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Newbie needs info on lossless conversions

Alex Ethridge

Standard Member
Running Windows 7 Ultimate

I have recently started using the Panasonic HDC-TM700 camcorder which creates files in MTS format and which look to me to be near broadcast quality. Is there a way to create lossless conversions to other formats? If so, what are my format options and what programs would I use?

So far, I have tried a few (trial) programs downloaded from the 'net and I have Nero 9 on my computer, all of which have produced conversions of very disappointing quality.
 

DocJackal

Well-known Member
If you want to work natively you can edit using Sony Vegas (so you don't need to convert it to anything, just use the .mts files straight up). But, it can be a bot glitchy, so you can try the method posted here... how to run .mts in sony vegas - Google Mobile Help

Either way, .mts is an MPEG Transport Stream, so converting it to an MPEG2(HD) video is the way to go for lossless conversion. How you wrap it up though is up to you depending on what you want and where you want it, though a standard MPEG Container is usually good.

Personally I use Mac and FCP, so I would use MPEG Streamclip to kick out a .mov @ HD ProRes 422(HQ) and edit perfectly with that.
 
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Alex Ethridge

Standard Member
Now I'm even more confused. I guess I need to clarify my concerns.

The limit of my video experience is absolutely limited to having held a camcorder and pressed a button and aimed.

I have learned this about editing digital stills: If one edits a compressed image (JPG, for instance) and saves the work and does this a couple of times, artifacts (image degradations) begin to become apparent. So, if one intends to edit and doesn't want to lose quality, conversion to a lossless format needs to be the first step.

The same has to be true of videos as they are simply a lot of stills 'glued' together.

I have two distinctly separate jobs in mind at present:
1) concerning the new digital videos I make with the camcorder, cutting scenes and pasting them together
2) Another involves some old Super 8mm (film) sound movies that I have re-recorded to digital. They have a 'hot spot', brighter in the center, that tapers to darker at the edges. I want to correct that hot spot.

I have never edited a digital video in my life. I know absolutely nothing about it. I don't know anything at all about the software required, let alone how to use it. I have never even been present on a premises where video editing has been done. I don't know what formats in digital videos are considered lossless.

With my limited knowledge, it just seems logical for me to first learn what formats are lossless and how to get there with my videos.

From the answers I've gotten so far, I'm beginning to think that a lossless format might not exist. Either it doesn't exist or I just don't understand anything at all about what I'm reading.
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Unfortunately the analogy with still is not quite the same as with video
When you edit, the original files are not touched.. copies are made and it is they which are " edited"
Depending on software and how you set it up, during editing rendering/encoding may be occurring even if all you do is straight cuts
Also when you finish the edit and "save as" or "render as.". Encoding occurs
If the encoding engine is very good it may encode to near identical as your original
What doug_1986 was explained is that mts files , though AVCHD in codec are multiplexed Mpeg2 "transport stream" for storage which if edited as hi res mpeg 2 will remain lossless
Even if you edit natively as AVCHD , unless you can output with similar bitrate as camcorder ( and mind you codec are not identical) some " loss " may occur but it may be negligible
So lossless video formats exist usually not used because you can achieve very good quality with smaller file size with lossy but clever codecs
In Stills that is simplified RAW to TIFF to uncompressed jpeg .. its not as simple in video
 
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Navvie

Active Member
I don't think there is any such thing as lossless video.

Anything that records video at less than the resolution of the human eye must be considered lossy. Right? :thumbsup:

As for the resolution of the human eye? I don't think there is a definitive answer, I've see figures ranging from 10 megapixels to 1,000 megapixels.

(I realise this post doesn't help. It started as a question as to where lossless video would originate from.)
 
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DocJackal

Well-known Member
I don't think there is any such thing as lossless video.

Well, Uncompressed 10bit video is pretty much as good as it gets. It is also however hugely unwieldily and to do any proper editing with you need to be running from a fibre raid setup.

Nowerdays as far as broadcast is concerned, Prores 422 (HQ) is the codec used for editing, conforming, re-editing, delivery etc, as it is *the most* lossless codec around that is actually usable without burning drive space.
 

axiomprime

Active Member
There are other formats you can convert your clips to without losing quality but they will be bigger than the originals. As senu said your originals won't be butchered when you edit and if you master it as a bluray it will still look totally awesome.
 

