28 Replies Latest reply on Feb 8, 2009 10:57 AM by Paul_LS

    PE7 - AVCHD user's first look

    Ozpeter Level 1
      I've been using a variety of AVCHD programs for nearly a year now to edit clips from a Panasonic SD5. I've also tried some trials without purchasing them. I've not tried the most costly, just those suitable for someone chiefly producing domestic-type projects.

      Here's my take on Premiere Elements 7 totally from that standpoint, and based at least initially very much on first reactions. Oh, I should add that the most recent version of PE I have is version 2.

      Installation - no obvious problem.

      First reaction to the interface - not as "noddy" looking as some in this league.

      I'm following my nose. Opening existing AVCHD clips stored on my hard drive. When I attempt to open them I get a message requiring activation. At once, a problem - this version isn't listed on the activation page. Well, I tell it I've got the previous version and it gives me an activation code. The program accepts it. I have to say that normally such activation procedures are completely automatic - this seems a bit crude.

      Good, there's the six clips. They appear on the "organise" page in reverse time order. I think this is normally a Windows problem (XP Pro here on a quad core PC). I've now dragged them one by one into the sceneline.

      I've now created a disc menu (just grabbed the first one) and click on "Share". Burn to DVD, select the AVCHD preset - er... there is no AVCHD preset. Well, looks like all else has failed and I'll have to read the manual.

      That's odd - there's no reference to burning AVCHD onto DVDs. I can't believe this can't be done in PE7 - it's a standard feature in all other such programs and (after many months of interacting with others on sundry video forums) the most popular way of outputting AVCHD projects. Well, I guess I'm missing an obvious option here, so meanwhile I'll have to go about things another way.

      In the "Share > PC" page I have now found an option to output to H.264 in the same format as the original footage. Set that running and the time to complete the 2.5 minute project with no effects or transitions is given as about 9 minutes. Well, that clearly shows that the clips are being transcoded unnecessarily, as in a non-transcoding AVCHD process (in other software) the task would take much less than a minute. Not good.

      Once I've got the render done I guess I'll have to fire up another app to get it onto a DVD to check on my PS3/Bravia system. And as it's been transcoded I'll have to check it with deep suspicion.

      I'm kind of hoping that someone is going to point out that I've gone at this much to hastily and that I'm missing some options, but at first glance Adobe, coming late into the AVCHD game, haven't taken the opportunity to leapfrog the others in the market by providing what the market is asking for, namely non-transcoding of unchanged clips together with a 'serious' editing environment. No, I've not even touched on the editing side because it's fallen at an earlier fence. And if, as it seems at first glance, you have to use a competitive app to actually get your AVCHD project onto an AVCHD DVD, then the editing side would have to be pretty damn good to get people to not simply handle the whole project in that other program. That editing side I will explore as soon as time allows - will it be so good as to make the user forgive the basic shortcomings (as I see them) I've identitified?
        • 1. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
          PeterFDuke Level 1
          If you decide to edit AVCHD in PE7 with a view to making an AVCHD DVD in another application, you would want to be able to transfer unedited GOPs without any transcoding.

          Earlier versions of PE did not have smart rendering of DVD compliant MPEG2, so it would not surprise me if PE7 had a similar limitation with AVCHD and still had it with compliant MPEG2 as well.

          If you can't make AVCHD DVDs with PE7 then that is a real disappointment. Blu-ray discs are still too expensive for general use.
          • 2. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
            Ozpeter Level 1
            It gets worse, in that Nero (version 9) which does have the ability to take AVCHD and output it to AVCHD DVD without transcoding, with menus, doesn't seem to want to take the output from Premiere 7 without transcoding it again. So it gets processed (unnecessarily) twice on its way to the DVD.

            Having said that, to be fair the result is no obvious disaster - I'll need to check agains the original unprocessed clips later to evaluate it properly.
            • 3. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
              Paul_LS Level 4
              As you have found, PE7 does not smartrender AVCHD. Also you can not make AVCHD discs. However I have used the H.264 1440x1080 exports in DVD Moviefactory (which I normally use) and if I recall NERO 8 to make AVCHD discs without re-rendering.
              One plus side the H.264 1440x1080 export from PE7, even after rendering is very god quality.
              • 4. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                Paul_LS Level 4
                Actually Nero 8 does re-render As I say I generally use ULEAD DVD Moviefactory which does not re-render the PE7 H264 files and also it produces great AVCHD discs with menus etc. I generally do some color correction (n PE7) so I generally need to render at least once anyway.

