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Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD

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Carlos E. Martinez
Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 9, 2013 at 6:14:32 pm

It's a bit difficult finding answers to apparent problems happening when capturing Panasonic's AVHCD stuff, and in particular that coming from hacked GH2 cameras.

Can anyone who is using GH2 video tell me if there are any problems and how to deal with them?


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Shane Ross
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 9, 2013 at 6:32:24 pm

You use CLIPWRAP2 from Divergent Media to convert the footage. FCP never had a Log and Transfer option for that camera.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Shane Ross
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 9, 2013 at 6:33:18 pm

GAH! This is AVID, not FCP.

If AMA doesn't work, I still recommend CLipWrap2. Wrap as DNxHD Qts, then do a fast import.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Carlos E. Martinez
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 9, 2013 at 6:37:25 pm

CLipWrap2 is a PC program?

Perhaps I forgot to say that I am using Avid MC in PC version, not Mac's.

It's interesting to note that the "default" answer for editing answers, if the person answering is from the US, is always based on Macs. ;)



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Shane Ross
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 9, 2013 at 7:00:10 pm

Well, there are more MAC Avid's here than PC, but there are a lot of PC Avid's in use here.

No...that's MAC only app. Sorry.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Fred Gasc
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 9, 2013 at 8:56:35 pm

Hi,

AMA doesn't work reliably enough IMO with GH2 AVcHD. The plug-in for some reason with the Panas files gives me issues. I ignore why.

Simply instead of using AMA, just import the files directly to the DNxHD flavour of your choice. Simple. (and go-out for coffee, shopping, driving, while the transcode occurs... )

Make sure your Project has the same frame rate.

Make sure you have intalled the AVcHD plug-in AMA. (even if you won't AMA the files)

And you're good to go.

Fred.


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Carlos E. Martinez
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 10, 2013 at 12:28:44 am

Hi Fred,

Your suggestions sounds very logical and practical. Now I would like to get a hacked GH2 file to process and see how it works out.

Can anyone send me one or two minutes of a hacked GH2 file for me to test?



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Carlos E. Martinez
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 10, 2013 at 10:58:19 am

Fred,


As I haven't yet used the AMA, please do forgive my probably stupid questions.

How is that that install the AMA and then do not use it and import directly?

Why then do I need the AMA and what for?



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Fred Gasc
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 10, 2013 at 11:44:18 am

No stupid questions, you are just starting with nle and digital video and we all went through that.

About the gh2, wait before decision. Go to the blackmagic website and look for this new camera, less than 1000 euros, RAW dng, micro 4/3 mount. It's going to give you a film look and no banding issue. A much better option than the gh2: http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/uk/products/blackmagicpocketcinemacamera/
But it will not be available until july and I doubt BMC will be able to feed the demand for awhile.

On the avid, there are many video tutorials, starting from the basics. That's the best way. In the cow, just youtube the Creative Cow user and they are all here.
Or directly from this site: http://library.creativecow.net/tutorials/avidediting

Ama is a link or Access to your material instead of a
Transcode. So you can edit natively without the need of transcoding to avid media.

It's good when you want to edit short docs, musical clips, etc...in my opinion not good for feature film, Long documentaries etc...

Best luck

Fred.


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Carlos E. Martinez
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 10, 2013 at 2:19:59 pm

Fred,

I'm not really starting with NLE or Avid: I have already edited about five documentaries with Xpress or MC.

But they were edited over a 6 year spree, so every time I have to learn the basics again. My fault for not having done that properly.

Things were rather easy with DV, but started getting complicated with HDV and now with several formats that have come into the picture.

AVCHD seems to have several flavors, and those coming from DSLRs are still much of a question mark to me. But now it's the time to go into them.

I never do short things, so I better learn the best ways to deal with Avid. On my last job, my first in 1080p HD, I mixed DV and HDV. What I did was import the DV using Avid transcoding, edited the doc, then converted the specific DV excerpts to 1080p HD with ffmpeg, and then replaced them on the timeline. It worked fine and I intended to do the same this time. But AVCHD is something I know very little about.

