Is AVCHD Practical now?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by dingdongbubble, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. dingdongbubble macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    #1
    Now that iMovie supports AVCHD, do you think it is practical to buy an AVCHD camcorder like the one Steve Jobs was toting? Does it have any big quality loss when you edit it? What disadvantages or problems are there technically?

    How do people archive AVCHD footage reliably? Does iDVD support burning AVCHD footage to a DVD?
     
  2. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Location:
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    #2
    Well AVCHD is worse quality than HDV based cameras (cameras that store the film on miniDV tapes), and as you have already pointed out, is much harder to archive your footage.

    Personally I would stick to miniDV based camcorders for the time being. There are some extremely good ones available for very reasonable prices.
     
  3. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #3
    I think this is fairly inherent in the codec, but it's possible future revs will show increased quality by increasing the bitrate. Currently, panning and other rapidly changing scenes show quite a few artifacts (where 'quite a few' depends on your P.O.V.... some people might not really notice anything).
    I think this is changing; AVCHD is supposedly handled by iLife '08 and will be handled by more apps in the future. Downloads should be much faster than via tape, which is more or less realtime.

    I think AVCHD will be seen as easier to use, but it has a long way to go before the quality is there.
     
  4. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Location:
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    #4
    Sorry, when I said AVCHD was harder to archive I meant there were more steps involved. With a miniDV based camera you capture your footage and then store the tapes somewhere safe. With an AVCHD camera you capture your footage and then have to burn a DVD or move the footage to another hard drive in order to have a safe backup.

    Also another major disadvantage to AVCHD is that you are limited to the cameras hard drive capacity when you are filming. If you are planning on doing a lot of filming with no computer present (holiday, filming on location with no laptop available) then once you run out of space that is it. Where as with a miniDV based camera you are only limited by the number of miniDV tapes you bring.
     
  5. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #5
    I completely agree... I think AVCHD is not quite ready for prime time for most users, but it shows promise.

    However, the flash-based AVCHD recorders, like digital cameras, can simply have one flash card swapped for another, so I think they'd be fine for travel purposes. The HDD-based ones, though, absolutely suffer from the full-drive issues you describe if you're away from a computer and want to record for longer periods of time.
     
  6. dingdongbubble thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    #6
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (SymbianOS/9.1; U; en-us) AppleWebKit/413 (KHTML, like Gecko) Safari/413 es61)

    Wat about for basic family shooting?

    and wen u edit avchd, does have any artifacts because of the editing like in the earlier hdd cams?
     
  7. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Location:
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    #7
    All camcorders based on AVCHD (the old HDD ones included) will suffer from the same problems caused by the codec.

    Let me give you an example :

    Standard definition DV footage captured on a miniDV tape = 25Mbs/sec
    High definition HDV footage captured on a miniDV tape = 25Mbs/sec
    AVCHD footage captured on a HDD/SD card = 13Mbs/sec (I believe that is correct).

    The loss in available bandwidth acounts for a significant drop in quality compared to HDV and especially DV based cameras.
     
  8. aristotle macrumors 68000

    aristotle

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #8
    Does anyone have any real world experience with these two types of Cameras? AVCHD is based on AVC a.k.a. H264 compression so 13Mbs/sec AVCDHD is not the same has 13Mbs per second HDV which is MPEG2 compressed.

    From what I understand, the picture quality has more to do with the encoder and the type of sensor than the codec. The old adage of "garbage in, garbage out" applies here.

    It would be useful if we could have someone review two cameras with the same type of censor and lenses where one was HDV (tape) and the other was AVCHD (HDD) based.

    That way we could do a more fair comparison. I also understand that Sony models offer up to 15Mbps AVCHD.
     
  9. bloodycape macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #9
    Well lets say you are going from a digital camera that did video fairly well(Canon S2IS) to a CF/microdrive based AVCHD like the JVC Everio will I notice an artifact issue there?
     
  10. plunar macrumors 6502

    plunar

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2003
    #10
    bit rate is a sketchy bar to go by. the whole point of avchd was to achieve HDV quality at lower bit rates; panasonic told me that avchd is supposedly 2 times the quality of HDV at the same bit rate.

    obviously, that hasn't proven the case in the field.

    more likely, i think the cameras just don't yet have the processing power to encode avchd as cleanly as panasonic's pr people would like. if you play around with encoding options in imovie on export, you can find that it is possible to lower the quality while actually increasing the bit rate.

    bit rate is only one component of the equation.
     
  11. rotlex macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 1, 2003
    Location:
    PA
    #11
    Just wanted to answer from someone who is totally "non-technical" regarding my video stuff. :) (I'm a photog nut, but video is JUST family events, vacations etc).

