Previous 1 2 Next 16 Replies Latest reply: Aug 6, 2008 5:17 PM by John Bertram
jkreimer Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I am in the market to buy a new camcorder. I want it to be high definition and have at least a 40 GB hard drive. I was wondering if you guys had any suggestion on which camcorders work best with Final Cut because I have heard about problems with importing the AVCHD files.
Thanks

P.S
I using a mac book pro and final cut 6.03

iMac4,1, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • Edward A. Oates Level 5 Level 5 (4,870 points)
    You'll get a wide range of opinions here, some from Pro's. Many don't like AVCHD or HDV at all for a variety of reasons including some of the workflow issues you mentioned.

    What I would recommend is to go to a reviewer web site like camcorderinfo.com and look at their reviews, especially of hard drive HD camcorders (all of which I believe use AVCHD). They are looking at a variety of issues including resolution, ease of use, "professional" controls, and encoding quality.

    Getting into "real HD" or HDV with tape or solid state (like Panasonic P2 cards) with three chip imagers runs the cost up a great deal (see the Sony FX7 or its pro counterpart, the V1U, for example) cost $2,500 or more for starters.

    But tape via firewire capture is probably the easiest work flow, even with consumer cameras. Don't dismiss tape so easily. You also get a backup you can store on the shelf; even prosumer quality DV/HDV tape from Sony is only about $7.50/60 minute tape. "Premium" Sony tape is around $3 per tape.

    That said, there are a number of third party products like mpeg streamclip (free) which can convert many consumer formats like AVCHD or M2T (what goes on many disc cameras) to formats which Final Cut can use.

    Eddie O
  • Studio X Level 7 Level 7 (27,005 points)
    Well said.

    x
  • jkreimer Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    thank you very much
  • lemoncade Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Edward A. Oates wrote:
    You'll get a wide range of opinions here, some from Pro's. Many don't like AVCHD or HDV at all for a variety of reasons including some of the workflow issues you mentioned.

    What I would recommend is to go to a reviewer web site like camcorderinfo.com and look at their reviews, especially of hard drive HD camcorders (all of which I believe use AVCHD). They are looking at a variety of issues including resolution, ease of use, "professional" controls, and encoding quality.

    Getting into "real HD" or HDV with tape or solid state (like Panasonic P2 cards) with three chip imagers runs the cost up a great deal (see the Sony FX7 or its pro counterpart, the V1U, for example) cost $2,500 or more for starters.

    But tape via firewire capture is probably the easiest work flow, even with consumer cameras. Don't dismiss tape so easily. You also get a backup you can store on the shelf; even prosumer quality DV/HDV tape from Sony is only about $7.50/60 minute tape. "Premium" Sony tape is around $3 per tape.

    That said, there are a number of third party products like mpeg streamclip (free) which can convert many consumer formats like AVCHD or M2T (what goes on many disc cameras) to formats which Final Cut can use.

    Eddie O


    Can you convert avchd without loss in quality? I know I could google and read their specs, but they would claim yes to make a sale i'm sure. I am having a hard time with avchd and didnt even think about bringing it to my desktop, convert, and then import to FCP.
  • Edward A. Oates Level 5 Level 5 (4,870 points)
    "Can you convert AVCHD without loss of quality"

    There is a GIGO principle involved. AVCHD has a bunch of problems already, even more than HDV; most noticeable to most is trailing "ghosts" on rapid movement. Those will continue to exist. AVCHD is 17mbs at the highest rate, and that's for 1920x1080i60. HDV is 25mbs for 1440x1080i60, so you can see that in both cases, there is SEVERE compression, even more for AVCHD, so there are bound to be artifacts and other compromises.

    When you transcode to ProRes 422 (HQ is NOT needed for this) or AIC (color space is 4:2:0 like the original AVCHD or HDV, unlike ProRes which ups it to 4:2:2), they are about 100mbs data rates, but the picture you will see is essentially the same. It just decodes AVCHD or HDV to uncompressed frames, then compresses those. You don't get any more information, but the resolution specs stay the same (1920x1080 or 1440x1080 squeezed).

    The reason to transcode either AVCHD or HDV is easier editing (faster, better previewing), and better effects, filters, and color corrections due to the better color space. ProRes 422 is the better choice in my opinion. There are fewer generation (multiple compressions while editing and rendering) issues as well.

    Many here really like DVCPRO HD, but I'm not sure that if you start with 1080i of some sort that going to 720p of some sort is the right answer. I've not used it, so others can probably contribute accurate hints when using DVCPRO HD as an editing codec when the source is AVCHD or HDV 1080i.

    Eddie O

    *GIGO stands for "Garbage In, Garbage Out" in case you didn't know
  • lemoncade Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    ProRes 422 is for post-production I thought. Maybe I am thinking backwards or something, but isn't that for after the footage has already gone through FCP? My problem is getting the avchd file into FCP, and then getting it out without quality loss.

    I wish I knew more about cameras, dv tape, etc.. Maybe I would know what camera is best for my use.. I feel like everytime I look for an answer, I end up with 12 new questions and my original question is still unanswered.

  • Edward A. Oates Level 5 Level 5 (4,870 points)
    ProRes 422 is an editing format. You start with some deliver format like HDV, AVCHD, etc. and transcode it to ProRes 422 during capture (or after capturing in a native format like HDV -- there are some recapturing reasons for doing that, but let's not go there right now, it's confusing enough).

