Back in November 2011, I published an Open Letter to professional AVCHD camera manufacturers. In that Open Letter, I clarified what I liked about the then current offering of pro AVCHD cameras;pointed out details I found inappropriate especially for pro users; and made requests. Now I am going to get more specific in the form of the Beyond AVCHD Manifesto, and make reference to the first two pro cameras to approach it seriously.
Link to 2011 Open Letter
Here is a link to the complete 2011 Open Letter, which was directed to professional AVCHD camera manufacturers, which at that time were Canon, Panasonic, and Sony. [At that time, JVC Professional was not offering pro AVCHD cameras, or any other type of H.264-recording cameras. At that time, JVC offered cameras that recorded MPEG2, similar to Sony’s XDCAM-EX, either wrapped either with QuickTime (.mov) or .mp4. Despite the mp4 wrapper, the video that was inside was encoded with MPEG2. I am pointing that out to clarify why my 2011 Open Letter was only directed to Canon, Panasonic, and Sony. Since then, JVC Professional has released cameras that can/do record H.264/AVCHD, but that was later.]
The original 2011 Open Letter was actually part 6 of my PsF’s missing workflow series. The letter is divided into the following sections: the introductory paragraph, What I understand from the consumer camera divisions about why they invented the AVCHD format (one paragraph), What I understand (and what I like) about the pro video cameras in the AVCHD price range (one paragraph), and What I don’t get —and really disturbs me— from this pro video camera segment (three numbered points), and Suggestions to the professional AVCHD camera manufacturers (seven numbered points). Since many of our readers probably read the 2011 Open Letter, I won’t repeat it all here. If you haven’t read it, here’s the link again. The rest of this article will still be here when you finish reading it 🙂
Beyond AVCHD Manifesto
- Professional video producers nearly always edit our videos, and often need to review, copy to external media, upload to a web server, or delete individual shots, all from a computer's Finder/Desktop.
- Professional video producers are therefore better served by a modern formatting system which allows for single files larger than 4GB. Examples of such modern formatting that can permit such files include exFAT, HFS+, and UDF.
- Additionally, professional video producers are also better served with a simple file/folder structure for video files, and enjoy absolutely no benefit from the labyrinthic and tortuous AVCHD file structure. When video files are encoded in H.264, they are best when they include extensions like .mp4 and .mov, with embedded metadata and without a maze of hierarchical folders. Given point 2 (above), these files should be able to exist as single files beyond 4GB when required, without any need for sequentially numbered files.
- Professional video producers have no need for PsF on our file-based recordings. All progressive recordings in Beyond AVCHD mode should be made exclusively as pure progressive, since in today's file-based workflows, PsF only serves to trigger unnecessary de-interlacing when the next software program mis-recognizes material as interlaced.
- HDMI outputs on cameras should offer the option of true progressive framerates, without pulldown. We know that you are concerned about monitor compatibility. Just give us the option in a menu. It's okay if you ask us three times if we are sure. It's okay if some of your own monitors don't accept true progressive at certain framerates. Don't punish your cameras because some older monitors are limited. We love you anyway. Just give us the option!
- It is clear that you have a mysterious commitment to the established AVCHD (and AVCHD 2.0, which doesn't address the issues raised here) and to archaic FAT32 formatting. So it's okay if your cameras ship from the factory shackled to the established, limited AVCHD (or limited AVCHD 2.0) and the archaic FAT32. Just give us a menu option to go Beyond AVCHD!
- In Beyond AVCHD mode, allow us to choose our H.264 bit rate freely regardless of the framerate, and give us the option to make it extremely high or extremely low at our discretion, not just the handcuffed bit rates associated with AVCHD 2.0.
- Onscreen menus that refer to non-integer framerates should display at least two decimals (i.e. 29.97, 59.94) to avoid confusion with the integer framerates that exist as an option in software (and in some other cameras). In the case of 23.976, you should go to three decimals unless you truly don't have enough space. In that case, we'll pardon you for expressing it as 23.98.
- Please offer downloadable firmware updates for all of your recent pro AVCHD camera models to add these capabilities (or at least some of them).
Clarification of Beyond AVCHD’s point 8
Please see my 2012 article Why I pardon rounding of shutter speeds in camera menus, but not framerates! to clarify point 8 in the Beyond AVCHD Manifesto.
Professional video cameras that begin to approach Beyond AVCHD
Many pro AVCHD video cameras indirectly comply with section 2 of the Beyond AVCHD Manifesto since they allow for the use of externally formatted SDxC memory modules, which fortunately come from the factory formatted as exFAT. However, to my knowledge, the only yet announced professional cameras that offer a menu option that allows skipping the labyrinthic and tortuous AVCHD file structure and record simple .mp4 files (although still not larger than 4GB each) are the Canon XA20 and XA25 cameras, which I’ll be covering again soon. There have also been many consumer camera models that have done the same (.mp4 instead AVCHD), but I am covering professional models here.
Upcoming articles and reviews
Stand by for upcoming articles and reviews, especially cameras that comply fully or partially with Beyond AVCHD. To make sure you continue to see my upcoming articles, sign up to my free mailing list by clicking here.
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My latest ebook
My most recent ebook is available in two languages. The format is Kindle, but even if you don’t have a Kindle device, you can read Kindle books on many other devices using a free Kindle app. That includes iPad, iPhone, Android phones, Android tablets, Mac computers, Windows computers, some Blackberry phones and Windows 7 phones.
In English, it is currently available in the following Amazon stores, depending upon your region:
- At Amazon.com (for all of the Americas and the Republic of India)
- Amazon.co.jp (Japan)
- Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom)
- Amazon.de (Germany)
- Amazon.es (Spain, pero a lo mejor lo prefieres en castellano, a continuación)
- Amazon.fr (France)
- Amazon.it (Italy)
If you’re going to buy a Kindle book as a gift, you must do so via the Pan-American Amazon store (the first one listed above), regardless of where you live or where the recipient lives.
En castellano, está disponible actualmente en las siguientes tiendas Amazon, según tu región:
- Amazon.com (todas las Américas y la República de la India)
- Amazon.co.jp (Japón)
- Amazon.co.uk (Reino Unido)
- Amazon.de (Alemania)
- Amazon.es (España)
- Amazon.fr (Francia)
- Amazon.it (Italia)
Si vas a comprar un libro Kindle como regalo, debes hacerlo vía la tienda panamericana de Amazon (la primera de la lista) sin importar donde vivas tú o donde viva la persona que recibirá el regalo.
Allan Tépper’s books, consulting, articles, seminars & audio programs
Contact Allan Tépper for consulting, or find a full listing of his books, articles and upcoming seminars and webinars at AllanTepper.com. Listen to his TecnoTur program, which is now available both in Castilian (aka “Spanish”) and in English, free of charge. Search for TecnoTur in iTunes or visit TecnoTur.us for more information.
Disclosure, to comply with the FTC’s rules
No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs.
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