This afternoon I downloaded and tried out the Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9.0b trial version. Vegas is unique in that it is able to edit AVCHD directly, without conversion.
But as I learned, you’ll probably need a dual core processor.
The process was slow on my 3.2 ghz single CPU PC with 1.5 GB of RAM and running Windows XP. Vegas quickly imported the clips from the camera, and arranging them on the time line was quick and easy. BUT – all videos stuttered when I tried to play them without using the “render to preview” step.
By the time I started doing rendering so I could watch in real time, the whole process had bogged down. Converting to other formats was not real fast on the 3.2 Ghz machine, either.
Seems to me that if your system really can not handle true AVCHD editing, then you are best off doing a conversion to another editable format.
On the Mac, I’m likely to stick with Voltaic HD 2.x for both transcoding and elimating the 24p pulldown frames. Voltaic HD is also available for Windows. I have not tried the Windows version yet, but the idea is the same – it should transcode from AVCHD in to (probably) an .AVI file that you can use in your favorite HD capable video editor. (Note – not all video editors can handle 24p – you’ve been warned.
Now that Voltaic HD 2.02 properly converts AVCHD to AIC and removes 24p pulldown frames – I will probably just use that. Sure, there is a transcoding step from AVCHD to the AIC format. But it is darned hard to see any meaningful loss except for a very slight softening of the colors. Since my destination is eventually to MPEG4 files that I play on my HDTV any image losses in the AIC transcoding are irrelevant.
More info on AVCHD and also 24p is available in other posts on this web site. In other posts, I describe how you can use iMovie and the free program JES Deinterlacer to process hv20/hv30 24p, or AVCHD with 24p video frames.
For now, I’m likely to use Voltaic. It is not real fast but it does produce the best results for when you want to be picky about images.