No point in maintaining the surround sound when you convert as PE7 can not export 5.1 audio, only stereo.
For ease of editing, import your AVCHD and export as HDV MPEG2 setting the bitrate to 25Mb/s in the advanced settings. Bring these converted files back into PE7 for editing, you should get smooth playback on your systems. This will maintain your quality... but note every conversion will degrade the quality to some extent. By maintaining the bitrate high you can minimize the impact.
Alternatively you could convert to an intermediate AVI codec for editing, in which case you will need to buy the codec... for example Cineform Neo Scene. The advantage of these intermediate codecs is they maintain the quality on multiple export/imports but the file sizes are much bigger... plus you have to buy them. If you are not going to do multiple imports/exports the HDV MPEG2 should be fine.
Thanks for your answer - I didn't realise PE7 wasn't able to output 5.1 sound. In fairness, the existing sound isn't true 5.1 - it's 6 tracks generated in-camera from a few mikes scattered around the lens. I'd like to be able to keep them as-is to mix between them as needs be - is that possible when exporting to HDV?
I recognise every transcode will lose some quality (though agree it's highly unlikely I'd notice it), but since AVCHD is an H.264 stream + audio stream packaged in a really compressed container, I was hoping there's be a way to extract that stream, then just repackage in a more CPU-playback-friendly container like MP4 or AVI.
I've just looked into the Organiser function, there doesn't seem to be a way to batch convert all clips in the library to an alternative format. Am I being blind, or am I actually going to have to export these clips one-by-one?
Cheers so far!
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You can view the mutiple audio channels within the 5.1 surround sound but you can not adjust individual channels or mix them. You can mix the tracks but not to the channel level in the 5.1 surround sound. Maybe in a future release.
Although MP4 is offically supported be PE7 it will be just as processor intensive as the AVCHD. If you convert to HDV MPEG2 PE7 will handle this natively and you will get smooth playback. You could convert to an AVI, but the resulting file will be very large compared to MPEG2 and again will not be natively handled by PE7... although playback will be smoother than AVCHD, but no better than MPEG2. In PE7 you could only convert to uncompressed AVI (hige files), otherwise you would need to purchase a suitable AVI codec. Neo scene is one that I previously mentioned http://www.cineform.com/products/NeoScene.htm
You are not blind, PE7 does not have a batch convert function. You could look at AVCHD Upshift... http://www.newbluefx.com/avchd-upshift.html this can batch convert to MPEG2 and is reasinable priced... problem is there are few free conversion packages that support AVCHD.