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What exactly IS AVCHD and what can possibly play them?

doublehamm's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 days ago
Joined: 11/29/2009 - 5:52pm

I have been in the video business for over a year now, but these formats always seem to send a new surprise my way - and I really would like to know what I am dealing with.

First off, my computer in theory SHOULD be able to handle just about anything. i7-980x (3.33 GHz hex core processor). 12GB DDR3 1600 RAM. 2x nVidia GTX-285s with 1GB memory each.

Windows recognizes a variety of file types as AVCHD: .m2t, .m2ts, .mts, .ts and maybe a few more I can't think off off the top of my head. Even .mp4 shows as having some kind of AVC structure to it.

Up until recently, I had no issues whats so ever playing back what windows recognized as AVCHD - with the exceptin of Vegas created m2ts files - but I strongly think this is a Vegas issue, and not a computer issue that I will get into below. The biggest baffling surprise came with the Panasonic camcorder as I have also described in detail below.

Here are the formats I have used:

.m2t 24 MB/s from Sony Z5U- These come off of my Sony HVR Z5U cameras via the MRC1 CF recording unit. I believe they are 1440x1080 - and they play prefectly smooth, and editing them is not a problem at all.

.m2t 24 MB/s Sony Vegas Pro 10 - These are files I create in Sony Vegas from edits (usually for testing what a video might look like as it renders in double real time for me), and the end result again plays back perfectly smooth. 1440x1080 or 1920x1080 same result.

.m2ts 15 MB/s Sony Vegas Pro 10 - This default Vegas Pro option I use the most to create my blu-ray disc files. However, playing the files back on the computer, they play fine for 2-3 minutes and then become extremely choppy and you cannot skip anywhere within the video past7 minutes or so. I REALLY think this is something Sony Vegas is doing (maybe proprietary?). I can throw these same video files on an older computer and they play fine to the exact second as my editing computer, and then start stuttering and freezing again. However, if I go to DVD architect and make a blu-ray disc from these files, everything works 100%. Theyeven play back just fine through Vegas and DVDA just fine, but using anything else such as Windows Media Player, PowerDVD, VLC and some othe players I have downloaded they always fall apart at the exact same second of video and cannot finish. 1440x1080 or 1920x1080 same result.Additionally The video only .avc option gives the same playback result.

.m2ts 21 MB/s Pinnacle Studio - These files created from Pinnacle Studio have no issues at all. I can play them back just fine on any computer in my house. It has a higher bit-rate than Vegas Pro 10, and there are no issues... hmmmmmmm.....

.m2ts 13 MB/s Hauppauge PVR - Yup, still showing as .m2ts, and this plays back perfectly as well, and I can edit these in Vegas without a problem. This is installed on an older computer (not my editing computer) and is great for recording anything HD off of cable/sat. No monthly TiVo or DVR fees involved, and you can go straight to editing in NLE - ok enough of the promo...

.MTS 24/MB/s from Sony NX5U - looks great, plays great, edits with ease. These are full 1920x1080 files. My computer laughs at the format.

Now, this past week I was in the hunt for a small consumer camera that I would be able to use on Vacation. I settled on a Panasonic HDC-SDT750 with the added 3D feature to have fun making some videos with my 7 year old this winter:

.MTS 24 MB/S from Panasonic Camcorder - This baffles me the most. These files straight up are suppose to play back just fine if you insert the card into a Panasonic Viera HDTV (I do not have). While I can still edit these files pretty easily, if I play them back straight off the camera created files, it is not smooth at all. It is pretty choppy. I have to edit them and convert them to .MP4 or .M2T to be able to watch them cleanly. Now I am not sure what the problem is with this one. I have tried playing them off of secondary HDs, my SSD, externals, and even the SDHC card with the same problem. The mode that has the issue is the 1080 60p and records in 1920x1080. I am not sure if this has anything to do with it? The bit-rate seems to be pretty standard - but my PC seems to bow down to this format.

What does an HDTV have for processing power in it that my computer does not? And why does the similar format from Sony (NX5U) play back just fine?

