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Old Feb 21, 2012, 07:08 AM   #1
snerkler
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Another iMovie and AVCHD/mts query?

I've been asking a few questions on the Final Cut Pro forum about the lack of mts support, or rather the lack of the software's ability to recognize mts files stored on the hard drive, it can only import mts files direct from a camera/camcorder. The reason I was looking at FCP was because I was told that iMovie 11 doesn't support AVCHD/mts. But having done more research I'm starting to think that it does but it needs to be imported direct from a camera and cannot be retrieved from the hard disc, is this right? If you can use mts does it keep the quality or does it convert the format and lose quality?

One workaround I was given in the FCP forum to retrieve files stored on the hard drive was to convert them to QuickTime files, this way the software would recognize them, and there would be no loss of quality. Does iMovie work with QuickTime files and would it keep the quality? I'd like to use iMovie rather than FCP and save myself 200.

I can't try any of this myself yet as my MBP doesn't arrive until next week.

Cheers
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 07:32 AM   #2
simsaladimbamba
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snerkler View Post
The reason I was looking at FCP was because I was told that iMovie 11 doesn't support AVCHD/mts.
iMovie '11 supports footage from AVCHD camcorders.

Quote:
But having done more research I'm starting to think that it does but it needs to be imported direct from a camera and cannot be retrieved from the hard disc, is this right?
That is correct, since AVCHD footage uses a highly compressive MPEG-4 codec like H.264, which is not an editing friendly format, thus it needs to be transcoded to an editing format and codec.

Quote:
If you can use mts does it keep the quality or does it convert the format and lose quality?
You can't se the .mts format/container directly in iMovie or FCP.

Quote:
One workaround I was given in the FCP forum to retrieve files stored on the hard drive was to convert them to QuickTime files, this way the software would recognize them, and there would be no loss of quality.
That is your only workaround, if you don't have copied the complete cards with its file structures.

Quote:
Does iMovie work with QuickTime files and would it keep the quality?
iMovie uses the QuickTime format called .mov, and yes, it would keep the visual quality visible in the .mts files.

Transcoding .MTS files (AVCHD footage) to an editable format (.MOV)
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 07:35 AM   #3
snerkler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simsaladimbamba View Post
iMovie '11 supports footage from AVCHD camcorders.


That is correct, since AVCHD footage uses a highly compressive MPEG-4 codec like H.264, which is not an editing friendly format, thus it needs to be transcoded to an editing format and codec.


You can't se the .mts format/container directly in iMovie or FCP.


That is your only workaround, if you don't have copied the complete cards with its file structures.


iMovie uses the QuickTime format called .mov, and yes, it would keep the visual quality visible in the .mts files.

Transcoding .MTS files (AVCHD footage) to an editable format (.MOV)
Thanks very much, most helpful I've sent a reply/question in that link you posted if you wouldn't mind taking the time to reply? TIA

Last edited by snerkler; Feb 21, 2012 at 07:42 AM.
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 10:19 AM   #4
J4YP34
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I use ClipWrap.

Drag files into ClipWrap and it will convert the container from .MTS to .MOV without transcoding so the original video/audio source of the file is not effected. Its simply rewrapped into the mov containiner. You can now import the files into FCP or iMovie with no problems.

http://www.divergentmedia.com/clipwrap


Also when I do an import of any movie file in FCPX, I aways untick "Create optimised media" so that the movie file IS NOT converted to the apple prores format but instead it keeps the original media.
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 10:24 AM   #5
snerkler
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Originally Posted by J4YP34 View Post
I use ClipWrap.

