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NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)

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Paul Belter
NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on May 24, 2013 at 6:06:37 am

Oh yeah, I just want to share this.
I never cared for the input format, SV swallows everything including avchd. I never cared for the rendering time. I usually use mpeg2 in mxf container for the input, I do short projects, so i love my rendering times. Until now. I have long recordings partly from my mxf camcorders andy partly from avchd camcorders. The output are few videos 40-100 minutes. And my god! I hate avchd, thank you god for a good tip when i was choosing my camcorder with mpeg2 codec. When i look at my rendering I can see that avchd material renders about 3 times slower than mpeg material. Every time rendering switches from avchd takes to mpeg takes, frame count bursts from slow which i can almost follow with my mouth to over real time...
Conclusion? Never, ever pick AVCHD camcorder. This is not a codec for edition, it can be 35 mbps it can even be 135 mbps, for me it is not a pro format.


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Michael Acres
Re: NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on May 24, 2013 at 10:52:57 pm

lmao, thanks for your opinion ;)


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John Rofrano
Re: NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on May 25, 2013 at 12:23:23 pm

Now you know why I still use my Sony Z1U and do all of my editing in HDV MPEG-2. lol :-D

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasst.com



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Dave Haynie
Re: NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on May 30, 2013 at 5:57:12 pm

I wouldn't say "never buy an AVCHD camcorder", just recommend that, particularly for professional work, that you know your camcorder and your file formats.

Full IPB AVC delivers twice the coding efficiency of MPEG-2, when well encoded. It took a number of years before AVCHD camcorders actually did a good job of encoding AVC, but they do these days. This means, as long as you haven't blown past the limits of the format, a 25Mb/s AVC recording is going to deliver about the same quality as a 50Mb/s MPEG-2 encoding, all else being equal.

Editing time, sure, is slowed by any IPB format versus an I-Frame only format like DV or M-JPEG or Cineform. MPEG is so simple, in current terms, it doesn't add dramatically to editing or rendering times.. until it does. One or two tracks, no problem. Dozens.. you'll get hit by the decoding time. When I was doing benchmarks, I needed a whole Intel Core 2 Duo, both CPUs running, to decode a single stream of 1080/24p AVC, using the CPU (that same PC did it using under 10% CPU with GPU rendering, but our NLEs don't really use GPUs for decoding, just FX and some aspects of compositing).

Still today, I'll transcode to MPEG-2/MXF (I used to use Cineform, but it's too broken these days, IMHO) before starting any complex edit. For simple stuff, though, not afraid of AVC.

And the other thing about AVC format camcorders (not so much AVCHD, which is the Blu-ray derived specific consumer format, but AVC in general) is that not all are IPB AVC. Newer Canon HDSLRs, for example, can do IPB AVC, but they also do AVC-Intra, which has lower decoding overhead than MPEG-2 (it's effectively an updated version of high-def DV). Older Canons only encoded IP, so the CPU overhead is less (but at 44Mb/s, the HDD overhead about doubles.. which is usually the trade-off).

-Dave


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John Pirtle
Re: NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on Apr 4, 2014 at 4:22:52 am

My past two years with Sony AVCHD and Avid have been a disaster. Getting AVCHD into Avid is the most cumbersome, timewasteing, error prone DISASTER of a process that I can imagine. I dearly wish I could still use HDV tape It was ten times faster to actually get work done with.


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Dave Haynie
Re: NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on Apr 4, 2014 at 5:00:46 am

AVC works just dandy in Vegas. You do need a video editing class CPU, but .. well, just saying. Avid has its place in the industry, but it's never been one to deal well with new or mixed formats. Vegas was the first to do this well.

Fact is, a Camcorder's job is to capture the best possible video in the field. Today, that's going to largely be AVC. The format is mature, and you will get twice the quality per megabit/second versus MPEG-2. Not the case for AVC-Intra, but for full IPB AVC, it really is that much better versus MPEG-2. It's taken awhile to make encoders that do it well in realtime and under 3W or so, but it is good. Just not the best editing format for older software or slower hardware.