Is this just a software play back issue I am having? What is some of the best software out there to play back these kinds of files? I use Windows Media Player 90% of the times as it never really gives me issues, and it is clean cut and straight forward.

Thanks in advance for any advice, and I hope reading this was not too painful! I just wanted to document it as best I could.


XTR-91's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 12/06/2008 - 8:57pm

You should be able to play back the files in Sony Vegas Pro just fine. As long as the settings are correct (File>Project Properties), you should get a very smooth playback if nothing's bogging down your computer.

I am able to import the 1080p60 (28 Mbps)files from my TM700 just fine into Vegas. Playback's not great, but I'm only ona dual core system (1.66ghz) 2gb ram -5400pm hardrive.


Eventvideoguy's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 03/06/2009 - 8:12am

the VLC player can play them. If you just want to watch them and not do any editing.

http://www.videolan.org/vlc/


doublehamm's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 days ago
Joined: 11/29/2009 - 5:52pm

VLC worked ok when I tried it again tonight. It is still not perfect.I am looking for silky smooth and it just isn't cutting it. It seems to do a minor stutter every couple seconds.


SteveMann's picture
Last seen: 9 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 07/26/2005 - 4:35pm

You don't say what your HDD configuration is, but if your video media is on the C: drive, you will experience occasional interruptions as the OS takes care of its needs.


doublehamm's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 days ago
Joined: 11/29/2009 - 5:52pm

I have tried all my drives. C: drive actually works best sometimes as it is SSD, but I have multiple drives I have tried to work with. I will be re-installing my computer shortly as I have a break for a few weeks now that the wedding season is slowing down and see if I can't grease up the operations again. It doesn't seem to be slowing down that much, but fresh has always seemed better - plus it gets my butt in gear to reorganize!


XTR-91's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 12/06/2008 - 8:57pm

Run it through firewire from a 7200rpm external hdd and the playback should be absolutely perfect, that is, if something's not terribly bogging down your computer.


doublehamm's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 days ago
Joined: 11/29/2009 - 5:52pm

I just installed the cheesy Panasonic NLE (if you call it that). It seems to play pretty good through there. Still not what I had hoped for - and still slight stutters, but less frequently than WMP or VLC. In reality I will be editing most of anything I capture, but seeing a nice smooth raw file would be a plus!

I don't think it is a HD speed thing, I am pretty sure it is a software issue.

One question XTR: Does your camera record in 5.1? I know mine has the option, and when I do record in 5.1 Vegas seems to have to create peaks 2x for each audio file when import them, so I am guessing the info is there, but I do not see how to expand it from vegas.


XTR-91's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 12/06/2008 - 8:57pm

Yes, and the only reason I have it turned on is to evade most of the fan noise coming from back channels. If I record in stereo mode, signals from rear channels are mixed with front ones (all mics are recording).

Surround sound should all be a single .mts file. I haven't yet found out how to configure Vegas to display all six sound tracks, though.


doublehamm's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 days ago
Joined: 11/29/2009 - 5:52pm

Alright I will keep trying to figure it out. I know Vegas is somehow recognizing it. I haven't tried THAT hard yet. I am guessing it would only really be 4 channels though. The center and lfe channels pretty much are created from the 4.

And for the record, I was able to play an uncompressed HD .avi running at about 1,100 MB/s off my C: drive (ssd) and it was perfectly smooth.


XTR-91's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 12/06/2008 - 8:57pm

I think it's a Vegas problem - AVCHD isn't smooth on my computer either (about 1 frame per second), but the importation and editing is troublefree. You wouldn't think a 1.66GHz Core2Duo system as being able to handle the 1920x1080p60 (28 Mbps) files, but the editing is a breeze minus the playback. Rendering thirty minutes of AVCHD video to DV-AVI takes about 12 hours. VLC might have a problem, also, or it may just be very particular. If it's all programmed a certain way to handle a particular bitrate of AVCHD, then throwing it off might create a software overload (ineffecient use of processor). WMP is not an AVCHD player, and might not give you full quality. I can almost promise you that nothing will play it better than your own television set. Even if it's a CRT, you'll only be restricted by resolution, frame rate, and maybe a slight bit color. HDTVs will also de-interlace your interlaced footage better than anything.