                By the way, when you activated the component were you connected to the internet? If so it does the activation in the background.
                • 5. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                  Ozpeter Level 1
                  > By the way, when you activated the component were you connected to the internet? If so it does the activation in the background.

                  Yes I was - which is how the page on the Adobe site came up for activation - with other Adobe software that hasn't happened. Odd.

                  It's midnight here so I'll leave further experimentation till tomorrow. After having a quick play with the tools available and the editing workflow I very much like the rest of what I see, and it seems to work pretty smoothly with AVCHD, but the better it is the more frustrating it will be if there is no cost-effective way to actually get the stuff out again in the best quality with minimal processing. An AVCHD DVD is a very valid output medium, as it's as cheap as chips and can contain something like 35 minutes of material - which is as long as most people can watch home movies for!

                  I find it perplexing in the extreme that Adobe doesn't seem to have catered for it. If this was Premiere Pro, and it was felt that AVCHD on DVD was a bit less than professional, I could almost understand it, but this is a product which is targetted more at non-pro users who would expect that popular format to be included. I'm not sure I've ever seen a blank Blu Ray disc on sale anywhere at any price.
                  • 6. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                    Paul_LS Level 4
                    Take a look at ULEAD DVDMoviefactory (download the trial) for your AVCHD disc creation it is a cheap, reliable solution. As I say this is what I use and I am very pleased with the results.
                    • 7. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                      PeterFDuke Level 1
                      >I'm not sure I've ever seen a blank Blu Ray disc on sale anywhere at any price.

                      Dick Smith has Verbatim BRD for $21-95 and a Sony rewritable for $29.95 (Australian dollars).
                      • 8. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                        Ozpeter Level 1
                        I must look a little more closely then! Thanks for the info. Of course I'll need the burner too...

                        I'm now on a mission to see how I can get the best from PE7 and AVCHD with what I've already got (Paul, thanks for the recommendation, but I plan to avoid further expenditure if I can). I've now created in Nero an AVCHD DVD with sample clips created by PE7 > H.264, PE7 > Mpeg 2 full HD (much faster to create), and the original clips 'smart rendered' by Nero. Playing that on a 42" Bravia I have to admit that the differences really are hard to spot - or maybe I'm not that critical. None the less, I would like to identify the theoretically-best workflow available to me. If I come up with something worth posting, I will.
                        • 9. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                          Ozpeter Level 1
                          I'm now a pretty happy bunny, having made some progress with viewing AVCHD projects without having to resort to blu ray or a second program.

                          Basically, I'm currently only interested in viewing AVCHD on my Sony Playstation 3. And for my own viewing, or playing stuff to (long suffering) friends and family, I'm not that fussed about menus.

                          What I've 'discovered' is that in the profiles for the Sony PSP in the mobile phones and players section of "Share", you get a whole lot of "Advanced" options you don't get in the "Personal Computer" section. And you can modify the PSP profile to suit the PS3, then render to a file which can be played on the PS3 from a USB drive or data DVD. A very simple solution for the many PS3 people out there.

                          The settings I used are as follows:-


                          NTSC or PAL as required
                          Frame width = 1920
                          Frame height = 1080
                          Frame rate = 25
                          Field order = None (Progressive)
                          Pixel aspect ratio = Square
                          Profile = high
                          Level = 4
                          Bitrate Encoding = VBR, 1 Pass
                          Target Bitrate = 18
                          Maximum Bitrate = 20


                          Audio format = AAC
                          Output channels = Stereo
                          Frequency = 48kHz
                          Audio quality = high
                          Bitrate = 256


                          Multiplexing = MP4
                          Stream compatibility = PSP

                          Of course some of those settings might need to be varied for personal preference or to suit the particular footage being processed, but I can vouch for them working here with clips from a SD5. I'm noticing a bit of judder on pan which I may be able to tweak the settings for, I hope.

                          I still hope AVCHD on DVD will become an alternative output format in the future, however.

