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MP4 vs AVCHD

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Bryce MooseMP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 3, 2016 at 1:10:36 am

I have a Canon XA25 which shoots in AVCHD or MP4. I have been shooting in AVCHD then transcoding to Pro Res as I have had playback issues etc with multi cam etc. if I switched to MP4 would I have to transcode or would I no longer have these issues.

Here is the type of Mac I have.



Bryce


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David Roth WeissRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 3, 2016 at 1:48:23 am

MP4, like all of the MPEG variants including h.264, is no bargain where realtime performance is concerned, because all of those codecs, like AVCHD, are extremely processor intensive. In addition, MP4 will not hold up well in color correction, with intensive use of filters, or beyond a couple of generations.

ProRes on the other hand is a high performance codec, specifically designed for easy playback. And, it holds up well with lots of processing and through many generations.

So, until you get a more modern camera, keep your current workflow.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Bryce MooseRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 3, 2016 at 2:14:26 am

Thanks.

People on the Adobe Forums say that AVCHD is not processor intensive and that there is nothing different than that vs pro res. But I know that's wrong

Bryce


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Bret WilliamsRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 3, 2016 at 2:46:12 am
Last Edited By Bret Williams on Mar 3, 2016 at 2:46:23 am

It's not as intensive with your iMac as with say a Mac Pro. You have h264 acceleration on that iMac processor where the xeons do not. Pro res is still a little smoother to edit with but not noticeably if you're doing simpler stuff. It's a double edged sword because ProRes might also require 10x as much data throughput and you can easily have a bottleneck if you don't have a fast raid or SSD. Especially 4K. 4K proxy is just 1080p ProRes. Still pretty big files.

But geez buy some RAM already! 8gb? How does Premiere even launch?


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David Roth WeissRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 3, 2016 at 3:11:23 am

Bryce,

The reason Sony moved from AVCHD to XAVC is because AVCHD was hard to work with on many levels, including being processor intensive. Unfortunately, XAVC is also no bargain yet, because optimization in most editing software is not great.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Jeff PuleraRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 3, 2016 at 2:57:18 pm

You could possibly get smoother editing with AVCHD in Premiere if you follow these steps for import, if not already doing so. Copy entire contents of SD card to hard drive, keep all folder structure intact. Then in Premiere, import using Media Browser, not File > Import.

There is metadata in the folders that helps Premiere properly interpret the footage, including handling of spanned clips, audio, etc.

But I agree, bump that RAM to 16GB if you can!

Thanks

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Bryce MooseRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 8:21:50 am

So I don't need to Transcode? What about color? Pro Res is better with color right? Also like said above AVCHD is processor intensive

Bryce


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Tero AhlforsRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 8:35:04 am

Transcoding footage to a better quality format doesn't make the original footage any better. AVCHD is a terrible unoptimized shit format that I wouldn't personally use for anything for the reasons already stated in this thread.


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David Roth WeissRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 8:41:20 am

Transcoding MP4 to ProRes doesn't make the video better, but it will hold up to color correction, etc. a lot better and through more generations.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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David Roth WeissRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 8:37:13 am

Yes! (Echo... Echo... Echo...)

Didn't I already say that?

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Bryce MooseRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 10:10:12 am

So is it worth it to spend the extra time to transcode or not?

Bryce


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David Roth WeissRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 10:18:04 am
Last Edited By David Roth Weiss on Mar 4, 2016 at 10:20:53 am

Transcoding is time intensive, but not labor intensive - i.e. It can be done while you're sleeping or eating lunch. Editing, rendering, and latency are all time and labor intensive. So, would you prefer to do the heavy lifting, or would rather let your computer do it while you're sleeping? You get to choose. I know which I prefer. :)

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Bryce MooseRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 10:23:34 am

Still not clear what I should do lol

Bryce


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Jeff PuleraRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 1:47:19 pm

Hi Bryce,

If I read between the lines of David's comments, I think he might be saying to transcode ;-)

Thanks

Jeff


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Chris BorjisRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 11:44:14 pm

Bryce, one of my contractors has that same camera and showed
once that one of those two has a higher recording bit rate.

