Working with AVCHD in Windows 7 via Parallels

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by NJRonbo, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. NJRonbo macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2007
    I am about to purchase my first AVCHD camcorder,
    the Sony CX550V.

    AVCHD on a Mac scares me. I hear that iMovie still
    doesn't play well with AVCHD.

    So, I had an idea....

    Why not work with AVCHD files in Windows 7 under
    a virtual machine (Parallels).

    I could install one of the top programs like Pinnacle
    which works fluidly with AVCHD.

    Will the virtual machine support a camcorder plugged
    into it and download/convert the files as if it was
    working under Windows normally?

    Also, I am hoping I have enough power for what I want
    to do.

    I have a 2.8 GHZ Macbook Pro laptop with 4GB memory.
    However, only 2GB is dedicated to the virtual machine.
    Hopefully that will be enough power to support what I
    need to do.

    Would appreciate the advice, thanks.
  2. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    I don't see why you want to use pinnacle to convert AVCHD while iMovie does the same.

    When you plug in your camera (you really need to plug in the camera, not the memory card or something) iMovie should recognize it (and I believe it recognizes most of the cameras, even those not listed) and transfer the video and convert it to AIC. (Apple Intermediate Codec). iMovie can handle (ofcourse) very well. The only problem is that the file will be bigger.

    The cons of using a virtual machine with pinnacle are the following; you need the camera to connect. This can go perfectly, but you can have problems because the camera must be recognized by pinnacle. For that the virtual software must recognize the camera/USB port. I think this can be a problem (but it's also perfectly possible it isn't a problem).

    Converting the file to something you can edit, shouldn't be a big problem. Virtual machine can perfectly acces enough processor power and RAM.

    The problem is the playback. Because it's HD the virtual machine might have problems playing it back, applying layers etc. As far as I know virtual machine still don't really take advantage of your video card. I heard there was progress, but the difference between using your real video card, and the one of the virtual machine is pretty big.

    You said you would convert it. If you're not going to convert it (so you're editing AVCHD, which is btw not an editing format) and you'll export it as an AVCHD file, you wont be able to play it back on your mac. Everytime you want to play you'll need to launch the virtual machine. So you'll probably convert the file, which brings me to the beginning of my story; iMovie can convert it for you as well.

    Also I think iMovie (HD) is just as good as pinnacle, so I wouldn't switch to a virtual machine just because of pinnacle (you're not saying it, but it could be a reason).

    BTW you camera is supported with imovie 09:
  3. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2007

    Listen, you are the first sign of glimmering hope
    I have seen concerning AVCHD and iMovie '09.

    There are horror stories out there about AVCHD

    The Sony camcorder is supported you say?

    So, essentially, will my experience with hooking
    up my AVCHD camcorder to iMovie '09 be as easy
    as dropping the clips into the software without
    long conversion time?

  4. kev6677 macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2010
    most posters here have little knowledge about AVCHD , they have used mac all there life and simply read a scripted response that they saw somewhere else when you ask a question about Avchd

    I have been a windows user all my life and decided to try OSX after "hearing" how good they are for video editing... well I don't care if this offends but MAC'S SUCK at AVCHD video editing. The main problem is that no matter what setting or program you use your video WILL NOT look as pristene as the original there is a definite loss of video quality.. watch the apple fans rave about how all the studios blah blah use mac it's all lies or these studios spend thousands on special hardware and software when any cheap windows computer and hd camcorder can possible do the same

    good luck I own the sony hdr cx500v which is a phenomenal high definition camcorder but after trying and trying to get it to work properly with mac gave up and use only eindows thus far.
  5. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2007
    Well, that's a downer.

    You see? That's mostly what I read.

    So, I probably need to read a few more
    responses from people who are editing AVCHD
    (notably Sony) files in iMovie '09.

    What is the ease and success rate? Any
    degradation in quality?
  6. kev6677 macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2010
    the only thing I presentlly use my sony cx500v camcorder and imovie for is creating Youtube videos. It does a good job as the .mov video compression is good for watching on a little computer screen.

    Just a quick note:
    m2ts (avchd) video files converted to anything other than mts or m2ts or m2v will result in a loss of video quality
  7. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Those statements are still as factually inaccurate now as they were the first time you said them.

  8. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2007

    Listen, can you simply tell me if its okay
    to go out and purchase this Sony AVCHD
    camcorder and expect a simple, straight-forward
    drag-n-drop experience with iMovie '09.

    Just want to know it works and does so
    relatively well.

  9. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Unfortunately I can't give you a definitive answer because I don't have any experience w/that camera and barely any experience w/iMovie '09. iMovie is not designed to work w/AVCHD files natively so the program will convert them to AIC. How long that takes depends on your computer and I believe there are two different quality options and you'll want to pick the higher quality setting as the lower quality setting reduces the frame size by 50%.

