10 Replies Latest reply: Sep 30, 2009 8:27 AM by Doug Mokaren
Malcolm Hamilton Level 1 (25 points)
hi there,
I have to recommend a small HD camera to a friend. She wants something that's easy to carry around, and gets good visuals, 16x9 format. Whoever edits the stuff will want something other than AVCHD, in my opinion. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but I just shot a few hours with an AVCHD camera as my second unit, and it took (I don't want to exaggerate) I would say about nine hours to convert to QuickTime (via Voltaic).
Now, I'm coming from Avid... pretty new to FCP. Maybe AVCHD is handled faster and better with FCP? Maybe I can skip the Voltaic step?
I'd love to hear about this.
I would also love a recommendation for a camera for my friend, who'd leaving for Africa on Wednesday. The Flip Mino HD records 1280x720, H.264, MP4. Is it good? Easy to work with in FCP?

Thanks, Malcolm

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.5), 4 GB RAM
  • Nick Holmes Level 7 (29,990 points)
    The footage from AVCHD cameras should be converted to ProRes via Log and Transfer.
    You need an Intel Mac that supports ProRes and at least FCP 6.
    No need for Voltaic.

    The procedure is described here in detail:
    Read chapter 6.
  • David S. Level 7 (20,630 points)
    H.264 is not an editing format, and must be converted to one that is.

    There is pro res, pro res HQ, and AIC available for editing. Also true with AVCHD footage.

    For the rest, what Nick said.
  • Malcolm Hamilton Level 1 (25 points)
    thank you Nick and David. Very interesting. Tell me, do any of these little cameras record QuickTime files (and if so, would this be an advantage?).
    I now understand that both AVCHD and MP4 files have to be converted. This sounds easier in FCP than Avid, which is good. But (sticking with FCP), does one convert faster and/better than the other?
    Thanks again, Malcolm
  • Nick Holmes Level 7 (29,990 points)
    AVCHD is MPEG 4.
    I have no experience with those little pocket sized cams. Mine are all huge beasts with swappable lenses.

    As to whether QuickTime is advantageous, that depends on the codec used. QT is a container and the video inside could be made with any one of a number of codecs. If your system does not have that codec, it won't play.
  • Malcolm Hamilton Level 1 (25 points)
    I need to read up on this: codecs, containers, etc. I need something simple and clear, if there is such a thing. My problem with the web is that I'll google something like this, and realize after I've started reading that it's five years old, and therefore hopelessly out of date. Except that, I suspect one Truth is immutable when it comes to codecs and resolutions and the like: they never become simpler; instead they become more complicated. Why doesn't Apple (which historically has simplified the user experience) come up with a codec (QuickTime can be the container) that is good for shooting, and good for editing? Or is the problem all these competing companied like Sony and Panasonic, who don't want to play nice with each other?
  • wallybarthman Level 3 (690 points)
    As one who owns two cameras, one that uses AVCHD and the other that uses h.264 stored inside of a .mov file here are some things to think about.

    In general, traditional video cameras use the AVCHD format. Cameras like Sony, Canon, and Panasonic are more and more using AVCHD over HDV.

    Digital cameras and small hand held cameras tend to use a self-contained file format like .mp4 or .mov.

    Even though they both may use the h.264 codec for compressing videos the way they do so is very different.

    AVCHD footage can be transcoded within Final Cut Pro via Log and Transfer.

    .mov or .mp4 files can be transcoded inside of Compressor or MPEG Streamclip for us in Final Cut (this is actually a little easier)

    Here's the bottom line - go with AVCHD. Yes, it's a royal pain in the butt, but the handheld cameras don't hold a candle to the quality of a traditional video camera. And the ones that do, like the Canon PowerShot SX1 (in my case) are great - but they're not good for shooting extended footage. Doing a quick clip? I love my PowerShot. But for shooting a 45 minute presentation? I'll take the slightly lower quality video and use my HF10. Either way the footage has to be converted from it's native format into an intermediate codec.

    In the end, either format has to be converted before you edit it. With AVCHD you can add logging data to your clips which is helpful in the editing process as well and chances are, you'll get a better camera.
  • Malcolm Hamilton Level 1 (25 points)
    thanks very much for that, Wally. You explain things clearly, and I appreciate it. I've just emailed my friend, and recommended the Sony XR500. AVCHD, and it shoots in very low light levels from what I can gather. She may need this, as she'll be in very poor parts of Lesotho where there won't be any artificial light.
    Regards, Malcolm
  • wallybarthman Level 3 (690 points)
    Good choice. I was going to suggest the Canon HF S100.
  • Malcolm Hamilton Level 1 (25 points)
    Yes, I've got one of those, but I think I've heard that the Sony shoots better in lower light levels, which might help this woman out. Both excellent cameras. cheers, Malcolm
  • Doug Mokaren Level 1 (30 points)
    I've got a Sanyo HD2000 which does 1920x1080p and 1080i and all resolutions below. It makes a mp4 file that the log and transfer function in fcp doesn't recognize. In testing, I tried transcoding the mp4 to ProRes using QT pro and MPEG streamclip. MPEG streamclip took half the time that QT Pro did (3 vs 7 min). Both looked equally good. The file size from QT Pro was slightly smaller than the streamclip file, i.e. 900mb for QT, 1.2gb for Streamclip.