I am running the Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit operating system. This is rated as an i5 computer and has a VGA GPU called NVIDIA GEFORCE 310M with 1 GB of VRAM.


Now let me describe my digital video camcorder. It is a Panasonic HDC-TM700K Hi-Def Camcorder with Pro Control System & 32GB Internal Flash Memory . I do my video recording in 1920 by 1080p HD format.

Now let me describe the software I have.

I am using Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 for still picture editing and I am using Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 for video editing. It has smart proxy editing which smooths the display of unrendered video clips.

For unloading my 1080p video clips from the camera to the PC I am using Panasonic's HD Writer version 2.1 which is meant for my specific video camcorder. When the files are unloaded they are stored on my hard drive. Below is an image of the library containing two of those clips as captured with the Windows snipping tool: The files labeled AVCHD on this capture screen are actually M2TS files.

Name Date Type Size Length
20110805_104940.cont 9/21/2011 3.28 PM CONT File 1KB
20110805_104940 9/21/2011 3:28 PM AVCHD Video 8,202 KB 00:00:04
20110805_104940.pmpd 9/21/2011 3:28 PM PMPD File 3 KB
20110805_104940.tmb 9/21/2011 3.28 PM TMB File 68 KB

20110805_105038.cont 9/21/2011 3:28 PM CONT File 1 KB
20110805_105038 9/21/2011 3:28 PM AVCHD File 17,160 KB 00:00:08
20110805_105038.pmpd 9/21/2011 3:28 PM PMPD File 3 KB
20110805_105038.tmb 9/21/2011 3:28 PM TMB File 67 KB

After all this preparatory description, I can now finally explain my problem. I cannot display the stored video clips smoothly. The images are jerky on my PC display screen and the sound is distorted. This is true if I use the playback feature within HD Writer or if I play the AVCHD video files through Windows Media Player or VLC Media Player.. The only clue I have is that HD Writer gives the following message when unloading the video from my camcorder thru the USB port into my computer: “Frames will be dropped during playback to provide the appropriate frame rate (20 fps) for the environment currently in use.”

When I play clips directly from my camcorder to a standard TV using AVI cables they play correctly. Also, when play them from the camcorder to a High Definition TV thru either component cables or an HDMI cable I get excellent video that plays correctly. I don’t think the problem is with the camcorder.

I'm sorry for such a long winded email post but I wanted to explain the hardware and software resources that I am using so that someone with knowledge of digial video can suggest things for me to try.
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Old January 5th, 2012, 04:42 PM   #2
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

Hi, Paul..................

Unless I'm very much mistaken, your software has already told you where the wheels are falling off this particular trike.

If you're shooting 1080p it will either be at 24 or 25 frames a second into the memory of your camera.

HDWriter has told you it is, for reasons unknown, dropping either 4 or 5 frames every second of that 24 or 25 frames when it transfers that data stream to your computer.

That's the "what", what I cannot tell you is the "why".

Is it a configuration error with that particular software or has it detected some system limitation which will not allow it to transfer more than 20 frames a second?

Being neither a AVCHD shooter or familiar with either the software or your system I cannot be of much more help.

I think this thread would be better served in another more specific forum, I just can't work out which one.

If you mosey on over to the left of your screen whilst reading this and click on the little triangle there, ask the mods if they'd mind finding this a better home (ignore the bit about it being only for reporting bad behaviour, it needs updating).

Good luck,


CS
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Old January 5th, 2012, 06:36 PM   #3
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

Well, Paul is in the US so he's likely recording at 60p. He doesn't tell us 1080pwhat so there's no way for us to know. I presume the cam does 30p as well, and may or may not do 24p.

But nonetheless, it's clear that his PC just can't keep up with the data rate of highly compressed AVCHD at (most likely) 60p.

Clearly it's a laptop, and it's underpowered. Neither is a good prescription for HD video of any kind, much less AVCHD. Most likely it has a 5400RPM HDD as well. So this rig needs a faster chip, more RAM, and bigger and faster hard drives. The video card isn't great either but with PE it doesn't really come into play, to my knowledge. There's a reason that all but the very fastest and most expensive laptops are not recommended for video editing.

The files are likely fine; the warning talks about dropped frames on playback, not import.

Sorry to be such a downer on your first post, Paul. Welcome to the forums anyway.
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Old January 5th, 2012, 10:38 PM   #4
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

The good news is that you have a nice camera capable of taking some very nice 1080p60 footage as well as some other modes such as 24p. All of them are compressed using AVCHD.

Of course, the camera can play it back flawlessly. It has hardware specifically designed to do that for the compression format the camera records (AVCHD)

More good news is that AVCHD can be very good looking video.

