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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old October 28th, 2009, 10:00 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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HDR-SR1 AVC HD 30GB Questions....Help

Hi Everyone,

I do not personally own one of these but found out recently that an friend bought one. I hope this is the right place/forum to learn about this camcorder as he can't answer my questions.

It interests me to find out what types of formats this outputs recorded footage to in either SD or HD.

Am not familiar at all with .H264 or ACVHD formats as my background is generally with the Canon GL-2 thus far.

So, if I may ask:

1) When video footage is imported into a PC, what is the file extension of the file once it resides on a hard drive for "SD" video and HD video as it can do both? Is MPEG-2 one of the options? What's possible at either 720 or 1080?

2) What's the difference between .H264 and ACHVD or is it 2 words for the same technology?

Sorry for my ignorance however, Someone asked me to find out.

Any education offered on this would be great !!

Thanks in advance.
Bruce Pelley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 28th, 2009, 12:50 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Manhattan
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The AVCHD story

I would suggest reading up a bit on AVCHD (widipedia article is good). Here is the short answer:

AVCHD uses H.264 as video compression and Dolby-AC3 for audio. The format defines many other things, in addition to audio and video codecs. It allows for menu structure, playlists, slideshows, subtitles, etc. The directory structure is designed to be fully compatible with Blu-ray playback devices.

When you shoot AVCHD, an elaborate file structure is created on the camera's media (flash card, hard disk or built-in memory), including thumbnails, playlists and actual video files (inside the 'STREAM' folder).

AVCHD in theory supports 720p, 1080i and 1080p (all at 24, 25 and 30fps). In practice, very few consumer camcorders bother with 720p. Vast majority only records in 1080 (i or p). I believe your HDR-SR1 is a very old model (3 years) and only shoots 1080i. It does have a SD option as well. SD video is recorded using MPEG-2.

When you record in SD, I believe the result is a simple MPEG2-encoded file (like in standard still cameras).

If you use iMovie (Mac), the process is simple: you connect your USB cable; the camcorder appears in your iMac and shows all the clips. You select the clips you wish to import; the clips get transcoded to AIC and you can edit away in HD. Same goes for Final Cut Express/Pro (using Log&Transfer feature).

In Windows, it depends on the software you are using. In general, it is best to do the same as on the Mac, i.e. to transcode AVCHD into some intermediate codec that is much easier to edit than AVCHD. You still CAN edit original AVCHD files (located inside \PRIVATE\AVCHD\BDMV\STREAM folder), but the playback during editing will likely be choppy.
Predrag Vasic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 28th, 2009, 01:36 PM   #3
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With the Sony's its best to use the Sony Motion Browser software that comes with the camera to transfer to the PC. This will take account of the FAT32 file system and transfer clips rather than the individual files that will be created for long duration shots. The software also does a nice job of documenting the clips by folder( the time that they were transfered to the PC) and calender ( if the clock in the camera was set properly). Done this way with the latest Sony cams it will transfer face ID information as well as the GPS position. None of this will be transfered if you only take the video from the stream folder. The software is a little simple for any further editing but at least the transfer and documentations( for archiving) is best done this way for me. I carry on and edit using either Vegas or Edius. I use a DLTo3 tape backup for archiving but usually still leave a copy on the hard drive for instant viewing. So far I have owned the SR7, SR11 and now the XR500.

Ron Evans
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