And that whole "transcoding to MPEG"... not so much anymore. I upgraded my PC last summer, and these days, AVC in HD is about on par with HDV or DV on the hardware I had in their heyday. Which, of course, tells you it's time to make that shiny new PC suck again. It's name is HEVC, it's got twice the coding efficiency of AVC, and it's being pushed pretty hard as the answer to 4K delivery, if not necessarily recording.

Which illustrates one truth: AVC is kind of old now. It's been mainstream for five years or more. If you can't edit this now, you're like the guys in 2005-2007 who couldn't edit HDV. You risk being left behind. Doesn't matter if it's hardware or software, if you can't edit the most modern mainstream format now, you're not going to love the next generation at all.

Not that I'm in any hurry for 4K HEVC... Vegas 12 already does a fine job of editing 4K AVC content on a good computer. It will be some years before an HEVC CODEC does realtime encoding on a camcorder better than AVC... just as AVC took awhile to rival, then better, MPEG-2. So much like HDV, we'll get to experience the pain of moving to the next format in steps. I'm good with that... but I do want 4K. No practical reason at all, just for the art of it.

-Dave


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John Rofrano
Re: NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on Apr 4, 2014 at 10:36:28 am

[John Pirtle] "Getting AVCHD into Avid is the most cumbersome, timewasteing, error prone DISASTER of a process that I can imagine."
It sounds like your problem is with Avid and not AVCHD. These days, AVCHD is very easy too work with as David pointed out. I use it in Vegas Pro and Final Cut Pro X with no problems at all.

One thing that I learned from FCP X is that you need to archive the entire AVCHD card structure. A lot of Vegas editors (including me at one time) are use to navigating down to the folder that contains the actual video files and dragging and dropping them onto your hard drive. That is the wrong procedure. FCP X won't work with these files and if they are split across 4GB FAT32 boundaries they won't be spliced together properly. FCP X expects to see the AVCHD folder structure from the card so that it can read the metadata. Perhaps Avid is the same way? It doesn't make it any harder for me to import, I just had to start saving the entire card contents instead of just the video files. Vegas Pro doesn't have this problem.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasst.com



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Roy Plisko
Re: NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on May 25, 2016 at 9:03:41 pm

"It sounds like your problem is with Avid and not AVCHD. These days, AVCHD is very easy too work with as David pointed out. I use it in Vegas Pro and Final Cut Pro X with no problems at all. "

Premiere handles it OK too. The problem is managing the clips in the retarded bundled format that wants us all to think we are making DVD's. If I have more than one shoot on the card I have to either spend a bunch of time transcoding what I want or I am forced to carry extra data I don't need to save time. The same is true If I just want 10 or so clips from the card with 100 clips, I have to waste time transcoding or keep the whole PRIVATE folder because. . . AVCHD is fragile and neeeeeeds it's file structure. If I want to browse the contents of the card real quick I need to fire up a special program that can read them rather than just quickly previewing the clip in the OS player. Even Apple OS is a clumsy mess handling AVCHD. This DVD like format is a joke. I could care less if I can go straight from the camera to making a blue ray disc. I could care less about some specs on paper that say the quality is better for the bit rate. My eyes tell me my Mark III and my GH4 make .mp4 clips that look better than AVCHD. The supposed difference on paper about stream efficiency isn't worth the hassle to me. I'm not a spec. nerd that is proud of what a piece of paper says I get. I'm guy who wants to get things done efficiently.

My needs are simple. I want good looking video but I also want to my SD card to act like a hard drive. I want to use my mouse to grab the clips I want, drag them off the card onto a folder in my project and FORGET ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE. That's what I do with my Canon Mark III and my Panasonic GH4. They both make EXCELLENT video in AUTONOMOUS CLIPS without beating me over the head with a convoluted DVD file structure and a bunch of excess baggage. They even seamlessly go together when the camera breaks them up and somehow they don't need 15 extra folders full of crap to do it. THAT'S what I call more efficient, not some fancy techie talk about bit rates on paper. My eyes say the piece of paper is overplaying it's hand.