About the camera, I need one that I can get easy right away. The Blackmagic can't get easy and certainly not right away. I live in Brazil, not the US or Europe. AFAIK it's also a bit more than 1000, when it's immediately available, which it's not. In B&H, usually the best place to get that, it's u$s 3.000, not counting the lens I would have to get for it. A GH2 new would cost me, buying it in Argentina, less than u$s 1000, lens included. That's why I considered it.



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Fred Gasc
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 10, 2013 at 4:03:41 pm

Yeah,

What I find with Avid is that if it's not practised regularly, it's easier to forget than other NLEs.
Avid is IMO the most robust editor but the counterpart is that it requires regular practise and training.

The BMC will not be available easily. I think the camera will have so much success that I doubt BM will be able to supply the world demand.

A GH2 still is a good choice, not as good as the BlackMagic, but at least very cheap and immediatly available.

If you edit long feature-docs, I personaly recommend to transcode to DNxHD and not edit native.
Just reconform to your source files when edit is done.

My personal Avid workflow with AVCHD would be (but it's very personal and others will have different opinions):

1)- I would import the AVCHD footage in DNxHD 444 RGB (your Project needs to be in RGB mode and not in video, you find that in the colorspace of your Project settings). No AMA.

2)- I would transcode all the 444 material to DNxHD 36, once done, put all the DNxHD 36 into another bin, switch to video colorspace and edit with those.

3)- When the edit is finished, relink the sequence to the 444 material.

4)- Color correct in RGB mode within the editor with the available color tools.

5) Master in JPEG2000

But this isn't the only posible workflow, there are many. What's sure is that I wouldn't edit nor doing any manipulation with AVCHD material, regardless of the Workstation power.

Fred.


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Carlos E. Martinez
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 10, 2013 at 5:35:56 pm

Fred,

BTW, my name is Carlos.

Can't say much about other NLEs, as I have always used Avid. Just a very very short time with Premium, and then went for Xpress.

It was a bit easier than MC, and I found the keyboard use better. But, times have to change...

Believe me that I focused on the GH2 after considering all my other options. Blackmagic was not available, and as a friend of mine was flying to Canada I had to consider all alternatives. Canon 5D Mk II, Canon 60D and GH2. In the end I couldn't get a good place to buy the GH2 in Toronto, so I let that stand by.

In the meantime I could find out a bit more about the GH2, compared even to the BM. And it did seem like a good compromise, particularly because I think I would be able to use the same lenses with quite similar focal values. Correct me if I'm wrong in my assumption.

Anyway, then came the Avid workflow, which I wasn't so much aware of the potential problems.

As it is I would like to get two minutes of a hacked GH2 to see how it behaves, doing all the things you just told me.

A friend of mine is just now at NAB, so he said he would stop by Panasonic and Avid and raise my questions. At Avid they might help, but I doubt Pana will say anything to help on hacked GH2 files. ;)



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Carlos E. Martinez
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 10, 2013 at 5:41:21 pm

Now this is something that might be better than a GH2:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?is=REG&Q=&A=details&O=produ...



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Fred Gasc
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:13:38 pm

That's exactly this camera I was talking about.

Yes, much better than a GH2.

If you can wait, I'd save the GH2 money and buy this one.

Fred.


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Carlos E. Martinez
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:38:25 pm

Fred,

Now I get it. I didn't know about it. It's cheaper than 1000 euro then. :)

If I can get someone that will come this way, I'll pre order one.



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Glenn Sakatch
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 11, 2013 at 1:54:29 pm

Just watch your timetable.

BlackMagic is great at promising delivery dates, not so good at hitting them.

Resolve was 3 or 4 months late

We all know what happened with the original Cinema camera. (still hard to find up here)

Hyperdeck studio pro was about 9 months late.

Not saying it will be late, but i wouldn't hold my breath. :)

Glenn


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Carlos E. Martinez
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 11, 2013 at 2:40:19 pm

Yes, that is a real problem. I can't really count on this camera for this project, I'm afraid.

