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Old Apr 4, 2013, 07:21 PM   #1
JWOCreative
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AVCHD Workflow

I just started working as an editor for a company and they did not have a unified filing system for video assets. I am coming from DSLR world where the camera spits out nice .MOV files that are ready to use/transcode and easy to move around and organize. This company uses AF-100 which spits out the AVCHD file structure that I see many have had trouble with.

My problem is figuring out how to separate multiple shoots from the same AVCHD package in Finder. For example, if they shot an interview on day 1 and a commercial on day 2, but did not get the files off the camera in-between, the computer ends up with one AVCHD package. Finder cannot separate them without removing the .MTS files from the structure (We've found Premier doesn't like "naked" .MTS files).

So my goal is to find the best solution to get the video files out of the required AVCHD folder structure so that I can move the video clips independently as needed in our file system in Finder. Is the best option to transcode all of the .MTS files before editing (keep AVCHD folders as "raw" backup)? If so, what codec maintains quality, and won't slow down my edit time in Premier? (My edit work will consist of simple cut and post or can be extensive projects with color correction and graphics)
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Old Apr 4, 2013, 07:55 PM   #2
floh
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I never had the problem of wanting to split up AVCHD folders into clips outside an editing suite. But the process is so simple that I am sure there is a tool for it. (you basically only need to move the thumbnails, .MTS and .CPI files and you'll almost be fine) Maybe someone already has heard of some software?

But, what I wanted to say: If you end up converting the .MTS files, you should know two things:

1. That way, you will lose all metadata that is stored within the AVCHD container. That means timecode, recording date and place, camera model and settings, ... This is all stored in the .CPI files and will be lost. If you don't plan on using it anyways you'll be fine, but you have been warned.

2. If you really want to do that, I can point you towards this little converter tool I programmed. It will simply copy the audio and video streams from (multiple, if wanted) .MTS files and remux them into a new container of your choice (e.g. .mov or .mp4). The streams are actually the same codecs as you got in your DSLR files (H.264 for video). This will preserve the quality exactly (since there is no re-encoding) and be very fast (about the same time it would take to copy the files).

However, this is not the ideal method and I am pretty sure there should be a tool for that out there. If not, maybe I should give it a go.
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Old Apr 5, 2013, 11:56 AM   #3
JWOCreative
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Re: Floh

1- Can't metadata like record date be added later? The only information that I see as irreplaceable may be the specific camera settings used but I don't think that would be a huge loss for our purposes.

2- The conversion tool looks very simple/helpful, but is there an advantage to transcoding (ex- ProRes) for quality/performance purposes? I have a few different multi-TB RAID systems so storage space is not a problem.
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Old Apr 5, 2013, 12:40 PM   #4
floh
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Originally Posted by JWOCreative View Post
1- Can't metadata like record date be added later? The only information that I see as irreplaceable may be the specific camera settings used but I don't think that would be a huge loss for our purposes.
Well, you can certainly manually add a recording date, but you'll have to know it, it won't be stored in the file anymore. But I was mostly talking about things like a framewise time code to sync up several cameras or audio in post. As I said, it might not be a big deal for you, but you will lose this data!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JWOCreative View Post
2- The conversion tool looks very simple/helpful, but is there an advantage to transcoding (ex- ProRes) for quality/performance purposes? I have a few different multi-TB RAID systems so storage space is not a problem.
No. If storage space is not a problem, converting to ProRes is a great idea since it will let you work more fluent in many editing platforms. The tool was meant for people who only want to do a few trims and rather save some diskspace and conversion time.

By the way, I did search for a simple AVCHD managing tool but didn't find a usable one for Mac. Maybe someone has a cool hint there?
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Old Apr 7, 2013, 03:55 AM   #5
floh
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Funnily enough, I have just now looked into an option that is built into Mac OS 10.8 Mountain Lion: Quicktime!

Now, I had read that Quicktime can open AVCHD in the newest version, but I was surprised to actually see it work. Here is what I've tried doing and it works fine:

- Open the AVCHD folder in Quicktime.
- Pick one or several clips to open, you can preview them with thumbnails.
- With each open clip, you can just go to "File -> Export..." and save it with the default setting "Movie" to wherever you want to under whatever file name you want to.
- It will not convert the streams but only change the container to ".mov", meaning it will create exactly what one would like.

Now, this is lots of manual work (I did not quickly find any method to batch-export everything), but they are surely going the right direction with this and I expect there to be huge improvements soon.

As I said, I was kind of surprised, and maybe this even helps.
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Old Aug 9, 2013, 09:44 PM   #6
otomo
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Originally Posted by floh View Post
Funnily enough, I have just now looked into an option that is built into Mac OS 10.8 Mountain Lion: Quicktime!