Drag files into ClipWrap and it will convert the container from .MTS to .MOV without transcoding so the original video/audio source of the file is not effected. Its simply rewrapped into the mov containiner. You can now import the files into FCP or iMovie with no problems.

http://www.divergentmedia.com/clipwrap


Also when I do an import of any movie file in FCPX, I aways untick "Create optimised media" so that the movie file IS NOT converted to the apple prores format but instead it keeps the original media.
Thanks, so you're saying you can do this in a one step process rather than the 2 step process simsaladimbamba posted?
Are there any pros or cons for each method other than the cost?
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 10:37 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by snerkler View Post
Thanks, so you're saying you can do this in a one step process rather than the 2 step process simsaladimbamba posted?
Are there any pros or cons for each method other than the cost?
Yes, ClipWrap allows you to rewrap the format to .mov files, but the codec will be the same.
If you use iMovie, the video will be transcoded anyway to the Apple Intermediate Codec, as mentioned before.
FCP X will (unless unchecked) transcode the video too, though it will be in the background.

The advantage of ClipWrap is, that you don't need to transcode the video right now, it will only happen during import into iMovie and in FCP X in the background. Thus you will have high CPU usage either way. ClipWrap costs money though.
If you use FCP X and don't select to transcode the imported footage, you will have higher CPU usage during playback and applying of effects, as it needs to render more, due to H.264 not being an editing codec. If you have a fast Mac and don't mind high CPU usage during playback and editing in FCP X, ClipWrap might be the way to go, if you don't want to transcode the footage.
The other advantage is, that the rewrapped files will also use less space than the transcoded .mov files, but that is only, if you use FCP X and choose not to let FCP X transcode the footage.

Anyway, as I don't mind transcoding (it can happen over night - I transcoded two hours of HD footage in six hours on my 2007 iMac with a 2 GHz C2D CPU), and actually prefer using a proper editing due to less CPU usage and faster reaction times in my editing application, I might not be the best judge for ClipWrap.

PS: We once edited highly compressed HD footage on a Mac Pro with two quad core CPUs, and it was not really a good experience.
We had two simultaneous tracks of HD footage, and it was slower than having seven simultaneous SD tracks on a G5 PowerMac.

Btw, what MBP do you have?
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 10:39 AM   #7
J4YP34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snerkler View Post
Thanks, so you're saying you can do this in a one step process rather than the 2 step process simsaladimbamba posted?
Are there any pros or cons for each method other than the cost?
Pros
-1 step workflow
-File size stays the same.
-Audio/Video codec and quality stays the same
-A much much quicker process as there is no conversion but rather a re-wrap

Cons
-Costs
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 10:46 AM   #8
snerkler
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Thanks guys. I'll have a think about it over the next week while Imwaiting for my MBP to arrive.
I wasn't aware how long transcoding takes, 6 hours for 2hour video If I go the route of rewrapping will the process be as long when it transcodes into Apple codec when importing into iMovie?
As for the MBP I've ordered the 2.2Ghz 15" with HR glossy screen. I'm then buying 8gb RAM and 512GB SSD from crucial. I assume this will be faster than the 2007 one you used and so transcoding shouldn't take as long?
My other option is to partition the Mac and use Sony Vegas on windows, but it's a pretty slow program. Takes forever to render.
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 10:53 AM   #9
simsaladimbamba
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snerkler View Post
Thanks guys. I'll have a think about it over the next week while Imwaiting for my MBP to arrive.
I wasn't aware how long transcoding takes, 6 hours for 2hour video If I go the route of rewrapping will the process be as long when it transcodes into Apple codec when importing into iMovie?
Your MBP will be three to four times faster.
And yes, iMovie will transcode the footage if you use ClipWrap.
If you use the method I linked to, you just get the option of copying or moving the .mov file. No transcoding involved.
Quote:
As for the MBP I've ordered the 2.2Ghz 15" with HR glossy screen. I'm then buying 8gb RAM and 512GB SSD from crucial. I assume this will be faster than the 2007 one you used and so transcoding shouldn't take as long?
Yep.

Quote:
My other option is to partition the Mac and use Sony Vegas on windows, but it's a pretty slow program. Takes forever to render.
Due to the footage using the H.264 codec, the need to render is always there.
H.264 does not store every frame, only keyframes. The frames between keyframes are interpolated (calculated) on the fly by the CPU during playback and editing, which makes frame precise editing such a chore with H.264 footage.
Apple Intermediate Codec and ProRes store every frame, thus less CPU is used during playback and editing, making frame precise editing a breeze.

