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Old Nov 3, 2012, 05:03 PM   #1
Reminisce32
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What is my problem? It takes hours to import a video on mac but not pc?

Long story short: I use a PC. I want to use a Mac. The videos I want to edit are from a Happauge PVR and are recordings from video game footage on an Xbox 360. It allows me to save my recordings in either .TS, .M2TS, or .MP4.

I went to the Mac store and tested the .TS and MP4 on a mpb retina, imac, and mac mini. The only files iMovie could even recognize was the .mp4. On all the machines it estimated 2-5 hours to import the video file from the desk top into iMovie. The size of the files I need to edit are around 3.40 to 5 GB.

Why is it taking so long on the Mac? Is there any way to make it so it doesn't take forever to load such a file in a video editing software? My six year old laptop (Intel Core 2 CPU 1.66 GHz with 2 GB of memory) can load the video into Windows Movie Maker instantly. How is it possible that the Mac is struggling with this?

*I understand that FCP allows me to edit the file while it imports it, but we tried this and it still took WAY to long to import it.

*I have not tried handbrake to try to find a better file for iMovie to accept, but would this really solve my issue? It would probably take forever as well.

Thanks for any advice.

Last edited by Reminisce32; Nov 3, 2012 at 05:11 PM.
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Old Nov 3, 2012, 05:18 PM   #2
simsaladimbamba
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The videos you record are using a highly compressive codec, H.264, which is not meant for video editing, as not every frame is stored, only keyframes and the change between those keyframes. Video editing software needs video using a codec storing every frame, thus such videos can take up to 100 GB per hour (and more) in 1080p, while the same video using H.264 can take only 5 to 15 GB away.
iMovie does not edit H.264 encoded video, thus on import it gets transcoded to a proper format (.mov file using the Apple Intermediate Codec for video).
Adobe Premiere Pro (I do not know about Elements) and Final Cut Pro X now support the editing of video files using the H.264 codec, which will result in fast import times (no need to transcode or optimise in FCP X), but slower editing (though Adobe Premiere Pro and its Mercury Playback Engine (MPE) are quite powerful) due to the CPU constantly calculating the current frames, especially when doing frame precise editing.

I do not know WMM, thus I assume it supports native editing of videos using the H.264 codec, but I assume that applying video effects and cuts and transitions will take its toll upon export.

I also do not know, if the following can prove helpful, but it might help you understand the differences between H.264 and editing codecs.

Video Compression
Why It Matters & How To Make The Most Of It
which includes the following sections:
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Old Nov 3, 2012, 05:28 PM   #3
James Craner
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reminisce32 View Post

*I understand that FCP allows me to edit the file while it imports it, but we tried this and it still took WAY to long to import it.
I don't have the latest version of final cut pro, but I know on the version I am running if the project settings do not exactly match the source video, FCP will convert the media on import. This may be why the import was slow on your testing.
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Old Nov 3, 2012, 10:08 PM   #4
Reminisce32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simsaladimbamba View Post
The videos you record are using a highly compressive codec, H.264, which is not meant for video editing, as not every frame is stored, only keyframes and the change between those keyframes. Video editing software needs video using a codec storing every frame, thus such videos can take up to 100 GB per hour (and more) in 1080p, while the same video using H.264 can take only 5 to 15 GB away.
iMovie does not edit H.264 encoded video, thus on import it gets transcoded to a proper format (.mov file using the Apple Intermediate Codec for video).
Adobe Premiere Pro (I do not know about Elements) and Final Cut Pro X now support the editing of video files using the H.264 codec, which will result in fast import times (no need to transcode or optimise in FCP X), but slower editing (though Adobe Premiere Pro and its Mercury Playback Engine (MPE) are quite powerful) due to the CPU constantly calculating the current frames, especially when doing frame precise editing.

I do not know WMM, thus I assume it supports native editing of videos using the H.264 codec, but I assume that applying video effects and cuts and transitions will take its toll upon export.

I also do not know, if the following can prove helpful, but it might help you understand the differences between H.264 and editing codecs.

Video Compression
Why It Matters & How To Make The Most Of It
which includes the following sections:
Thanks for the advice. What would you recommend I do? The only choices I am aware of is either stick to a PC (just get a faster one), change my recording device to something iMovie can edit (I'm not aware of any), or change the file type of the video some how (but not if it will take a super long time to do it).
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Old Nov 4, 2012, 04:54 AM   #5
simsaladimbamba
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reminisce32 View Post
Thanks for the advice. What would you recommend I do? The only choices I am aware of is either stick to a PC (just get a faster one), change my recording device to something iMovie can edit (I'm not aware of any), or change the file type of the video some how (but not if it will take a super long time to do it).
Get FCP X (there is a 30 day trial here), which should be cheaper than a faster PC, even a self-built one (except maybe one of those AMD boxes for 199 €), which allows you to edit H.264 compressed video without transcoding, but know, that rendering will take its time.

