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

Panasonic Professional AG-HMC40 AVCHD Camcorder with Final Cut on IMAC...thoughts?


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jrabinow

 
Member Since: Jul 19, 2011
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I really want to buy a Panasonic Professional AG-HMC40 AVCHD Camcorder with 10.6MP Still and 12x Optical Zoom... however I have been told that AVCHD is not native to editing on MACs .. I have an IMAC with Final Cut Express and this is what I will be using to sync up with the camera for making montages and videos....

Please list the potential issues you see with this combination and solutions to them you know them...
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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
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Mac Specs: Late 2013 rMBP, i7, 750m gpu, OSX versions 10.9.3, 10.10

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You wouldn't want to edit AVCHD native anyway really. AVCHD is a highly compressed distribution format - it's not really designed for editing. FCP (well, pre FCPX, I don't know about FCPX since I don't own it) will transcode the footage to ProRES.

With you having FCE, it will transcode to Apple Intermediate Codec.

Your biggest issues is that not all of the record modes on the HMC40 are supported in FCE. It's been a long time since I last used FCE so I don't remember all of the modes that weren't supported off hand.

I have an HMC40 and use it with FCP6 and FCP7 and have not had any problems with 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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jrabinow

 
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Good to know. I have determined that Final Cut X, although simplistic in nature, is the most native and easiest way to edit AVC-HD. My main concern now is content quality..The high compression data loss will limit post production of footage. I am only using this camera for recording and editing bar-mitzvah and wedding gigs. Do you think I will be able to make a quality HD finished product using the HMC 40 and does it handle well in very low light or should I be looking elsewhere in the same price range?
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jrabinow

 
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Also, since native AVCHD is not good for editing... what is the best way to transcode to ProRES and what is the effect on image quality in the method?
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Nethfel

 
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In terms of transcode - let FCP handle log and transfer - it will auto-transcode for you. It will also take a LOT more space (a ~1.5 hr video 720p60, ProRES 4:2:2 takes ~95 gigs) - but it is near uncompressed. The impact on the video is minimal (there's always a little impact in transcoding, but at least you're going from heavily compressed to near uncompressed). The other good thing is that it takes a lot less CPU horsepower to playback ProRES files (although you find that storage throughput becomes more of an issue, slower drives are not great to use for editing and you want a disk separate from your OS/boot drive to be your scratch disk). This all said, FCPX may handle AVCHD footage differently - I won't know anytime soon since FCPX has limitations that would cause a serious problem in my workflow.

Now, in terms of low light - the camera works OK but I'll be honest, it's not one of my favorites for low light performance (it's three chip which produces outstanding color, but the sensors are small (1/4.1) so they tend to not perform as well in low light compared to larger sensor cameras. If you're relatively close to your subject it's a lot better then if you're far away (I have to record graduations for the school I work for and I'm in the way back of the auditorium - with the light level and distance it's a bit more grainy then I'd like). I love the feature set of the camera - it's hard to find a camera with its features in the same price range.

Last year I did a short comparison of fairly low light between an older Canon HF100 and the HMC40, you can see it here: &#x202aanasonic AG-HMC40 low light test compared with HF100‬‏ - YouTube it may help you decide if it will work for you.

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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jrabinow

 
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HAHA... that is funny... I checked that out yesteday randomly... I would like to get the hf 100, (for performance and value) but my fear is that it is not professional enough (looking) for what I want to charge my customers. The HMC40 seems to be a great balance of simplicity and professionalism. Thanks for the tips, I am going to try FCPX and see how it works with AVCHD... I'll let you know what I find. Im suprised that uncompressing the footage doesn't ruin the quality though.. I think of it as if u take a small picture and stretch it out... as opposed to taking a large picture, making it small, then making it large again. In the compressed (small) image, the data is not available to make the resolution high quality at a larger size; however, this new format may work differently from older ones.
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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
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Well, if you think about it - the footage is always being uncompressed whenever it's played. When played in real time, it is decompressed, interpreted and displayed. You're not really blowing up an image that is small to an image that is big - that would be more like saying you're taking SD footage and resizing it to HD footage You can (obviously) never get higher quality footage by converting it from compressed to uncompressed, but you wouldn't necessarily loose the quality that you would by working with footage that constantly needed to be decompressed and recompressed (imagine highly compressed footage having to be pieced together).

Prores is I-Frame only video, which means that it doesn't need to interpolate the images between frames. AVCHD uses B-Frames which means it needs data from both before and after the frame to interpret the frame - it would require a lot more work and decompression/recompression to build new render output and export files.

See:
ProRes 422 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
H.264/MPEG-4 AVC - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Video compression picture types - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Inter frame - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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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ngrai

 
Member Since: Mar 28, 2013
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...to jrabinow for the advice given to Nethfel in this thread. It is clearly expert and is clearly stated, and still of value after nearly two years. I am in the same position as Nethfel was in 2011, though I have the benefit of a fallen price on what may be an obsolescent, but is still good and competitive judging by my research, Panasonic AG-HMC40.

I was concerned that FCP-X might not be able to handle the camera's files directly, since it is not listed as an FCP-X-supported camera, but you have resolved that issue for me.

Again, thanks for being so generous with your time and expertise.
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ngrai

 
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Oops -- I mixed up the roles.... I should have said: "Thanks to Nethfel for the advice given to jrabinow."
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