Now, I had read that Quicktime can open AVCHD in the newest version, but I was surprised to actually see it work. Here is what I've tried doing and it works fine:

- Open the AVCHD folder in Quicktime.
- Pick one or several clips to open, you can preview them with thumbnails.
- With each open clip, you can just go to "File -> Export..." and save it with the default setting "Movie" to wherever you want to under whatever file name you want to.
- It will not convert the streams but only change the container to ".mov", meaning it will create exactly what one would like.
It works pretty good and it may not convert the streams but it does strip out the .pgs subtitle metadata, which holds the time and date info, which is kinda a bummer.
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Old Aug 10, 2013, 03:08 PM   #7
floh
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It works pretty good and it may not convert the streams but it does strip out the .pgs subtitle metadata, which holds the time and date info, which is kinda a bummer.
That is a bummer, indeed. I hadn't checked that. And I am a little surprised, since iMovie and FCPX will also partly use the Quicktime engine in the background and both are well able to import the metadata from AVCHD. Hm. Let's hope that they maybe fixed this in the upcoming 10.9 Mavericks...?

Thanks for telling us.

----------

Also, this might be included in this thread: I was recommended a free tool from the App Store called "Free AVCHD to Mov". I have installed it but not given it a try. If anyone wants to test it, it's free. You can either search it on the App Store or go for this link.
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Old Aug 17, 2013, 09:05 PM   #8
otomo
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Originally Posted by floh View Post
[/COLOR]Also, this might be included in this thread: I was recommended a free tool from the App Store called "Free AVCHD to Mov". I have installed it but not given it a try. If anyone wants to test it, it's free. You can either search it on the App Store or go for this link.
Will it fix the Finder icon preview for .MTS files so that they aren't grey exe icons but instead show a preview of the video content of the file?

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Old Aug 17, 2013, 09:27 PM   #9
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You have generic icons because the .mts extension is not associated with an application. You may use the File/Get Info dialog box to associate the extension with an application.
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Old Aug 17, 2013, 09:31 PM   #10
otomo
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You have generic icons because the .mts extension is not associated with an application. You may use the File/Get Info dialog box to associate the extension with an application.
They are associated with QuickTime player (and their file kind id'd as "MPEG-2 Transport Stream") but they are still generic icons.

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Old Aug 24, 2013, 07:30 PM   #11
pprior
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I've been searching for 2-3 years now for a solution to this problem. i get a camcorder full of avchd files, I want to ingest and archive them, but not keep the directory structure since I reformat the camcorder and don't want duplicates.

For the life of me I can't understand why there isn't some program that will just copy the files including all metadata to a single container on a hard drive.

Lightroom can import RAW files and convert to DNG, we need the same thing for video files for archiving and organization. Keeping a separate folder with the metadata does not work and is just a stupid design to begin with.
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Old Aug 26, 2013, 04:42 PM   #12
otomo
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Originally Posted by otomo View Post
It works pretty good and it may not convert the streams but it does strip out the .pgs subtitle metadata, which holds the time and date info, which is kinda a bummer.
I think it also converts the AC3 audio of the .MTS to AAC audio, unless I'm now doing it wrong. Checked with MediaInfo. Can anyone confirm?
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Old Aug 26, 2013, 06:34 PM   #13
floh
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I think it also converts the AC3 audio of the .MTS to AAC audio, unless I'm now doing it wrong. Checked with MediaInfo. Can anyone confirm?
AAC is nothing but the more modern format, and it supersedes AC3. Meaning: You can take an AC3 stream and call it AAC, it will still be the same stream at the same quality.

AC3 can't do anything that AAC can't, but AAC is more powerful. It sort of "includes" the old AC3.

Long talk, short answer: It's not converting, just renaming.

But hey, I programmed this thing in one afternoon, so it certainly isn't perfect. I just thought there would be nothing out there yet and wanted to help. I even made a video, mostly for this forum, on the difference between codecs and containers:



Also: I recently found the free program "Free AVCHD to MOV" in the Mac App Store that could be interesting and might do better rewrapping or conserve the metadata. I haven't tried it though, but if anyone wants to give it a spin and report back, I'm sure people will be glad.
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Old Aug 30, 2013, 08:02 PM   #14
pprior
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I downloaded the free AVCHD to MOV program listed above, and it seems to be a definite move in the right direction. I can direct it to my camcorder AVCHD file and then it will individually split out all the contained video files into an import directory.

Limits I see so far: no renaming ability, so every time I format my camcorder the file names will revert and conflict. Would be nice to have a selection to include date of acquisition of file as part of the imported name.

However this seems to be a quick and relatively easy way to pull multiple streams out of a single AVCHD file easily and I will be using it. I'd be happy to pay some money for such a utility especially if they develop more features so I hope the developer continues this project.

thanks for the heads up on it!
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Old Sep 2, 2013, 10:09 PM   #15
nateo200
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I had a similar transition...needless to say I much prefer DSLR single video files versus the needlessly overcomplex AVCHD format (why oh why did they make that an aquisition format?!!!). I posted a thread a few months back about this and I eventually found a program that converts .MTS files to .mp4's! Works like a charm. Let me see if I can find it.
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Old Sep 4, 2013, 07:46 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by pprior View Post
I downloaded the free AVCHD to MOV program listed above, and it seems to be a definite move in the right direction. I can direct it to my camcorder AVCHD file and then it will individually split out all the contained video files into an import directory.

Limits I see so far: no renaming ability, so every time I format my camcorder the file names will revert and conflict. Would be nice to have a selection to include date of acquisition of file as part of the imported name.
Thanks for your support :-)

You can change the destination folder (Add Button). For example create a subfolder named 20130904_Holidays.
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