HD Editing

Hey guys , some advice – would like to know what you all think

I am starting to experiement with HD as a production format becasue I had someone give me a whole bunch of HD clips as source
I used a program to downgrade them to SD for the project but I wanted to look into HD as a production format for the future

All the new HD video cameras are all using AVCHD H264 in their capture. Everything from the crappy $99 handhelds to the $5000 new Sony. I am starting to experiment with this new format and I am wondering what you guys and how you guys are doing editing with this as source footage? My system is choking on a single 1080 clip and is completely useless if I have more than one track of video. SD works fine, I can get 720P ny converting to p2 DVCPROHD and that seems to run (though not well) , but a native AVCHD file causes my NLE to barf. (premiere)

What are you (PC) guys using to cut HD footage? Are you only doing single track cutting ? Are you using offline proxy(does that work)? Are you doing 1080 editing or 720 ? What OS / CPU / RAM / Special video hardware are you running to do this?
Is multitrack HD editing possible with effects and transitions at 1080?

I am trying to figure out how is it that this is a consumer format codec that ships with $99 cameras for mom and dad
to film their kids birthday party seems to require a $9000 workstation with specialized hardware to cut properly

Any input would be helpful


Written by:

Online Video Producer Documonkey.tv

  • Premiere CS5 handles AVCHD H264 really well. Did you see Shawn's NAB Demo at http://www.eventdv.net/Articles/ReadArticle.asp…. It is about 5 minutes in.

  • Christian Stevens

    Hi Ryan,

    I've been doing a lot of research on this in the last few weeks so I thought I would speak up here. I have been experimenting with 1080i AVCHD material from a Panasonic consumer camera for a while now and I found as you have that while the extreme compression ratio of AVCHD can put a lot of high quality video in a small package, it is very cpu intensive to work with. My quad-core PC in it's current state couldn't handle it. For those with a Mac option I found the best workflow was to use our 8-core Mac Pro tower transcode a ProRes Proxy version of the material, which then could be edited easily from even an old Macbook, then reconnected to a full quality ProRes transcode after the edit was done. But you are still having to take the video out of it's originally recorded format to work with it. However for a PC workflow, I am about to purchase a Matrox MXO2 with Max built in. The MXO2 itself is a slick SD/HD io box but the Max technology is what really matters here. At the CS5 road show they demonstrated how you could now work with multiple layers of 1080 AVCHD footage right off a Premiere timeline using their mercury engine, with either software or hardware acceleration toggled. Although this did require adjusting the resolution of the video playback. Matrox however promises combining CS5 with their MAX technology will offer the best result. They demonstrated to me at their booth, editing multiple layers, with colour correction and title effects at full quality with all the real work being done by MAX and not the internal PC hardware. It is also versatile as the units can be plugged into a desktop tower or laptop, PC or Mac with the appropriate express card. On mac however the only H.264 acceleration in can offer is in compressor and not in Final Cut, though it is a drastic acceleration. I hope to experiment with this myself with in a week or so.

    Christian Stevens
    Production Manager | AVH Digital Media

  • Ryan McCann

    Thank you all

    While I am aware about the Cs5 and matrox options (I too went to the roadshow) a massive investment in software (window 7+ Cs5)
    AND hardware (RAM, Matrox card) is not an option as I am just starting to experiment with the format. I really cant see spending 10x what I paid for the camera just to edit footage from it. I am thinking there is a more efficient way. There must be since they are designing these consumer cameras for mom and dad who arent about to drop $4K into a editing workstation.

    I know about these brand NEW options – I was more curious about what people were doing ALREADY or have been doingas I am sure this isnt a new issue (the cameras have been out for a while) Does the video-proxy technique work? where you edit a lowres version to make an EDL then point to the HD footage after? Are people (pc) having particualr success using premiere with a certain HD codec running smoothly in the timeline? (p2 seems to work with DVCPRO HD)

    Who here has past experience with editing HD and what can you tell us ?…. or has it in fact made you pull all your hair out and are now hiding beneath your workstation hugging your knees , rocking back and fourth and crying?

  • Scott White

    Hi Ryan

    Here's what I'm doing…

    I have some AVCHD footage taken from the Sony HXR-MC1 we were given to test for “West Coast Adventures” (shameless plug)
    I'm on a Mac platform using both FCP and Premiere Pro CS4

    If I drop the m2ts files onto a Premiere HDV timeline, then I have a Yellow render bar above, but will play OK
    If I drop it into a new AVCHD sequence timeline, I can play multi layers at once with no rendering required… no colour render bars above.

    If using in FCP, I use a handy dandy app called 'Clipwrap'. This lets me convert my m2ts clip and I have multi options to re-wrap it without any more compression. It's great!!!
    Re-wrapping it to ProRes, I just then drop it into a FCP timeline (even an HDV timeline) and it plays for me without rendering/stuttering.

    I should say I do have an 8 core 3ghz MacPro / 16gb RAM… so some extra muscle does seem to be the key

    Hope that helps…
    Scott White
    Shinobi Video Productions