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Movies and Video For people making movies and editing video with their Mac.

Canon Vixia HF20 - AVCHD Video


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tdb3120

 
Member Since: Aug 11, 2009
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I am brand new to the forum and after reading several posts about the AVCHD issues with the Mac, I was still confused. In fact, I had a one-on-one session at an Apple store with their Video expert, and it was as clear as mud to him too!

Here is my question - I Purchased a Canon Vixia HF20 the other day. Video looks great when plugged directly into my HDTV. Capturing video is not problem in iMovie '09 (I have an iMac 20" with Intel Duo Processor). I have imported the video in both the 940 X 560 format and "Full Quality". Again, no problems with either. HOWEVER, when I export the project to iDVD, the resulting burned DVD has signifiant jagged edges on fences, steel grates and power lines - you know, anything with straight edges. It is alos quite a bit fuzzier than I would expect it to be when outputting standard definition. In short, I was expecting the output tpo be at least as clear as my Canon Elura DV tape unit.

The guy at Apple said (guessed) it was a problem with the HD video being converted to interlaced video when taken to iDVD. He suggested two options (but was really unsure):

1) Get Toast 10 Titanium and you can set the import to progressive, OR
2) Buy the full version of Final Cut Pro for $1,000 (he said the Final Cut Express 4 would not help with the problem)

So, I am appealing to others who have likely already experienced the problem and found a solution. Can you tell me what the real problem is, and what the best solution is? I am willing to buy FCP and an external Blue-Ray burner, BUT, I do want to create videos on regular DVD too for family members who do not yet have Blue-Ray.

Thanks!!!!
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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
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Have you tried importing your video at true full resolution? Also, are you recording interlaced or progressive? I'm assuming you're recording at 1920x1080i and not one of the progressive modes on the camera. I'd import and edit at 1080i full resolution, and then output to the lower resolution. Right now, you're going through 2x size conversions (once to go from max rez to the 960x540 (which is what I think the actual numbers are, a simple /2 of the 1920x1080, but I don't have imovie in front of me to confirm) - it'd be much better if you could just do 1x size conversion.

I'd also see if you could stay either interlaced or progressive all the way through. If it's interlaced all the way through, you will see jaggies and combs on your LCD screen, but shouldn't on DVD playback.

You don't need full FCP to do beautiful HD work. My first HD project on a Mac was done using FCE ($199) and it turned out very sharp. Even so, you should be able to get a better picture then what you are describing from imovie.

Those are my initial thoughts at least.

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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tdb3120

 
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It is a brand new camera to me, and I have never used a High-Def camera. As far as I can tell, I am recording in 1920 x 1080p (not interlaced). I have sent a question to Canon tech support, but they tout that the Canon Vixia HF20 records in full 1080p. I have the ability to set it to a 24p or 30p frame rate, and apparently, that records in 60i.

The video looks decent in iMovie '09, but the problem occurs when it is sent to iDVD. You get the softer video and jagged edges. Again, I have used DV recorders for a long while, and expect a lower quality than HD when downconverting to iDVD to burn to a standard DVD. But, the quality is far less than a standard DVD I would burn from a DV project sent to iDVD.

I know iDVD is not optimal, so I want to make sure I choose the right:
1) setting on the camcorder for capture
2) Import correctly in iMovie '09 (not really too many choices here)
3) Send the edited footage to the best program to allow burning of the video to standard DVD, and/or Blu-Ray (want to be able to do both, although I clearly understand the video quality will be much better on Blu-Ray)

I am sure others have had this issue with Canon HD camcorders and the combo of iMovie '09 and iDVD. For those, I would welcome the solution you found to correct the problem. I want to keep the camera, and I doubt the answer is "get a Sony" as I hear they are even tougher to work with on a Mac.

Thanks again.
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tdb3120

 
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Update - Canon Tech Support says it records in 1080i (not 1080p) even though their marketing literature says it records in 'FULL 1080p.