The bad news is that you, like everyone else coming from older video technology, assumes your computer can play any video properly. This just isn't true anymore. Recent video technologies such as AVCHD mean cameras are able to create video so good yet heavily compressed that general purpose computers can't always play it back smoothly. This is a well known fact about AVCHD. It's very compressed and you need a lot of computing power to decompress it and display it in real time (aka 1/60th of a second). Most people in this situation convert the video to one that is easier to work with on a computer. Other people get new computers. Yet others do both. YMMV
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Old January 6th, 2012, 08:56 AM   #5
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

What are my options for creating movies from my AVDCH video clips? I do not want to just leave them on the camcorder since I plan to use Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 to clean them up, reorganize them, and add Titles and transitions.

Before the advent of High Def I had a DV tape camcorder and saved my movies to DVD disks. Now should I continue to create a DVD disk from the project file rendered with VideoStudeo and if so will the movie be DVD quality or high definition quality? Or should I buy an external Blue Ray Burner and create a Blue Ray disk. My current laptop will not burn Blue Ray disks? Is there any way to keep the rendered AVDCH project file on an external hard disk, burn a DVD disk now while retaining the option to burn a Blue Ray disk from the same project file at a later date?

Also, is it possible to keep the original unmodified camcorder clips on an external hard drive and then selectively load them onto a SD card, insert the SD card into my camcorder, and then play the clips from the camcorder to a TV?
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Old January 6th, 2012, 11:44 AM   #6
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

What are my options for creating movies from my AVDCH video clips? I do not want to just leave them on the camcorder since I plan to use Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 to clean them up, reorganize them, and add Titles and transitions.

Before the advent of High Def I had a DV tape camcorder and saved my movies to DVD disks. Now should I continue to create a DVD disk from the project file rendered with VideoStudeo and if so will the movie be DVD quality or high definition quality?
* Burning them to DVD will give you SD quality.

Or should I buy an external Blue Ray Burner and create a Blue Ray disk. My current laptop will not burn Blue Ray disks?
* Yes, but as discussed above, your laptop is underpowered. It might still work, but painfully slow.

Is there any way to keep the rendered AVDCH project file on an external hard disk, burn a DVD disk now while retaining the option to burn a Blue Ray disk from the same project file at a later date?
* Yes.

Also, is it possible to keep the original unmodified camcorder clips on an external hard drive and then selectively load them onto a SD card, insert the SD card into my camcorder, and then play the clips from the camcorder to a TV?
* Yes, but you will have to figure out exactly how to do it, your camcorder might not like files loaded from an external source, that does not follow its own file/folder structure.
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Old January 6th, 2012, 12:48 PM   #7
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

The only real solution is to get a better PC. A laptop will cost you roughly twice as much as a desktop of the same capability. There are many, many threads on optimal PC builds in the HD editing and Editing on the PC subforums here. The VideoGuys (a sponsor here) have lots of articles on the right PC for editing, and show low, mid and high priced builds.

Ervin's answers above are correct (as they always are) but there are lots of pitfalls. Transcoding to any optical disc format (if you want a playable disc) will mean you lose quality. If you just want to copy data files then you could just get an external media player device and copy the files to that and then plug it into your HDTV.

Using an external Blu-Ray burner to make actual Blu-Ray discs will still mean you need a good PC to transfer the files to, and a good authoring program to make the discs, and your current PC is still not up to that task. There are still, to my knowledge, no direct-to-BD burners available but Sony makes some that will write playable AVCHD files to a standard DVD. I don't know how well they would work with a Panny cam. You would need an AVCHD compatible BD player to play these back.

Trying to move the files back to the cam for playback is theoretically possible, but Pannys are notorious for bizarre file and folder structures and it will take a lot of effort, and the files still may not play back.

Best bet might be just to archive these files onto a massive external HDD and edit when you get a better PC.

There is a forum here for Cineform products, the simplest of which will transcode and decompress your AVCHD files into something easier for your CPU to handle and to edit, but the trade-off is massive file size, and I fear your HDD isn't large enough or fast enough to handle these files. Unfortunately your system, as you've described it (and I am making assumptions about the Hard Drive) is something of a triple-threat: Not enough CPU, not enough RAM, and not enough HDD size/speed. Any one of these is problematic, but all three is a killer.
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Old January 6th, 2012, 02:05 PM   #8
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

I'm not at all sure why some here are describing your computer as unsuitable -- I have three Macs, only one of which is as new as i5, and all can work with AVCHD files from my mp4 camcorders without issue. My Macmini is borderline, but it is a Core2Duo of just 2 Ghz -- my Core2Duo 2.4 Ghz MacBook works fine, as does my iMac i5 2.8 Ghz. Likely the biggest issue with the MacMini is the measly 4GB of RAM -- there is no doubt that more RAM is better.

