How do you manage AVCHD?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by AndyR, Jul 9, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    AndyR

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    #1
    Hey,

    Looking for ideas on how you guys manage AVCHD files at the mo?

    I recently became a Dad (yey!) so my photo/video habits have gone from taking the occasioanal photo and near to no video, to tonnes of photos and video clips of the daughter. Now at the moment all photos go into iPhoto, not a problem, but videos are all AVCHD via my Sony NEX-5N. Prior to the iPhoto update for AVCHD I was importing everything into iMovie, then exporting as MP4 to reduce the space. But because I'm getting so many videos its becoming a pain, and I noticed that iPhoto converts AVCHD to MOV files, but I get loads of interlacing issues when playing the video in iPhoto but not if I play the file directly.

    So I was wondering, how to you guys manage AVCHD files? Am I best to keep going with iMovie and exporting each time?

    Thx,

    Andy
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    ctyhntr

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    #2
    Do you really need your current camera (AVCHD)? I've been eyeing the New iPad (tm) as it has a 1080p camera, and wished my old Kodak Zi8 had longer battery life.

    My issue with AVCHD is when iMovie imports them as events, it generates a Pro Res mov file that about 10 times the size of the AVCHD MTS files. Ever thought about just copying the entire AVCHD folder to an external hard drive and preview them using VLC?
     
  3. HobeSoundDarryl, Jul 11, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2012

    macrumors 601

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #3
    AndyR, store the original AVCHD folders (a copy from your camcorder's storage to a hard drive) and not just the "stream" folder but all of the files. You really should store a copy too (meaning you end up with 2 copies of the AVCHD files) on at least 2 hard drives.

    Store at least one of these hard drives away from your primary residence (maybe with parents, bank safe deposit, secure place at work, etc). This is the fire & flood-proofing piece. Home movies are precious that will grow in (personal) value as each year passes. You don't want to lose them because you didn't use some kind of backup... especially with hard drives as cheap as they are.

    The reason to store the AVCHD originals is that there will come a time when you might want to compress them into something better than H.264 (when that comes out). Going back to the originals will maximize the quality of those new renders in the future. Recompressing your H.264 renders is going to sacrifice quality. 10-20 years from now, such a (latter) option might have you on the third, fourth or fifth generation of re-compression. It will be much better to be able to go back to the originals for those future codecs EVERY TIME.

    OK, so now you have a hard drive(s) with all of your AVCHD files and an off-site copy of that hard drive too.

    Organize your AVCHD by shoot dates. For example, I name my folders with date ranges so that I can come back to them later. If you want to re-render your child's 1st birthday, you'll easily be able to find the right original AVCHD.

    As you shoot new AVCHD, I find it much more convenient to use a tool like Chronosync to update the latest AVCHD folder (with the new footage). That kind of tool also makes it very easy to regularly update your off-site backup.

    iMovie is OK for AVCHD but I became frustrated with its limitations and gave FCPX a try. I feel like FCPX maximizes what I can get out of the AVCHD my camcorder can shoot (for example, FCPX can handle the Dolby Digital 5.1, 60fps video, etc).

    I've got a workflow where I use a tool called Clipwrap to do the conversions from AVCHD to ProRes, then use FCPX to do the editing of the ProRes files, render back out to ProRes, then use Handbrake to render a small final version (hiprofile preset) for itunes (to flow to :apple:TV3).

    Tools like MetaZ or MetaX are great for tagging those files for iTunes storage. I tag them as "TV Shows" so that all of our "home movies" can be organized in :apple:TV by year. This also works very well making them on-demand and convenient whenever anyone wants to see anything we've got.

    Again, backups are important... so consider a main hard drive(s) for storing all of your video media as well as a backup hard drive should the first one conk out. Again the latter should be stored off-site if at all possible.

    If you have nothing to start with, you could possibly get by on just 2 high capacity drives to cover both backups (storing both your building library of AVCHD backups and your iTunes video media) on the same drive, then backing them up to the other drive. High capacity hard drives are pretty cheap.

    Depending on how much you care about quality maximization, you may not need FCPX and thus Clipwrap at all (I just prefer them because I find iMovie too limiting). I do think a good tool like Chronosync is well worth it (for camcorder to hard drive and then hard drive to backup hard drive); it makes it much easier than manually doing those updates.

    IMO, iTunes plus :apple:TV3 is THE way for home movie management and playback.
     
  4. macrumors 6502

    bagelche

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Western Mass.
    #4
    First off, Congratulations!

    It depends, in part, on what you want to do with the files. Do you want immediate access to the movies or is it more about archiving/storing your source footage?

    Are you converting for size or viewability? The source AVCHD files are relatively small and if it's just for archiving, I'd stick with those. If it's for viewing, I'd still consider archiving the AVCHD files, but that will get large after a while.