Anyway, does the fact that it is recording in 1080 interlaced cause some of this problem? Even if it does, there still has to be a solution, or they could not sell their product to anyone who did not have the highest end equipment.
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Nethfel

 
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No, it wouldn't cause a problem - this is normal marketing for the Canon - I'm not sure how it does it, but somehow the camera will record the data in 1080i and then through software it is interpreted to 1080p (24p or 30p I think, I don't have the specs in front of me - it's a similar capability to my HF100, one I never use). I'd check your settings and make sure the progressive mode isn't set - I don't know if the footage would be interpreted correctly by imovie - although if the video on the screen looks right then you're probably ok - but it couldn't hurt to test staying in interlaced mode and doing a recording.

so, if it were me I'd:

1) Set the camcorder to 1080i (1920x1080i)- read your docs to see the mbps options and you may want to try a few of the higher settings to find what works best for you. Keep in mind, the Canon cameras, if you set the bitrate setting too low (which is, if I recall, set via the record speed selection), it will drop the resolution of the recording. Check the manual for what settings support which modes.

2) In iMovie, I'd also capture at full 1080 rather then the 1/2 resolution. Each time you resize video you can/will loose quality for obvious reasons, it's reducing the pixel count and having the use mathematical formulas to figure out how the image should look at a lower resolution. Doing this twice (the 1/2 resolution at capture, then doing it again for the DVD (720x480)) IMHO, it'd be better to do this reduction in resolution once rather then twice. Capture at full rez then reduce later.

3) Check your iDVD settings for video quality, make sure it's set high enough. I don't know what the default setting is, but perhaps it's a bit low? You can also try using some other software to transcode into mpeg2 video and ac3 or pcm audio to import into iDVD and not let iDVD do the conversion. Options include: mpegstreamclip, ffmpegx, quicktime pro (I think you'll have to purchase the mpeg plugin separately, I don't use QTPro, so I'm not sure). Also make sure you have the settings right for if you want to do anamorphic (sp?) dvd video or letterbox for your 16:9 footage. If you want to try a different authoring package, you can take a look at Toast, it's a great all around burning package, but isn't as flexible when it comes to dvd design. Another option is MovieGate (they have a trial version) that will allow you to select the compression ratio.

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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tdb3120

 
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Nethfel - Thanks for the feedback and insight. I will try all you suggested and report back for others to learn the next lesson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shirleyyang View Post
Canon AVCHD Editor...
Another idiot recommending a Windows application on a Mac site.

CameraTime - Time lapse photography for novice and advanced users.

When asking questions, post the version of your software. You'll receive better answers.

Please post your results to the thread as it is good feedback.
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Nethfel

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xstep View Post
Another idiot recommending a Windows application on a Mac site.
hmm, that post appears to have vanished, I wonder if a moderator erased it?

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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xstep

 
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What can I say, I'm getting tired of people posting Windows solutions on a Mac site. Glad to see it was removed. It was probably another spam ad anyway.

CameraTime - Time lapse photography for novice and advanced users.

When asking questions, post the version of your software. You'll receive better answers.

Please post your results to the thread as it is good feedback.
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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xstep View Post
What can I say, I'm getting tired of people posting Windows solutions on a Mac site. Glad to see it was removed. It was probably another spam ad anyway.
Yeah, I reported a spam ad in another thread just the other day. I guess they just keep trying under different accounts.

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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CactusVideoGuy

 
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Alright.. this might help answer a question I have... I shoot footage at 1920x1080 (usually interlaced; i have a Panasonic HDC-SD9 that I can switch to 24p cinema mode that will give me 1080p)... usually I shoot 1080i (30fps/60 interlaced).. then import into iMovie 09 (as FCE has probs with the AVCHD from Panasonic cams) as raw footage... then send it to FCE via XML export.. and do all my editing and good stuff there.. now then.. my question lies on the output to QuickTime, and subsequent DVD burning (Toast 9 Titanium)... when I do all this, my final DVD output cuts off the outer edges of the video (stills that are 720x480 look larger, and detail is missing all the way around) and the video looks larger and is a bit less defined...

What did I miss, or am I missing? I'd really love to know, so that I can shoot footage in as high quality as possible, edit simply using FCE, and then output a great looking, sharp video (Toast or iDVD - either one is fine)...

Thanks in advance!

Cheers!

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