  10. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    AVCHD is not an editing codec, it's used to store a lot of information in a tight space, it's called compression. And as you might know: compression is bad. So most people who make a living of working with video use tape or a camera with a lossless codec.

    Almost all of them color correct. But when only 1/5 th of the information stored is color, you can't do much, so AVCHD is not an option. ProRes however (used in FCP) is, I thought, lossless. I could be wrong, but it sure stores a lot more information than AVCHD.

    So no, your camera can't do the same as real cameras with all their qualities (lenses, censor etc), and the workflow with a lossless codec. Macs just work more efficient and stable with the material.


    Pherhaps it's good to know the following things:
    iMovie copies the files from your camcorder and then converts them into the Apple Intermediate Codec. This codec is intermediate and is less compressed, therefore it's less demanding for the processor. Converting can take quite a while.vI really don't know how long it takes. But if I were you I would transfer the files in the evening and let iMovie convert them in the night.

    As I said a benefit of converting is that when you edit, iMovie will be way faster than when it would be able to edit AVCHD.

    You could use pinnacle. It saves you the time of converting. But because AVCHD is so compressed it will demand more from your compressor. And the compressor is from a virtual machine. So that won't be any good. It'll probably work, but not very well.

    So if I were you I wouldn't use a virtual machine, but use bootcamp. Bootcamp will offer pinnacle all the resources your macbook can offer. It really is a lot faster. This way it will be easier and faster to edit AVCHD.
  11. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2007
    Thanks for the help.

    I know the convert process (SHARE) takes
    a long time, but I am more concerned with
    the initial camera to iMovie transfer time....

    Let me try reword my questions....

    Right now I have a HD camcorder that uses tape.
    I take an hour of footage, it takes an hour to transfer
    to iMovie in real time.

    Now, if I go with AVCHD, how long will it take me
    to transfer that footage to iMovie and be ready to

    I'm trying to figure out if everything will be faster
    with the AVCHD camera over tape.


    As soon as I plug in that AVCHD camera, iMovie
    knows what to do with it.

    Is there any substantial HD video degradation using
    iMovie from camera to software BEFORE using the
    SHARE function to further compress it?

    Finally, should I give up my tape based HD camcorder
    and go with AVCHD knowing I will use it in iMovie? For
    the most part does it work fairly well with good results?

  12. kev6677 macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2010
    To answer your questions in a nutshell imovie will allow you to import your video but cannot handle AVCHD nativelly meaning it will reconvert your video files (tape or tapeless) into one of apple's codecs ,problem is ALL of apple's imovie codecs produce a loss of video quality. . The speed of the conversion process depends on the spec's of your computer it usually takes about 1 sec for every 3sec of video conversion on my imac see spec below

    Personally i do not use imovie for Hd editing unless i am gonna post to youtube or play it back on a tiny screen there codec do not have high enough bitrates.
  13. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2007

    Just going to ask you one more question....

    I use iMovie mostly for YouTube as I cover a lot
    of trade shows where I upload footage to that service.

    Also use it to edit and burn footage on DVD.

    What will look better in the long run? Footage from
    a non-AVCHD tape camcorder or AVCHD footage (changed
    to Appel codec) edited through iMovie '09?

    I am trying to justify switching from a tape format
    to a AVCHD flash drive format.

    Sounds like the transfer from camcorder to iMovie
    will be faster. Just want to be certain there isn't a
    huge loss of quality along the way.
  14. kev6677 macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Imovie for utube is fine ,that's about all I use it now for anyway it's fast and quality is good anything larger like playback on your HDTV there is a noticeble video quality loss. As for creating dvd's i have not made any as of yet. as for archiving AVCHD It's probably better to either use windows under bootcamp for HD video editing or store it in it's native m2ts format untill apple decides to recognize AVCHD as the new standard.
  15. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Still not true no matter how many times you say it. As long as you know what you are doing in post the most destructive things that will happen to the video quality will happen when it's recorded (such as in H.264/AVCHD) and when it's compressed for final delivery (such as in H.264).

    iMovie (and FCE) will convert HDV and AVCHD into AIC and there are many more variables to the quality of the final footage than what codec the camera records to (quality of lens, quality and type of imaging sensor, proper lighting and audio, etc.,). When covering trade shows, for example, you are at the mercy of ambient lighting so a camera that is more light sensitive can be more beneficial than a camera that records to a newer codec but is less light sensitive.

  16. kev6677 macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Why do you come here and costantlly tell your apple make believe fan stories, you clearlly stated you know nothing about sony avchd camcorders or imovie 09. I hope the originator of this thread see's past your shill postings for apple, you are probally paid by them
  17. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I come here to help people to the best of my ability based on my knowledge and experience working in the industry. Why do you come here and constantly make the same inaccurate, blanket statements even though you have been corrected many times over? I don't care if you don't like iMovie, or any of Apple's products, because "like" is a completely subjective thing and to each their own. What I do care about is the intentional spreading of inaccurate information. It doesn't help anyone and it undermines the ability of this forum to be an accurate source of information.