I would shoot on that one whatever it is.



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Bryce MooseRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 8, 2016 at 8:08:12 pm

yes. my xa25 has a mp4 35MBPS. Question is this. If I record in MP4 35MBPS and transcode to Pro Res do I lose the 35MBPS or does it keep it?

Bryce


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David Roth WeissRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 8, 2016 at 8:32:42 pm
Last Edited By David Roth Weiss on Mar 8, 2016 at 8:37:19 pm

Transcoding to another codec is analogous to pouring water from one container into another of different size.

If you pour a small glass of water into a larger one, you lose no water. Right? So, transcoding from MP4 to a ProRes keeps virtually all of the information that was in the MP4 container. Right?

Meanwhile, if you pour water from a large glass into a smaller one, you lose some water. Right? So, if you transcode from ProRes to MP4 (at a lower bitrate of course), some of the information won't make it into the new container, and you'll lose some information. Make sense?

So, transcoding to a better codec doesn't make the original video look any better, but it does preserve the original information, and it does give you some of the added advantages the newer codec offers, such as an increase in color space when grading, and it can also hold up better as you go thru generations.

Does all this make sense to you now Bryce?

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Tero AhlforsRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 8, 2016 at 8:48:00 pm

[David Roth Weiss] "such as an increase in color space when grading"

Well to continue the water analogy... Pouring the water into a bigger container doesn't turn it into wine. If you transcode your 8 bit 4:2:0 whatever to 32 bit 4:4:4 float it doesn't gain any information that wasn't there in the first place.


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David Roth WeissRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 8, 2016 at 9:03:09 pm
Last Edited By David Roth Weiss on Mar 8, 2016 at 9:02:58 pm

[Tero Ahlfors] "Pouring the water into a bigger container doesn't turn it into wine. If you transcode your 8 bit 4:2:0 whatever to 32 bit 4:4:4 float it doesn't gain any information that wasn't there in the first place."

I agree mostly Tero...

As I said, it doesn't make the video look any better... However, it does give you additional color space to work in, meaning there will be less interpolation in the 4:2:2 color space of ProRes, and thus less color information lost (i.e. fewer discarded pixels) when processing.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Bryce MooseRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 9, 2016 at 1:16:51 am

How many MBPS is Pro Res 422?

Bryce


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Bryce MooseRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 9, 2016 at 1:37:36 am

Never mind I just found this. https://documentation.apple.com/en/finalcutpro/professionalformatsandworkfl...

It says 1920 x 1080 at 29.97 fps is 147 Mbps at Apple ProRes 422. Does that mean if I shoot in MP4 at 35MBPS and Transcode to 422 I will still be at 35MBS since I can't gain anything else?

Quick Question.

Lets say you compare MP4 35MBPS to AVCHD 25MBPS. Is there really significant video quality difference that everyone is going to notice or are they only going to notice if they had a side by side comparison?

Bryce


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Chris BorjisRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 14, 2016 at 5:59:06 pm

It's usually best to acquire / record in the highest bit rate possible.



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andy lewisRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 15, 2016 at 1:46:42 pm

Doesn't lumetri handle colour in 32-bit float? Surely this means that there is no colour space advantage in converting to Prores.


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Tero AhlforsRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 15, 2016 at 2:08:14 pm

[andy lewis] "Doesn't lumetri handle colour in 32-bit float?"

It's using internal 32-bit floating point math when doing colour changes. It has nothing to do with the actual bit depth of the footage and it doesn't make bad formats better.


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andy lewisRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 15, 2016 at 2:15:28 pm

[Tero Ahlfors] "
It's using internal 32-bit floating point math when doing colour changes. It has nothing to do with the actual bit depth of the footage and it doesn't make bad formats better."