See here for an informative thread, though it talks about DLSR footage, which uses the H.264 codec, the same rules apply.

Last edited by simsaladimbamba; Nov 4, 2012 at 04:59 AM.
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Old Nov 4, 2012, 05:13 PM   #6
daybreak
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Any form of editing on your main hard drive will slow you Mac down. If editing video or other media material a external hard drive is the answer.
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Old Nov 5, 2012, 07:18 AM   #7
arjen92
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Premiere pro should allow you to import and edit without converting first.
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Old Nov 5, 2012, 07:42 AM   #8
Menneisyys2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reminisce32 View Post
I went to the Mac store and tested the .TS and MP4 on a mpb retina, imac, and mac mini. The only files iMovie could even recognize was the .mp4. On all the machines it estimated 2-5 hours to import the video file from the desk top into iMovie. The size of the files I need to edit are around 3.40 to 5 GB.
Don't try directly importing (M)TS files to either FCP or iMovie. Neither will read them. You must either provide these two apps the original AVCHD directory structure or, if your screen recorder doesn't create one, create it by hand. The latter is very easy with multiAVCHD.

Let me know if you need more info on all this - I've written a full tutorial on doing this and can paste the entire thing here.
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 05:41 PM   #9
Reminisce32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Menneisyys2 View Post
Don't try directly importing (M)TS files to either FCP or iMovie. Neither will read them. You must either provide these two apps the original AVCHD directory structure or, if your screen recorder doesn't create one, create it by hand. The latter is very easy with multiAVCHD.

Let me know if you need more info on all this - I've written a full tutorial on doing this and can paste the entire thing here.
Not sure what you mean by "You must either provide these two apps the original AVCHD directory structure or, if your screen recorder doesn't create one, create it by hand"?
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 02:54 AM   #10
Menneisyys2
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Originally Posted by Reminisce32 View Post
Not sure what you mean by "You must either provide these two apps the original AVCHD directory structure or, if your screen recorder doesn't create one, create it by hand"?
Here's my full tutorial on the subject of AVCHD import discussing all aspects of it (including an answer to your question), including creating a standard AVCHD directory structure. Note that the writeup discusses the previous, 10.0.5 version of FCPX; the recently-released 10.0.6 streamlined AVCHD import but I think it still requires the entire directory structure so my tutorial is still applicable. Sorry for pasting it here in its entirety; an external link to the original article would be self-promoting:

TUTORIAL: this is how you can manually create and import your FCPX / iMovie / Aperture-compliant AVCHD camera archives

You may already have run into the problem of having to import AVCHD videos into Final Cut Pro X (FCPX), iMovie or Aperture on your Mac. You may know that if you have the original(!) archive the way your camera has saved it into its memory card, you can easily do this. However, should you want to manually create a file archive you want to import to these apps (or add videos to existing archives), you'll soon realize there aren't tutorials explaining this at all. Sure, you can always remux MTS files to MOVs (all these apps directly read MOV files – you can even drag them into the apps!) with a decent MTS -> MOV remuxer like iVI but it's a time-consuming project, particularly if you have several of files to convert around - it's always better to import the original, non-remuxed AVCHD files now that all these apps support them.

As this problem is very-very-very common and, in user forums, generally no true solution is suggested (see for example THIS thread), I've decided to investigate the problem myself and come up with a decent solution. I've decided to do so because not only manual file addition isn't explained, but also even plain AVCHD import has been made unnecessarily complicated in several posts. For example, many people suggest you must create a virtual disk in Disk Tool, copy the AVCHD directory structure there, mount the disk so that you can import AVCHD videos to FCPX / iMovie etc. It's absolutely unnecessary.

Note that this isn't an iOS, but a Mac (and, AVCHD archive management/addition-wise, even Windows-)specific article. Nevertheless, I'm a video pro and have been publishing iOS video articles here – so, let me publish a non-iOS-specific one in this series, particularly because it also adds information to older iOS articles like yesterday's Part I of my Interlacing bible series.

First, let's start with the basics: importing AVCHD videos into FCPX / iMovie / Aperture on your Mac, plain and simple, without unnecessary steps like the above-mentioned disk image creation.

