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I've been using Premiere CS4 now for about 1 month and haven't really had many issues with the software in general. I shoot and edit AVCHD and with my system (ASUS P5Q Pro MoBo, Q6600 Quad-Core OC'd to 3.0GHz, 4 GB RAM, NVIDIA Quadro FX1700) it handles the video quite well.
You can get realtime playback with the native AVCHD files in Premiere as long as you are using a matching editing preset with the AVCHD footage. My one gripe with Adobe right now is that they have not released any 720p AVCHD editing presets, so that limits you to choosing the 1080i/p preset and having to render your 720p footage first, before getting realtime playback.
I don't believe Adobe lists recommended system requirements for editing AVCHD, but Pinnacle states:
Intel® Core2 Duo 2.4 GHz or higher required for 1440x1080 AVCHD editing
Intel® Core2 Quad 2.66 GHz or higher required for 1920x1080 AVCHD editing
2 GB required for AVCHD*, recommended for HD and/or Windows Vista
DirectX® 9 or 10 compatible graphics card
- 256 MB required for HD and AVCHD*
So as you can see, the requirements for editing AVCHD material are quite high, but that is the nature of AVCHD and you aren't going to find any other NLE that is going to do it better, or faster. Premiere is natively editing the originally recorded .mts files that reside on the storage media.
The other work around is to transcode the AVCHD footage to something like DVCProHD and go from there. MainConcept offers such a transcoder for just this purpose.
So, to answer one of your questions, no, you aren't going to be able to edit AVCHD with an average, or "normal" system. You will need something with some power in order to actually be productive in the editing process when using that format.
Keith - try using the XDCAM EX 720 presets for your AVCHD footage....
Unless you've tried this yourself with 720p AVCHD footage I would have to speculate that using a different format's editing preset with the Panasonic AVCHD footage will still result in the timeline requiring rendering.
I can create a custom preset within Premiere and choose AVCHD as the format, but even then, Premiere only offers 1080 as a resolution option for AVCHD. Adobe simply has not added 720 as a resolution for the AVCHD codec, so even though I may be choosing a preset with the same resolution and framerate, if the editing preset format is not the same as the footage, then the timeline will require rendering. It's all based on what Premiere anticipates is your final delivery format.
Nope - no red render bar above the footage. Just tested it again.
Although, I will say that on my system, there is a bit of unstability when doing this, but I seem to have that with AVCHD footage in general. AVCHD footage requires a powerful system, and while mine handles just about anything, AVCHD does pose it a problem.
Really? Hmmm...good to know. I will have to try that. Unfortunately the real issue I have is with bit rates and not with resolutions. Anything around 21mbps really brings the system to it's knees. Nothing but pure power is going to solve that one.
Right - the test clips I shot were all in the PH (highest bit rate) mode on the HMC-150...and it does require some power.
In response to the original post... I test drove a Dell Quad core system this weekend w/ Vista 64 and 4GB of ram (sorry - don't remember the processor speed). I was able to play/edit AVCHD footage from an external USB drive (shot w/ Canon HG10) with no hiccups, stutter, or glitches just fine. I was pleasantly surprised with the performance. Before trying the system out, I didn't think it was possible to edit it without converting it either.
Just put together new Core i7 920 Vista 64 sp1,ASUS P6T MB, 6Gb RAM,
ASUS 9800GT, Premiere CS 4. Loaded timeline with 2 hours AVCHD
(Panasonic HMC-150 1080i PH)foot. Play, trim, move without any
problem or lag having yellow bar above in higest quality source monitor mode. Applayed Fast Color Corrt. returns stuttered playback
but much smoother w. some blockness after switch to automatic quality.
Overally I'm very impressed because on another comp. (Core 2Duo E6700 2.66 Mz, XP 32S P3, 2Gb RAM, Quadro 560, Premiere CS 4) having hard time to do any basic thing.
Like Aleks I too am impressed with i7 920 performance (I have 3G DDR3) All monitor "blockiness" was removed when I switched to high quality source monitor mode (auto or draft both show blockiness with avchd - the high quality mode is great)
I can even scrub clips with mercalli (steady) applied -albeit not perfect.. but very workable and something I have never been able to do without first rendering - even with sd
I found Fast colour correction not to be problem (no stuttered playback at all) You sure Aleks? Footage is from Sony SR7 (1440 x1080i) plus some 1920 / 1080 from couple of other other cams - all great.
I do have a NVIDIA GT260 graphics card for my 24"monitor - not sure how much that is helping - but whatever it is, I am mightily impressed. I am even re working some of my HD projects where I had pre-converted the AVCHD to HDV - so I can work the AVCHD directly on the timeline and compare the results once it is on bluray disc and on a big screen
Keith... Good to see someone has something positive to say about AVCHD and CS4. I bought a Sony HandyCamHDR-SR12 which shoots 1920x1080 AVCHD. I went the HandyCam route because I wanted something small enought to take backpacking. I now need to upgrade my system, which I new before I even bought the camera. I'll probably buy the most my money can afford. I plan to just replace my current dual Xeon MOBO and buy a beefier VidCard and add a Blu-Ray burner. If you were to upgrade your ASUS P5Q and FX1700, what would you go with?
I am having tons of stuttering problems with AVCHD in CS4.
I have a Q6700 Core2Quad running at 2.66GHz, 4GB RAM, Vista x64 and nvidia 8800GT (512).
When I load an AVCHD file (1920x1080) form my TG1, it will play for exactly 5 seconds then start to stutter. Then after about another 5 seconds it will freeze the video while the audio continues.
I am going out of my mind here. The other strange thing is this sometimes happens with HDV as well!! Now, I still have PPro CS3 installed and it plays back everything it can just fine (HDV).
I installed Vegas 8 and it plays back AVCHD just fine with absolutely no stuttering of any kind.
There's got to be a problem with PPro CS4?
Here's a link that shows it all...