I realise it doesn't make bad formats better. I'm saying that conversion to Prores will make no difference to the eventual bit depth at which colour is processed.


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Jeff PuleraRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 15, 2016 at 2:37:27 pm

AVCHD, MP4 and in fact most common camera formats are heavily compressed using Long-GOP. Without going into too much detail (you can Google it), a GOP is a Group of Pictures.

Using the HDV format as an example, there is only one "full frame" of video every 15 frames. The frames between the full frames contain only partial data - think of them representing the difference in the image from that full reference frame - what is changing in the picture.

You have a camera locked on a tripod pointed at the street. Nothing in the frame is moving, so basically no difference frame to frame. Then a car drives by left to right. From one frame to another, the car is changing, but the rest of the image is still static. So only the data for the moving car needs to change from one frame to another - the background is the same and that data does not need to be encoded/saved for every frame, as it can be borrowed from neighboring frames. Encoding only the changes between frames saves space = compression.

So for playback, most frames need to reference other frames (preceeding and following) to put a full frame back together from bits and pieces. This is called an inter-frame format. The problem is that with high detail and fast motion, the codec can't keep up. Think of shooting a water fountain or leafy trees blowing in the breeze. Basically every pixel is changing from one frame to another, and then the image starts to get full of artifacts/blocks because the partial-frame scheme is not able to fully encode all that ever-changing data and it just gets sloppy.

So as others have stated, if you have the chance to go from 25Mbps to 35Mbps, every bit helps!! Besides losing parts of each frame to compression, color data is also thrown away to save space. AVCHD is going to use 4:2:0 color. The human eye doesn't notice the missing color fidelity (the "0"), however when you try to do chroma keying or color correction, it doesn't work as well since a lot of color data is just not there for the NLE to work with!

Now let's talk ProRes. It used Intra-Frame compression, meaning every single frame contains all the data to rebuild that frame - it doesn't need to borrow info from any neighbors. And the data rate is much much higher, again increasing the fidelity of the image, being much truer to what the camera saw (when recording direct to Prores such as using an Atomos recorder). You are not "throwing away" tons of data and averaging things out and compressing into the "blocks of similar color" that you might view as compression artifacts with lesser codecs. Full HD ProRes might run roughly 100Mbps to 220Mbps depending on quality level chosen - quite an improvement from 25Mbps!

Another benefit of ProRes is 4:2:2 color, much truer to the original, providing more color info that really benefits keying and color correction. Can also be 10-bit, representing millions more colors than the 8-bit of AVCHD, to lessen color gradient banding and such.

So you asked if a 35Mbps codec stays 35Mbps when converted to ProRes and the answer would be no. You are taking those Long-GOP partial frames of AVCHD and converting each to its own unique full frame, fully encoded to stand on its own. Basically "uncompressing" each frame to a large degree, so obviously that will use more data. It's not going to make any individual frame look any better than it started out, but it will play back easier since it doesn't have to look back/look ahead at multiple surrounding frames before it can be played/viewed.

And you still only have the original 4:2:0 color data to work with. However, if adding color effects, titles, etc. to a ProRes clip then those will benefit from being done in the 4:2:2 color space with higher fidelity. And then if you do any compositing, such as exporting your edits to a new ProRes clip, and then doing further work in the new clip, you have the unique frames at a high data rate and with 4:2:2 color, so it all holds up so much better over multiple generations, unlike AVCHD that is so highly compressed that all the artifacts (quality issues) just pile up and get worse with each copy.

So, if you don't plan on doing multi-generational compositing and such - you're simply going to do some editing (cutting) of clips, add some transitions - and then just export to the delivery format, converting to ProRes probably isn't going to make any difference, other than taking time and filling up your hard drive. If you have an older, slower computer that chokes on AVCHD, then ProRes should be easier to play back, but again as others mentioned ProRes needs faster hard drives to keep up, so there is a trade off.

