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What is AVCHD

AVCHD (Advanced Video Coding High Definition) is a file-based format for the digital recording and playback of high-definition video. Developed jointly by Sony and Panasonic, the format was introduced in 2006 primarily for use in high definition consumer camcorders. It uses the MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 standard, supporting a variety of standard, high definition, and stereoscopic (3D) video resolutions. For audio compression, it supports both Dolby AC-3 (Dolby Digital) and uncompressed linear PCM audio. Stereo and multichannel surround (5.1) are both supported.

Aside from recorded audio and video, AVCHD includes many user-friendly features to improve media presentation: menu navigation, simple slide shows and subtitles. The menu navigation system is similar to DVD-video, allowing access to individual videos from a common intro screen. Slide shows are prepared from a sequence of AVC still frames, and can be accompanied by a background audio track. Subtitles are used in some camcorders to timestamp the recordings. Audio, video, subtitle, and ancillary streams are multiplexed into an MPEG transport stream and stored on media as binary files. Usually, memory cards and HDDs use the FAT file system, while optical discs employ UDF or ISO9660.

AVCHD is compatible with the Blu-ray disc format and can be authored without re-encoding on Blu-ray discs or DVDs, though not all Blu-ray Disc players are compatible with AVCHD video authored on DVD media, a format known as AVCHD disc. AVCHD recordings can be transferred to a computer by connecting the camcorder via the USB connection. Removable media like SDHC and Memory Stick cards or DVDs can be read on a computer directly. Copying files from an AVCHD camcorder or from removable media can be performed faster than from a tape-based camcorder, because the transfer speed is not limited by realtime playback.

Just as editing DVCPRO HD and HDV video once demanded an expensive high-end computer, AVCHD editing software requires powerful machines. Compared to HDV, AVCHD requires 2-4x the processing power for realtime playback, placing a greater burden on the computer’s CPU and graphics card. Improvements in multi-core computing and graphics processor acceleration bring AVCHD playback to mainstream desktops and laptops.


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