                          Meanwhile I've also output to standard DVD in standard definition, and I'm impressed.
                          • 10. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                            Paul_LS Level 4
                            Glad to hear you are happy Ozpeter. Slightly off topic, but regarding NERO.. it has got me perplexed. It will smart render AVCHD clips form my HDR-CX6, it wont smart-render clips form PE7... OK, I can accept that... but it wont even smart-render AVCHD clips exported from NERO itself. So if I take a clip export it from NERO as AVCHD, then bring it back into NERO and try to re-export it it will render it. Strange.
                            • 11. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                              Ozpeter Level 1
                              Yup, Nero seems to "know" what are actual original camera AVCHD clips and what is 'computer generated' - I've come across a lot of discussions on the net and have yet to see anyone coming up with the answer to that. Somewhere on the Pinnacle forums I recall an Avid staffer give a passing reference to the difference between their AVCHD renders and camera clips but it would be hard to find it again.

                              Meanwhile, there is a clear difference in the smoothness of pans when I compare "Share > Personal Computer" output from PE7 and "Share > Mobile Phones and Players" output, even when I use two-pass encoding in the latter. The former gives a great result on the PS3, but no sound as it needs AAC not dolby - and of course there's no AAC option at that point in PE7, you only get it in "Mobile Phones and Players". Why on earth is that? It's a conspiracy to sell blu ray discs!!

                              I shall fiddle on.
                              • 12. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                Paul_LS Level 4
                                The PS3 can not play PCM audio?... This is an option under Advanced when sharing to Personal Computer.
                                • 13. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                  Ozpeter Level 1
                                  If you select PCM then you cannot have multiplexing "on", so you end up with a video file and an audio file. To be honest I haven't tried simply offering that to the PS3 and seeing whether it would treat them as a pair to play, but I'd doubt it.

                                  Meanwhile however I have made some progress!

                                  What I have now found to work well is a procedure based on advice in http://www.afterdawn.com/guides/archive/convert_mkv_to_avchd_for_ps3_and_blu-ray.cfm - but there's one small thing you have to do in PE7 first.

                                  The nice thing is that the two small programs used in the procedure are freeware or donationware, and the output from PE7 is not rerendered. The downside is that you don't get menus this way. If you want full disc authoring, use a suitable not-free program.

                                  Anyway, the crucial thing is to use "Share > Personal Computer > H.264 " (pick your size and frame rate) and then click on the "Adavanced" button, then the "Multiplexer" tab, then the "None" button - so that the video and audio will not be merged in one file but will end up in separate video and audio files.

                                  These files (yourfilename.mv4 and yourfilename.ac3) should be added to the Input file list of the 'tsMuxeR' (you can drag them in) and then you can either click on the "M2TS muxing" button in its output section, or on the "Create Blu-ray disk" button. Then press "Start muxing" and within a very short time, your file or folders will be finished.

                                  If you created an m2ts file, you can burn that to a DVD as data and the Playstation 3 should play it as a standalone file, or you could copy it onto the PS3 hard drive.

                                  If you created Blu-ray folders, you can burn those to a normal DVD using ImgBurn as detailed in the second page of the tutorial whose link I gave above. The PS3 will then treat that as a Blu-ray disc and I suspect many other Blu-ray players will too.

                                  In the next day or two I will set out these procedures in more detail and with better presentation in a form suitable for adding to the FAQs for PE7. When set out on the page it sounds like hard work, but actually it's very quick and easy. But no, Adobe, that doesn't get you off the hook of needing to add AVCHD DVD support natively to PE7!
                                  • 14. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                    I just bought elements 7 to edit and export AVCHD into wmv movies. But when I choose export/movie, and look into settings, there is no Windows Media format available. Am I missing something?
                                    • 15. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                      Ozpeter Level 1
                                      Click on "Share" then "Personal Computer" then "Windows Media" then choose the preset nearest to what you want. If necessary click on "Advanced" to tweak it.
                                      • 16. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                        Paul_LS Level 4
                                        You need to scroll down the Personal Computer export options window to see Windows Media... not very obvious.
                                        • 17. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                          Level 1
                                          thank you!
                                          • 18. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                            rawatts Level 1

                                            I believe the time to get a blueray burner might be soon. My son found Verbatium blanks with jewel case for $7.99 and printable 25 pack for $7.20 each, this is about half the cost of what I found a few weeks ago.


