I just bought a Sony camcorder that records videos in AVCHD.

I only have a modest, older XP host with an Athlon 64 X2 5200+ and 2GB of RAM.

It looks like I should first convert the AVCHD files into something smaller before editing the segments with standard applications. I need to edit videos I took over a vacation, so lower quality is OK.

What would you recommend I do?

Thank you.


Remember every time a video is transcoded or rendered you will loose some quality. Why not consider getting Vegas Movie Studio. Version 9 through the current version 11 are compatible with WinXP and can handle the AVCHD format just fine.

Vegas Movie Studio is the light or home version of Vegas Pro and costs about 84% less.

If you are only editing simple scene to scene, not multitracking video as in compositing, and keeping it simple, any of these versions should work on your WinXP machine. The older the version the cheaper the cost, for instance Vegas Movie Studio 11 (current verison) is running about $94 while the older version 9 maybe as little as $75 on amazon.com or less on EBay. This way you can edit your original AVCHD files and only have to render once.

I ran Vegas Movie Studio 9 before upgrading to the pro version and found it perfect for simple scene to scene edits, and it has a multitrack audio too so can have voice, effects, Foley, ambient, and music all on their own tracks.

If you choose to do this, I would run a test with how long vs how many effects you can get Vegas Movie Studio to do on this older machine so you will know what the limits are. Even with a quad core running 4 GB of DRAM on Win7, I have learned there are limits what I can do with the Pro Version of Vegas 10. This is extremely useful to know as you will be able to walk into a project knowing if your gear can handle it or if you will have to seek workarounds, like breaking a project in half and rendering separately or not.

  • Thanks guys. I'm playing with the trial version of Vegas Movie Studio HD 11. I'll see if it can edit AVCHD directly or if I need to first transcode to HuffYUV or Lagarith. – Gulbahar Jun 6 '12 at 12:40

In the early days of AVC where pretty much nobody had a computer that can decode H.264 with decent performance it was standard to transcode to an intermediate format for editing.

There are many choices for an intermediate format. An important quality of the intermediate codec is that it is intra-coded, meaning that each frame is encoded independently, without depending on other frames (this referencing of other frames is one of the reasons that make AVCHD/H.264 so slow to work with during editing).

Assuming you have plenty of disk space, then a good option is to go with a lossless codec, like HuffYUV or Lagarith. These will preserve the original quality of your AVCHD source, but will decode a lot faster, while taking a lot more disk space.

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