Showing posts from August 24, 2008


I downloaded the trial for VoltaicHD to see whether it would be a better alternative to the Final Cut Express import process for AVCHD files (or even if it would be useful for converting AVCHD files that aren't recognizable by FCE.) Note: the demo is good for 10 conversions, with a maximum file size of 50MB First the good news: It converts .MTS files (native AVCHD files) no matter where they are, so that's a big plus over FCE and will be useful for archiving .MTS files. I copied a .MTS file from the camera card onto the Desktop and then successfully converted it. The program has a simple, but intuitive interface; drag the files into a list, where you can select them if you want to transfer them, and you can see a preview of the first frame of the clip by clicking the Details button. There's no In and Out point selection as there is in FCE, but I can live with that. The bad news: it takes much, much longer than FCE to do the conversion. A 15 second clip took FCE 32 seconds

Final Cut Express SDHC Conversion

To provide a little more illumination on how the SDHC conversion works in Final Cut Express; When you either mount the camera in disk mode (or have the SDHC card inserted in a card reader) and open the Log and Transfer window, the name of the volume appears with a spinning progress indicator: After about 20 seconds, a list of clips appears. You can preview them, set in and out points, or simply drag from the top window to the bottom. The bottom window is a queue of clips to be converted. Note that FCE only seems to recognize AVCHD files if they are contained within a valid file structure. If you try and copy the .MTS file into Log and Transfer from another location, you get an error message:

AVCHD Editing

I had two concerns when considering getting an AVCHD camera: 1. Dealing with archiving all that video content that I could no longer just file away on the tapes on which it was recorded. 2. Editing the AVCHD content I’m still working on 1, but issue 2 seems to work okay…though there are issues. I’ve been using Final Cut Pro for a couple of years, and Apple announced support for the AVCHD compressor with the latest release of it and FC Express. That meant upgrading, and – long story short – I ended up buying Final Cut Express 4.0, because it was cheaper than buying the Final Cut Pro suite. After shooting some video with the Panasonic AG-HMC70U – and installing the software – I tried inserting the SDHC card into the card reader, mounting that, and accessing the files. The card mounted fine, and revealed a somewhat confusing directory structure, but I eventually found what I took to be the data files (.MTS) in a folder called STREAM. Unfortunately, these files were completely unrecognized

Memory Snob

The AG-HMC70U comes with a 2GB SDHC card. That should hold about 20 minutes of video at the highest quality setting. Not too bad for playing about with, but not enough for everyday use. B and H Photo (where I bought the AG-HMC70U), lists – amongst accessories - a Panasonic 16GB Class 6 card for $129.95. Considering what I’ve paid over the years for Compact Flash cards, that’s almost like giving them away, but I thought I could do better. A search for SDHC cards at Amazon came up with only a few 16 GB cards (though I think the number increases each time I go back there!) My first preference was for a name brand card. The SanDisk Ultra II seemed like the obvious choice, which they were selling for $89.99. SanDisk is a “known” entity; they have been around for a while, and I have several cards from them already that I have been happy with. But a little research revealed that this card is a Class 4, with a maximum transfer rate of 15 MB/sec. The AG-HMC70U maximum bit rate is 13, so in theo