Starting new series: Living in HD

Ok, I’ve decided to start new category: Living in HD. This is because I’ve recently bought a Canon HF100 camera as a replacement for my old Sony DV camcorder. I did it mainly because those “low” quality movies I’ve done with Sony look quite ugly on LCD TV capable showing 720p. And the tapes, those tapes. I hated copying them to computer at the filming speed.

So, here I am, a person that owns pretty decent consumer camcorder and doesn’t know almost anything about making the HD movies. And of course, I’ll be looking more like an IT guy on how did I understood some issues I’ve faced and finally what software or methods I’ve used to achieve some goals.

Ok, so here it comes – the first quest: Shooting in 30p

If you look here, you’ll find this nice description about shooting in 30p mode. Basically what I found important is the statement: “Excellent for action shots and sports”. I’ve seen many times before how movie maker and windows DVD maker break the video by not-deinterlacing the source video. After that the fast moving objects look almost exactly like it is shown in the simulated picture on Canon site.

So, I took a 30p film of a sports activity and tried to look at it using Windows Media Player. I had necessary CoreAVC and AC3Filter (those most probably came with Corel Video Studio trial), so Medial Player started showing the action I shot pretty straight forward.

Now, guess what. The image looked like interlaced. Hmmm … didn’t I set up the camera to take the shot at 30p?

Of course, I’ve tried to encode the m2ts files into WMV with Pinnacle Studio Plus 12 Trial and Corel’s (Ulead) Video Studio X2 Trial. Corel’s software failed to encode WMV. Pinnacle was ok – it did the job. Strangely, but those encoded movies were ok.

So I continued researching why the WMP shows something I didn’t expect to see – the interlaced view. It took quite a while to figure out. After searching couple of links I’ve found something like these statements:

Well, at that moment I could say only one thing. WTF is this 24/30p recorded in interlaced 60i? Anyway, getting a bit smarter at what to look for I found the place where I got the clear picture: here and here.

After getting things understood – fixing the stuff was fairly easy. I just set the CoreAVC to deinterlace using DirectShow. Everything became perfect.

I use WMV as a basic format at home, because I mostly play those videos by streaming them from Windows Home Server to Xbox 360, which is connected to my TV. Also, I like WMV for its good quality/size ratio (at least for my eyes).

So the next questions on the queue are: what would be the easiest and fastest way to work with AVCHD to produce WMV?

The general requirements and notes are:

  • Tool needs to join multiple files (longer movies are split by the camera into multiple files)
  • Tool needs to be as simple as possible
  • The tool needs to have WMV-HD (VC1) output support (primary output)
  • Command line option is welcome
  • Must have decent speed for my home laptop
  • Usage of all available CPU cores is a plus
  • Must run on Vista (and Windows 7 later)
  • Least amount of money investment required compared to useful available capability set
  • So far I’m not planning to use BlueRay output (I don’t have the device either)
  • I rarely use video editing (however I’ll do that from time-to-time)

Several initial thoughts are:

  • Windows Media Encoder
  • Expression Encoder
  • Windows Movie Maker (this and two above require purchasing CoreAVC, etc.)
  • Pinnacle Studio Plus 12
  • Make your own (based on WME most probably)

Those will come next.