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Old Apr 23, 2013, 11:47 AM   #1
dpalme
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Need some help with AVCHD

I have a need to export very quickly what will be around 300 clips of AVCHD with each clip being approx 4 minutes in length to a format that isn't going to turn the quality into crap and that I can put on one or two thumb drives.

My computer equip is a macbook pro and an iMac. I tried running a firewire cable from the camera directly to the laptop and recording with quicktime but I'm dropping a boatload of frames from two different cameras....this of course is with the latest version of QT, a problem that wasn't there in QT 10.0. Of course 10.0 won't run on Lion.... I thought about buying a license for 7 which I can reinstall off the SL disk but I'd hate to pay 39 bucks and still have the same problem.

Any help or direction would be appreciated.

I can convert these after each class but 20 minutes at the end of the day I have to hand the judge a copy of the video and they want to stop using dvd's which are horrible in the conditions we are working in....scratches, bad burns, etc.
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 11:53 AM   #2
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You could try the following two methods involving free applications to get editable or playable video files from .MTS files.
Or are you using a Mini DV camcorder? Can you elaborate on the model you use, since AVCDH camcorders use USB instead of Firewire to copy files, and (Mini) DV camcorders use Firewire to let the computer capture the video stream.
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 12:34 PM   #3
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Its a Canon Gh10. I tried the small tool FFmpeg but that didn't work, they mov and avi files are not playable.
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 12:38 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by dpalme View Post
Its a Canon Gh10. I tried the small tool FFmpeg but that didn't work, they mov and avi files are not playable.
Tried the links I provided then?
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 01:31 PM   #5
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Yes, the clipwrap didn't seem to work and the other exported to both .mov and .avi but they were unplayable, and still had a very large size.
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 01:34 PM   #6
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Yes, the clipwrap didn't seem to work and the other exported to both .mov and .avi but they were unplayable, and still had a very large size.
What Mac OS X version do you use then and can you provide a small sample MTS file from that camera and upload it to a Dropbox or similar site in ZIP format for me or others to test?

ReWrap (with the help of ClipWrap) and the second tool I linked to only rewrap the video to a format more players understand, there is no transcoding involved, as the codec stays the same.
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 01:43 PM   #7
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The laptop is running Lion, the iMac is still at snow leopard.

I can give you a link later this afternoon to a file, I'll just upload one to my website and let you download it. It'll be after 5pm though, sorry I had to step out for a while.
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 01:58 PM   #8
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The laptop is running Lion, the iMac is still at snow leopard.

I can give you a link later this afternoon to a file, I'll just upload one to my website and let you download it. It'll be after 5pm though, sorry I had to step out for a while.
I am at 9 PM CET, though it might be in the morning for me. But I will give it a go and report back.
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 05:00 PM   #9
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ok you can find a very short one at the following url:

www.rantsofajew.com/test.MTS
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 09:28 PM   #10
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Ok I got the rewrap working, that's a good start...but I need to find a way to allow the judges to view this on their computer and I need to get this stuff on a thumb drive at some point. Tine is an issue, I can work on them throughout the day while my wife is shooting, but that last class is always a problem I only have 20 minutes to get it done.
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 10:05 PM   #11
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ReWrap is quite fas as seen in below video though (probably best watched in 720p or 1080p):

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Old Apr 24, 2013, 03:25 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalme View Post
but I need to find a way to allow the judges to view this on their computer and I need to get this stuff on a thumb drive at some point.
So your problem at this point is not really to get the files to play back (since the ReWrap seems to have worked), but to make them smaller so they'll fit on a thumb drive. Am I correct?

I would highly recommend the free converter Handbrake for the re-encoding.

To get the files to the size you want, you can just start it and open a file. As output format, I would choose "MP4", and as video codec "H.264", since this will be playable for most people on most systems, while keeping decent quality. You can probably leave the audio settings as is, unless you are an audiophile...

For all settings, see the red circles in this screenshot:

Click image for larger version

Name:	Handbrake.png
Views:	22
Size:	215.8 KB
ID:	409342

Now for the size you want: We can only partially help you there, you will have to do the math yourself. The best way is to, in the "Video quality" setting, choose "Average Bitrate" and "2-pass encoding" to get the file size you want. Your video length is roughly 300*4*60 = 72,000 seconds. Let's assume you thumb drive is 16 GB, which is 16*1024*1024*8 = 1.34*10^8 kb (the 1024 is the factor between Giga-, Mega- and Kilo-Bytes, the factor of 8 is from Byte (B) to Bit (b)). You can then calculate the bitrate (in kilobit per second, or kbps) to fill the available space with the amount of video you have. The formula is (who would have thought...):

(bitrate in kbps) = (available space in kb) / (time in seconds)

So in this case it would mean:

1.34*10^8 kb / 72000 s = 1864 kbps

Or, to directly insert GigaBytes and minutes roughly:

(space in GB) / (video time in minutes) * 140000

Now, this number should be rounded down a little, because there is still audio stream in addition (which is not much, but usually around 160kbps to substract), thumb drives usually don't have all the amount of space written on them (more like 15.1GB), and then this does not work perfectly, so don't go to the hard limit. In this case (result 1864 kbps), I would probably go for 1500 kbps, which is still decent quality.