                                            • 19. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                              Ozpeter Level 1
                                              The time to buy any storage system or media seems to be the day after tomorrow, the way prices fall! But for short productions, using long media remains wasteful IMHO.
                                              • 20. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                                Ozpeter Level 1
                                                After getting bored half way through the manual I decided to complete a 16 minute project (clips of newish baby, not mine!) following my nose, and I have to say I'm very pleased with the workflow and final outcome. It includes Smartsound bits, audio and video transitions, some video and audio levels/fades, a simple title at start and end, not worth doing a menu, and the clips don't need any effects. Basic stuff really.

                                                I've rendered the AVCHD original clips down to standard DVD, and playing that on the upscaling PS3 DVD player onto a 42 inch Bravia LCD TV, I'm pretty impressed with the quality - the definition still looks very good. Colour and contrast seem much as the original clips. I'm now creating an AVCHD DVD version, and that's currently rendering on my Q9300 PC at about 6 frames a second, which is typical speed in any such program in my experience.

                                                Despite the shortcoming to which I originally drew attention, PE7 is pretty seductive to this AVCHD user anyway.
                                                • 21. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                                  I purchased Premiere Elements 7 and installed it on my computer at home. I purchased this program for the specific purpose of being able to edit AVCHD files from my Canon HF100 camera. I have to tell you up front that my home computer is not connected to the web because I live in a rural area where even the dial-up is less 24kb. So I selected AVCHD media and the window popped up to activate the codec. I copied the serial number and went on line from my work computer (located 37 miles away) typed in the number and selected the region (U.S.) only to find no listing of PE7? What gives? Please don't tell me I am going to have to unhook my home unit drive it into work to activate and then back home. This is the reason I don't bother with games anymore. Too much activation garbage. Have all software companies forgotten what a dongle is?
                                                  Any help anyone?
                                                  • 22. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                                    Steve Grisetti Adobe Community Professional
                                                    Why not contact Adobe Tech Support?
                                                    • 23. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                                      Level 1
                                                      I am trying right now.
                                                      I usually try forums first to avoid tying up tech support.
                                                      Thanks for the reply.
                                                      • 24. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                                        Paul_LS Level 4
                                                        Did you type in the exact Activation link??? You do not to select anything, just go to the link and type in the number. Make sure to check you jave noted down the complete link as it scrolls beyond the viewable window.
                                                        • 25. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                                          Level 1
                                                          The selection of products is limited to PE3, PE3.02, PE4, PE3 and PSE5 bundle, PE4 and PSE6 bundle.
                                                          I contacted tech support and they told me the phone number to call from that computer to give the response challenge to activate.
                                                          What a pain. I do wish they would offer dongles again.
                                                          Thanks again for the help.
                                                          • 26. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                                            Ozpeter Level 1
                                                            Just select PE4 from the list, and that works. I've had to do it three or four times now. But it would be good if they updated it!
                                                            • 27. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                                              I know this thread is a bit old, but I was wondering if the multiplexing issue in PE7 has been fixed or if there is an easier workaround available? I'm using clips from a Sony SR11 camcorder in AVCHD format with 5.1 audio, and I'm attempting to output to H.264 1440x1080 30i format. After 1 3/4 hours, and 6 seconds from the end, I get a message that multiplexing has failed - please try rechecking the settings and try again. Rebooting and restarting does not fix this.

                                                              Is the problem caused by this particular output format, which is stereo audio, where PE7 can't figure out how to reduce the 5.1 audio to stereo? Also I noticed that there isn't any option in this export mode to output 5.1 audio. Surely I must be missing something.

                                                              Handling of the AVCHD format in PE7 definitely seems obscure. It took me awhile to realize, for example, that when you create a new project you have to choose an HD project with 5.1 audio, or else the Scene system simply doesn't function with AVCHD clips.
                                                              • 28. Re: PE7 - AVCHD user's first look
                                                                Paul_LS Level 4
                                                                PE7 does not export to 5.1 audio only to stereo. I have the Sony CX7 and I am not seeing the issues on exporting to H.264 1440x1080. The audio is exported multiplexed without issue. How long is the project you are trying to export? PE7 does have a few issues with large AVCHD projects.