Anyway, you can always try the FCP X and ClipWrap trial and see, if your MBP is okay with the .mov files using H.264 codec, thus you can decide, of you want to spend the money for those two applications, or if you just want to use iMovie.
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 10:58 AM   #10
snerkler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simsaladimbamba View Post
Your MBP will be three to four times faster.
And yes, iMovie will transcode the footage if you use ClipWrap.
If you use the method I linked to, you just get the option of copying or moving the .mov file. No transcoding involved.

Yep.


Due to the footage using the H.264 codec, the need to render is always there.
H.264 does not store every frame, only keyframes. The frames between keyframes are interpolated (calculated) on the fly by the CPU during playback and editing, which makes frame precise editing such a chore with H.264 footage.
Apple Intermediate Codec and ProRes store every frame, thus less CPU is used during playback and editing, making frame precise editing a breeze.

Anyway, you can always try the FCP X and ClipWrap trial and see, if your MBP is okay with the .mov files using H.264 codec, thus you can decide, of you want to spend the money for those two applications, or if you just want to use iMovie.
Yep now that I know how to do it I'll try the different methods and see which I prefer. Mind you being a tight northerner (English 'joke') I don't like the idea of coughing up $50 for the clipwrap
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 11:01 AM   #11
simsaladimbamba
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Originally Posted by snerkler View Post
Yep now that I know how to do it I'll try the different methods and see which I prefer. Mind you being a tight northerner (English 'joke') I don't like the idea of coughing up $50 for the clipwrap
And 199 GBP for FCP X.
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 11:05 AM   #12
snerkler
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Originally Posted by simsaladimbamba View Post
And 199 GBP for FCP X.
Yeah, not cheap is it
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 11:07 AM   #13
simsaladimbamba
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Yeah, not cheap is it
For what it can do, it is cheap though, but for your usage iMovie might be a better fit, and if you feel iMovie does not fulfil your editing needs, you can always upgrade to FCP X, if money permits.
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 03:46 PM   #14
martinX
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Originally Posted by snerkler View Post
Yeah, not cheap is it
It's amazing how much perceptions shift...

I paid around the same money for Final Cut Express. Motion and Compressor were unavailable as standalone products and had to be bought as part of Final Cut Studio which was around A$1200 when work bought it for me. You can now get standalone Motion and Compressor for $50 each, so essentially I can get set up for 1/3 of the cost.

Premiere Pro still costs $600 (although I reckon everyone who has it has the education version...).

As for the CPU usage thing, I was reading a blog from a pro editor written about 2 years ago. He was shooting HDV and editing in the HDV codec in PP (on a PC) and suffering from stuttering problems as his CPU struggled to keep up. His edits were not complex.

While you might get away with not transcoding to ProRes for simple cuts-only projects, throw in a few transitions, colour corrections and effects and you'll see the advantage. Horses for courses. The advantage with FCP X is (I think I'm correct here) is that you can start cutting the original files and if the going gets tough, tick a checkbox and FCP X will transcode everything to ProRes seamlessly. That is my idea of heaven. Yes, editing is heaven to me.
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 03:01 AM   #15
Menneisyys2
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Originally Posted by J4YP34 View Post
Pros
-1 step workflow
-File size stays the same.
-Audio/Video codec and quality stays the same
-A much much quicker process as there is no conversion but rather a re-wrap

Cons
-Costs
Alternatively, you can use iVI. While I don't recommend it for MKV remuxing, for MTS remuxing, it wonderfully behaved in all my compliance tests. And it's MUCH cheaper than ClipWrap and even has a trial version.

Last edited by SandboxGeneral; Feb 26, 2013 at 04:22 PM. Reason: Clean up of quoted text
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