Perhaps investing on a GH2 is still the way to go, as eventually I will be able to use it as camera B, and the lenses should work on the GH2 and BM.

The problem is how to pre-order it, as I do not live in the US, and I think you need a shipping address to do that with B&H.



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Mel Feliciano
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 13, 2013 at 3:38:47 pm

Hi Carlos,

There are definitely problems with AVCHD and Avid Media Composer/Symphony. I’ve been using Panasonic cameras for almost three years now and they are perfect for what I do. When people watch my videos, they always compliment the picture quality. Now the postproduction and workflow is not that smooth. I own Avid Media Composer 5.5, Avid Symphony 6.0, Adobe Premiere Pro 5.5/6.0, Final Cut Pro 7, and Sony Vegas 10. The last one running on Mac with Bootcamp. My main cameras are Panasonic TM-700 and Pansonic GH2 (hacked).

When I tried to edit my first video from the TM-700, I tried to edit on Final Cut Pro 7, I encountered my first problem, No log and transfer for MTS files. Then I tried to transcode using FFMPEG and got an error. Then I tried Premiere Pro CS5 at work, and found it kind of buggy. Then tried to transcode the same files in Adobe Media Encoder CS5 and got an error. Then I bought Media Composer 5.5 and Adobe Production Premium CS5.5 because of the special deal for Final Cut Pro owners. Adobe Media Encoder CS5.5 was a different story. I was finally able to transcode the same problematic files to ProRes and have the freedom to edit then on any of my NLEs. I tried Sony Vegas 10 and the performance with avchd was not good; playback stuttered a lot.

Then I bought an Avid Symphony 6 because I needed the “advanced” color correction capability. They heavily advertised AMA for avchd files. My experience was not as advertised. Every time I try to AMA link avchd files the Avid just freezes, so I can’t even transcode in Avid. After a long journey through NLE land I finally found a workflow that works great for avchd mts files. I subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud and got Premiere Pro CS6. Now I’m finally getting the performance I always dream about. All without transcoding. I don’t even have a powerful graphics card, but the memory and the processors are enough (8 core 2.66Ghz Mac Pro with 24GB Ram) to run the Mercury Playback Engine in software mode. I am still using Avid since that is what they use at work (they don’t deal with avchd mts), but have to transcode first to and an Avid friendly codec. I use Adobe Media Encoder, because of the speed and transcode to ProRes, because of the flexibility to edit natively on any of the NLEs.

Regarding cameras; if you’re looking for the highest picture quality for under $1,000 US dollars (I paid half that price for my second one), the hacked GH2 is your camera; a least until the Blackmagic Pocket camera starts shipping.



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Carlos E. Martinez
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 14, 2013 at 6:49:21 pm

Mel,


Thank you for a very thorough answer. You confirmed that capturing and using some Panasonic AVCHD files, like those from the GH2, can be problematic. And it's good that you found a way out.

Adobe Media Encoder is part of Premiere Pro CS6 or can I use it independently? I mean how much time involves dealing with a hacked GH2 capture?

I'm not really too interested in using Premiere, probably because of my laziness to learn a new program, and also because I think you do need a too powerful machine to deal with it. Something you don't really need with Avid.

Also Avid ended up being the program of choice of the industry, with more and more people using it, now the FCP seems to have stopped updating it. Do correct me if I'm wrong.

In any case, now the GH2s I was looking forward to for sale are no more. So I don't know what to do.

The GH3 is not a good option, because there are no hacks for it yet and I need my camera to be both NTSC and PAL.