PhilipL

Well-known Member
Hi

Well, Uncompressed 10bit video is pretty much as good as it gets. It is also however hugely unwieldily and to do any proper editing with you need to be running from a fibre raid setup.

Nowerdays as far as broadcast is concerned, Prores 422 (HQ) is the codec used for editing, conforming, re-editing, delivery etc, as it is *the most* lossless codec around that is actually usable without burning drive space.

There is lossy and visually lossy as well of course. A lot of video codecs are lossy, i.e. you can never get back the original data, but are so good and compress so well using high bit-rates they are consider visually lossless. Also these better codecs are designed for editing and will allow editors to SmartRender, i.e. they only process and recompress effects and transitions, with simple cuts and the majority of footage render out unaltered, so in that context they edit lossless wherever possible, important when the footage is being used in different packages for further work and processing in a professional environment.

Regards

Phil
 

rogs

Well-known Member
Is this true?
Does AVCHD record each individual frame, or does it record one frame followed by just the changes to that frame until a significant scene change occurs when it starts over?

AVCHD is a long GOP format, so no, it doesn't record all individual sequential frames.
With the exception of 'I frames' which only occur every 10- 15 frames,IIRC, all the others (B and P frames) depend on 'feed forward' and 'feedback' information to adjacent frames. Which can make it a pig to edit 'frame' accurately!

The newer editions of most video editing software will have a crack at 'faking' frame accurate editing, some more successfully than others I understand,but it takes a lot of CPU 'grunt' to do it smoothly.

I prefer the alternative option. Convert the AVCHD into a high quality 'intraframe' format -like Canopus HQ or Cineform. Makes it much easier to deal with -almost as easy as DV to edit.

Significantly larger intermediate(working) file sizes, but super quality, frames accurate edits and transistions, and easy high quality output conversion options.

Not cheap - Edius Neo is probably the cheapest way to do it, at present - but much less frustrating than trying to edit 'raw' long GOP AVCHD, in my opinion.

Although they do say that with the latest versions of programs like Vegas and Premiere - and a seriously powerful PC, you can now deal with AVCHD 'natively'?
 

PhilipL

Well-known Member
Hi
rogs said:
The newer editions of most video editing software will have a crack at 'faking' frame accurate editing, some more successfully than others I understand,but it takes a lot of CPU 'grunt' to do it smoothly.

They don't fake frame accurate editing, they do frame accurate editing from AVCHD. It does take 'grunt' but grunt is what we have a plenty on multi-core CPUs these days that are usually sat there unused waiting for us to read web pages etc.

I prefer the alternative option. Convert the AVCHD into a high quality 'intraframe' format -like Canopus HQ or Cineform. Makes it much easier to deal with -almost as easy as DV to edit.

You can or course convert to anything easier to edit if your PC is struggling or you prefer close to zero latency as you scan over the timeline, which doesn't involve you paying out for extra codecs. Some editing software will do this conversion automatically for you, making editing possible on even the slowest of PCs. I've encoded 1080p/50 to MPEG2 50fps to edit with as I needed to lipsync to audio and the slight latency of working with the original 1080/50p files was just annoying enough to warrant the transcoding. Then on the final render I replaced the transcoded files with the original ones and job done and no additional quality loss of another intermediate lossy codec, even if they are are good ones.

Significantly larger intermediate(working) file sizes, but super quality, frames accurate edits and transistions, and easy high quality output conversion options.

I disagree, the same results are had from using the original files. It is an urban myth that converting to something like Cineform somehow gives you a better output, this would only be true if the output was still Cineform and those files were then having further work or processing done to them elsewhere, unlikely in a home setting. Cineform will only make editing easier, it doesn't improve the quality of transistions or effects, as all these are applied to uncompressed frames within the editor anyway in a large colour space. Converting to Cineform then outputting as something else (i.e. AVC for Blu-ray) will give you a lower quality output due to the extra lossy transcoding to Cineform, visually it might not be noticable, but there is an extra quality loss.

Although they do say that with the latest versions of programs like Vegas and Premiere - and a seriously powerful PC, you can now deal with AVCHD 'natively'?

