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AVCHD is a recording format generally used in consumer cameras to record high-definition video to a tapeless format. AVCHD isn't limited to a single vendor's camera or family of cameras; this format is used in many brands of consumer high-definition cameras, including various models from Sony and Panasonic. Compared to HDV cameras, which are based on the MPEG-2 codec, AVCHD achieves higher compression and lower data rates using the H.264 codec.

Cameras using the AVCHD record onto one of three types of media:

  • DVD: The camera burns video as it's recorded directly to a DVD in the camera, using the AVCHD recording format.
  • Hard drive: The camera records video directly to a hard drive inside the camera, using the AVCHD recording format.
  • Flash memory: The camera records video directly to a flash memory card inside the camera, using the AVCHD format.

The AVCHD format is a good format to record and view video, but has proven a challenge to edit because of its highly compressed nature. Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 has the ability to edit AVCHD video in its native format without converting it to an intermediate or alternate codec, but how smoothly the AVCHD edit process goes will depend largely on the power of the editing system you're using.

A typical workflow for AVCHD media is as follows:

  1. Shoot the AVCHD video to DVD, flash media, or hard drive. The media will vary depending on the type of AVCHD camera you're using.
  2. Copy the AVCHD video clips to your workstation by placing the capture disc in your DVD drive, moving the flash card, or copying from your camera's internal hard drive to your workstation via USB.
  3. Edit the files natively in Adobe Premiere Pro.
  4. Export the project to Blu-ray disc, to DVD, or to the Web.

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