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  1. Member
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    Basically, I have some footage that was shot on the aforementioned camera, and now that I've edited it in Premiere Pro CS6, I'd like to export the finished file back to the camera. Additionally, I'd like to do this with as little quality loss as possible, so whatever file I create should be comparable to the "HD FH" format that the camera records in. I have Final Cut Studio (2009,) and Adobe CS6 Master Collection available to me to work with, and I'm currently running Mac OS X "Mavericks" 10.9.1. I know that the actual media is stored in *.MTS files that are no larger than 2GB, and which utilize 8.3 character extensions, and I know that those files are stored in a "STREAM" folder inside of a "BDMV" folder inside of the "AVCHD" folder, but admittedly little else about how to actually create the files I need. From what I understand, this is similar to the file structure of a Blu–Ray Disc, but with some differences.

    The camera manual doesn't offer any information about the "HD FH" recording mode itself, but it does state that all AVCHD recordings utilize "High Profile for HD" per the following passage from page 7:

    Your camcorder is compatible with MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 High Profile for HD (high definition) image quality recording. Therefore, you cannot play back images recorded with HD (high definition) image quality on your camcorder with the following devices;
    – Other AVCHD format compatible devices which are not compatible with High Profile
    – Devices which are not compatible with the AVCHD format
    So to sum things up, I'm basically looking to create files that are compatible with this camera which contain Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound audio, and have as little quality loss from the original "HD FH" recording mode as possible. Any help in doing this would be greatly appreciated.
    Specs: Mac Mini (Early 2006): 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo CPU, 320GB HDD, 2GB DDR2 RAM, Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics card, Matshita UJ-846 Superdrive, Mac OS X 10.5.7 and various peripherals. System runs Final Cut Express 3.5 for editing.
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  2. I'm a MEGA Super Moderator Baldrick's Avatar
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    Tsmuxer can make an avchd structure.

    But I have read that even if you get everything same as a normal avchd most cameras will reject it and only play stuff it records.
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  3. Member turk690's Avatar
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    I have an SR12 and have been up this route. But no matter what I did, it simply didn't recognize the files I put in. All it wants to play are the (unaltered) files recorded there.
    This was several years back and I have gradually accepted that, unlike DV and HDV where it's neat to be able to export back to tape, AVCHD camcorders are strictly acquisition-only. One possible workflow would be AVCHD camcorder>files via USB to computer HDD>NLE>export to blu-ray compliant program streams (x264)>author blu-ray to image (multiAVCHD, Encore, TMPGenc, etc)>record image to blu-ray disk (ImgBurn)>play with blu-ray player. Other workflows are possible like exporting to *.mp4 containers to a USB flash drive, sticking drive to TV, and viewing.
    One difficulty is that contents of \CLIPINF are dynamic; the camcorder internal OS dictating which clips are recorded and indexed as such, available for playback. I see no way of altering the contents of this folder on introducing externally-sourced files, no matter that these files adhere to the camcorder specs. Sony is being polite by saying this and that file may not play... they should say flat out no externally-introduced file will be recognized and played!
    One last thing to note: attaching the camcorder via USB to a PC giving access to the camcorder HDD can give the wrong impression it's also any ole Windows FAT32 drive where one can do what one does willy-nilly with any other hard drive in that PC, like deleting and adding files, or (gasp!) reformatting the drive (deliberately or by mistake); actions like these can trash the drive completely, and may require camcorder to be professionally serviced to revive it.
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  4. Member
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    Thanks for the advice Baldrick, and Turk690; I appreciate it.

    Originally Posted by Baldrick View Post
    But I have read that even if you get everything same as a normal avchd most cameras will reject it and only play stuff it records.
    This is what I was afraid of. AVCHD has been nothing but a headache for me since I've started working with it, and I find it rather pathetic that these AVCHD cameras lack what is arguably a rudimentary feature of their tape–based predecessors.

