Premiere Pro CS4 and AVCHD editing/export

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Michael J, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. Michael J

    Michael J Guest

    Hey all,

    How do you export good quality AVCHD video using PPCS4 and Adobe Media
    Encoder CS4? I was excited when I heard that PPCS4 was going to be
    supporting AVCHD. Up until now I had always been using Cineform to
    edit AVCHD and I thought I would finally be able to bypass that
    process.

    But when encoding AVCHD from PPCS4/AMECS4, the quality is honestly
    terrible. I've always encoded to either Quicktime MPEG-4 or Quicktime
    H.264 formats, and the results had always been outstanding using the
    Cineform/AVCHD setup. But somehow it seems the new Adobe Media Encoder
    leaves something seriously to be desired.

    I've downloaded and installed all patches and updates, everything, for
    CS4. Updated AMECS4, updated to Quicktime 7.5.5, etc. Still the
    encoded quality from AVCHD is crap. When encoding to Quicktime
    MPEG-4/H.264, you can't even set the bitrate. Well you can "set" it
    but the bitrate always seems to default to 1000kbps, no matter where
    you set it, when encoding from AVCHD to Quicktime. Double checked that
    with Gspot.

    Has anyone else had this problem, and if so found a fix?
     
    Michael J, Jan 18, 2009
    #1
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  2. Maybe it's called Sony Vegas Pro 8? That did a far better and faster
    rendering of HDV, and it even does a good job of converting edited
    HDV to AVCHD for writing cheap HD DVDs with standard DVD
    writers. BTW, I didn't like what Ulead's VideoStudio did with converting
    HDV to AVCHD. Maybe it's best to continue doing things the way you
    have been doing them?
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 18, 2009
    #2
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  3. Michael J

    Smarty Guest


    I seriously suggest you recheck your settings and also seek help on the
    Adobe support forums. AVCHD will look terrible at 1000 kbps, and it makes no
    sense whatsoever that this is a default setting. AVCHD content from any
    camcorder is at least 15 Mbits/sec, and up to 24 Mbits/sec on the newer
    camcorders. I would NOT expect that video rendered at 1/15th or 1/24th of
    this rate would survive with any quality intact.

    This specific forum is a very, very weak source of useful AVCHD information.
    I encourage you to go to DVInfo.net, the Adobe forum, and other places where
    good AVCHD and CS4 information can be found.

    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jan 19, 2009
    #3
  4. Michael J

    Smarty Guest

    Ulead VideoStudioPro X2, which is the latest version as well as the
    predecessor Video Studio 11.5 version, do a very fine job with AVCHD
    content, and can produce 'smart rendered' and menued AVCHD disks which are
    entirely indistinguishable from the original AVCHD content from both 17 and
    24 Mbit/sec AVCHD camcorders.

    Re-rendering mpeg2 content from an HDV camcorder into AVCHD using this or
    any other software including Final Cut HD, Edius, Vegas 8 Pro as well as any
    of the cheaper AVCHD authoring programs is an invitation to disappointment.
    These highly compressed formats do especially poorly when converting from
    one compressed format to another, and this is NOT the reason why AVCHD
    authoring software was released.

    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jan 19, 2009
    #4
  5. Michael J

    Michael J Guest

    My first post was somewhat misleading and not well stated. I'm not
    trying to re-export to AVCHD. I'm using AVCHD footage in the time line
    but exporting to Quicktime MPEG-4 or H.264 formats.

    The problem seems to be that you can't set the bitrate to anything
    more than 1000kbps, which is completely bizarrre to say the least. Yes
    you can move the slider or directly dial in a bitrate, say 4000kbps.
    But it does not reflect in the encoded video (it still plays at around
    1000kbps). And when you go to export the video again, you will find
    the bitrate slider back at 1000kbps. Usually Adobe Media Encoder
    retains the last settings you exported with by default. But not in
    this case, as it's always back to 1000. AFAIK it only seems to do this
    when using AVCHD footage in the time line.
     
