AVCHD/HDV users -- need some input

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by CMD is me, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. CMD is me macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2006
    I waited 'til the Sept Apple event to see if Apple would announce anything with the AppleTV... nope. SO I have a AVHCD camera, a ton of digital stills, a MacBook Pro and 720p/1080i HDTV, but yet to introduce them.

    AppleTV, right?

    I've been bothered by AppleTV's 540/30p 5Mbps limit. You have this great 1080/60i 17Mbps MPEG-4 camera and to play it back on an AppleTV are forced to give up half the resolution AND super compress it. Also, I don't have any interest in YouTube or video downloads (the kids love going to Blockbuster).


    1) in practice does the AppleTV's highly compressed 540p format take the wow factor from the original footage? 540p @ 5Mbps really isn't better than a 480p DVD @ 9Mbps with upscaling.... is it?

    2) is a PS3/Xbox going to give me a noticeably better picture? If so, does streaming an iMovie exported at 720-1080/30fps with the highest quality compression cause any issues (stutter, re-buffering, etc)?

    3) is a dedicated C2D Mac Mini using Front Row better/worse than the above? Its certainly the most expensive option.

  2. blackpond macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2008
    Try one. If you don't like it then return it. Or you could spend hours on end piecing together posts and info all over the net to find out if you like it. ;)
  3. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    I've had HDV and now AVCHD and while it is true that you are not getting to render what you capture to the MAX, they do look great in 720p HD widescreen on an :apple:TV. I think the video looks a lot better than DVD (though home movie content certainly can't challenge professional film content).

    My suggestion: do it. Then, keep all your footage in iMovie/FCE/etc. until the time comes that Apple finally gives us an :apple:TV NG (with the ability to output full 1080i or maybe 1080p video). Then, just re-render your movies again at the higher resolution. One big firewire drive or 2+, can hold a bunch of iMovie/FCE files until that day comes. You can always sell the :apple:TV you buy now (or move it into another less-used room). And between now and then, you can enjoy seeing your movies and photos on your TV and listening to your music through you (probably) much better sound system.

    What I find more aggravating though is that iMovie can't handle the 5.1 audio in some AVCHD cameras. So, the above suggestion isn't perfect until you can preserve the full audio as well (high hopes for the next update of iMovie/FCE). In the meantime, I'm also saving the raw AVCHD files to be sure I keep the 5.1 audio too.

    One more thing: I believe you can render them in half HD resolution too (960x540) which also looks very good compared to DVD quality.
  4. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2006
    I believe Apple will have to address 1080 next year, however marketing mostly ignores bitrates, which is almost as important as resolution! ATV compresses down to 5Mb/s vs Blu-ray's 40Mb vs digital cable's 16Mb! I don't see Apple increasing the bitrate as it would make the file sizes balloon to the point of being painfully slow to download (ie Apple would loose iTunes sales). Even if/when 1080/24p is an option, it will still suffer from compression artifacts.

    I don't believe Xbox or PS3 have such limitations, but don't have one either.

    Ideally I'd like to export the 1080 iMovies at full resolution and keep the bitrate above 25Mbps.
  5. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    You are very right on much of this. What I can offer is that I don't see many artifacts on even the video from the first generation HDV Sony camcorder, nor the latest SR12 Sony AVC camcorder. Their video converted by iMovie for :apple:TV looks very good on :apple:TV on a 65" HDTV.

    As to bitrate, unless you have pro equipment, even the SR12 (latest & greatest from Sony) is limited in that dept to something like 16 or 17mbps. It appears all camcorder manufactures are essentially stepping up just 1mbps per year (so that we don't end up with really great AVC cams until about 8 years from now, unless something big changes).

    But, to get what you are seeking, it doesn't appear you'll be using any existing consumer camcorders for your source. I feel much more confident saying that Apple might roll out an :apple:TV that can do 1080p/25mbps sooner than we'll get a consumer camcorder that can shoot that level. And if Apple does upgrade :apple:TV to a real ability to export 1080p unscaled, I'm confident they'll upgrade the specs to accommodate greater mbps too.

    Whether or not that helps, you tell me. It would appear though that whether you consider :apple:TV vs. PS3 vs. XBox, your full wish will be more constrained by the lack of a consumer camcorder that can shoot it as you want it vs. the playback device.

    And again, the ultimate solution may be to simply preserve your master files for re-rendering later on, when the playback hardware (from any source) steps up the specs. In the meantime, you can actually put what you shoot now on your HDTV (without depending on direct playback from the camcorder).
  6. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    Apple TV 2.0 is limited to 5 Mbps H.264 (720p24 or 540p30) video and 160 Kbps AAC or DD 5.1 pass through audio. Video needs to be bumped up to 1080i60 or 1080p30 with support for much higher bitrate, although it probably doesn't need to match AVCHD max of 24 Mbps. (Most HD channels from cable and satellite providers are transcoded to below 10 Mbps H.264, although I would much prefer the limit to be at least 15 Mbps or so).

    Higher bitrate, resolution, and frame rate introduce two additional dilemmas, storage requirement and network bandwidth. 802.11n isn't fat enough to accommodate fat 1080p video streams and 160 GB internal hard disk will quickly run out of steam. Needless to say, Apple TV must support external hard disk.

    Until then, Mac mini remains more suitable for the task, although it too, badly needs an upgrade.

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