    Originally Posted by turk690 View Post
    I have an SR12 and have been up this route. But no matter what I did, it simply didn't recognize the files I put in. All it wants to play are the (unaltered) files recorded there.
    This was several years back and I have gradually accepted that, unlike DV and HDV where it's neat to be able to export back to tape, AVCHD camcorders are strictly acquisition-only. One possible workflow would be AVCHD camcorder>files via USB to computer HDD>NLE>export to blu-ray compliant program streams (x264)>author blu-ray to image (multiAVCHD, Encore, TMPGenc, etc)>record image to blu-ray disk (ImgBurn)>play with blu-ray player. Other workflows are possible like exporting to *.mp4 containers to a USB flash drive, sticking drive to TV, and viewing.
    One difficulty is that contents of \CLIPINF are dynamic; the camcorder internal OS dictating which clips are recorded and indexed as such, available for playback. I see no way of altering the contents of this folder on introducing externally-sourced files, no matter that these files adhere to the camcorder specs. Sony is being polite by saying this and that file may not play... they should say flat out no externally-introduced file will be recognized and played!
    One last thing to note: attaching the camcorder via USB to a PC giving access to the camcorder HDD can give the wrong impression it's also any ole Windows FAT32 drive where one can do what one does willy-nilly with any other hard drive in that PC, like deleting and adding files, or (gasp!) reformatting the drive (deliberately or by mistake); actions like these can trash the drive completely, and may require camcorder to be professionally serviced to revive it.
    The Blu–Ray option would be helpful if I had a Blu–Ray burner, and the place I need to take the video had a Blu–Ray disc player. Unfortunately, the easiest way to screen this would be off of the camera, which sounds like it might not be an option. I've honestly had nothing but headaches since I've started using AVCHD, and may very well drop the format from my workflow entirely in the future. FCP and AVCHD don't seem to play well together, (which is part of the reason I'm using Premiere Pro,) and the inability to export footage back to the camera seems like a step backwards not only from tape–based HD formats, but from SD formats as well. I do appreciate the information that you and Baldrick have provided me with though.

    Thanks for the tip about the hard drive as well. I noticed the manual said not to delete anything when it's connected to the computer too, but I can certainly imagine that others who didn't look at the manual may have ruined their cameras by doing so. (I'd think Sony would hide the files/partition that any sensitive data required to operate the camera would be stored in, but I guess I'm wrong.) It's also worth noting that Apple "hides" the contents of the "AVCHD" folder in newer versions of OS X; you can get at them using the "Show Package Contents" option, but I was admittedly not sure why Apple began doing this until now. My guess is that people were bricking their cameras when the AVCHD folder's contents were more accessible.
    Specs: Mac Mini (Early 2006): 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo CPU, 320GB HDD, 2GB DDR2 RAM, Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics card, Matshita UJ-846 Superdrive, Mac OS X 10.5.7 and various peripherals. System runs Final Cut Express 3.5 for editing.
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  5. Member turk690's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Cyrax9 View Post
    I've honestly had nothing but headaches since I've started using AVCHD, and may very well drop the format from my workflow entirely in the future....
    ...and use what? AVCHD is the current HD consumer acquisition format-du-jour. Five years ago, I was thinking the same. But lots of things have changed and tempered that view. You just have to get with it. It soon becomes 2nd nature. For example, after a shoot, I transfer the entire camcorder HDD contents to the PC HDD. I open up Premiere Pro & import, which identifies these files and strings the 2GB files seamlessly on the timeline into one whole clip that begins and ends with subsequent presses of the camcorder start/stop button (with metadata from the other folders in the \AVCHD structure). Then I convert to a VfW *.avi file with cineform (intermediate). It is at this point that the difficulties of directly handling AVCHD disappear, and editing becomes snappy.
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    Originally Posted by turk690 View Post
    Originally Posted by Cyrax9 View Post
    I've honestly had nothing but headaches since I've started using AVCHD, and may very well drop the format from my workflow entirely in the future....
    ...and use what?
    The answer to that would depend on whether I continue to work with HD or jump to 4K. If I continue to work with HD, I'd probably go with DVCProHD just based on past experience with it. Another possibility would be to go with AVCHD's big brother, AVC–Intra, and to use MXF4mac AVC–Intra codec and ImEx Suite of plugins for native AVC–Intra import and export to and from MXF files for Panasonic P2 Cards. (Panasonic's use of MXF and MXF4mac's codec make this possible in FCP7.) Although it's unlikely, I might also consider using HDV again for more consumer–oriented projects and XDCAM for more professional work. If I decide to jump to 4K, I'll be sinking a considerable amount of money into new equipment, and will probably purchase a Blackmagic Production Camera and associated accessories. Since the BMPC shoots in Compressed CinemaDNG, I'd shoot in compressed CinemaDNG RAW and finalize in Apple ProRes422(HQ) *.mov files that would playback natively on the camera since its design is heavily based around Mac OS X compatibility anyway. (The SSDs need to be formatted as HFS+ Journaled, OS X's default format, and that has to be done either via a Mac or a Windows PC with MacDrive; the camera can't format the drives itself.)