That said, maybe it is your computer, I'm not expert in Windows world computing -- but I wouldn't have thought you were working with a dinosaur from the specs ...

As for burning to disc, I burn fake BluRay discs on my Macs all the time -- they are AVCHD files that will play in a BluRay player, but I burn them with a DVD burner. You are limited in file size, but for shorts and easy distribution, it works the charm. And it is not 'transcoded to an optical disc format' -- it is as shot -- but I'm guessing that Adam's odd wording really means if you produce an MPEG2 DVD such as would play in a set-top box, it will clearly be a reduced quality standard definition file -- but you don't have to do that, and it isn't hard (at least in Mac-world) to produce a BluRay capable disc of AVCHD material using just a DVD and DVD burner.

All that said, I don't know why you are stuck with such poor frame rate as you describe, and can't offer any specifics on Corel software which I've never used.

Cheers,
GB
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Old January 6th, 2012, 02:26 PM   #9
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

I'll suggest that an i5 based machine OUGHT to be able to play back AVCHD smoothly - I've been fiddling with much slower i3 and Core Duo based laptops, and am able to get acceptable playback of Sony 1080/60p... so it's POSSIBLE.

First possible glitch - if the HDD is 5400 and a slow drive, that could choke things up BADLY. RAM is a bit iffy, particularly since if I read it right, it's not even able to use all the physical memory (available 2.21G out of 4?!?). I suspect the processor might be up to the task, but there's something else not up to snuff in the configuration. While AVHD is very processor intensive, you also MUST get the bits shoveled into it fast enough, or you WILL see stuttering/jerky video...

That said, there may be an ugly software issue - most "off the shelf" systems have enough bloatware, a pre installed anti virus (most of which slow computers to a crawl when installed! Just practice safe computing instead, or use MS Security Essentials), and probably some "free" applications worth exactly what they say you paid for them... ANY of these configuration issues could take even a mighty multicore processor and turn it into a slug.

SO, first and cheapest step would be to go through and clean out the software/bloatware/JUNK, and see if there's any performance improvement. Problem here is you need to know what you're doing so you don't kill off anything you really DO want... it can be tricky. BUT, start with that, see if things improve - you should have ONE or maybe two programs that are used to preview/playback/edit your video - more than that and you may end up with dueling CODECS and who knows what sort of conflicts, with unpredictable results.

THEN, you might want to figure out why you've only got barely over half of your installed memory available - 2G WILL NOT cut it, even for basic computer use, it will be stuttering and choking on EVERYTHING, but it won't be as noticeable as with video. Look into whether you can upgrade to 8G, and figure out how to make sure the OS can USE it.

Put a WD Scorpio Black or Seagate Momentus 7200 in, and you also will improve things - right now HDD's are expensive due to shortages fromt the Thai floods, but still, cheaper than a whole new laptop... if your laptop has a secondary bay, take a look at an SSD (now THERE's an expensive option!), or at least consider that instead of a traditional HDD. access speeds can be substantially improved (but won't matter a lick if you haven't addressed the OTHER possible issues).

Tuning a computer is a mix of tech skills and "dark art" - tuning a computer to properly handle HD video takes some time and effort, and digging through a lot of misinformation to figure out the true "choke points". You don't say how old the computer is, but if it's something only a year or two old, it SHOULD be possible to get it playing back AVCHD smoothly, and editing at least somewhat usefully (if you are patient).

Just for giggles, post your Windows Experience Index ratings (the whole lot, not just the slowest one), let's see if it gives any indication of where the problem might lie.
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Old January 6th, 2012, 02:59 PM   #10
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

As regards HDD:

The data rate of DV is 25Mbp/s -- the maximum data rate for AVCHD consumer formats stands at a slightly lower 24Mbp/s. Even a modest priced 5400 rpm drive has a transfer rate of a 100Mbp/s or more -- so it is unlikely that the drive speed is any issue at all.

It is the processing power that is important, as is the available RAM -- and unless there are other data intensive tasks going on at the same time, drive speed is unlikely as a choke point. As a starting point, I'd look at booting up in safe mode to be sure nothing is using up resources, and playing the file using a clean simple player like VLC ... see how that works. From there, you can start to identify where the problem might be.

Cheers,
GB
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Old January 6th, 2012, 03:16 PM   #11
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

Paul, Dave makes some great points about cleaning up your PC that I should have noted. Screen Savers, Virus Checkers and other utilities running in the background can seriously compromise your system's ability to play back video smoothly. So I'd follow his suggestions before thinking about a new PC, as I capriciously suggested you do.