    Michael J, Jan 19, 2009
    #5
  6. [I didn't try directly outputting AVCHD files with Adobe, but it did such
    a poor job in terms of efficiency and quality with HDV that I didn't at the
    time care about trying it.]
    This may be true, but 11.5+ produced seriously inferior conversions from
    HDV original footage, but Vegas Pro 8 conversions are ***VERY***
    nearly indistinguishable from the HDV original (and it converts the files at a
    constant 16 Mbits/sec rate, nearly the 17 of most AVCHD camcorders...).
    I do use Ulead, though, for authoring cheap AVCHD disks using a standard
    DVD writer...
    True, but I prefer to shoot and edit with HDV (even a quad core 2.83 GHz
    CPU and a video card with 1 gig of RAM can't play AVCHD smoothly,
    and I will not tolerate the reduced preview resolution when using proxy
    files or low resolution previewing). The whole point of smooth, sharp
    previewing is being able to tell what is sharp or not, and also to be able to
    see "the flow" of the video instead of jerky motion. Since my gear (camera
    and computer) can handle HDV well, it makes sense to use it. At output
    for showing, Blu-ray is still impractical due to price, but cheap AVCHD
    disks can be made on standard DVD blanks with standard cheap DVD
    writers. The only requirement for playback is an AVCHD-compatible
    Blu-ray player. With **CAREFUL** comparison of detailed and also
    hard-to-recompress material with the HDV original (all on the timeline,
    with a sharp monitor, viewed frame-by-frame), the Ulead-converted material
    often showed very noticeable compression problems (greatly reduced detail
    in "busy" areas and loss of almost all detail in low contrast areas, especially
    in shadows), but the Sony-converted material didn't show these faults, and it
    looked fine - and when shown on a good 42" 1080p TV viewed close in,
    the Sony-converted AVCHD disks appear so essentially equal to the HDV
    original material that neither I nor anyone else can tell the difference, even
    with careful viewing). So for me, it is more practical to shoot, edit, and output
    HD material using HDV, with AVCHD conversions made at the end for
    making disks (which are then so cheap that they can be freely given away).
    I know you have greater "resources" than I do, so alternative practices may
    be both more practical and affordable for you than for me. ;-) But for the
    OP, if he cannot get CS4 to work for what he wants, perhaps Vegas
    Pro 8 will work...
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 19, 2009
    #6
  7. Michael J

    Smarty Guest

    David,

    With all due respect, your insistence on transforming AVCHD issues into the
    domain with which you are familiar, HDV, is, to me, both inappropriate and
    confusing to people posing AVCHD questions.

    It matters not what your experience with HDV is as far as I am concerned,
    and your comments and recommendations overlook basic AVCHD issues in the
    process. Most confusing to new users is your NLE editing recommendation
    approach, which totally and obviously reflects a lack of understanding of
    working with AVCHD content.

    AVCHD has a complex set of issues which arise from its own unique format,
    and the NLE issues are themselves complex, since there are a half a dozen
    native AVCHD editing suites on the PC, more on the Mac, and each has a
    variety of bugs, strengths, weaknesses, etc. Many of these if not most are
    AVCHD-specific. Moreover, the computing platform becomes far more
    problematic, as do the differing profiles used in Sony, Canon, and Panasonic
    AVCHD camcorders.

    Making AVCHD disks is yet another layer of complexity, and the authoring
    performances of the 6 or more NLE programs which make these disks have many
    subtle and not so subtle trade-offs.

    I would personally suggest you get yourself an AVCHD camcorder and get
    immersed yourself if you want to really know and understand this stuff.

    I mean do disrespect by this reply. I just find it maddening when confused
    and inexperienced visitors here get led off on these HDV and other tangents.