    I recently went, as in when iLife '08 was released, from a MiniDV cam to a Sony HDD based cam with AVCHD. To be honest? My 40 year old eyes can't tell a difference, and the convenience of the HDD based cam, as much as I hate to admit it, make it my preferred method without question!
     
  12. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #12
    I could be reading this wrong, but I hope your not suggesting that DV produces a better image than AVCHD.


    This is a good point. When it comes to consumer products "good enough" + convenience wins. CDs are of significantly higher quality than MP3's but the inferior quality hasn't hindered their market penetration


    Lethal
     
  13. live4ever macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2003
    #13
    I'd only choose an AVCHD camera if I was planning on doing no editing (or very minimal cuts). AVCHD is more of a delivery format, it can be editied but there will be a lot more degradation.
     
  14. ftaok macrumors 603

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #14
    I really hope it is your 40 y.o. eyes. If a miniDV camcorder produces video images on par with an AVCHD camcorder, I'd say that's more of an indictment on AVCHD's limitations.

    I mentioned this on another post, so I'll keep it brief. Why doesn't someone make an HDV camcorder that records onto SDHC cards or HDD's? That way, you get the better quality of HDV (over AVCHD), but the convenience of flash cards and hard drives. An 8 GB flash card would hold about 40 minutes of HDV (at 25 Mbps), not that far off from one HDV tape.

    I would buy one in a heartbeat.
     
  15. rotlex macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 1, 2003
    Location:
    PA
    #15
    Sorry about that, actually meant HDV, as I also have and HDV cam. I stick to it though, can't tell the difference without micro-analyzing the footage.
     
  16. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #16
    I've been researching a digital video cam purchase for a couple weeks, so I would like to point out that while most AVCHD cams record at a max of 13mbps there are one or two that go up to 15mbps, and more importantly the spec/codec allows for 25mbps.

    If you were doing raw HD DV to AVC and MPEG2 conversions you would probably get better quality out of AVC at 13mbps than MPEG2 at 25. Just a guess, but it's just a much better codec, especially when you are using the more advanced encoder options.

    However, camcorders aren't doing a post record encode like that - they are doing a real time recording and I think the weakness we're seeing from AVCHD vs. HDV is a result of realtime MPEG2 encoders being significantly ahead of realtime AVC encoders. Once AVC catches up (MPEG2 has a pretty big head start and requires a lot less power to start with) 13mbps AVCHD may start to surpass HDV.

    HDV and AVCHD are both transcoded into AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec) when you import into your Mac for any editing. Meaning that once you get to the editing phase they will both behave exactly the same (the quality you have to work with will be different, but anything you can do to HDV you can do to AVCHD). HDV uses MPEG2 compression which isn't a whole let better for editing that h264/AVC is.

    Now, I probably sound like a fan of the AVCHD format... however, I've decided I'll be buying an HDV camcorder (unless a GREAT deal on a Panasonic HDC-S1 comes up). I think that the general sentiment of AVCHD not being quite ready for prime time is probably true, but I just think it's due to technical constraints, not an inherent flaw in the codec or system.

    I also don't like the fact that an hour of record time will cost me $30-40. It's reusable of course, but if I'm on vacation and want to have 12 hours of record time for the week which I can then edit and catalog when I get home, I'd have to buy 6 8gb SD cards, which will set me back at least $450. An equivalent amount of tape will run me $40 or so. The flash cards are a bit more reusable, once you back up the footage to DVD-R or whatever, but it'll take quite awhile for the AVCHD + SD cards to balance out with HDV in cost/hour.
     
  17. dvkidmat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    #17
    AIC Is Optional

    I wanted to let you know that the information quoted above isn't entirely true (not anymore, at least).

    HDV may now be edited natively in Final Cut Pro 5+ OR transcoded to AIC. The important thing to remember while deciding is that the file size of AIC footage is roughly twice that of the native HDV. I am not quite sure about AVCHD, but if I had to bet money on it I would guess that one can now edit this format natively as well.
     
  18. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #18
    Ah, thanks for the info. I wonder how it handles non-key frame cuts? Does it build a new key frame or will it only cut every 12 frames or something like that?
     
  19. Peel macrumors 6502a

    Peel

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    Seattle
    #19
    Cuts within a GOP (group of pictures) requires that the GOP be rendered, using ProRes422 (in FCP6), however all the GOPs that are intact don't need rendering or transcoding, so no loss of quality.

    This is great if you have a series of long cuts, where you'll have fewer partial GOPs. It may have little value if you plan to edit a bunch of quick cuts in the range of 1-2 seconds each.
     
  20. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #20
    AVCHD gets transcoded to ProRes or AIC as there is no native support for it at this time.

    AVCHD footage is transcoded to the Apple ProRes 422 codec or the Apple Intermediate Codec. You can choose the destination codec in the Log and Transfer window preferences.


    Lethal
     

Share This Page