If you want to do this more often (say, like, 300 times), I would save what you did as a Preset (see the blue circle in the screenshot above).

When you are done with all your settings, you can hit the "Add to Queue" button (yellow circle in the screenshot). Now do this a bunch of times, like 300 times... When you're done, you can click the "Start" button on top, and the encoding will be on its way. I would try with one single file first though, to see if you roughly get the correct size and it looks okay.

Sadly, there is no way in Handbrake directly to automate this (add file and pick the same preset) for multiple files, since for each file, it individually wants to set the output file name and path. There seems to be an Automator script that does it, but I haven't tried it.

Good luck!

Last edited by floh; Apr 24, 2013 at 03:27 AM. Reason: Attached image was missing
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Old Apr 24, 2013, 06:34 AM   #13
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Long tale about the victory at Liederhalle
Hello,

can you please take a look at the MTS the OP provided and try it with your VCS application, since I have not had any luck with it (as seen in the video embedded above your reply), thus ReWrap2M4V was used.
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Old Apr 24, 2013, 10:59 AM   #14
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It really is too bad that Apple made the changes they did to quicktime 10.2 or whatever the current release is, with the older version eveyrthing worked just find. I could just use a firewire cable and and dump the video from a sony hvr-1000 directly to the laptop; now however, quicktime can't handle the data stream and craps out, dropping a boatload of frames.

That's what prompted the walk down this path. I will try the handbrake over lunch and see how that works....I'm just concerned that handbrake will possibly take too long as well....but I'll let you know what I find.

I thought I read last night somewhere where you can take a m4v file and change the extension to mp4 and it'll play under windows is that true?

Most of the judges we deal with don't use mac's so being able to play a m4v natively without a conversion is a potential problem.
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Old Apr 24, 2013, 11:33 AM   #15
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I thought I read last night somewhere where you can take a m4v file and change the extension to mp4 and it'll play under windows is that true?
Well, yes, maybe...
.m4v is basically the same container format as .mp4, but has some Apple-specific restrictions. While just renaming it might work for many videos, it surely won't work for all. But if you already have .m4v files and just want to change the container to .mp4, the little tool that simsaladimbamba recommended (and that I programmed) should do the trick just fine. And it will take about the same time as copying the files.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalme View Post
Most of the judges we deal with don't use mac's so being able to play a m4v natively without a conversion is a potential problem.
But Handbrake does output .mp4, as far as I know. At least the version I have. Otherwise just run it through my container switcher, directly onto your thumbdrive.

Converting your video (not just changing the container) will take a long time. And the differences between programs won't be very big. Maybe a factor of 2 at best. You can speed it up by unchecking the "2-pass" option in Handbrake, but then the file sizes may vary a little, just so you plan for that.
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Old Apr 24, 2013, 01:04 PM   #16
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Is there a way to run your little program over a batch of files or is it one at a time?
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Old Apr 24, 2013, 01:08 PM   #17
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Is there a way to run your little program over a batch of files or is it one at a time?
In the open-dialog, you can select as many files as you want. Then you can select an output foulder where the result will be put. It's a very simple program, I demonstrated it here:

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Old Apr 24, 2013, 01:42 PM   #18
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thanks, I'm going to run a full test tonight and see how long that takes....

Where does AVCHD fit in the list of formats currently in use? What I mean is, is it a dominate format or going out of style, picking up steam, the top format, etc.
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Old Apr 24, 2013, 02:08 PM   #19
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Where does AVCHD fit in the list of formats currently in use? What I mean is, is it a dominate format or going out of style, picking up steam, the top format, etc.
Hm. I'd say it's somewhere in between. In and of itself, it is a terribly impractical container format, with the silly file structure and the bad support by many converters. But it holds the most modern codec and was invented for a reason that is still valid: There is no other container format that is as well suited for amateur camcorders. Yep, eat that, all you AVCHD-haters!

First and foremost, videos in AVCHD can get arbitrarily long. This is why most DSLRs don't bother with the container because they are not made for recording long clips anyways. But on the very old FAT file system that dominates all SD cards, files can not get bigger than 4GB. So any other container would stop recording at that point, whereas AVCHD just streams into the next .MTS file, no problem.

The other advantage is that it has pretty awesome support for metadata, like a frame-precise timecode, which is pretty cool for syncing.

