Cut Lines: Using the AVCHD Format in Final Cut Pro

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FCP AVSHDThis month we’ll look at the AVCHD format and how it fits into your Final Cut Pro workflow. This relatively new, H.264-based video format is showing up on many new cameras, so chances are you will come in contact with it in the future—if you haven’t already. To work with AVCHD, you will need Final Cut Studio 2 or the latest version of iMovie. We will look at how to capture footage in both. Since the footage is already on a hard drive or memory card, this process is more like a hard drive transfer than a traditional tape-based capture.

One issue with AVCHD is that (like HDV) it’s based on a codec that is not really built for editing in the way that DV is. DV is an intraframe codec, which means that each frame of video is compressed using redundancies within the frame itself, and thus can be reconstructed and interpreted by your computer’s processor without having to refer to other frames in the video stream to gather the necessary image information. HDV, being MPEG-2-based, and AVCHD, being H.264-based, use both intraframe and interframe compression, which means most of the frames in your video stream need to be referred to other frames to gather all the image information that constitutes the frame. Because all this cross-referencing is so processor- and memory-intensive, it can really slow down your editing. So Apple converts AVCHD footage to one of two intermediate codecs—ProRes 422 or Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC)—when ingesting the video. More on these codecs and how they affect your video and your workflow later. read more...

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