    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jan 19, 2009
    #7
  8. Michael J

    Smarty Guest

    Michael,

    I do not own or use CS4 but have owned and used all of the preceding
    versions of Adobe going back to the original Premiere releases on both Mac
    and PC, and would again urge you to ask the specific CS4 question you are
    posing on the Adobe support forum. My prior experience with this support
    group has been extremely productive in getting good answers.

    To my knowledge there is nobody on this specific newsgroup using CS4 to do
    AVCHD editing, but I may be wrong. The answers you are likely to get here
    are thus unlikely to really get to the real issue you are encountering.

    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jan 19, 2009
    #8
  9. Michael J

    Smarty Guest



    David,

    Just to illustrate my point regarding AVCHD complexity in only one of the
    areas I previously cited, consider the following quote from a well-informed
    recent source I found:

    "Sony and Panasonic (consumer AVCHD) use H.264 Main Profile at Level 4.0.
    Canon and AVCCAM use H.264 High Profile at Level 4.1. (Blu-ray’s H.264 uses
    High Profile at Level 5.1.)

    What does 4.0 vs 4.1 vs 5.1 mean -- everything!

    First: BD supports 5 Reference frames because it is Level is 5.1. AVCHD
    supports only 4 because it's Level is 4.0 or 4.1.

    Second: Level 4.0 with a MAIN Profile supports a maximum data rate of 20
    Mbps while Level 4.1 with a HIGH Profile supports a maximum data rate of 25
    Mbps.

    What all this means is Sony -- in keeping with it's public stance that AVCHD
    is a "consumer" format only cares about MAIN Profile at Level 4.0 -- which
    means a max data rate of 20Mbps. It need support HIGH Profile at Level 4.1
    in VEGAS only if it chooses to.

    Panasonic has the same stance which is why it's calling it's 21 Mbps HIGH
    Profile at Level 4.1 -- AVCCAM.

    Canon, which has always used HIGH Profile at Level 4.1 is simply extending
    the data rate to its maximum. Since Canon is aware that Sony and Panasonic
    need only support MAIN Profile at Level 4.0, it knows there MAY be
    compatibility issues with some Sony and Panasonic products.

    In fact, ANY company that only supports MAIN Profile at Level 4.0 is not
    going to be able to import 24 Mbps video. And, any device that only supports
    MAIN Profile at Level 4.0 is not going to be able to play Canon files copied
    to a DVD.

    Thankfully, now that Sony accepts Canon AVCHD, it MUST be able to import 24
    Mbps. However, it need not export 24 Mbps.

    In a real sense this is like HDV where there were HD1 and HD2. Only the
    difference was obvious: 720p vs 1080i.

    With AVCHD, two companies are calling two specs by the same name.


    It looks like in the Vegas Burn-to-Disk, the encoder being is used is Level
    4.0 with a MAIN Profile supporting a maximum data rate of 20 Mbps. In other
    words, the one that would be used to make AVCHD. Likely this means not
    having to pay for an AVC encoder -- it can use its own AVCHD encoder.

    If you create Main 5.1 file content on red-laser disc -- some BD plays will
    see this as an error. Or, they will try to play it, but the use of 5
    Reference frames in the source will cause stutter. Anything burned to a
    red-laser disc, must be 4.0 or 4.1. It need NOT be AVCHD. "

    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jan 19, 2009
    #9
  10. Thanks for the info. I guess it points out reasons why I may have even less
    interest now in working with AVCHD compared with before, if I cannot
    import, edit easily, export, write to red-laser disk, and then play 24 Mbps
    AVCHD material (although I'm still interested in continuing to make surprisingly
    good-looking conversions from HDV at 16 Mbps for distribution on red-laser
    disks, which play well and look fine on many BD players...). So, what software
    can import, edit, export, and write to disk 24 Mbps AVCHD material?
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 19, 2009
    #10
  11. Michael J

    Smarty Guest


    David,

    All of the programs below can import and easily edit 24 Mbps Canon HF11
    AVCHD:

    Cyberlink Power Director 7 Ultra, Nero Vision 8 Ultimate, Arcsoft Total
    Media Extreme, Corel Video Studio X2 Pro, Ulead / Corel DVD Factory 6,
    Pinnacle Studio 12 Ultimate.