    Originally Posted by turk690 View Post
    AVCHD is the current HD consumer acquisition format-du-jour. Five years ago, I was thinking the same. But lots of things have changed and tempered that view.
    The key word here is "consumer." I wouldn't have even touched AVCHD to begin with if I wasn't working on a very specific project where it made sense to have a very specific camera, (the Sony HDR–SR11,) which I bought used for a fraction of it's MSRP, (about $600 total compared to the original $2500 MSRP including DoF adapters and other extra accessories,) which just happened to utilize AVCHD as its recording format. If I had been buying an HD camera for any other project I would have gone with a more professional model that utilized a more professional recording format. I tried AVCHD because it made sense for one specific project I was working on.

    Originally Posted by turk690 View Post
    You just have to get with it. It soon becomes 2nd nature. For example, after a shoot, I transfer the entire camcorder HDD contents to the PC HDD. I open up Premiere Pro & import, which identifies these files and strings the 2GB files seamlessly on the timeline into one whole clip that begins and ends with subsequent presses of the camcorder start/stop button (with metadata from the other folders in the \AVCHD structure). Then I convert to a VfW *.avi file with cineform (intermediate). It is at this point that the difficulties of directly handling AVCHD disappear, and editing becomes snappy.
    The editing itself is snappy in Premiere Pro, but I've always preferred FCP7 or Avid to Premiere Pro. AVCHD has never played well with my NLE of choice, (FCP7,) and that's admittedly one of the reasons I'm even using Premiere Pro in the first place. I'd honestly rather use Avid when I can't use FCP7 efficiently, but I can't justify the cost associated with purchasing a copy of Avid when I have both FCP7 and Premiere Pro sitting in front of me. (It's worth pointing out that I didn't buy my copy of CS6 primarily for Premiere Pro; I bought it for several other Adobe Programs that integrate well with each other, and Premiere Pro was essentially a "bonus" in my situation.) Most of what I work with is a step above what AVCHD is intended for anyway.
    Specs: Mac Mini (Early 2006): 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo CPU, 320GB HDD, 2GB DDR2 RAM, Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics card, Matshita UJ-846 Superdrive, Mac OS X 10.5.7 and various peripherals. System runs Final Cut Express 3.5 for editing.
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  7. Member
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    Originally Posted by Cyrax9 View Post
    The answer to that would depend on whether I continue to work with HD or jump to 4K. If I continue to work with HD, I'd probably go with DVCProHD just based on past experience with it. Another possibility would be to go with AVCHD's big brother, AVC–Intra, and to use MXF4mac AVC–Intra codec and ImEx Suite of plugins for native AVC–Intra import and export to and from MXF files for Panasonic P2 Cards. (Panasonic's use of MXF and MXF4mac's codec make this possible in FCP7.) Although it's unlikely, I might also consider using HDV again for more consumer–oriented projects and XDCAM for more professional work. If I decide to jump to 4K, I'll be sinking a considerable amount of money into new equipment, and will probably purchase a Blackmagic Production Camera and associated accessories. Since the BMPC shoots in Compressed CinemaDNG, I'd shoot in compressed CinemaDNG RAW and finalize in Apple ProRes422(HQ) *.mov files that would playback natively on the camera since its design is heavily based around Mac OS X compatibility anyway. (The SSDs need to be formatted as HFS+ Journaled, OS X's default format, and that has to be done either via a Mac or a Windows PC with MacDrive; the camera can't format the drives itself.)
    ...and good luck recording THAT back to the camera! You could always drop less than $80 on a WDTV live and save yourself a lot of bellyaching.
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  8. Member
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    This thread brings back some memories......I had exactly the same 'problems' when I first used AVCHD few years ago......
    From the various posts above, I think the following are the most important:

    AVCHD is very much an acquisition and final output format. For the 'bits in between' (editing) it needs to be something else!...

    - Take your raw .mts files and convert them into a high quality intraframe intermediate format. Cineform, as mentioned above -- or Canopus HQ, which I prefer. (Converters and codecs for both are now available as legitimate freeware.)

    - Editing in either of those formats is as 'smooth' and easy as editing DV --- and doesn't need a lot of CPU or GPU power either. The only downside is large working files (which only need to be temporary of course!)

    - Splash out $80 on a WDTV player (or a similar media player). Don't bother with Blu-ray, and doing the 'spinning disc' thing all over again. (I had enough of fussy 'shiny discs' with DVDs, thank you!)

    Media players like WDTV can handle a lot more formats than Blu-ray ... and are no where near as 'fussy' with what formats they will handle.

    Makes life so much simpler ... and as you only shoot in AVCHD - and don't use it for anything else in the chain (unless you want to?...) -the format no longer seems quite so 'unfriendly'...
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  9. Member turk690's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by pippas View Post
    Media players like WDTV can handle a lot more formats than Blu-ray ... and are no where near as 'fussy' with what formats they will handle.
    True, and I went by way of WDTV at some point. But my beautiful HD files stack up: captured, edited, blu-ray ISOs, etc. that I wanted all to keep/archive. I have filled up a few 1TB & 2TB drives with them when I got hold of a hundred 50GB BD-Rs and decided to just load all my files onto these BD-Rs. They may not be the best solution (longevity issues, etc; they're Japanese Verbatim, btw) but properly labeled and stored they will do for me.
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  10. Member
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    Originally Posted by smrpix View Post
    ...and good luck recording THAT back to the camera!
    Which format, smrpix? Getting DVCProHD files in an MXF wrapper back onto a camera isn't difficult in the slightest. Getting AVC–Intra 100 files in an MXF wrapper back onto the camera is a bit trickier from what I understand, but still quite possible. The Blackmagic Production Camera records Apple ProRes422(HQ) files natively on drives that require a Mac for formatting; loading a finalized ProRes422(HQ) file onto the BMPC shouldn't be difficult in the slightest. The only format I'd think this would still be an issue with is the compressed CinemaDNG RAW format, and you'll note that I specifically said I'd finalize with Apple ProRes422(HQ) files as I'm well aware that it's not possible to create a new set of compressed CinemaDNG RAW files to be exported to the camera, but there's a huge difference between RAW (losslessly compressed) image data and compressed AVCHD files. Likewise, I realize that the BMPC doesn't have compressed CinemaDNG RAW support yet, and that it's due in a firmware update next month, but that's also understandable given that the camera has only been available for two weeks, and only to a handful of very early adopters thus far.

    Originally Posted by smrpix View Post
    You could always drop less than $80 on a WDTV live and save yourself a lot of bellyaching.
    If I was just viewing this project locally that might be an option, but if I was just viewing it locally I'd wait for the updated AppleTV and stream the video directly from my computer. Neither device solves the archival issue though, and both devices would need to be lugged to where the finished footage needs to be screened. If I'm going to have to carry an arbitrary device with me to playback the finished footage, I might as well just throw it on my iPod Touch and buy the $39 dollar Apple 30–pin Digital AV Adapter to connect the iPod to the TV set.