1. Import AVCHD videos into FCPX / iMovie / Aperture

If you don't want to manually add vides to the camera archives and only want to know how your AVCHD videos should be imported to these three apps, this section is for you. Let's start with FCPX.

1.1 Import into FCPX

1, click the “Import from Camera” icon in the Clip pane, annotated below with a red rectangle:



or select File > Import from Camera. You'll be shown this; click “Open Archive” at the bottom:



2, Now, navigate to the directory containing the PRIVATE or AVCHD directory (the latter is inside PRIVATE in several (but not all – see the multiAVCHD tutorial below!) cases). The following screenshot shows navigating to a directory named “tobackup” , which, in addition to two other directories, has an AVCHD-compliant PRIVATE directory in it:



(You can quickly see it's AVCHD-compliant by it not being rendered as a folder. Should you, say, remove the file PRIVATE/AVCHD/BDMV/index.bdm (the main Blu-ray desrcriptor) from it, it would become un-importable and the whole “PRIVATE” would become rendered as a casual directory.)

3, Here, in this directory, without selecting anything, just click “Open”. The clips will be listed and you can select what you need:



The clips will immediately be imported and you can start working.

Side note: Incidentally, I could check out the individual (top) fields of the 1080i60 Sony RX100 video I've imported this way and didn't need to put it into a project (as opposed to the videos I've imported yesterday – see my Interlacing bible Part I), also setting its parameters. A screenshot showing this is HERE and HERE for the one- and two-field-case, respectively.)

1.2 Import into iMovie

Select File > Import > Camera Archive. You're presented this:



Select full-quality import (the bottom), unless you really don't want the best possible quality.

Now, navigate to the directory with the root of your AVCHD directory. iMovie will even tell you it recognizes a camera archive in there (see the annotation below):



Import all clips (or, if you switch the switch in the lower left corner, select the ones you need manually; this case is shown in the following shot):



After this, you only need to supply where, which event to import the clip(s) to.

1.3 Import into Aperture

Click the “Import” icon (second on the top left; see annotation below), navigate to the directory containing the root of your AVCHD archive (bottom center, also annotated), select the clips you want to import and click “Import Checked” (bottom right, also annotated):



Now, to the question of manually adding files to AVCHD archives.

2. Manually creating / adding files to AVCHD (camera) archives

Above, I've already mentioned [PRIVATE/]AVCHD/BDMV/index.bdm is the main AVCHD / Blu-ray descriptor, which, among other things, tells the AVCHD-capable apps what clips there are in the archive. This is why, for example, you can't just copy additional M(2)TS files to [PRIVATE/]AVCHD/BDMV/STREAM, not even if you name them properly (for example, if the last original file in the STREAM directory was "00007.MTS", you name your copied file "00008.MTS" and so on) – they simply won't be shown when trying to import the camera archive.

A quick glance into index.bdm reveals it's a binary file and, therefore, can't be edited manually – only via third-party apps. Of them, there are two very famous ones: bdedit and multiAVCHD. We'll need the latter (the former isn't able to add new files, albeit knows a lot of niceties like MTS demuxing.) Download and install it. Note that it'll work under CrossOver on the Mac just fine; I've made my screenshots below in this mode. (Note that, by default, the output files will be stored under ~/Library/Application Support/CrossOver/Bottles/multiAVCHD_4.1.exe/drive_c/multiAVCHD with CrossOver.)

First, click “Add video files” in the top left corner (annotated below). Add any number of files. In this example, I only add MTS ones; however, you could add even AVI's, MOV's etc. An example of adding several camera videos I've collected for my forthcoming Camera Connection Kit and iOS Compatibility bible (see their name in the “Compilation” group, after returning from “Add video files”):



Click “Start” in the bottom right (also annotated above). In the next dialog, select the (default) PS3 one (top left, annotated):



The AVCHD archive creation starts. When it ends, you'll be notified in the status row:


Note that multiAVCHD doesn't create a topmost "PRIVATE" directory. The three apps will import the files it creates nonetheless - you won't need to create the directory either.

Side note: THIS DBM editor has nothing to do with our index.bdm file – it's a database editor.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 05:01 AM   #11
daybreak
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Excellent post. Mind you the import structure on FCP-X 10.0.6 is different. regards outline in the EVENT.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 05:46 AM   #12
Menneisyys2
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Excellent post. Mind you the import structure on FCP-X 10.0.6 is different. regards outline in the EVENT.
Thanks! Will update the tutorial to 10.0.6 some time.
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