Panasonic Viera G30 and AVCHD files

Just bought a few weeks ago a Panasonic Viera G30, european model. The image quality is superb for SD (standard definition) and on HD it is just breathtaking, far superior, in my opinion to the LED and LCD competition at half the price.
Anyway, I own a lot of AVCHD files produced by my Canon Vixia HF200, and the Panasonic can happily read the camera SD card on it’s own SD card slot and even on it’s USB port trough an external card reader. I really never saw these files on an HD TV set, albeit I’ve saw some of them on a friends Sony LCD TV (model KDL4000, I think, not sure) through a WDTV player. I wasn’t amazed of the image quality on this TV..
Well on the G30, the AVCHD files just look fantastic, showing perfect near cinema quality and playing smooth without any hiccups or any flaw.
But there’s a catch. Panasonic Viera can only play AVCHD files with it’s own media player if they are inside a Blue-Ray file structure. Standalone MTS files are not played.

This means that I have a problem, being it that my all AVCHD video library of standalone files cannot be played directly on Viera without first packing them into a BD file structure, much like the folders and files that are on the SDHC camera card…

Creating the file structure on an external hardisk and copying all files to the STREAM sub-folder is not enough, because the G30 will try to read the playlist file .MPL.
So it isn’t just enough to copy the files to a “pre-prepared” hard disk, a correct MPL file must be generated.
So far the only tool that I know that can do that is the multiAVCHD program, only available for windows, but runs fine on Linux, through WINE.
The problem with this tool, in my case, is that will build a complete BD file structure by copying the MTS files and then generating the MPL file… A waste of time.
So if anyone knows a tool that given a list of MTS files, generates a MPL file, and runs on Linux, give me a bip to check it out.

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The Cloud, the AVCHD and backups

Most developments and news are around the “cloud computing” phenomenon…

Ubuntu will have it: Ubuntu One, and there are a lot of players on the market, namely dropbox, skydrive to name a few.

While you can buy a lot of space on these “clouds” to make sure that you follow the backup paradigm 3-2-1 (three copies, two different media types, and one copy offsite), and use the cloud as the offsite backup for photographs, digital documents, and other small files, backing up AVCHD media into the cloud is not yet a sound proposition… Files are HUGE, in the GB area, and backing up into the cloud would take hours if not days…

So for this kind of critical files, I’ve not yet found a solution than copy them into a pen and move them offsite by “sneaker” net….

Canon HF200 on Linux/Kubuntu 9.04

Being an 100% Linux user, the software shipped with Canon HF200 is not useful for me because it’s Windows only. Anyway, I’ve tried Pixela Software, the shipped software  on a virtual machine, and I wasn’t convinced…

So far  on Linux there is a complete lack of tools for management the video files that are produced by this camera, namely the MTS file format, despite being able to play them with no problems, only with small quirks… Right now I’m using VLC, and the x.264 codec downloaded from the sources, not the one shipped with Kubuntu and the quality the video is more or less OK. The latest ATI drivers for my ATI 4870 also improved a lot the visualization of the video. Playing the MTS files on the WD TV works 100%, and the quality is superb.

So I can play the files in my computer, BUT for KDE 4.3  Dolphin, it  has no support for thumbnails for MTS (M2TS) files… so I need to open each file to see wich are it’s contents… a painfull task.

It took me a while to solve more or less this issue. It’s not perfect, but it helps:

Using the latest ffmpeg, donwloaded from the sources, I can create JPG thumbnails related to the each MTS file. The idea came from here: http://johannesluderschmidt.de/?p=525

I’ve changed the script so that I can create AVCHD thumbnails:

#!/bin/bash
for FILENAME in *.MTS
do
if test -f “$FILENAME”; then
echo “Create thumbnail of $FILENAME”
ffmpeg -i “$FILENAME” -ss 00:00:01.00 -vcodec mjpeg -vframes 1 -an -f rawvideo -s 180×120 “$FILENAME”.jpg
#cp $FILENAME ~/test1/
else
echo “File $FILENAME not existing.”
fi
done

Save this file with a name like avchdthumb.sh, somewhere on your path, and make it executable with chmod +x avchdthumb.sh

Now you can go to your folder (folders) whre you have stored your MTS files, and just run the command like this for example: /home/primalcortex/tools/avchdthumb.sh

It will take a while, depending of the number of files and the your computer horsepower… I have an I7, so can’t complain… 🙂

At the end the result will be for each MTS file a new MTS.jpg file with the initial frame as the thumbnail.

Now I have an idea what’s in the MTS videos.

If thumbnails in video format are needed, like the first 10s, then this URLhttp://code.google.com/p/hdffxvrt/ will do the job. Just change the line for the resolutionof the HF200 to 1920×1080, and execute the script with:  hdffxvrt thumb 0001.MTS. This will create a 10s clip in MOV format named 0001.MTS.mov.

This is a good as it gets. Now I’ll I need is Picasa in Linux to support AVCHD 🙂

Regarding the camera itself, when connecting through USB to the Kubuntu, there is no problems in detecting and accessing it through Dolphin, but it’s faster to use a SDHC card reader to copy the files. The camera can create thumbnails for the videos when connecting by USB, but in my case it failed to create ALL thumbnails… weird…