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Update: Premiere Pro & AVC HD revisited – a list of solutions

AVC HD has been a topic that has dominated a previous post
where the comments are really the topic as opposed to the topic itself. This post has driven a large portion of my overall traffic, which has been humbling as I’d like to see more of it go to
my tutorials and content (hint, hint, sniffle.)… Of course, I dig getting people on the site at all, so what they hey – hit me wherever! ;-)

Gosh, haven’t left the first paragraph and I’m already digressing…Lets see, ah yes AVC HD.

So, Adobe.com has recently posted a list of AVC HD solutions that are compatible with Premiere Pro CS3 and Premiere Elements 4 (PC only).  Many of these have been mentioned during the course of the previous thread, but I had promised to compile all of them and post them.  A serious hat tip goes to Nick Lusty who pointed this link out to me.  While I’d like to say that I should have known this was there, you only have to wander among the Adobe.com site a while to realize there are thousands of pages…and that’s only the part that you see!

Here’s the link: AVC HD solutions and workarounds Give it a read and then you can read below for my comments.

BMD Intensity Pro cards:  I’m glad that they recommend this one as I do since it is an affordable I/O solution that gives you abilities beyond just AVC HD.  It’s also cross platform. 

Shedworx;  Haven’t seen it, but it looks like an affordable transcoding solution.

Main Concept: Oh how long ago, did I mention this?  Who would have thought the thread would still be going?  It’s still a viable solution, though compared to the BMD, it is a bit pricey…

Sony Solution:  This is one that I would have loved to have mentioned before, but never felt comfortable about it. Sony has long been a customer who bundles Premiere Pro with some of their VAIO configurations and so, they provide a solution for PC owners.  Now, if only they would sell the plugins separately!

Panasonic:  I think I’m kind of bummed at these guys.  I think they updated the download version so that 1.2 only works with Panasonic cameras and not anyone elses…  Lame… However, the solution is FREE and quality is great, so if it fits your scenario, I’d go for this one.

Canopus: I just came across this one last week as I was looking at ProCoder again.  It would be great if it could transcode to a higher res format that isn’t Canopus, but still, it is a very good transcoder that you can use to create final outputs from Premiere Pro to other deliverable formats minus Flash 8/9.  So, while it’s not perfect, I do think its a decent choice.

Elecard: This is another pretty affordable solution and one that some readers have embraced.  It’s definitely worth a look.

Pinnacle Studio 11: Being a former Pinnacle person, I’m rather torn.  I’m a loyal guy, even to former companies, but I’ve not been satisfied with Pinnacle stability.  If you’ve got Pinnacle Studio 11, then I say go for it.  As an aside, if you get a version working well with your given system, don’t update it – stay with what works!

TMPEG: Another transcoding solution and a bit more expensive ($99), but it’s been around the block and is supported by a host of video encoding enthusiasts (read, DVD rippers), so it’s also worth a look.

iMovie: This is the other big one that I want to talk about. Many Mac people already have iMovie or iLife, but don’t know that you can edit the captured footage in Premiere Pro.  You can capture in iMovie and then bring it into Premiere Pro CS3 and edit away.  Of course, you’ll have to create a preset that uses the Apple Intermediate Codec with Premiere Pro but it is a piece of cake to do.  So, this is a great (and possibly free) method for Mac users to get AVC HD going with Premiere Pro.

So, there you have it – a compendium of AVC HD solutions. It shows both Mac and PC solutions as well as solutions that work with Premiere Elements.  It has free solutions, inexpensive solutions, hardware and software solutions.  Did I miss anything?  Probably.  Are there other solutions out there that aren’t listed?  Again – probably.  Still, this should present you a single point source that can help you evaluate what you want and need to do if you’re editing AVC HD now and want to use Premiere Pro.  Have at it.

Comments

I have been using voltaic (shredworx) and imovie 08 to convert footage to h.264 for editing in Adobe Premiere Pro now for over a year. Whilst I find these solutions do what they are supposed to do, I find that I am not totally satisfied with the practice of intermediate encoding to h.264 from the AVCHD file, as it results in a high level of image artifact and loss of the dolby surround sound. I am but a novice, completely new to video editing but one thing i am reasonable sure of is that my next camera is probably not going to be AVCHD.

To me, the biggest problem about this whole situation is that Adobe simply refuses to tell us if native AVCHD support for Premiere is coming or not, and if it is, when we can expect to see it.

It’s been, what, over two years now since camcorders with AVCHD came out? My guess is that Adobe decided awhile back to simply ignore AVCHD in the hopes that it wouldn’t catch on. And now that it’s still around and gaining in popularity, they’ve been caught with their pants down.

The idea of third party support would be fine if the plug-ins didn’t cost nearly as much as the main program. People with the budget to afford $500 for a plug-in probably aren’t using AVCHD-based cameras in the first place. How many users are going to spend $500 for a plug-in so they can edit footage from their $1000 camera? Especially when they expect (perhaps incorrectly) that Adobe will eventually get around to some form of native support?