    Yes, Apple pays me to talk up their products which is why I recommend to learn other NLEs, start threads about cool Avid announcements, and am critical of Apple's lack of ProApp development. :rolleyes:

  18. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2007

    I don't want to see this thread self destruct.

    I have a really big purchase decision to make
    this week and I need to understand how iMovie
    works with AVCHD camcorders.

    Right now the Sony non-AVCHD tape system
    I use is a pain-in-the-ass because I have to
    transfer to iMovie in real time. An hour of
    footage takes an hour just to transfer to iMovie.

    The AVCHD camcorder interests me because
    I am hoping I can cut that transfer time out

    Now, can I simply drag and drop clips from
    the AVCHD camcorder into iMovie?
    No waiting.
    No fuss.

    I understand iMovie changes the codec. It
    probably does it to the tape system I am using
    now. However, I am interested if because the
    files are AVCHD that the degradation would be
    WORSE over what I am getting with the tape
    system or it will remain the same.

    As for low light: The Sony HCR1 I have now is
    not great in low light. The Sony CX550V is
    somewhat better. I mean, 5 years have passed
    between the two technologies.

    I just need a basic answer as to what my iMovie
    experience will be. I want to drag my clips to
    the software, edit and add titles/effects and then
    either burn to DVD or (more often) upload to YouTube
    in the H.264 format.

    Should I go ahead and buy the Sony CX550V?
  19. rhett7660 macrumors G4


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    What you might want to do is go down to your local camera store and see if you can rent it and put some test footage through the paces.
  20. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2007

    Purchasing from Amazon I can return
    it within 30 days so I am not too worried.

    How about this....

    Aside from that specific camera (and it
    is compatible), can you answer the
    questions based upon any AVCHD camcorder
    that is deemed compatible with iMovie '09?
  21. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    No, as said your computer needs to convert them. My brother used a small AVCHD camcorder. When he selected the parts he wanted to import (everything) he FIRST had to wait for the files to be converted. This will make your mac incredibly slow. So no, there's waiting and fuss.

    It is a known fact around professionals that HDV delivers better quality footage than AVCHD does. However professionals tend to do more with the material (color correct etc) this way faults and such are faster noticeable. However I do not suspect you do that much video effects, and you don't need it to be broadcast safe. So you wont change it much and the faults will be less noticeable. Especially for the untrained eye. We're talking about really little faults, which people who do video 24/7 notice fast. But the normal consumer doesn't. There are a lot of videos on youtube filmed with an AVCHD camcorder which look great.

    Altough five years have passed and camcorders have improved, physics have not. If you really want good quality with low light you need clear (expensive) lenses, a big sensor, and good software for gaining the image's light strength. The only thing that has improved on the camcorder is the software to make the picture lighter. Because good lenses exist quite a while and big sensors too, not a lot too improve on. So the images will only look a little bit better.

    (but honestly no camera works great in low light situations, movies have a lot of light, but it is lighted in a way that it looks dark. They also just don't show much. When they do, you can sometimes see the grain. We (well I do) tend to film something and want everything to be visible. But don't forget it's dark. When you can see the contours it's good enough).

    You're computer needs to convert the video. This can take time. That will probably be the only difference. It can't tell whether transfer and logging will be faster than transfer and converting. Also almost everyone who's getting a camcorder gets one that's using AVCHD. And a lot of those people use macs and don't have any problems.

    It's just that pro's don't like the format because it's too compressed: not high enough quality for their purposes and to demanding for the processor.

    Well, there are better camcorders on the market for that price range. For example the panasonic HDC-TM700 or the canon Vixia HF S20.
  22. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2007

    You are the man! That was the first really
    thorough answer to all my questions.

    One more...

    Concerning the initial conversion time of
    importing clips from the camcorder to iMovie --
    I suspect an hour of footage will not take an
    hour. The whole reason I am considering a
    move to AVCHD is because I want much less
    transfer time.

    Think I will be better off with AVCHD in that

    As for the purchase of the Sony over Panasonic.

    Yes, I am aware the Panasonic has better
    ratings than the Sony -- especially in low light.
    However, I have to stick with Sony because of
    the hot shoe accessories I already own which
    includes a bluetooth wireless microphone that
    no other manufacturer makes for their brand.

    Sony is incorporating new backlight technology
    for low light recording which (from YouTube
    videos I have seen) looks much better than the
    results I am getting on my current HCR1.
  23. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    I never use AVCHD, I always use tape (HDV). So I can't really answer your question. However I asked my little brother (who did use AVCHD) and he said the length of converting was less than the length of the video.

    And KEV said: "it usually takes about 1 sec for every 3sec of video conversion."

    So filming 1,5 hour will take half an hour converting on his imac.

    If you're macbook is fairly new it will get about the same results, probably a little slower.

Share This Page