My experiences w/ 520p vs 720p vs AVCHD viewing

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by CMD is me, Oct 14, 2008.

  1. CMD is me macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2006
    A recently I upgraded my SD miniDV to HD. I tried a HDV but decided on a Canon HF100 (AVCHD). Since, I have been trying to decide how to play back the video -- AppleTV, Mini, PS3, Xbox, Popcorn Hour, etc. Each has pros/cons. I really wanted an AppleTV to work with its clean interface. I had the chance to borrow someone's PS3 and test some files.

    I took a 10 minute 1080-60i clip, imported it into iMovie (took 20 minutes) and exported it as 540-30p @4Mb/s , 720-30p @ 20Mb/s, 720-30p @ 40Mb/s, and 1080-60i @ 20Mb/s (each took ~50 minutes to export on a MBP). I copied all the files to the PS3 internal drive, then plugged the PS3 and HF100 directly into my receiver (720p projector + 96" screen) for a true A/B test....

    540-30p @4Mb/s just doesn't cut it.

    Compared to 480i SD it looked very good, but compared to the source, it looked a bit fuzzy and the heavy compression makes it noticeably jumpy (like an old movie effect). It'd be fine to show your parents (or your standard def friends) a 20 minute video your recent trip, but an AppleTV is out for me -- I know what AVCHD should look like!

    Next I tried the 720 and 1080 videos. 1080 stuttered a lot so I gave up on that (plus I have a 720p native projector so there's no point). 720 looked pretty good. I thought, "looks like a PS3 is a go" but then I switched to the HF100 source... again the source just has so much more depth and detail. Plus 60fps with the higher bitrate made for much smoother panning and less motion blur. I tried several viewings and checked all the A/V settings. The edited 720 looked good (better than an 480p DVD and FAR better than a 480i miniDV), but lacks some of the "wow." It doesn't look bad AT ALL, just the original source just makes your jaw drop -- THAT is why I wanted HD video.

    So what now?

    I'm thinking just straight unedited AVCHD... really. I love to edit our videos -- add titles, fades, music, voice overs, etc. I'm one who will spend weeks editing 3hrs of video into a 1hr movie. But I found the difference big enough (greater than miniDV to iDVD) that for now I think my plan is to view straight from the SD card (snore). I might get a Panasonic BD with SD slots. At least with AVCHD you can pick and choose what clips you want to play/keep, unlike the old linear tape days.

    Hey, if nothing else, I just saved myself about 4 weekends of editing and for now I'll keep my eye off the 8-core Mac Pro prices ;)
  2. rkaynan macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2007

    I just bought an HF100 as well. I am blown away by this wonderful camera.

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