I know Adobe has no control over how much MainConcept or anybody else charges for their products. I’m not even saying that the plug-ins should be cheaper. The problem is that Adobe seems to have decided that the third-party plug-ins have sufficiently addressed the issue and that nothing further needs to be done.

Wrong! Every day that Adobe fails to provide native support for AVCHD is a day that they lose customers. People with AVCHD equipment will be buying Sony Vegas, Pinnacle Studio, or Corel’s VideoStudio when they otherwise would have bought Premiere.

I bought the MainConcepts plugin and for the breif period I used it, it was very nice to be able to edit AVCHD. Of course I had to upgrade my CPU. And eventually the solution was unworkable in my situation as the plugin seemed to interfere with all other codecs and so suddenly I couldn’t edit in DV with the plug-in installed. But the picture was great and even the HDV footage looked better. But now I am using NERO to transcode the AVCHD to HDV and edit that. I just don’t get why PPro CS3 can handle XDCAM now, but not AVCHD.

Good to hear that there are some options. I’m looking into Main Concept, but am unfamiliar with it, or any of the other programs you’ve mentioned. I’ve got a Sony HDR-SR11. Know what the process is to go from camera to CS3?

[DR - Brian, I would assume that you would drag your media across to the computer and then edit away with Premiere Pro. Give the trial a try and good luck!]

Thank you very much for this answer! One more question though. From what I read AVCHD can be a very demanding codec for even up to date pc’s, is BMD’s MJPEG codec also long gop based and does it not suffer the same problem, meaning you need a very fast pc to handle it?

[DR - You're welcome. The MJPEG codec is not a long gop codec and so should be less demanding when it comes to editing. Of course, with video editing, the better your PC, the better the overall editing experience. Let me know how you make out...]

I’m planning to finally leave SD behind and since I got so used to my Pana dvx100b I was really exited to finally see that a replacement, the AG-HMC150, will come out.
Now I don’t have experience with the AVC HD format and I use Premiere CS3, I was thinking about adding an intensity pro card to my system but I don’t understand exactly what the card will do in combination with premiere pro.
If I understand right the card will allow you to capture without any compression but:
Is the capture process in realtime?

[DR - the intensity card can capture in realtime either in uncompressed or compressed.]

Can premiere work with those uncompressed files without having to convert it into another codec it can read, since Premiere can’t handle AVC HD files yet?

[DR - Yup. of course the storage requirements of uncompressed are a bit daunting. I'd recommend BMD's MJPEG codec for lighter requirements.]

I’m using a Q6600 processor right now, will this allow realtime editing with those uncompressed files?
All these HD formats really get me confused, I always have known dv and workflow has been so easy with Premiere. But since I must step into the HD arena as well I am quite worried to make a wrong decision when it comes to choosing a format if that will be causing more workflow problems.
I also read that the intensity cards are not supported on Dell workstations, well, lucky me to have a XPS420, so I guess the card would not be an option for me?

[DR - Check with BMD about compatibility and/or buy from a vendor who will accept returns in the event that you can't get it working. AVCHD + BMD is similar to a DV workflow. Once you capture it, you edit away. Hope this helps.]

Thanks very much for this update. However, I think a more accurate title for this post would be “Update: Premiere Pro & AVC HD revisited – a list of workarounds”

[DR - I disagree. While some might be considered workarounds, many are in fact solutions. Whether they are solutions for you, that is the ultimate question. ;-)

Thanks for the comment.]

Thanks for the update.
Still, When a read the title of this post, I thought the format support update for CS3 finally was here. I don’t think it’s right to require cs3 customers to buy/use third party sollutions just to edit a very common video format today.

I start to fear support won’t be given until CS4 (Or have I missed something? :). In that case I don’t think I will stay in the adobe upgrade game anymore.

[DR - Hmm, good point Carl. I'll amend the title to say "update"]

What I”m hoping for is that there are Adobe coders waiting, hunched over a keyboard, for Red to release the SDK for their R3D file format.

I have a Red and I really don’t want to go out and buy a Mac with Final Cut just to be able to work with the footage I shoot.

[DR - Clint, we here you. The film workflow stuff is something that I do not work with on a day to day basis but I know that we have RED customers like you who want to work natively with RED files and that Premiere Pro does provide a good chance for that happening. I do not know when that will happen since, as you mentioned, RED is working on getting information out to a broader (ie not just Apple) customer base.

No doubt it will be something worth watching for the rest of 2008 and 2009.]

The list misses all the CineForm products which transcode AVCHD to AVI for the Windows platform, just as it has done for years with HDV, XDCAM, DVCPRO-HD, etc. For the beginner, either NEO HDV or Aspect HD (optimized from Premiere Pro.)

[DR – Thanks David. http://www.cineform.com

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