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Editing AVCHD footage for TV

Last response: in Systems
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August 5, 2009 3:08:44 PM

Hi everybody, I would like to know some of the differences that are out there, and get the best performance level I can get at a good value point. I would also like to pick anyone's brain that has been doing this recently, and figure out the best workflow you guys use.

My church has recently wanted to start broadcasting their sermons on a local television station. This station is currently small enough that it does not HAVE to go HD yet, but in the next couple years it may move that direction. We just bought a Panasonic AG-HMC70 video camera that shoots AVCHD footage to a SD card, and it is pretty decent for what we are doing. I bought the biggest system that Costco had here locally to put it through its paces at editing footage, and I have had some grumbles about its performance. Let me describe what it is.
It is an HP e9107c, with an Intel Core-2-quad @2.33ghz, Vista 64bit OS, and 8GB ram. Also has a 750 GB HD and some kind of 512MB ATI video card in it.

I am willing to return this beast to the store, because while I like how fast it is in general, my ability to work efficiently in AfterEffects and Premiere is less than stellar (CS4). I could start from scratch or just make some modest upgrades to this system, what ever would work out well enough. Paid 1000$ for this (but it included a 23" monitor)

I will paste below the template for new systems, and afterwards I want to know some general advise. I built my last PC 7 years ago, and vowed I would never do it again, and have been on Mac laptops since then and been happy. Editing video is another thing though, and so here we go again...

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: now
BUDGET RANGE: 1000-1500 (ish?)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: editing AVCHD footage, doing motion graphics in After Effects, no gaming at all

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: any suggestions welcome, best keyboard for video/ae and a good monitor(s)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: dunno, I have used newegg for stuff before but not components

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel Chip set, core2-quad or i7 nahelem?

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe sure. SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Don't know what this is

MONITOR RESOLUTION: HD, I would also like to be able to run 2 or 3 video cards for extra monitors someday, although I would only need 2 to start out. I realize that matching cards work best together, but don't know much past this

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Would 2 quad-core processors work that much better rendering and playing back real-time? I seem to get alot of stuttering in Premiere with just the raw AVCHD footage. Would certain graphics cards speed up these applications better than others? Do I need to go to a workstation class video card, or stick with consumer-class?

I am really after the best bang for the buck here. I would like to keep the cost around 1500 so I have some room for spending on monitors and other things, but if you all know where there is a real performance increase that will take it up beyond 2K, just go ahead and make those suggestions.

I am also wondering about how best to split up Hard drives with Raid, I read some things on this board that indicate I should stick with Intel and use their matrix raid. Should I use SSD disks for OS and Applications, or stick with SATA?

any help in the right direction is appreciated so much. Thanks for your help.

More about : editing avchd footage

August 5, 2009 4:56:28 PM

When working with large amounts of data, especially with video editing, RAID arrays are really the way to go. I'd even say that the system you want to return is a pretty fair starting point for video editing if you went ahead and rebuilt the storage. There are plenty of RAID options out there, and a number of great articles that discuss RAID here on Tom's, so you just need to find what suits your needs. For a balance of performance and redundancy, RAID 5 would be a good choice. RAID 0+1 is pretty good too, but I find RAID 5 to be more useful in most cases. You could go with an SSD for an OS and apps drive, but don't do that in place of a RAID array for your main storage. Or if you really want to go extreme, build a RAID array with SSDs. Problem is this gets expensive fast.

If you want to migrate to a newer core i7, it's not a bad choice, but you're not going to get leaps and bounds more performance going that route.

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August 5, 2009 7:13:06 PM

The problem could in fact be software related. I myself have edited video using Sony Vegas. I find vegas to be very user friendly and possibly less cpu demanding than the current program you are using. Before you return the pc you have bought, download the free trial of Sony Vegas and see if you like it.
-Jim
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August 5, 2009 10:17:27 PM

Yep, I would like to give Vegas a spin, among a couple other options. I just had a license of CS4 that I felt I could use, and that is why. I would rather be on a Final Cut suite myself, but it would cost me upwards of 3K to get it all.

I'll investigate whether my current machine can be upgraded to support RAID or not, its worth a try. Is there any graphics cards out there I should consider swapping out the current one for?
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August 6, 2009 1:17:30 PM

jhnsntmthy said:
I'll investigate whether my current machine can be upgraded to support RAID or not, its worth a try. Is there any graphics cards out there I should consider swapping out the current one for?


For your pc if you could play the content you are editing, flawlessly I think the vid card might be one of the last things you could upgrade. Try Vegas first, then maybe give the RAID a shot, then later maybe if you're adventurous you could try overclocking the processor.


Also about the multi-monitor thing, I have looked at your cpu specs:
http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01...

Expansion slots Slot type Quantity
PCI Express x16 One (None available)
PCI Express x1 Three (Two available)

It appears that you don't have an extra PCI-E x16, and you'd need to probably buy a new motherboard (or cpu?) to add another card.
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August 7, 2009 4:16:18 PM

The video is choppy when playing inside of Premiere for sure, has to downgrade to draft quality for just raw avchd footage. Transcoding it to DVCHDPRO doesn't get much better, but a little.

Yea, it is the best thing I could buy locally, but I could get a better machine with 2 PCIe x16 slots from Costco.com or somewhere else. I am not really interested in building from scratch, and Costco is reasonably priced and has their own tech support staff (on top of any manufacturer warranty), which makes me smile. I may just be happier getting 2 machines for running different tasks, than one beefy one.
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October 30, 2009 3:11:21 AM

AVCHD is a tough video format to edit.
To do it with some efficiency:

1. Solution for Adobe Premiere CS3 and 4:
Buy a Matrox card $1200
-Convert the AVCHD to a Matrox AVI (you wont loose quality) and you wont need to render either.
-turn off the effects if you do not need them on while editing (color correction, drop shadows, etc)
-work in draft format

2. Solution for After Effects CS3 & 4
-Get Nucleo Pro. About $50 to $400 depending the version 1 or 2
- convert the file format into something OTHER than AVCHD or MTS- such as AVI, MOV or whatever makes you happy.
-turn off the effects if you do not need them on while working on the composition (color correction, drop shadows, etc)
- work in draft format
- assign your project a colour profile; do the same when you Interpret footage- the colour will look TONS better

Additional Comments:
Get LOTS of RAM. 2GB per core is best. Dual Quad Processing helps. Getting multiple dedicated Hard Drives helps. 1 hd for Source footage, 1 for Preview, 1 for Audio. Ideally get a HD with a fast RPM speed- and DO NOT use external hard drives on USB for this application; external HD are very slow
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