Hope this kind of puts things in perspective. Do some Google searches for "4:2:2 vs 4:2:0" and "Long-GOP" and do some reading, it will really all make more sense then.

Thanks

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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andy lewisRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 15, 2016 at 3:25:47 pm

[Jeff Pulera] "And you still only have the original 4:2:0 color data to work with. However, if adding color effects, titles, etc. to a ProRes clip then those will benefit from being done in the 4:2:2 color space with higher fidelity. And then if you do any compositing, such as exporting your edits to a new ProRes clip, and then doing further work in the new clip, you have the unique frames at a high data rate and with 4:2:2 color, so it all holds up so much better over multiple generations, unlike AVCHD that is so highly compressed that all the artifacts (quality issues) just pile up and get worse with each copy."

If you are adding colour effects within Premiere / Speedgrade then everything is processed in 32-bit float so the conversion to Prores has given you nothing. Without conversion, the software takes that 4:2:0 long-GOP data and upsamples it to discrete frames at 4:4:4 on the fly. Note: I am well aware that no quality has been added - the software is simply reducing rounding errors.

If you have converted to Prores, Premiere will upsample from 4:2:2 to 4:4:4 on the fly. Same result but with the inherent quality loss of transcoding to Prores (another compressed format).

It's absolutely true that 4:2:2 Prores will hold up better than AVCHD over multiple generations but what kind of workflow necessitates multiple generations? If you are working within Adobe apps that should never be an issue. If you are sending out to Resolve through XML then there will also be no generation loss as Resolve will process those AVCHD files in 32-bit float.

The only typical reason I can see to transcode to a mezzanine codec like Prores is if it plays back smoother.


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David Roth WeissRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 15, 2016 at 5:55:20 pm
Last Edited By David Roth Weiss on Mar 15, 2016 at 6:07:59 pm

[andy lewis] "It's absolutely true that 4:2:2 Prores will hold up better than AVCHD over multiple generations but what kind of workflow necessitates multiple generations? If you are working within Adobe apps that should never be an issue."

Andy, if you're not thinking about generation loss you really should be, cuz any finished master you create will in all likelihood wind up being reedited or repurposed at some point later in history, and history lasts a long, long time, as in perpetuity. Of course, if you have archived versions of the entire finished project, and assuming the project file and all media are intact and readable at that later date, whenever it might be (which is ALWAYS questionable), you could POTENTIALLY avoid generation loss. However, I'd hate to think that you and other Cow members are ignoring the long-term future of your completed video assets, which are all hard-won and very labor-intensive efforts.

As an example of what I'm referring to, a Cow member once asked me why he should save his ProRes master rather than a much smaller h.264 copy of the same. I asked him if, twenty or thirty years from now when a retrospective of his work is being played at the Academy, in 20K perhaps, would he want it to look like complete dog doo? Would you or your clients?

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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andy lewisRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 15, 2016 at 6:18:18 pm

Thanks David. I'm talking specifically about the use of a Prores transcode as part of a grading or compositing workflow, not about mastering or archive.


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David Roth WeissRe: MP4 vs AVCHD
by on Mar 15, 2016 at 6:40:24 pm

[andy lewis] "Thanks David. I'm talking specifically about the use of a Prores transcode as part of a grading or compositing workflow, not about mastering or archive.
"


I understand Andy, but honestly, the transcoding decisions we make today as part of a grading or compositing workflow, and mastering/archiving are really ALL very much tied together.

Yes, you can discuss each operation on it's won, but ultimately, every editor should be thinking about the "entire" media pipeline, which often (or usually) stretches well beyond the more immediate decisions most typically think of.

As one of the now "elder statesmen" here, I just want to make certain that ALL Creative Cow users think about the long-term realities of asset management that typically only those of us with 20, 30, or 40-years of experience have seen through our careers. Make sense?

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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