RX100: AVCHD versus MPEG4 video?

Started Nov 2, 2012 | Discussions thread
dark goob
Contributing MemberPosts: 944
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Re: RX100: AVCHD versus MPEG4 video?
In reply to BillSprague, Nov 4, 2012

Yes AVCHD is a proprietary codec (COmpressor-DECompressor) format owned by the AVCHD Consortium (Panasonic and Sony). MP4 is a proprietary codec as well, but it is owned by the MPEG Group.

On July 1, 2011, AVCHD-info.org posted this:

"The AVCHD Format has been updated to Version 2.0 by adding new specifications
for 3D and 1080/60p,50p. New trademarks; "AVCHD 3D", "AVCHD Progressive" and
"AVCHD 3D/Progressive" are introduced."

Developers like Adobe or Apple have to pay license fees to MPEG or AVCHD to use those codecs in their software. They also have to write the algorithms to do this. Both of these things cost a lot of money. The development takes a lot of time.

Think of it like RAW format. Whenever a new camera comes out, it takes awhile for Adobe and Apple, etc., to update their applications' RAW support (even though the camera makers ship the camera with software that can do the RAW conversion). But RAW converters do not require a license to be paid to the camera manufacturer -- it would not go over well in the press if a camera maker decided to charge for its RAW standard.

However, RAW formats are still proprietary and you'll notice that official manufacturer software like Nikon CaptureNX or Canon Digital Photo Professional often do a better job at converting RAW files compared to Adobe or Apple software. This is because manufacturers give little support to third party developers regarding each camera's RAW features. It costs money to give support and the RAW format is allowed to be used for free, so, no support

However video codecs are too complicated to reverse-engineer. As a developer you're going to need support from the AVCHD guys to ever hope to implement it in your software. A codec like AVCHD 2.0 is so complicated and so hardware-intensive that it requires an insane amount of development compared to updating RAW format support for a new camera. You are talking about interfacing with GPU drivers and multi-threaded math-heavy stuff and doing it FAST.

Uncompressed 1080 60P on a 24-bit computer monitor is equivalent to 356 MEGABYTES of data PER SECOND!! And yes, you have to decompress it in order to play it back. That requires a ridiculous amount of computing to accomplish. Your software has to be rock solid. You MUST use GPU acceleration. I do not blame Apple for waiting until they had 64-bit video drivers in Mountain Lion to finally support native playback of AVCHD files in the OS

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