    Of the above list, only Nero 8 and ArcSoft TME can make 24 Mbps AVCHD disks.
    The other programs downsample, typically to between 14 and 18 Mbps.

    Both Nero 8 and ArcSoft TME smart render extremely quickly, whereas the
    others do not smart render 24 Mbps content.

    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jan 20, 2009
    #11
  12. Thanks, again, for the information! It looks like I will stay with HDV
    for now, with making 16 Mbps AVCHD conversions of HDV edited
    files with Vegas Pro 8 and authoring them to red-laser disks using
    VideoStudio for distribution - a simple, easy, high-quality, and cheap
    process (but, I may eventually look into Nero Vision 8 Ultimate, if I
    ever get an AVCHD camcorder that shoots 24 Mbps AVCHD - but
    if most BD players will not play red-laser Level 5.1 disks, then what
    is the point of writing AVCHD disks of that type since I can write BD
    disks now which will play in all BD players [but I prefer not to]?).
    Anyway, maybe I now "get it", and if so, it makes more sense for me
    to stick with what I have than to "open yet another can of worms"...;-)
    I don't want to learn more about yet another format - I want to shoot,
    edit, preserve, and distribute the highest quality video possible that
    can be accomplished easily, cheaply, and reliably...
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 20, 2009
    #12
  13. Michael J

    Smarty Guest

    David,

    To answer your specific question, the point of writing Level 5.1 red laser
    BD disks which, regrettably, only play on certain players is to permit those
    for whom 24 frame per second video (which is not part of the AVCHD disk
    spec) to create a distribution format without the expenses of Bluray media
    and burner. A number of unsupported functions which were never intended to
    be part of the consumer AVCHD disk format such as 24fps are eagerly sought
    after by both AVCHD and HDV photographers who attempt to make AVCHD disks,
    only to learn that these disks cannot play anywhere. Thus, a number of
    people, myself included, seek alternative formats such as the BD5 and BD9
    formats which can be used with the proper hacks to "trick" some BluRay
    players into thinking they are seeing a true BlueRay disk even though they
    are actually playing a red laser DVD+R or DVD-R creation.

    Regarding your own HD interests, no doubt HDV certainly has a number of
    redeeming virtues, and I have absolutely no motive or interest in "selling
    you" on the idea of switching to HDV.

    My point previously, and now, is to urge you NOT to reply to AVCHD questions
    with HDV answers. It only adds confusion, and you will have to trust me or
    learn yourself that the two formats and the way they are to be handled are
    very different. Thus, you cannot easily make leaps as you always seem to do
    from your Vegas and other HDV experiences to guide others as to how to solve
    their AVCHD problems.

    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jan 20, 2009
    #13
  14. YIKES! ;-) BTW, there is an interesting comparison between the recorded
    quality of HDV and AVCHD (17Mbps) using the same optics and sensors, at --
    www.camcorderinfo.com/content/Canon-HG10-Camcorder-Review-33146/Performance.htm
    that clearly shows the image quality resulting from that data rate for AVCHD
    inferior to the HDV 25 Mbps results. Likely higher quality results would
    result from 24 Mbps AVCHD, but if one cannot import, edit, export, and
    write disks easily and cheaply without at some point in the chain reducing
    the data rate or making some other possibly undesired change, then again,
    whats' the point (for someone like me)?
    Yes, but the point of my posts (and those of others) is to provide the results
    of personal experience and/or research, especially if the experience is related
    to the OP's question, even if only indirectly. Information, even if only indirectly
    related, can be valuable - at least, it has been for me on these NGs. So, I urge
    you NOT to try to discourage discussion that may well (as it has here) advanced
    the state of our knowledge about the topic at hand. And, what you consider my
    "leaps" are based on experience, and logical extensions from that experience
    (which you are completely free to disagree with if you can provide more "solid"
    information - that is how we learn...;-).
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 21, 2009
    #14
  15. Michael J

