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Movies and Video For people making movies and editing video with their Mac.

Basic HowTo: Using MTS/M2TS files in FCP/FCE/iMovie


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Nethfel

 
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Hi All,

This is probably one of the most common video conversion topics I've seen on the boards here since I first started posting. I thought it might be a good time to note on this topic in the hopes that people searching may find this solution.

First: If you are taking footage from an AVCHD camera that stores its files in an AVCHD structure, DO NOT take the actual stream files out of their folders. DO NOT attempt to import the .mts or .m2ts files directly. Instead, connect the camcorder to your computer and run your editor (FCE, FCP or iMovie) and import the footage that way. The editor will automagically import and transcode the footage from the distribution codec (AVCHD structure usually storing H.264 video) into an editing codec (Apple Intermediate Codec or ProRES).

This is the best option. If you want to back up your master footage, copy the ENTIRE AVCHD folder structure to another folder on your system. For example - if your SDHC card contains a Private folder under which all of the folders exist, copy the private folder to a HD with free space on your system. Usually I tend to create container folders to make sense of the footage so it might be like:
Graduation 4-20-2010 -> Card1 -> <folders from SDHC card>
Graduation 4-20-2010 -> Card2 -> <folders from SDHC card>

If you have FCP or FCE you can direct Log and Transfer to look in those folders. If you have iMovie, you may need to copy the folder off onto an SDHC card prior to attempting to import - I don't use iMovie enough to know if you can point it to a folder to find an AVCHD structure.


Second: Now this is for if you have already copied the streams out or are using a device that only produces the .mts or .m2ts files (ie: Hauppage HDPVR) - to use these files you'll need to transcode them first. Normally one would suggest using MPEGStreamClip - but it doesn't like some of those containers. You can use Handbrake, but you won't have a lot of fun editing unless you transcode a second time to get it from Handbrakes H.264 output into an edit codec. You do have some options:
1) ClipWrap ( ClipWrap: Easy AVCHD and HDV conversion for the Mac ) it's not free, but not terribly expensive. It has worked well for me as it will either re-encapsulate the H.264 into a more apple friendly .mov or it will transcode to AIC or ProRES (assuming you have FCP installed). I have nothing to do with this software other then have purchased it myself to use. There is a trial version and I always suggest to use a trial before buying anything to make sure it works for you. I've used this for my Hauppage video without problems so far. Re-wrapping H.264 is VERY fast. Transcoding isn't light speed, but it is a reasonable speed. ($49.99)
2) VoltaicHD ( AVCHD converter, AVCHD video converter, AVCHD editor | ShedWorx )- it's an AVCHD transcoder, not free but also not terribly expensive - works fairly well, but it is sloooooowwwww. Some files seem to experience audio sync issues. My version is older, so the current version may be better. Claims to have some edit features, but seems to be limited to trimming rather then cutting multiple sections of a single video clip - but as I've not used it, I can't comment on its editing capabilities. ($39.99 for VotlaicHD)
3) Roxio Toast ( Roxio Toast 11 Family - DVD Burning - Video Conversion - Music and Video Capture for Mac )- a general Data/Audio/Video/CD/DVD/BluRay package for Mac. One of the most popular pay packages out there. Does do some nice conversions. Definitely costs money tho ($99 - $149 depending on version pre-rebate) Offers other features ClipWrap and VoltaicHD don't offer (like authoring)
4) FFMPegX ( ffmpegX a DVD, SVCD, VCD, CVD, VOB, DivX, XviD, H.264, PSP, iPod, MP4, MOV, FLV encoder for Mac OSX )- shareware - will do a variety of conversions but tends to require the user to know enough about containers to get the combinations right. More of an advanced users tool then a drop and go.
5) Handbrake ( HandBrake )- the current version will convert many m2ts/ts/mts to m4v, but the files are not necessarily edit friendly and may require additional transcoding for fluid editing work (ie: you may be able to import the footage but you may find you have to do a lot of rendering unless you transcode it to something more edit friendly). Handbrake is more geared to distribution conversion, not edit conversion.
There are some other options that I'm sure some people will pop on to suggest, but I figured this would be a good starter for those that either don't know or have recently switched from Windows based solutions where the workflow is different.

My personal preference *right now* is clip wrap (I have purchased licensed versions of Toast, VoltaicHD and ClipWrap at various times in my video life on OSX). I use it for my Hauppage footage and it has worked extremely well for me - I have it take the footage and generate mov containing ProRES footage. (I should note, I have nothing to do with these people or their site, I only purchased their software after trying it).

As with any tool, I'd strongly suggest trying the demo version on a variety of test footage first to see how (if) it will perform for you. Most demo versions (except ffmpegx and handbrake) will only transcode a short portion (1-10 minutes) of the full video, but that should give you enough to judge quality and audio.

Hopefully this helps those with using mts/m2ts video files.