    The you edit the ProRes 422 in Final Cut, and when you're done, you need to transcode (render, compress, it all depends on where it going to be used) to a format to write back to a camcorder (you cannot transcode backto AVCHD), to DVD (compressor), or for the web (compressor again).

    So ProRes 422, like Apple Intermediate Coded, is an intermediate, editing coded. I like ProRes 422 because it has 4:2:2 color space for effects and color correction at about the same data rates and disk space requirements.

    Eddie O
  • lemoncade Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    That sounds very useful. I cannot get FCP to capture the avchd files from my Sony hdr sr11/12 is the biggest problem with using ProRes 422.
  • Edward A. Oates Level 5 Level 5 (4,870 points)
    If the files are .m2t or m2s files, then mpegstreamclip can transcode them to any Quicktime codec, such as ... (wait for it) ... Prores 422.

    I assume that you can copy the files from you camera to your mac just using your USB connector, right? Then use mpegStreamclip to transcode it to the codec of your choice. Then you can toss the m2t files away, or archive them for safekeeping.

    mpegStreamclip can be found at www.squared5.com and it's free.

    Eddie O

    Note: I do not have an avchd camera, or a hard drive or solid state memory camera, so I've only tested this capability on small, downloaded m2t files which were from a different camera using the Sony 60GB external drive hooked to a V1U. It worked for me on a 30 second clip.
  • lemoncade Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Edward A. Oates wrote:
    If the files are .m2t or m2s files, then mpegstreamclip can transcode them to any Quicktime codec, such as ... (wait for it) ... Prores 422.

    I assume that you can copy the files from you camera to your mac just using your USB connector, right? Then use mpegStreamclip to transcode it to the codec of your choice. Then you can toss the m2t files away, or archive them for safekeeping.

    mpegStreamclip can be found at www.squared5.com and it's free.

    Eddie O

    Note: I do not have an avchd camera, or a hard drive or solid state memory camera, so I've only tested this capability on small, downloaded m2t files which were from a different camera using the Sony 60GB external drive hooked to a V1U. It worked for me on a 30 second clip.



    WOW! Now this is a helpful post, I love you, Eddie!
  • Edward A. Oates Level 5 Level 5 (4,870 points)
    "WOW! Now this is a helpful post, I love you, Eddie!"

    Now, let's take this slow. We've only just met...

    Post your results when you get mpegstreamclip and tell us if it works. There is not substitute for using the exact camera, file format, codec, etc. And if your computer is not an Intel model, the log and transfer from avchd to prores 422 doesn't work anyway. I have a G5 and for the small files I tried, it worked.

    Eddie O
  • Patrick Sheffield Level 7 Level 7 (29,175 points)
    In my experience, MPEG Streamclip doesn't handle AVCHD. iMovie08, however does just fine. I still haven't found the glitch that keeps my install of FCP from recognizing the files, tho...

    I'm also not sure it's valid to compare AVCHD and HDV bitrates directly. HDV uses MPEG2. AVCHD uses H.264, a more modern (albeit computationally intensive) compression.

    Patrick

  • Edward A. Oates Level 5 Level 5 (4,870 points)
    "I'm also not sure it's valid to compare AVCHD and HDV bitrates directly. HDV uses MPEG2. AVCHD uses H.264, a more modern (albeit computationally intensive) compression."

    That is true; I was just pointing out that both of these codecs are SEVERELY compressed and that GIGO applied to transcoding. You don't get more out than you put in. Most reviewers still say that AVCHD has more artifacts (such as trailing ghosts) than HDV with motion. I expect that AVCHD (H.264) has the potential to be as "good" as HDV, it just hasn't gotten there yet in consumer cameras.

    I still await Red Scarlet

    Eddie O
  • John Bertram Level 1 Level 1 (125 points)
    Edward A. Oates wrote:
    If the files are .m2t or m2s files, then mpegstreamclip can transcode them to any Quicktime codec, such as ... (wait for it) ... Prores 422.

    I assume that you can copy the files from you camera to your mac just using your USB connector, right? Then use mpegStreamclip to transcode it to the codec of your choice. Then you can toss the m2t files away, or archive them for safekeeping.

    mpegStreamclip can be found at www.squared5.com and it's free.


    and then added in a later post...
    There is not substitute for using the exact camera, file format, codec, etc. And if your computer is not an Intel model, the log and transfer from avchd to prores 422 doesn't work anyway. I have a G5 and for the small files I tried, it worked.



    Eddie --

    This may be wishful thinking on my part, but from what you've written above, is the workflow you describe a POSSIBLE way I could use AVCHD footage recorded on a Canon HF10 (a camera I'm considering buying) in FCP 6.x (which I'm currently using) on my NON-Intel, dual 1.8 G5 PowerMac (which I can't afford to replace just yet - sigh).

    I know from the KB article that "AVCHD support is available only on Intel-based Macintosh computers", but I also know that sometimes an unsupported workflow that works (however slowly) can be better than no workflow at all.

    So, would this even be worth trying -- or is there some more fundamental reason for the Intel-only AVCHD admonition which I'm just not appreciating? (And does it apply regardless of the editing software -- in other words, could I use the new iMovie as a temporary alternative to FCP, just for stuff shot on the HF10, and just until I can afford one of those soon-to-be-released, 128-core 32GHz SuperMacUltraProExtremes?)

    Thanks,

    John Bertram,
    Toronto
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