AVCHD Testing

Having posted a method for compressing AVCHD directly in Expression Encoder 2, I thought I would see how footage from the various AVCHD camcorders fared. So it was off to the local electronics retailer armed with an SDHC memory card an a Memory Stick PRO Duo card.

I'm pleased to report that Expression Encoder 2 ingested all the files that I came back with, including ones shot at frame rates other than 60i.

Camera Model Frame Rate Capabilities Frame Rates Tested Media Type
Canon HF10 60i, 30p, 24p 60i, 30p SDHC
Panasonic HDC-SD9 60i, 24p 60i, 24p SDHC
Sony HDR-CX7 60i 60i Memory Stick PRO Duo
Sony HDR-SR11 60i 60i Memory Stick PRO Duo and hard drive

A few points:

I chose 30p rather than 24p on the Canon HF10 because I personally find 30p more useful than 24p. Using a progressive format for delivery to a computer display (which is inherently non-interlaced) removes the need to deinterlace and, therefore, an extra step in the pre-processing phase prior to compression. 30 frames/second gives you decent motion. 24 fps does not unless you're a budding filmmaker and are going for a "film look". For talking head type video webcasts, I just don't need that.

The Panny and Sony SR11 both record 5.1 audio. Compressed video from Encoder had sound, but this is downmixed to stereo according to Eric one of the Encoder devs. This would be a function of ac3filter. In the case of the Sony footage, I did get a warning in Encoder stating that "Streams that aren't audio or video have been ignored." According to Eric, this stream contains metadata that we do not parse.

Finally, the ability to ingest these formats is really down to the CoreAVC codec rather than anything we're doing in Encoder, but it is good to know you should be able to ingest AVCHD video into Encoder using the published technique no matter which consumer camcorder you are using. The same is not true for some of the NLEs out there that support AVCHD, though they are getting better.