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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jmossersr

 
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Questions - so, i have been recording my son and daughter's HS basketball games on a Canon Vixia HF M40 which stores them as you say in .mts format in private STREAM folders. I have been recording in HD, PF30 fxp and using my MBP to import them into iMovie to edit, publish via media browser and then put in DVD via iDVD. I'm at the point where i have several issues:

1) Storage - need to consume less! following the import, my typical 4.5-5Gb raw files typically expand to 35-45Gb in .mov files (that amount of space has been killing me as i now have 2 ext HD units (both WD) one 3Tb and one combo 6Tb unit. I was hoping to find a way to save them in their raw format following creation of a DVD for editing at a later date if i decide to do so - any suggestions? I was originally hoping to get FCE or FCP and use it to do that, but it doesn't appear that's an option;

2) Data Xfer - need more speed! My MBP 2011-Mar 15" 2.0 GHz i7 quad w/8Gb memory works reasonably well, but moving Gbs of data to my WD ext drives is painful. I use a USB 2.0 connection to my WD 3Tb drive, and have recently purchased a 6Tb WD quad interface (USB 2.0, FW400/800 and eSATA), and i have it connected via FW 800. Since Apple decided to remove the card slot from the 13/15" MBP's, i'm left with the Thunderbolt option, but the storage is $$$ ($200/300 per Tb) on the LaCie drives. I have found an option for a Tunderbolt to eSATA via card-slot adapter thru Sonnet Technologies - Creativity Stored Here? which will bump me from the 800 Mbps to 1.5/3.0 Gbps ... however it's $150 for the ext card slot device, $50 for the TB cable and $20/25 for the eSATA card (ouch!)...any other thoughts?

3) Encoding/Production - need to accelerate! The amount of time it takes to import/convert the raw files to usable files appears to be 3/4 to almost full time of the video. I have checked out accellerators, and found the external USB Elgato turbo.264 HD that runs approximately $100 which from review appears to accelerate the process somewhere between importing my raw files from my Canon Vixia to the final iDVD creation, but not exactly sure where...somewhere. Any thoughts or experience with this?

4) FCE/FCP - should i cough-up the $$$ and move from iMovie to one of these? I put in floating arrows in my kids highlight videos that i create, do some basic editing (check out example posts in youtube under jmossersr)... have started using the replay, slow motion, speed-up, flash and other 'basic' editing and it appears i have used what iMovie offers and it's 'ok'...what am i missing and is it worth the upgrade?

5) 1080p/HD Videos - want better quality playback! So - i have noticed that while i record in 1080p, produce in 1080p (media browser), i cannot cut a DVD in HD/1080p unless i get a BluRay burner...it appears that OWC has some nice ext units ranging from $125/$200 - any thought/other options are does that just about do it for my options for viewing on my TV in 1080p from a completed disk?

6) Toast??? - what else is needed to burn/produce in 1080p/HD? It appears that i'll need Toast Pro (approx $100) or additional SW to actually burn in the BluRay format, as the drive itself and accompanying sw won't be enough...so, is my total bill/invoice need both the ext BluRay burner AND a Toast-like application?

Thanks!
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chrbyr

 
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I've always thought that downloading AVCHD files on to a MAC was very difficult and that Apple had no solution but having Googled the problem I came across this link
panasonic avchd - Google Search
and having followed the instructions in the pdf it worked like a charm. I'm new to Macs having only bought my iMac in August and I'm pretty low tech so it was good to find this solution without having to struggle with unfamiliar terms etc

Chris
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Nethfel

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmossersr View Post
1) Storage - need to consume less! following the import, my typical 4.5-5Gb raw files typically expand to 35-45Gb in .mov files (that amount of space has been killing me as i now have 2 ext HD units (both WD) one 3Tb and one combo 6Tb unit. I was hoping to find a way to save them in their raw format following creation of a DVD for editing at a later date if i decide to do so - any suggestions? I was originally hoping to get FCE or FCP and use it to do that, but it doesn't appear that's an option;
Editing with an edit codec takes a lot of space - this is pretty much unavoidable to maintain as much quality as possible. There are some edit tools that will edit AVCHD natively, but I am not a big fan of editing a distribution codec as the H.264 in the AVCHD container is highly compressed and using multiple AVCHD streams or even just a few generations can create quality loss. If you'd prefer to edit the native files (which would take less space, but you would have to be careful how many generations you create of your video to prevent potentially significant degradation) I've read that Adobe Premiere (possibly elements, but I don't know) will edit native AVCHD.

Usually for my capture work, I use a Panasonic HMC40, Log and Transfer with FCP onto my spool drive. Depending on which machine I'm working on (iMac at work or MacPro at home) has a dramatic effect on the amount of time it takes to import footage.