I agree with the original post. AVCHD sucks. It is a bloated, folder fetish waste of my time as an editor. Accepting it in the name of being current?? The industry is out of it's mind if this is what they expect me to swallow as "progress" or an "upgraded experience". I don't know a single professional editor that recommends AVCHD. It is a consumer format as far as I am concerned. It deserves to be abandoned by as many people as possible. That's what I would call moving into the future.


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Wayne Waag
Re: NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on May 25, 2016 at 11:12:29 pm

If I want to browse the contents of the card real quick I need to fire up a special program that can read them rather than just quickly previewing the clip in the OS player.

No offense, but your rant is about a problem that doesn't exist. You do NOT need a special program. You can use whatever media player you like. The key is to know where to look. Very simple--I do this all the time for previewing files directly from the SD card. You just need to navigate to the correct folder. For Sony and Panasonic, it's all the same. From your SD card, navigate to PRIVATE/AVCHD/BDMV/STREAM. There you will find the individual clips that can be played and imported directly.

An advantage of using the manufacturer-supplied software is that it will automatically rename your clips according to date and time shot rather than 1,2,3,4,etc. For Sony at least, it will also combine files that exceed the file size limitations associated with the card being used.

wwaag


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Roy Plisko
Re: NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on May 25, 2016 at 11:16:34 pm

"No offense, but your rant is about a problem that doesn't exist."

No offense but you must not be using a Mac which forces AVCHD through quicktime which reads it a totally different way and doesn't respond to digging into the folders. So the problem exists. You just don't deal with it. Yes, it is a little easier on a PC if you don't mind drilling through 4 folders instead of clicking a file at the top level like every other format in the world.


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Roy Plisko
Re: NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on May 25, 2016 at 11:21:35 pm

And before you pick it apart again, yes, quicktime does gather the files to a window. If you want to look at one it then creates a quicktime clip. Every other format reads directly in the OS as a "quick view" if you highlight a clip in the folder and press the space bar. You can scroll through the clips with the arrow keys and never need to open another folder or turn a harebrained clip into a special transcoded quicktime clip just to watch it.


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Wayne Waag
Re: NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on May 25, 2016 at 11:38:39 pm

You're right--I'm using a PC. I didn't realize that using a MAC was so torturous for something so simple. From what you describe, it's a real goat rope--I'd be annoyed as well. I guess that's one advantage of using products that have the dominant market share. Sounds like the main problem is Apple and Quicktime. Sorry for my misunderstanding.

wwaag


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Roy Plisko
Re: NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on May 26, 2016 at 12:51:35 am

I'll agree that Apple's system is a little odd. But the torture is also because of the way the format must be handled. No other format must be accommodated like this one. . . except maybe optical discs. Even in Windows access to the .MTS files makes it slightly easier but it is still a Rube Goldberg contraption compared to other formats. Also, if you have spanned clips, then trying to keep sanity by dragging .MTS files out creates more problems.

The PC is the dominant market share in home business and gaming uses but the artistic market has always been dominated by Mac until only about 10 years ago when PC's started making inroads. Most professionals seem to prefer Macs for this work. Maybe it's because they have been doing it a long time. If you want to work professionally you will come across Macs all the time. I'm in an office where the "business/marketing" oriented people mostly Windows laptops and the other half of the building where the photography, graphic design and video departments are is all macs. Nobody in the art wing has a PC.

You were right to say I am ranting. I didn't mean to rant at you if it sounded that way.


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Sam Lee
Re: NEVER BUY AN AVCHD CAMCORDER (no problem - only sharing)
on May 26, 2016 at 2:01:32 am

I charge clients 15% more for anything with AVCHD. It's a pain in the $%@@$. Yes, I edit in FCP X and you can edit natively with AVCHD. But good luck trying to relink and do any future revisions with it. Metadata on clip names are horrible. It's virtually impossible to relink dozen of folders with the generic "Clip 1..." cam. I spent more times in figuring out how to relink and update than edit the whole show with it. It is just not a format for serious pro to use. My only easy solution is to export it to an AVC-I 100 MXF with Premiere CC for Mac or Windows format and it's a pleasure to work in FCP X.


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