I've been dealing just fine with AVCHD with Sony Vegas and Corel VideoStudio before that. Yes 1080/50p can see me transcoding to something else for the "edit" part, but not always.

So what I'm saying is you don't need to spend a $100 or so on an extra codec, which in some cases is more than the cost of the editing package! If you find AVCHD files are just not "fluid" enough then just transcode to MPEG2, or DV video even, use those files for the edit, then replace them with the originals at the final render, or something like Corel VideoStudio will do this all automatically for you. You can even do Smart Rendering on VideoStudio, so no quality losses at all, but that's another can of worms :)

Regards

Phil
 
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senu

Distinguished Member
Thanks Rogs, a few comments ( not criticism, mind ) as Ive used the Canopus way ( codecs) you suggest very happily but it may not be for all, in truth decent hardware always floats my boat but Im yet to try the lottery!:rotfl: But to the unwary getting an AVCHD "fullhd" camcorder it is often not the end of spending.. Even for playback the minimum is a media player unless the BD route is felt to be OK
The newer editions of most video editing software will have a crack at 'faking' frame accurate editing, some more successfully than others I understand,but it takes a lot of CPU 'grunt' to do it smoothly.
Yep but most but the entry level PCs have that much grunt, these days

I prefer the alternative option. Convert the AVCHD into a high quality 'intraframe' format -like Canopus HQ or Cineform. Makes it much easier to deal with -almost as easy as DV to edit.
Correct but HDV is similarly easy to edit

Significantly larger intermediate(working) file sizes, but super quality, frames accurate edits and transistions, and easy high quality output conversion options.
Im not sure but Id agree comparatively speaking but yes results are fine
Not cheap - Edius Neo is probably the cheapest way to do it, at present - but much less frustrating than trying to edit 'raw' long GOP AVCHD, in my opinion.
Its not terribly expensive instead of the frustration of different packages on the way there. Ii used it with footage from a Panasonic AG HMC 41, it was fine and I have tried it on other Canon Sony footage largely encoraged by your positive experience but it
One altermnative
Ironically I find that Edius handles HD Mpeg2 (HDV) so well on even single core setups that it shines in that IMHO
Although they do say that with the latest versions of programs like Vegas and Premiere - and a seriously powerful PC, you can now deal with AVCHD 'natively'?
Yes, I have a decent i7 with 6Gb RAM.. it just flies:laugh:
It also works on a quad core with 4Gb RAM but noticable less nippy.However Adobe Premiere is very resource hungry Vegas far less so
Off topic Sony EX1 footage edits really well on the quad core
 
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Alex Ethridge

Standard Member
I guess there is a lot of good information in this thread and I do greatly appreciate everyone's efforts in helping me better understand things; but, I feel like a person who speaks only English and sitting in a room full of people talking a language I simply don't understand. I don't even know the terms you guys use here.

I have seen Adobe Premiere and Sony Vegas mentioned here and I am beginning to think the only way I am going to begin to gain knowledge is maybe to simply buy a program and start experimenting.

So, for someone who knows nothing about these programs and doesn't understand 90% of the terms used here so far, how are Premiere and Vegas different and how are they similar? Please bear in mind that all I'm interested in doing right now is:
1) cutting dead space from scenes and pasting them together with other scenes.
2) getting that hot center evened out across my old Super8 film movie frames.

And doing both of those jobs with no loss of image quality (or as little loss as possible of no loss is not possible).
 
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paulwilko

Active Member
Have you looked at Pinnacle Studio ?

You can work with MTS files and is prettty good for newcomers like us. Standard transitions and cutting of videos.

Not sure if there is a lossless output from it though, someone here maybe able to answer that

There is a Trial on pinnaclesys website

Gd luck
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Pinnacle is not great at HD. The re-encoding is a bit hit and miss. That being said, for your application, it is probably absolutley fine. You are not looking at broadcast, just good HD on your TV at home. Even after editing it will look better than what Sky squirt down your dish!

You will just need a good PC and plenty of drive space. a bit of patience while it renders will be required as well...
 

mikethelaserman

Active Member
It is a while since I ran the Pinnacle trial, but I seem to remember that it had picture adjustments (colour, sharpness etc.) which could be applied to a whole video, or just a small section as desired. This might go some way toward Alex's needs for "re-mastering" his old films.