Quote:
2) Data Xfer - need more speed! My MBP 2011-Mar 15" 2.0 GHz i7 quad w/8Gb memory works reasonably well, but moving Gbs of data to my WD ext drives is painful. I use a USB 2.0 connection to my WD 3Tb drive, and have recently purchased a 6Tb WD quad interface (USB 2.0, FW400/800 and eSATA), and i have it connected via FW 800. Since Apple decided to remove the card slot from the 13/15" MBP's, i'm left with the Thunderbolt option, but the storage is $$$ ($200/300 per Tb) on the LaCie drives. I have found an option for a Tunderbolt to eSATA via card-slot adapter thru Sonnet Technologies - Creativity Stored Here? which will bump me from the 800 Mbps to 1.5/3.0 Gbps ... however it's $150 for the ext card slot device, $50 for the TB cable and $20/25 for the eSATA card (ouch!)...any other thoughts?
Well, I know it seems expensive, but it's a lot cheaper then getting a thunderbolt drive array. As I mentioned in the earlier paragraph, my speed on import is dependent on several things. CPU and HD throughput are my biggest issues at work. At work I use an older iMac (2GHz C2D, 2Gig ram) and my spool drive is a USB 2.0 drive and ~1 hr of footage takes 2-3 hrs to import (which includes importing, transcoding to edit codec and saving to the external). At home, I have a Mac Pro (2.8GHz 2x quad xeon, 8 gig ram) and my spool drive is one of the internal SATA drives, 1hr of footage usually takes significantly less then 1 hr to import.

Another thing that may improve your speed - if your camera is recording to SDHC card - is to get a high speed card reader and take the card out of the camera and put it in the reader. Many (not all mind you) camcorders tend to be much slower transferring data over USB cable then a decent/good quality card reader.

Quote:
3) Encoding/Production - need to accelerate! The amount of time it takes to import/convert the raw files to usable files appears to be 3/4 to almost full time of the video. I have checked out accellerators, and found the external USB Elgato turbo.264 HD that runs approximately $100 which from review appears to accelerate the process somewhere between importing my raw files from my Canon Vixia to the final iDVD creation, but not exactly sure where...somewhere. Any thoughts or experience with this?
I have never used the turbo.264 product so I can't comment on it intelligently. It may help you, but I can't confirm it. I don't know if their software will interface or function when importing into iMovie or if their software can convert directly into AIC for iMovie.

Quote:
4) FCE/FCP - should i cough-up the $$$ and move from iMovie to one of these? I put in floating arrows in my kids highlight videos that i create, do some basic editing (check out example posts in youtube under jmossersr)... have started using the replay, slow motion, speed-up, flash and other 'basic' editing and it appears i have used what iMovie offers and it's 'ok'...what am i missing and is it worth the upgrade?
The current FCP (FCPX) is not much more money then FCE with arguably more features. Although I don't use FCPX (I use the older FCP7 and FCP6 that were part of FCS box sets), from what I've read it would offer many tools that you could use. But, it is a LOT of money to just edit home movies. Before layout out the cash for FCPX, I'd suggest getting the trial version to see if it will work for you. See:

Apple - Final Cut Pro X - Trial

Quote:
5) 1080p/HD Videos - want better quality playback! So - i have noticed that while i record in 1080p, produce in 1080p (media browser), i cannot cut a DVD in HD/1080p unless i get a BluRay burner...it appears that OWC has some nice ext units ranging from $125/$200 - any thought/other options are does that just about do it for my options for viewing on my TV in 1080p from a completed disk?
You won't be able to cut a bluray anyway with iDVD - it doesn't support bluray. You would need a separate authoring tool to handle bluray discs (or even creating an AVCHD DVD). Plus you need a bluray burner to burn a bluray disc. Apple is a bit behind the times in terms of quality bluray tools. FCPX can export to bluray (or AVCHD DVD) or you can use toast with the HD plugin and author a bluray or AVCHD DVD.

Quote:
6) Toast??? - what else is needed to burn/produce in 1080p/HD? It appears that i'll need Toast Pro (approx $100) or additional SW to actually burn in the BluRay format, as the drive itself and accompanying sw won't be enough...so, is my total bill/invoice need both the ext BluRay burner AND a Toast-like application?
No matter what system (whether it be Mac or PC) to burn a bluray disc, you would need a bluray burner. DVD burners can't burn a bluray disc. DVD drives can burn AVCHD DVD discs (basically HD video on a DVD, but you can't store too much as DVDs just don't have near as much space as a bluray disc does).

A valid question is do you want/need a disc copy? Unless you want to store them like that or give copies to other people, you may want to consider just exporting to an MP4 that you can play back on other devices (including PS3's). Just things to think about before you outlay some serious cash - I know I don't have a bluray burner (not that I wouldn't love one if I had the spare cash), usually I burn regular DVDs, AVCHD DVD's (if the content is short enough) or just render out to files that I can play back on other devices or stream to my ATV2.

