If you like acronyms, particularly for digital media, you’re going to get your fill here. In this case, we’re talking about Advanced Video Coding High Definition (AVCHD) and like other acronyms it can be a bit confusing. The essential message is that you can shoot and edit high-definition (HD) video with AVCHD camcorders, and then burn that video to a Standard Definition (SD) Digital Video Disc (DVD) quickly and easily and then playback the DVD in a HD Blu-ray (BD) player and view it on a big screen 1080p HD display.
It’s possible to burn HD content with RealPlayer Plus onto Standard Definition (SD) DVD recordable media. Additionally, that version of RealPlayer also offers accelerated downloads and transfers. Since nearly everyone has a DVD recorder, and Blu-ray burners are still a bit quirky and more expensive, this should be welcome news for home video users.
WHAT IS AVCHD AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
The AVCHD acronym isn’t new to the digital video world. It’s been around for six years since Sony and Panasonic developed the AVCHD camcorder to be the successor to High Definition Video (HDV). AVCHD camcorders use miniature (8 cm vs. the normal 12 cm) recordable DVD, Hard Disk Drives (HDD), or removable Secure Digital (SD) solid-state memory cards instead of tape. There are also versions with non-removable memory, and versions with combinations of these storage devices. AVCHD uses a superior codec, H.264 (the most popular in the world), compared to the older MPEG-2 standard used by HDV.
AVCHD is closely related to Blu-ray. AVCHD uses the MPEG Transport System (MTS) as its native file format, stemming from the same family as Blu-ray’s M2TS format. ACVHD can also play the popular MP4 format. They both use the H.264 for video compression and there are even Some AVCHD camcorders that use MP4 directly. There are endless disputes as to whether MTS or MP4 is better. The consensus is the quality is essentially identical.
AVCHD TECHNOLOGY 101
As previously noted, not all media players recognize and play the native AVCHD file format, MTS. If the player can’t see it, it certainly can’t burn a DVD. This also creates headaches for some video editing systems. Editors may not be able to just insert the memory card from an AVCHD camcorder into the computer and always expect it to work. If your system reads AVCHD/MTS and can burn onto DVD, you’re fine, and many do. But if it can’t, or the video editor doesn’t read MTS, the original material needs to be transcoded. Some editing software can read and edit the MTS format, plus create the AVCHD DVD disc.
That said, you could still make AVCHD DVDs using the MP4 format. A growing number of AVCHD camcorders record directly to MP4. Some are referred to as AVCHD Lite, meaning they don’t do 1080p, only 720p HD. That may be changing with newer 1080p cameras that will allow you to switch between the two. Also, look for High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) to make an impact.
DOWNLOAD, CONVERT AVCHD VIDEOS
There are a ton of HD videos available online that you can download and convert to AVCHD videos so that you can burn them to regular DVDs and play them in a compatible Blu-ray player. For example, Vimeo has a large selection of sample AVCHD content. Both AVCHD’s MTS and MP4 file formats support 720p, 1080i, and 1080p video resolutions. When downloading videos you should try to capture it at the highest resolution (1080p) possible. However, that said if your video player or TV only supports 720p resolution then that’s the format you should select when downloading a video.
RealPlayer Plus does not recognize MTS files. When using RealPlayer Plus to burn HD video onto a regular DVD, look for HD content in the MP4 format like the Vimeo screenshot below. If the resolution you want is only available as an MTS file, you will need to convert the MTS to the MP4 format using third-party software in order to burn an AVCHD DVD with RealPlayer Plus.
After downloading the HD MP4 file into the RealPlayer library you can use RealPlayer Plus to burn an AVCHD DVD that can be played back in a compatible Blu-ray player. In general, burn DVDs at slow speeds for better results and use high-quality DVD-R media such as Verbatim or Sony. It’s still less expensive than purchasing a Blu-ray DVD burner and blank Blu-ray discs.
When the AVCHD DVD disc is completed, test it in a compatible Blu-ray machine. Don’t be discouraged if the first version doesn’t work property, it can often be the result of a simple formatting problem with one of the video clips.
AVCHD can be burned to both HD Blu-ray discs and SD DVD (AVCHD DVD) discs, but the discs can only be played in Blu-ray AVCHD players and PS3 machines. Not all Blu-ray players are compatible with AVCHD. Typically, an AVCHD logo will be displayed either on the front, top, or rear of the machine to confirm this. Older models may not handle AVCHD. All the new gear on the market now will.
ARE YOU READY TO BURN HD VIDEO ON DVDs?
Shooting and displaying your own HD video has never been easier. Being able to use RealPlayer Plus to make AVCHD DVD discs provides a simple path to doing this. As you get better, you may want to step up to burning directly onto Blu-ray for the extra capacity. But for now, an hour of your homemade HD videos on one DVD is likely going to be perfect for most people.
If you’re in the market for an AVCHD camcorder, more brands and more models with more features are available than ever before. Have you heard of AVCHD before? Did you know HD videos could be burned onto regular DVDs to play on the big screen HD system at home? Let us know in the comments below.