So, my guess would be that it will stay in the consumer market for a pretty long time. Support will slowly get better. But everyone will hate it. Including me.
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Old Apr 24, 2013, 02:16 PM   #20
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I guess my question is do I return the camera (still within the time frame to return it) and get something with a better format? I don't mind spending some as long as I don't have to keep buying a new one every two years LOL
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Old Apr 24, 2013, 02:23 PM   #21
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I guess my question is do I return the camera (still within the time frame to return it) and get something with a better format? I don't mind spending some as long as I don't have to keep buying a new one every two years LOL
Nah, I don't think you will have to buy a new one, and I definitely wouldn't return it just because of the container format. If you are happy with the quality, that's the main point.

On the other hand: This was made for editing. So for you to import into a software and cut together. If all you want to do is just what you described above, over and over again (taking the original clips, no editing, and converting them), then AVCHD is a pretty bad container for that. In this case, I would recommend you to get something different.
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Old Apr 24, 2013, 02:32 PM   #22
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What formats would you recommend for this particular workflow? I may still keep the camera, but I really hate recording directly to dvd's - one is the cost, not to mention the whole dust and dirt issue (the environment isn't the best to shoot in with moving parts) and the fact that over a two day show I'll use up over 60 discs, 30 for the judge and 30 for us, and then if I need to access that video I have to rip it from the disc.
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Old Apr 24, 2013, 02:58 PM   #23
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You have to tell me your exact model again, and the price range you are thinking about. You wrote "Canon GH10", but I can't find any info on that type of camera on the Canon website or anywhere else.

I know the Canon G10, and it's awesome, but it doesn't record on DVD. I see how that sucks... and I am very surprised to hear that a camcorder would record AVCHD on DVDs... so I'm curious what this model is.

Just an example: There is the Canon HF-M50 which comes in at around $420 and will record on SD cards in AVCHD (for editing) but also in an .mp4 container at slightly lower quality (but still very good). So for what you are doing now, you could just copy the .mp4 files directly from the SD card to a thumbdrive. No conversion or nothing, they will play back on a somewhat modern computer. Is that kind of what you are looking for?
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Old Apr 24, 2013, 04:11 PM   #24
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I mistyped on the model, its the HF G10. It only records to either 1. internal 32gb drive or one of two SD slots. However, it only records in AVCHD.

The issue with DVD's is a separate one, I have to hand the judge a set of discs at the end of the show, so for this upcoming weekend, the show will end around 5pm sunday, at 5:20pm I need to be handing the judge her discs so she can head to the airport and leave; they hate waiting on the copies.

Up to this point, we have been using either a firewire connection and recording with a dvd recorder or recording directly to the laptop with quicktime, which apple has now messed up.

The suggestion from the chief of judges before my last show was to see about recording the show and then putting it on a thumb drive for the judge to take home. Good idea, except it also brings up the issue of the speed of the thumb drive LOL I had one last night that for 2.7 gb it took 2 hours !!!!!

Its a unique situation, and the issue really comes down to 1. The time it'll take to create the media for the judge, and 2. if the judge wants to review a run during the show I need to be able to go to the judges room and pull up that video and allow them to watch it in real time or fast foward, etc. and not on the viewfinder of the camera.......that's just way too small to view the detail of a hand or action from the horse and rider or cow. I am required to do the reviews on a 21" monitor or tv.

As for budget, I am willing to spend what is needed but I really don't want to go above 2 grand if I can help it.
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Old Apr 25, 2013, 01:35 AM   #25
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Hi again (it's day back here now...)!

The G10 is a marvelous camera and produces great images. But (as you stated), for this kind of task, it is not perfect. The AVCHD is not meant for live stuff like reviewing or giving the judges a take-home version to go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalme View Post
1. The time it'll take to create the media for the judge, and 2. if the judge wants to review a run during the show I need to be able to go to the judges room and pull up that video
As it is, I personally see two solutions:
  1. Get an external DVD recorder with HDMI input. The G10 has a mini HDMI plug that, even during recording, outputs a great quality signal. If you want to keep your workflow as it was, you can just record that signal straight to DVD.
  2. Get the newer model Canon HF-G30. Amongst some other improvements (like a usable wide angle), it can record to .MP4 format, which you can just put on a thumb drive afterwards. Of course, get a not-terribly-slow thumb drive, but any newer model should do.

The first solution has the problem, as you said, that DVDs suck and are expensive throw-away items. The second solution has the problem of a potentially slow thumb drive and is expensive (the G30 is brand new and now at about 1.6k I think).

Overall: I am not a professional, I just know too much about codecs. Your gig sounds like you need a pro camera or advice from a pro. But I want to point you to the HDMI output that most camcorders have. The USB (or Firewire) outputs of newer cameras were not meant for external recording, more for webcam purposes. But you can not only record the HDMI out to a computer or DVD recorder, but also plug it into any huge TV screen to play back something you just recorded. You can do that on the G10 as well.

So, maybe someone with more experience in Live TV can jump in here? There is more knowledge needed than my codec obsession...
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