AVCHD footage is a format used with many of the professional and consumer camcorders on the market today. Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 is designed to work with this format natively to help improve the workflow. This document provides some pointers to working with this tricky format.

Proper way to import footage

AVCHD footage comes in a complex file structure that contains much more information than is typically found in video clips.  

You can work on footage while it's on the storage card. But if there is any difficulty, the first thing to do is to copy the footage onto a hard disk. Be sure to copy the entire file structure of the card instead of just the clips.

Always use the Media Browser in Adobe Premiere Pro, or use Prelude, to import the footage.

System considerations when working with AVCHD footage

Any computer that meets the system requirements for Adobe Premiere Pro should be able to edit this footage. The main restriction on AVCHD footage is the CPU. This particular format is not dependent on the hard disk speed, as it tends to be small file sizes for video footage.  

Also, the GPU doesn't process the video footage, so the video configuration doesn't have much effect on the performance.

If you're looking to build a system to meet the demands for AVCHD footage, make sure that the CPU is powerful enough. Using AVCHD footage in the Multicam Monitor requires a fast and powerful processor. You can find the system requirements here.

Potential symptoms

No audio track appears when placing the audio on the timeline

The most common reason for this symptom is that the footage was not imported properly. See Proper way to import footage.

There can also be a conflicting codec installed on the system. Be sure to uninstall any third-party codecs.

There is an audio track but no audio is heard during playback of entire clip

This symptom is another instance where importing the file properly is the best step. See Proper way to import footage.

Double-check the Audio Mixer to make sure the Audio Track you are working with is not muted or turned low enough to prevent audio playback.

Also, create a copy of Bars and Tones to place on the timeline. This step provides a tone to determine whether your audio hardware is set up properly. 

The video is choppy or non-responsive during entire clip

This symptom can be a sign that Adobe Premiere Pro can't get the CPU processing power required to play back in real time. Make sure that your system meets the system requirements found here.

Additionally, make sure that there are adequate resources available to Adobe Premiere Pro. When working on your footage, keep additional programs to a minimum. 

While scrubbing the timeline, the video freezes up or the audio stops

This symptom can be related to a known issue covered below.

Known issues

There is a known issue for Adobe Premiere Pro CS6. AVCHD files that are spanned can cause the system to freeze up while scrubbing the software. Also, the audio can sometimes disappear after a set amount of playback.

A spanned file has an extended duration, wherein the camera creates separate video files. These files don't appear to be separate when imported into Adobe Premiere Pro, only if looking at the video files in Finder or Windows Explorer.  

There is an update for CS6 - 6.0.4 that resolves the issue. Update CS6 to the latest version. Alternatively, Adobe Premiere Pro CC does not have this issue.

The best workarounds are to make sure that when recording, the video files are short enough that the camera doesn't use the file spanning feature. Also, transcoding the footage to a different format resolves the issue as well.

Transcoding tips

To transcode the footage, you can use Prelude, if you are using Production Premium or the Master Collection editions of CS6. Otherwise, use a third-party program for transcoding.

From within Prelude, do the following:

  1. Click the Ingest button in the upper toolbar.
  2. Choose the storage card for the camera, or the directory that was moved onto your hard disk.
  3. Make sure that the Ingest dialogue says that View As AVCHD.
  4. Select the clips that to Ingest.
  5. Under Transfer Options, click the checkbox to Transfer Clips to Destination.
  6. Choose Transcode.
  7. Under Transcode, choose the format you want to transcode the files into. 
  8. Click Ingest to copy and transcode those files.

Suggested codecs for transcoding

When transcoding, it's best to use a good intermediary codec. You want to keep the file size small but keep the quality of the original clips. Here are a few suggestions.

  • P2 settings are included with Adobe Premiere Pro and make a good step. This step creates a similar file structure to the AVCHD files and must be ingested in the same fashion.
  • UT is a free codec available online here. This format is a Windows codec, so it is available under the AVI file type. You can use this format on both Windows and Mac, but is primarily used on Windows systems.  Add an encoder preset within Adobe Media Encoder before it appears as an option in Prelude.
  • DNxHD is a free codec available online here. This format is primarily Mac-based, so it is available under the QuickTime file type.  It is available on Windows and Mac, but is primarily used on Mac systems. Add an encoder preset within Adobe Media Encoder before appears as an option in Prelude.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License  Twitter™ and Facebook posts are not covered under the terms of Creative Commons.

Legal Notices   |   Online Privacy Policy