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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Deckyon

 
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Ok, I just found the following App using Appshopper. I have been messing with it and it has worked flawlessly so far for all my tests. It will convert all those pesky files from the various HD cameras out there. Mine happens to be a Sony HDR-SD12. I had years of video stored on an external NAS device and no way to easily import into Final Cut Pro X. With the app, I can convert to MP4. Make sure, however, to view the conversion settings, as the default are for "Normal iPhone video". I have mine all set to "Original."

Camcorder Video Converter - Free for now, $12-$24 based on history.
By effectmatrix
Mac App Store - Camcorder Video Converter

MBP 17" 2011, 2.3GHz Intel Quad-Core i7, 8GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD 6750M 1GB RAM
MacMini 2011, 2.7GHz Intel Dual-Core i7, 8GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD 6630M 256MB RAM
iPhone 5S 64GB, iPad Air 2 128 GB LTE, iPod Nano Gen6 8GB, Apple TV 3 & 2
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Cableaddict

 
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Nethfel, you wrote:

" If you are taking footage from an AVCHD camera that stores its files in an AVCHD structure, DO NOT take the actual stream files out of their folders. DO NOT attempt to import the .mts or .m2ts files directly. Instead, connect the camcorder to your computer and run your editor (FCE, FCP or iMovie) and import the footage that way..... This is the best option."

- but you don't say WHY this is the best option. As JMosserSr wrote, the converted files are huge, and this can be a problem if you shoot a lot of footage but can't edit it all until much later. I'd prefer to edit just what I need, when I need it.

So again, better HOW? Just because you save time later, or is there somehow a quality difference?

As for conversion, I have read many times the the pros all use Neoscene (expensive) yet you don't even mention it. Why is that, just the cost? could it be that Neoscene give better quality than something like ClipWrap?
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Cableaddict

 
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FWIW-

I've recently discovered that "Aiseesoft Video Converter for Mac" does a great job of directly converting .MTS files. You can choose rom a large variety of output formats & resolutions, the quality is excellent, and it's FAST. (relatively speaking.)
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applecbj

 
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Wonder if you are out there and could possibly help me.I asked for help converting Panasonic's1080/50p files - preserving the brilliant quality of the original - into equivalent for mac. My operating system is 10.6.8 with Imovie '09. I also need to be able to edit them.

Have there been any improvements during the last year. Roxio Toast for example and also Clip Wrap or any other ones. I have Handbrake, but it is slow and quite complicated and difficult to edit. So I don't mind buying something that will be easy to work with.

Any suggestions would be gratefully received as I know there is a lot of dross out there.

Best wishes, Applecbj We are now nearly 2013!

Last edited by applecbj; 10-31-2012 at 08:19 PM.
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MightyGem

 
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iMovie can't cope with the 50fps of 50p video. I haven't tried this yet as I'm still using a miniDV camcorder, but you may like to take a look:
Edit 1080/50p and burn a disk
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Hello all.

I'd like to contribute as I've been using Adobe Creative Suite and some Adobe software will handle different situations mentioned above. Converting video? Use Adobe Media Encoder - very powerful. Some people I talk to take footage from HDV or DSLR cameras and convert to Apple ProRes for editing. I don't need to do that with Premiere but it remains an option. Recently I used Media Encoder to create the exact format of MP4 I needed for iPad.

Nethfel - Adobe Premiere, to answer your comment, works with almost every kind of video format natively, including formats like AVCHD or HDV(M2T).

Cableaddict - You wrote "I'd prefer to edit just what I need, when I need it." I agree. Exploring Creative Suite I stumbled on a tutorial for Adobe Prelude. They covered "ingesting" - a process where you just take the footage you need from tape or card. In this case the tutorial showed how to ingest, from carefully selected in and out points, and then transcode to Apple ProRes. (You may need to buy Final Cut or the cheaper Motion/Compressor to get these codecs).

Hope this might help simplify your workflow. There are trials of much of this software, and the subscription price isn't too bad. Give it a shot.
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ImageExtensions

 
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Hi All,

I have a general question on this subject. Recently my Canon GL2 miniDV camcorder bit the dust so I am in the market for an upgrade. I'm liking the Canon XA10 HD, but I am a complete NOOB to the whole SD world.

One particular review on the B&H site suggested that in order to convert the AVCHD, I must have Final Cut Pro. In reading here, it seems that is not the case. I would prefer to continue to use iMovie as it suits my needs and I have been using it since 2003.

Because I am looking at a substantial re-investment amount in the camera, I would like to limit the amount of software upgrades if possible (I recently purchased a completely new computer setup iMAC 21.5"/2.5QC/500GB with 10.6.8 Snow Leopard).

What is new out there? The recommendations on this thread are a year or older which seems to be a decade in software upgrades.
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