AVCHD Editing Workflow - advice please. (Mine's no good)

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by ryca, May 27, 2009.

  1. ryca macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2009
    Hi Everyone

    I’m an avid photographer so know Photoshop like the back of my hand, and have a workflow down pat for superb images.
    I’m an avid music guy also, so know Logic & ProTools also and have those workflows down pat for great sound.
    I’m just starting to dabble in film making/video editing and had a great workflow with my older Sony MiniDV camera (DCR-PC9) into iMovie08, but now have hit a hurdle which is frustrating me beyond belief!

    I just purchased a Canon HF20 (yesterday) and discovered my workflow is pretty much useless as the format is AVCHD. (Using a Macbook Pro, 2.4Ghz Intel Duo, 3GB Ram, 160GB onboard, 500Gb External Lacie Firewire)

    Now I’ve searched high & low in this and many other forums looking for an answer so please, no flames, just looking for an indication as to where & how to begin.

    All I want to know is simply “How can I get the BEST possible footage out of the Camera?”

    I realize that it’s too hard to directly edit AVCHD files so they need to be converted to something editable.
    * Which is the best workflow for this to achieve the *best* possible converted video? iMovie? FCE “Log & Transfer..”?
    * And once edited, what are correct settings for exporting the edited/final video?

    I’ve seen some HD videos on Vimeo which look fantastic (even tho they are compressed for web) so I’m using those as a benchmark.
    - I’m importing via iMovie HD.. then editing in iMovie 08 and exporting as a .mov -- is that the best I can do? The resulting footage from initial tests didn’t look great.

    Any help / advice will be greatly appreciated.

  2. grumbler macrumors member

    Feb 26, 2008
    I use FCP's "log and transfer" command - turns the files into Apple Intermediate Codec - and it seems to work pretty well. I export using Compressor, and it does a really great job. Make sure that you apply a deinterlace filter, interlacing can make video look really horrible.
  3. lapino macrumors regular

    Mar 6, 2009
    What's the best way on Mac to make a BluRay/DVD with HD files and menus so I can play this on my PS3 for example?
  4. ryca thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2009
    thanks for the reply grumbler...appreciate your time.

    'll try FCE's Log & Transfer tonight. i dont think i have compressor unfortunately so will have to export using native FCE...
  5. grumbler macrumors member

    Feb 26, 2008
    Hold on, I may have been confused - I think it's actually going to ProRes. Hmm, I've never exported directly from FCP. Do you know if your camera shoots interlaced video (1080i)? If it does you'll have to apply deinterlace filters individually to the clips.

    edit: Also, (this could be totally wrong) but I imagine that FCE will do a better job with AVCHD than iMovie just because it's higher end. Makes sense to me at least.
  6. drichards macrumors 6502a


    Nov 30, 2008
    I don't need anything more advanced than iMovie with my HF100, same AVCHD files, and I use the File > Import > Camera Archive command to get everything off there. I'm trying to figure out how to get it to record in 720P on the camera, I don't need 1080P all the time and running through less cards would be great, but I guess a Canon forum would be a better venue for that enigma.
  7. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    That should be in another thread. You can use toast to make HD DVD's I believe. (normal DVD's that contain HD). Toast can also write on real blu-ray, if you have a blu-ray burner (e.g. an external one). (adobe) encore can make them too.
  8. ryca thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2009
    thanks for all the advice guys.

    @grumbler: ok so i tried FCE Log & Transfer.. and it didn't want to log or transfer!! Brought up the L&T window... Added clip to cue... looked as if it was doing something then it stopped with a 'red' exclamation in the status. Been reading Tom Wolsky's "FCE 4 Editing Workshop" book where he states the program cannot handle material shot in 1920 x 1080... only 1440 x 1080... so maybe thats it... will fire him a question over on the Apple forums and see what he says.

    @drichards: yes HF100 & HF20 are basicially the same cam! I used iMovie HD tonite and it worked ok... would rather edit in FCE though. Do you know of any Canon Video forum by any chance? I have a bunch of questions regarding the camera also!
  9. ryca thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2009
  10. tcgjeukens macrumors regular


    May 16, 2007
    IJsselstein, the Netherlands

    Let's begin with two different aspects of your workflow:
    1. How to backup original footage
    2. How to transfer footage from camera to Mac for the purpose of editing

    I assume you don't want to leave your footage on your camera forever. So you need to copy the native AVCHD files from camera to Mac.
    I assume you do not want to backup the transcoded AVCHD into AUC codec files, as the size explodes.
    In order to retain all info of your source: create a disk image on your Mac and copy the entire card structure to that image. Close the image and store it for posterity.