But if, after cleaning up everything, shutting off all BG processes, and even trying playback in Safe Mode, it still won't play back smoothly, I'd still suggest you need beefier hardware. I don't think it's at all unusual to have only about 2GB available with only 4GB of RAM installed... I believe Windows reserves the bulk of that for its own use and you'll never have enough RAM available.
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Old January 6th, 2012, 03:20 PM   #12
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

I hate to disagree, but the HDD is likely to be doing more than just moving the data stream in one direction... and having fiddled with this, the HDD can make a difference. PLUS, HDD's can have vastly different performance - I had a Hitachi 5400 rpm drive that made an otherwise fast computer feel like a 486... upgrading to a better Seagate (yes, a 5400 RPM one) made a LOT of difference...

When tuning, EVERY link is potentially the "weak" one...
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Old January 6th, 2012, 03:41 PM   #13
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

I am amazed at all the interest in my jerky video problem. This is a great forum! So many persons who have thousands of posts under their belts have taken the time to give a neophite like me advice.

Most of the opinions are that I am screwed given the hardware I have even though the i5 processor is only one year old, the HDD is a Slimtype DVD A DS8A5SH and the components section of System Information lists it's transfer rate as -1 kbytes/sec..

But a few offer a glimmer of hope by suggesting I tune the operating system. The latest post asked about my Experience Index Ratings. Here they are:

Component What is rated Score
Processor Calcs per sec 6.9
Memory Operations/sec 5.9
Graphics Aero performance 4.3
Gaming Graphics Gaming performance 5.6
Primary HDD Data Transfer 5.9
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Old January 6th, 2012, 04:11 PM   #14
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

I'm not sure those scores mean much when it comes to video editing.... but it does bring up another issue. In the Win7 control panel, under Performance Information and Tools, bring up the Advanced tools > Adjust the Appearance and Performance of Windows and then select "Adjust for Best Performance." This will kill all the silly unnecessary Aero effects and allow the system to work faster.

Here's another trick you can try to see if it is truly the hardware or just "software bloat." Go to Start > Run.... and type "msconfig" in the box. Go through all the resulting tabs -- have it hide all Microsoft processes -- and turn off everything else. Or just choose "Diagnostic Startup" on the first tab, which is probably easier. Reboot and try to play your video. If it plays fine, then you have to go through and re-enable (or enable only on demand) everything you disabled, one at a a time, to see what is causing the problem. If the video doesn't play well even with nearly everything disabled, then it's your hardware.

Also note that even though the i5 is only a year old, it was never a top performing chip. It was a budget alternative designed for economy in laptops, and would never, even when first released, have been a good choice for editing.

I agree with Dave that even though in theory a 5400 RPM drive should be fast enough, if you have other things going on at the same time, it could still be a bottleneck in your system. Especially true if you only have one physical drive in your system, as this now means that in everything you do, there are enormous demands being placed on it, with it running Windows, your playback or editing software, and having to retrieve data all over one skinny little pipe. This is why most good editing systems have a minimum of two physical drives or RAID arrays: one for Windows and Programs, one for Project files and a third for video/audio assets. Many break it down further so that different physical drives or RAIDs are used for reading data and writing data.

My older editing rig has two quad core Xeons and has trouble keeping up with AVCHD when I drop a track or two into a multicam edit. My newer system has a core i7-930, 12GB of RAM and three disk subsystems, including a 10K RPM system drive and a very fast 6TB RAID3 array, and while it does fine with a single stream of AVCHD, still stutters a little when dealing with multiple streams.

The pace of technology is truly daunting. It's impossible to keep up with it.
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Old January 6th, 2012, 04:31 PM   #15
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Re: Jerky Video and Garbled Sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
Paul, Dave makes some great points about cleaning up your PC that I should have noted. Screen Savers, Virus Checkers and other utilities running in the background can seriously compromise your system's ability to play back video smoothly. So I'd follow his suggestions before thinking about a new PC, as I capriciously suggested you do.

But if, after cleaning up everything, shutting off all BG processes, and even trying playback in Safe Mode, it still won't play back smoothly, I'd still suggest you need beefier hardware. I don't think it's at all unusual to have only about 2GB available with only 4GB of RAM installed... I believe Windows reserves the bulk of that for its own use and you'll never have enough RAM available.
This might be the best suggestion of all. I'm successfully editing AVCHD footage on an older dual-core machine, although render times are quite slow, and preview playback in Sony Vegas Platinum 11.0 can be a bit jerky at times. I would expect that even a modest i5 machine would be able to do much better than mine ever could. Although I think more memory, a dedicated video card (say an ATI Radeon 6850 or better), and a faster hard drive might help, along with putting footage on a fast external drive instead of the main drive.
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