    Originally Posted by pippas View Post
    This thread brings back some memories......I had exactly the same 'problems' when I first used AVCHD few years ago......
    From the various posts above, I think the following are the most important:

    AVCHD is very much an acquisition and final output format. For the 'bits in between' (editing) it needs to be something else!...
    I've had no problems editing AVCHD natively when I've used Premiere Pro CS6; the only time I've needed to create intermediate files in this case was for color–grading purposes. FCP7 is a different story; it requires intermediates from the get–go, but that's a software limitation entirely routed in when FCP7 was initially released.

    Originally Posted by pippas View Post
    - Take your raw .mts files and convert them into a high quality intraframe intermediate format. Cineform, as mentioned above -- or Canopus HQ, which I prefer. (Converters and codecs for both are now available as legitimate freeware.)
    That's what I've been doing with ProRes422(HQ) intermediates; it's an intraframe codec that's comparable to DNxHD and Cineform.

    Originally Posted by pippas View Post
    - Editing in either of those formats is as 'smooth' and easy as editing DV --- and doesn't need a lot of CPU or GPU power either. The only downside is large working files (which only need to be temporary of course!)
    The large working files are a significant part of what bothers me about AVCHD. I wouldn't mind them for a more professional format like DVCProHD or AVC–Intra where I expect to be dealing with huge files, but can justify their size because of the superior visual quality coming from the source material. (When I had the chance to work with DVCProHD, I would often just downconvert the footage to DV for the actual editing process, and then replace the DV files with the original DVCProHD files once the timeline was locked down and I needed to do color grading and FX work.)

    Originally Posted by pippas View Post
    - Splash out $80 on a WDTV player (or a similar media player). Don't bother with Blu-ray, and doing the 'spinning disc' thing all over again. (I had enough of fussy 'shiny discs' with DVDs, thank you!)

    Media players like WDTV can handle a lot more formats than Blu-ray ... and are no where near as 'fussy' with what formats they will handle.

    Makes life so much simpler ... and as you only shoot in AVCHD - and don't use it for anything else in the chain (unless you want to?...) -the format no longer seems quite so 'unfriendly'...
    I actually haven't had any issues with DVDs since 2003 or 2004, and that was admittedly the result of unknowingly using poor quality blank media. Once I started using Taiyo Yuden blank media I stopped having issues with recordable discs. The only reason I might bother with Blu–Ray is that I'm probably going to be buying a PS3 soon anyway just so I can play one game that's not being ported to other consoles, and seeing as how I plan to also buy a PS4 once the price drops, I can justify the cost of a Blu–Ray burner since I'll be going from no Blu–Ray capable devices to two of them within the space of a year.

    As it stands, I'm well overdo to upgrade my pro gear anyway, and am really looking at the Blackmagic Production Camera and the Panasonic AG–HPX255 as my two possible choices. The only reason that I haven't just decided to go with the BMPC once it's available everywhere is that I have drastically different needs for different projects I plan to undertake. Some of those projects will be shot in a controlled environment where they'd clearly benefit from the BMPC's 4K sensor, interchangeable lenses, and overall modular design. On the other hand, other projects would benefit from the AG–HPX255's ability to handle "run and gun" style shooting, which the BMPC's design is notably not suited for. (And for "run and gun" the AG–HPX255's built–in XLR audio inputs are a must in my book, as it's impractical to lug around a separate audio recorder for that type of shoot. In a controlled setting like the ones I'd be considering the BMPC for, a standalone audio recorder would be a no–brainer.)
    Specs: Mac Mini (Early 2006): 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo CPU, 320GB HDD, 2GB DDR2 RAM, Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics card, Matshita UJ-846 Superdrive, Mac OS X 10.5.7 and various peripherals. System runs Final Cut Express 3.5 for editing.
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  11. Member
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    Are you saying you always lug around your camera for playback? Not how I'd do it, but if it fills the requirements of whatever niche you're working in, more power to you.
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