    As you say, you can not edit on the Mac in native AVCHD format. You need to transcode using the log & transfer option.
    In your case you are using iMovie or FCE. That means that your transcode will be the Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC). Your file size fille explode by a factor 3-7 (depending on resolution you are using).
    You will use iMovie or FCE to edit in AIC. Your output will be in AIC.
    Only in the very last step when you choose your distrubution format, you will make choices. In iMovie you have little options with few controls. In FCE you will have more.
    Note: when making a DVD, iDVD is automatically convert AIC into DDV SD mpeg2 format.
    Note: check iMovie "share" function. It will export to YouTube and Mobileme formats for you.
    Note: QuickTime Pro does read AIC files and can export to a wide variety of formats. Your customer will tell you what format he/ she prefers.

  11. rhett7660 macrumors G4


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    Excellent post. Thank you very much.
  12. Authentic AB macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2009
    Ottawa Canada
    Best possible?

    Big part of the puzzel is whether you shot 720p or 1080i. The interlacing typically looks terrible on computer formats, though really quite terrific on your TV.

    ALl my footage is 1080i so I will talk about that from here on. Perhaps it's all simpler in 720p...

    ...and it's reasonably hard to preserve the interlacing all the way to the TV! If you de-interlace you footage, you will essentially lose half of your picture information -- which is not why you went to HD in the first place. It looks good (great, perhaps) but not the breathtaking presence of 1080i.

    I have not been able to edit footage without at least one cross rendering. However, if you import in iMovie (or FCP, essentially it's the same) into AIC 1080i, that's fine for your editing, and will work with toast in the end.

    Sadly, the only way I have been able to get a decent result is the Blu-ray path. Which means a (non-supported) burner and a player (or PS3. I wish I bought the PS3!). To move your footage from one room to the other, it seems extreme!

    So, the workflow I used is like this:

    1) import 1080i with iMovie
    2) Edit away!
    3) export with "share" -> "Export using Quicktime"
    settings: HDV 1080i, AIC
    4) Burn to Blu-ray via Toast.

    Honestly, it looks pretty good!

    In an ideal world, we could edit in AVCHD and preserve the data (no cross renderings) through the whole workflow. Good old iMovie & DV did that -- it was amazing! -- but I'll take my re-rendered HD any day before that old DV stuff...
  13. ryca thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2009
    again i really want to thank you all for contributing to this thread. @tcgjeukens & @Authentic AB those posts were brilliant. thanks so much. i will use them as a reference point from now on until i have this whole HD thing embedded in my brain!

    @Authentic AB.. I'm pretty sure I'm shooting in 1080i - Canon HF20, AVCHD, FXP (17Mbps), 60i

    @tcgjeukens my video is successfully transcoded to AIC and editible in FCE now thanks! this may be a tad off topic, but i'm now encountering an issue when i try to play video on he canvas - theres only audio but video has a message "Unrendered". When its paused I can see it. I understand that the clip properties & sequence properties must be the same.. which they are i think?:
    [[ CLIP PROPERTIES (ctrl-9) ]]
    Tracks: 1V, 2A
    Vid Rate: 29.97fps
    Frame Size: 1920 x 1080
    Compressor: Apple Intermediate Codec
    Data Rate: 13.8 MB/sec
    Pixel Aspect: Square

    [[[SEQUENCE PROPERTIES (hover over clip in timeline/sequence> right click> item properties)
    Tracks: blank
    Vid Rate: 29.97fps
    Frame Size: 1920 x 1080
    Compressor: Apple Intermediate Codec
    Data Rate: 13.8 MB/sec
    Pixel Aspect: Square
  14. cmhk macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2009
    AVCHD -- Help!

    Thank you so much for these posts. I am trying to figure out how to import/log and transfer 350 GB of uncompressed AVCHD footage, currently living on an external HD, and shot at 24p Cinema mode. My camera is the Canon Vixia HF 11.

    Problem is, iMovie will import from an archived (External HD) source, but apparently not well at 24p cinema mode. And FCE 4 will handle the 24p cinema mode, but not from archived footage, only direct from the camera. If I make a disk image to connect with FCE4, won't that require just as much disk space on my computer? My computer (Macbook pro) can only hold 98 GB of content, so where would I edit my film?

    I feel like I must be missing some important detail...

    Like I said....Help!
  15. mrdinh macrumors regular

    Sep 7, 2007
    toast 10 setting

    once the AIC is ready for toast...what are settings you use in toast and the blu ray plugin?

    help please.

  16. theBB macrumors 68020


    Jan 3, 2006
    I use 30P or 24P, so that I don't have to deal with interlacing. I've heard that 60i in theory is better at capturing fast motion, but I doubt it would make any difference at this camcorder quality level.

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