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Mel Feliciano
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 16, 2013 at 7:07:46 pm

Carlos,


Adobe Media Encoder is included with Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Prelude, but it can also be installed independently if you down load it from the Creative Cloud. So if you don't want to use Premiere Pro, you can still use it by itself. I recommend that you as least get Prelude. It works wonders in file based workflows. But the stand alone edition of Prelude is expensive when compared with the suites. You get the best bang for the money, when you subscribe to the Creative Cloud. That way you'll have all of their products at your disposal, in case you want to learn Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator, Premiere...etc. To be honest, Premiere Pro is a great editor, specially with the new additions and fixes announced for the next version. Premiere Pro is going to be the perfect companion to Avid Media Composer, filling the gabs in those areas where MC lacks. With the new version of PP we are going to be able to view our dailies on Prelude, send the ones that you need to Premiere Pro, then in Premiere Pro you can choose to Edit the native MTS files; all in real time thanks to the Mercury Playback Engine or you can transcode the files to Avid DNXHD MXF and edit in Media Composer. Before, you needed Sorenson Squeeze with the Pro codec option or Telestream Episode in order to transcode to Avid native files outside of Media Composer/Symphony. Notice that Avid DNXHD files need to be in a MXF wrapper. I am glad I didn't buy any of these products cause I won't need'em with the new PP.

Are you familiar with Red Giant Pluraleyes (formerly Singular). Guess what, I won't need this software either, cause Premiere Pro is going to have the same capability built-in. I don't want to sound like an Adobe Evangelist, but we can't ignore all the benefits their products provide. Adobe is in better position financially than Avid. I know that Hollywood is pretty much all Avid, but not all markets are the same. Biscardi Creative Media, a full service production/post-production company based in Atlanta, switched from Final Cut Pro to Adobe Premiere Pro. They purchased three Avid Symphony licenses and only kept one. I work for Discovery Latin America, based in Miami, FL. Here we use Avid Media Composer exclusively, but many of the editors prefer to use Premiere Pro when editing their own projects at home. The new versions of Media Composer and Premiere Pro promise new efficiencies never seen before. Round tripping between these two NLEs is going to be so easy that basically we are going to pick which system to use base on our mood for the day. Is going to be like choosing between a blond and a brunet. Still, for AVCHD MTS native editing nothing compares to Premiere Pro. Just, insert the SD card and start editing.

Regarding the GH2, yes they are harder to find now. I'm glad I purchased a second one when It was widely available and on sale. The GH3 is a better camera in every area except for "moire". There is no hack for the GH3 yet, but Vitaliy has plan for it, once he can get a hold on the firmware. But to be honest, the picture quality of the stock GH3 is great. The bit rate is pretty high and similar to some of the settings/patches available for the hacked GH2. Also, the GH3 produces images that feel more "organic" (like Canons but sharper), even when using Panasonic lenses. My GH2s are impressive. People that watch my videos can't believe it when I tell them what camera I used, but the image still looks kind of "video-ish" with the Panny lenses, so most of the time I use some kind of "Magic bullet" look filter.

Hope this information helps you in your decision making process.



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Carlos E. Martinez
Re: Capture issues with hacked Panasonic GH2's AVCHD
on Apr 16, 2013 at 7:36:56 pm

Mel,

Thanks again for your very good advice.

As long as I can have both Avid MC and Premiere Pro on the same PC, it's alright for me to take advantage of their individual strengths. I was told that you couldn't have both together.

Also consider that my workflow for this project, as it is now, might consist of stuff coming Sony Z1 (HDV and upscaled DV), hacked Pana GH2 and BM Pocket (if I can get one). My concerns were for the hacked GH2 stuff, as I was correctly told it might be a problem.

So I wonder which would be the best platform to work with: Avid or PP.

About the camera, yes, it has become a problem to find a GH2, at least in Brazil or Argentina, where I work. My concern with the GH3 is that this is a PAL project, and I will never again buy a video camera that is not PAL and NTSC, The GH3 is not. System conversions are out of the question, of course.

About the lenses, I was thinking more Olympus or Voightlander than Panny. And I do want lenses I can switch from the GH to the BM Pocket, with film quality.

Unfortunately, for now there are not that many high-quality lenses available for Micro Four Thirds. It's quite likely film Super 16 lenses become that, but there's not such a wide supply either.



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