Is AVCHD an editing dead end ?
September 12, 2010 9:25 PM   Subscribe

Tempted by cheap video camera but puzzled by video format issues ...

I could get a good price on a Panasonic HDC SD1 (I like the three CCD's and external microphone port, not worried about the 4GB SD restriction).

However I'm puzzed by the comments on this page about the AVCHD format.

Is it still true that there is a dearth of editors to work directly on AVCHD ? If you were shooting in a lower res than 'High Definition' (which is what we'd be using it for mainly) does that still matter ?

If it matters which I doubt ... the editing we have in mind is not complex and we would (from my limited reading to date) be wanting to use something less than Premiere but more than Movie Maker.

Running on from that (in case AVCHD get the thumbs down) ... recommendations for low end digital video camcorders (SD/Hard Drive/DVD/Mini-DV ... don't care) with an external microphone port ?
posted by southof40 to Technology (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well there wasn't much not too long ago (apart from the usual semi-junk software supplied with cameras; don't know what the Panasonics came with), but the situation's a bit better nowadays. The basic problem wasn't so much the HD-ness of it as a lack of decent MPEG-4 editors.

More recently things have improved. Apart from it's ongoing falling-over problems, Windows Movie Maker on Win7 handles AVCHD reasonably well (I know you said you want more than that, but I'm just throwing that in in case you haven't looked at that version). I've been having a play with Corel's Videostudio Pro X3 recently, which seems to work reasonably well (apart from the UI which is a bit 'dumbed-down entry level' for my tastes; YMMV) & includes nothing-special-but-passable Blu-ray / DVD authoring. Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD is slightly cheaper, but similarly cursed in the UI department and doesn't come with Blu-ray / DVD authoring.
posted by Pinback at 12:06 AM on September 13, 2010

AVCHD is hugely problematic. We've been using it with Final Cut Pro for pretty mission critical stuff and it has failed on us every time we've used it. Either the file gets corrupted as it's being saved to the SD card, or during Log and Transfer in final cut it goes wildly out of sync during transcode and must be retransferred several times before one of them finally sticks and it loads in sync.

It's a great idea for a lightweight nice looking file format, but it's just not bulletproof enough. If your material needs to be right the first time, look elsewhere.

Another thing you need to consider. AVC can't really be edited with natively very well. As I said above, in final cut it needs to be transcoded to another format (for final cut, Apple ProRes) in order to be worked with at all. I'm told there are other programs that will edit with it natively, but have not heard good stories about performance, since the stream needs to be decoded in real time while you work and that's a heavy resource hog.

but all of that is secondary to the fact that your files will be messed up half the time. We are actually going to find another solution for our own work, as this has become simply too problematic of a format to work with it any longer.

as far as other formats to shoot in at your budget, that's kind of a problem. I'm not a huge fan of HDV, quality wise, but it's a reliable budget workhorse and the tapes are cheap. Try looking at one of the lower end canon hdv cameras like this.
posted by shmegegge at 1:35 PM on September 13, 2010

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