HDTVs generally won't give you the red-alert message that your video cannot play, or give you a gray dialog box and shut down.

At this point, I wouldn't worry about the camcorder choice in violation to your computer. I still say go tapeless.


doublehamm's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 days ago
Joined: 11/29/2009 - 5:52pm

Ouch, I guess I won't complain about my render times. Other than they will never be fast enough for me!

I don't think the bit-rate is really an issue - it is more about what is uncompressing the video as you play to display it. 28 Mbps Panasonic .m2ts files are a bit shaky. When I create uncompressed .avi's from Pinnacle (for the times I need Pinnacle to do something for me that Vegas cannot do, such as adding Magic Bullet Looks effects), they come out to about 1100 Mbps, and play silky smooth on my computer. Atclose to 10GB per minute of minute of video, I know speed really is not the issue.

Why do I create uncompessed .avi? Most of the formats in Pinnacle create files that will crash Vegas even if Vegas supposedly handles it. .m2tsfrom Pinnacle will leave Vegas clueless and hang. Uncompressed AVI seems to be the most stable, and therefore is the format of choice when transferring between the 2 NLEs.

"At this point, I wouldn't worry about the camcorder choice in violation to your computer. I still say go tapeless."

I am not sure what you mean here? I don't use tapes in any of my current cameras. It is all CF and SDHC.


Luis Maymi's picture
Last seen: 6 months 3 days ago
Joined: 09/26/2008 - 4:58am
Plus Member

I can play the .MTS files from the Sony AX2000 in VLC, but is very slow and jerky. I found the BEST player for AVCHD for Mac called Movist. It plays in real time and is free (only for Mac though). For Windows I found some suggestions in this forum threat.

Editing the .MTS in Premiere CS5 with my Macbook Pro gives me decent editing, but the rendering times...my God, are taking a lot of time. My last render was a 13:46 min video from .MTS 1920x1080 to MPEG2 DVD and it took 6 hours. That a lot of time to wait and it didn't have any effects. Is there any way to render faster ? (besides having a more powerful computer)

-

"The meaning of a movie are the characters, the life of the movie is the music, but the magic is in the editing" –  http://www.lomaymi.com


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 4 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
Plus Member Moderator

In many situations an editing system that provides for a true HD feed output to a standard tv monitor will result in smoother playback of footage, compared to many varieties of computer monitor playback. When I am editing and previewing I am accustomed to the playback being herky-jerky, but then upon conversion to tape or DVD and playing it in a regular deck, no herky-jerky happens.



HFS10Dude's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 05/11/2010 - 12:30pm

I've been using Vegas 10 for a little while and its proven to be excellent so far. In regards to playing the final product, I use Mirillis Splash Pro (or Splash Lite available for freehttp://downloadmirillis.com/files/splash_lite_1_6_0_setup.exe).

Also, check the "nvidia control panel" and set all options to "use nvidia setting". Add your relevant programs under "Manage 3D Settings - Program Settings" so your programs use nvidia's settings correctly. This is what I did and found performance improvements.


doublehamm's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 days ago
Joined: 11/29/2009 - 5:52pm

Well - back to the drawing board on this one. I loaded the panasonic clips into my laptop which is CONSIDERABLY less "powerful" than my editing PC and the files play back flawlessly. I don't know why I never checked this before - I guess I figured if my beast PC couldn't play it the laptop was hopeless. The .m2ts that Vegas creates, however, still are universally unstable (at the exact secondon each computer per identical file - but different files go bad at different points of time) unless written into blu-ray disc.

I have tried adjusting all the nvidia settings to no help unfortunately.


Marcel Kuemmet's picture
Last seen: 7 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 07/21/2010 - 5:19pm

The only player that seems to work for me for playing back avchd files smoothly is splash.

I use it for quick review. If I am making a movie, I use Premiere elements. The playback is jerky.

If just a video message, I just convert the file with quick media converter.

Not sure if this will help.

This is an example of on of my converted video messages

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=480788838304&ref=mf

This is a fully edited video (Premiere)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC3HMwSIAsU