    Smarty Guest

    David,

    I am reluctant to get into a discussion / debate regarding the relative
    merits of AVCHD versus HDV, but suffice it to say that I have owned and used
    dozens of camcorders, half a dozen HD camcorders recently, and now strongly
    prefer AVCHD to the extent that my three HDV Sony camcorders including the
    FX-1 are now gone, and my Canon HV-20 no longer gets used.

    You absolutely ***CAN*** "import, edit, export, and write disks easily and
    cheaply without at some point in the chain reducing the data rate or making
    some other possibly undesired change. I take 24 Mbps AVCHD and go directly
    to final production red laser AVCHD disks without transcoding. Converting
    HDV mpeg2 to an h.264 format is another matter, as you no doubt understand.

    Your reply to Michael's original post was an excellent example of my
    complaint, and I need to apparently be very clear here. Michael is asking a
    very specific question about Premiere Pro CS4 and AVCHD editing and export.
    He is very explicit about situation he is dealing with. I have repeated his
    entire post for you to take a look at once again:

    __________________
    Hey all,

    How do you export good quality AVCHD video using PPCS4 and Adobe Media
    Encoder CS4? I was excited when I heard that PPCS4 was going to be
    supporting AVCHD. Up until now I had always been using Cineform to
    edit AVCHD and I thought I would finally be able to bypass that
    process.

    But when encoding AVCHD from PPCS4/AMECS4, the quality is honestly
    terrible. I've always encoded to either Quicktime MPEG-4 or Quicktime
    H.264 formats, and the results had always been outstanding using the
    Cineform/AVCHD setup. But somehow it seems the new Adobe Media Encoder
    leaves something seriously to be desired.

    I've downloaded and installed all patches and updates, everything, for
    CS4. Updated AMECS4, updated to Quicktime 7.5.5, etc. Still the
    encoded quality from AVCHD is crap. When encoding to Quicktime
    MPEG-4/H.264, you can't even set the bitrate. Well you can "set" it
    but the bitrate always seems to default to 1000kbps, no matter where
    you set it, when encoding from AVCHD to Quicktime. Double checked that
    with Gspot.

    Has anyone else had this problem, and if so found a fix?
    __________________________________________


    Your reply, which I repeat below, is entirely, totally, and inanely
    non-responsive to his issue.

    "Maybe it's called Sony Vegas Pro 8? That did a far better and faster
    rendering of HDV, and it even does a good job of converting edited
    HDV to AVCHD for writing cheap HD DVDs with standard DVD
    writers. BTW, I didn't like what Ulead's VideoStudio did with converting
    HDV to AVCHD. Maybe it's best to continue doing things the way you
    have been doing them?"

    What the hell does any of this have to do ***WITH HIS ISSUE WHATSOEVER****?


    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jan 21, 2009
    #15
  16. ignoring what I wrote...

    [...]
    Well you did self-describe yourself once as "a grumpy old man", and I
    see now that your description was indeed accurate...;-)
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 21, 2009
    #16
  17. Michael J

    David McCall Guest

    Sadly there are a lot of us grumpy old men around here.

    David
     
    David McCall, Jan 21, 2009
    #17
  18. Michael J

    Smarty Guest


    David,

    I guess you are right David. The fault is mine................Please
    continue to dispense your HDV advice to any and all questions.

    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jan 22, 2009
    #18
  19. Yes, with myself no doubt included.... 8^)
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 22, 2009
    #19
  20. Michael J

    jakdedert Guest

    Grrr...humbug!

    jak
     
    jakdedert, Jan 22, 2009
    #20
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