Perhaps you've heard about AVCHD (Advanced Video Codec High Definition) by now. The paragraph below is right from the web site: www.avchd-info.org

The "AVCHD" is a brand new high definition (HD) digital video camera recorder format recording 1080i and 720p signals onto certain media by using highly efficient codec technologies. The "AVCHD" is jointly established by Panasonic, the brand name for which Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. is known, and Sony Corporation.

We all know that we need to embrace high-definition video production sooner than later. While all of us are unhappy that a high-definition format war is underway between Blu-ray and HD-DVD, we still celebrate that high-definition playback decks have finally arrived on the market!

Some of you may be still getting used to these new terms, between Blu-ray and HD-DVD, but you need to make room in your mind for yet another acronym. As I see it, the chief advantage of AVCHD is the low cost of the media. Both competing high-definition video formats require costly blank media. Blank HD-DVD and Blu-ray discs both currently cost more than $20 each. The least expensive media that stores AVCHD costs less than a dollar.


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Like HDV before it, AVCHD is a "file format" as opposed to a physical media format. The word "format" often refers to molecular physical media like a cassette, a flash card or a silver disc. A "file format" refers to a particular type of data structure to contain a certain type of content–MP3 for example. You can store an MP3 file on a CD, on a hard drive or flash media.

Sony has released several AVCHD camcorders, and video editing software developers will soon release applications for editing AVCHD video. Once you've finished editing, you can burn the finished video onto an inexpensive ordinary DVD. You can then play these DVDs with AVCHD video recorded on them back through a Sony or Panasonic Blu-ray Disc Player. In the coming months, we will see even more decks able to playback AVCHD video on DVDs.

The two key points to take away from my column are:

  • The chief advantage of AVCHD is the low cost of the distribution media. AVCHD makes the distribution of your high-definition video affordable!
  • I also asked you to make room in your mind for yet another acronym. Please don't blame me if you are a little confused.

I am doing my best to explain this development succinctly yet completely. However, did you count the number of acronyms and unique names that I felt were necessary? Personally, I don't like the name AVCHD because it is more arcane than intuitive and it does not roll off the tongue. But that is another column for another time.

Matthew York is Videomaker‘s Publisher/Editor

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