Personally, I found the output of Pinnacle very good and it didn't need all the settings (and the knowledge to make them properly) that some others needed in order to get decent quality. Plus it is pretty cheap if you forego all the addon packs.
 

rogs

Well-known Member
They don't fake frame accurate editing, they do frame accurate editing from AVCHD.

Just goes to show how quickly one can get out of touch with new developements!
I'd no idea you could edit long GOP formats, like AVCHD, with frame accuracy, without converting them to an intraframe format.

How do you find a frame accurate cut point - say 6 frames away from an 'I' frame - without converting at least some of the footage to accomodate the new GOP you're going to create?
Or does the software just create little 'bits' of intraframe footage, where necessary?
 

PhilipL

Well-known Member
Hi

Just goes to show how quickly one can get out of touch with new developements!
I'd no idea you could edit long GOP formats, like AVCHD, with frame accuracy, without converting them to an intraframe format.

How do you find a frame accurate cut point - say 6 frames away from an 'I' frame - without converting at least some of the footage to accomodate the new GOP you're going to create?
Or does the software just create little 'bits' of intraframe footage, where necessary?

I'm guessing the software just decodes a GOP into frames and holds them in memory, you step through the frames it has decoded. This is where things become a bit slow with AVCHD as if you jump around all over the place, as you point out, the software has to find the frame you want by moving back or forward over the video and decode the whole GOP to find a single frame.

Perhaps what you meant and I mis-understood is that you aren't really editing the AVCHD as during the render it is decompressed to frames, those frames are then put together based on the frames you have cut at, and re-compressed back to AVCHD or some other format. An Intra frame format would not need to be re-rendered from start to finish just for simple cuts.

There is SmartRendering for AVCHD where only edits/transitions are re-rendered, but again this isn't being produced by cutting at the exact frame, as the software will need to find the start of the GOP before your selected cut point and re-encode a GOP from that point, include the cut, and carry on for a bit afterwards. This also gives rise in my experience to often broken streams as it is really a hack going on.

In terms of what you get as an output, it is frame accurate to your cuts, but I see what you might have meant by "fake". I originally read what you had written as fake meaning cut points only being approximate depending on the start of next GOP, which is how some DVD Recorders and software handle edits in MPEG2. As far as the output is concerned ignoring anything going on 'under the hood' and for the benefit of anyone else reading this far, don't worry, you are getting frame accurate edits with AVCHD :)

In terms of converting to CineForm which I felt I was bashing without explanation, this will not give a better output because:

AVCHD used natively

AVCHD on the timeline -> lossless decompression to uncompressed video for rendering -> lossy compression to final delivery format

Cineform intermediate

AVCHD -> lossless decompression to uncompressed video by CineForm API -> lossy recompression to CineForm

then

CineForm on the timeline -> lossless decompression to uncompressed video for rendering -> lossy recompression to final delivery format

So with CineForm you have put your video through 2 lossy compressions rather than the one with using native AVCHD. CineForm is only of benefit quality wise if you aren't exporting from the timeline for final delivery, but need to put the video through some other software package for further processing, even then for many of us hobbyists we'd have no issues exporting as uncompressed lossless video (using the free Lagarith codec to help keep file sizes lower without loss) and using that, which being lossless is better than CineForm.

I'm not knocking CineForm, it's a great codec and if editing feature length films in many different software packages it comes into it's own, but for us home users with modern PCs that can handle AVCHD now on the timeline where we are only staying in the one software package, and hard drives in the terabytes are cheap as chips should we want to use a lossless intermediate step, it simply isn't needed, and if editing is too slow with AVCHD, then using proxy files is a cheaper solution and avoids the second lossy compression step.

So taking the above into account, CineForm is quite an expensive codec for most of us that simply isn't needed in my opinion. It had it's day when editing long GOP formats was out of reach of most PCs, but today I can't see a need for it, probably why the company was sold to GoPro, as they saw their market disappearing?

Regards

Phil
 
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senu

Distinguished Member
In fact probably also why Cineform isnt part of Vegas anymore (its on Vegas 8 but not on 10:; i have both on my system) as Vegas is clever at editing Intraframe, and PCs have become a lot better with newer hardware
Just a few years ago even HDV was a pain to edit properly, Back then Edius didi a really good job even better than Premiere CS
 

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