    For archival, I agree with redundancy and offsite, but one step at a time (that's a good basis for any backup workflow, however). As HobeSoundDarryl mentioned, you want to keep the whole PRIVATE folder structure intact. I nest the private folder within another folder whose name is meaningful, i.e. "20120712 Kidling" or such. You'll want that private folder for ingesting the footage into iMove, Final Cut Pro, or another video editing program.

    There's probably a decent way of converting straight from the AVCHD files to h.264 quicktimes, but I don't know what it is offhand.
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AndyR

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    #5
    Thanks. Mainly archive at the moment, as I can play direct with MPlayerX.

    I spent a couple of hours messing around last night I've decided I'm just going to do a basic copy of the AVCHD files

    Reason being, I looked at the import iPhoto was doing (and it changes to MOV) which is fine but as iMovie cant see them and I cant share them easily with my AppleTV (as iPhoto doesn't present movies) that was out. So I went back to iMovie and importing. I took 2Gb of AVCHD of my camera into iMovie and ended up with 18Gb of Events. I then tried exporting which I've done loads of times for 720p, and tried it for 1080p and although it works it was just too clumsy and time consuming. Having to import into iMovie then export to MP4 was an extra step I didn't like.

    So lastly I just copied the AVCHD files to a folder. Didn't maintain the file structure, just wanted the MTS files. I can play these fine in MPlayerX and can stream directly with AirVideo. I then tried converting a couple of Handbrake on the High Profile setting to MP4 and took about 2 mins for a 300Mb AVCHD file to a 120mb Mp4. I could then link this in iTunes which happily streams it to my AppleTV. So for the time being I'm going to go that last step. I can batch encode videos if I want with handbrake too then, as well as keeping the AVCHD files for later, and if I want to edit I could use something like Clipwrap to get them into iMovie and edit.

    Thanks for the help though guys. Just needed to get my head around it
     
  6. macrumors 6502

    bagelche

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Western Mass.
    #6
    I wasn't sure if Handbrake could handle the .MTS files or not...great to hear it does.

    I would strongly encourage you to keep the whole PRIVATE folder structure. You don't need it until you do. You can always grab the raw .mts files out of the stream folder when you need them, but if you ever want to import into iMovie, FCP, etc., you'll be really glad you saved the folder structure. Spacewise, it's not noticeably bigger than just the raw files...mostly metadata/folder structure.

    I haven't used MPlayerX. I've used Movist and been moderately pleased w/ it, but will try out MPlayerX.
     
  7. simsaladimbamba

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    Location:
    located
    #7
  8. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AndyR

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Location:
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    #8
    Thanks, I tend to copy from the card each day but we keep the card going for weeks at a time with multiple events so this would become a pain for me. Happy with just the MTS files for now, but may make a backup copy of the card as a DMG before I ever wipe it so I have a copy like that just in case :)

    Thanks!!!
     
  9. macrumors regular

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    #9
    Hi

    It has been said before to copy the whole structure as a backup with good how to's. If you copy the card every day, but don't erase the contents, you are coping things multiple times. That costs space, and since you copy on the same disk, it doesn't give you redundancy.

    Regarding space: AVCHD is MPEG4/H264, so converting in MP4 (container) with probably H264 codec doesn't reduce space since it is the basically same.

    Just copy the content in folders (no need for DMG's or so) and whipe the card. Make sure you have it on multiple disks. If you want to edit, transcode and after the edit, throw away the (large) temporarily files.
     
  10. macrumors 601

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #10
    Again, get a tool like Chronosync. It does the job of quickly recognizing ONLY what has changed since your last sync and only copies those changes. This makes it really easy to maintain an ever-growing archive of video like this. If you shoot a few new clips of video, it's going to (only) copy those on the next sync plus any of the non-clip files that are updated as a result of your new shoot. This will be much better- and much more efficient- than copy that ever-filling camcorder storage over in it's entirety every time.

    You've now had multiple people advising you to keep the whole file structure rather than just the clips. That's really important for future purposes. H.264 will not be THE standard forever. The time will come when you'll want to convert those very precious home movies to whatever replaces H.264... and then whatever replaces that replacement, etc. Being able to easily come back to the master files for each generation will yield maximum picture quality way out into the future.
     
  11. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AndyR

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    #11
    Sorry guys, what I meant when I said I copy the card every day is not thay I copy the entire card to a new folder each day, I meant I copy over just the changes so the new MTS files only. The reason I do this is my NAS then see's all these MTS files on my Mac and I can play then directly via the TV.

    I'm going to keep a backup copy of the card anyway like recommended. Before I wipe the card I'll copy the entire structure (minus DCIM) over to my NAS in separate folders in case I need them down the line.

    Thx.

    ----------

    It does though. I can convert a 1min MTS file in handrbake to MP4 on with High profile and it goes from circa 400mb down to 150mb with no visible difference when shown on the TV.
     
  12. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    #12
    Apple hates AVCHD goodluck your files will never play or convert right they will either create huge files or of poor quality when you play it back on your TV....Shame shame, shame.. on Apple. better off using a window computer for this one


    PS..watch the apple fans rave and snare and threaten.. alwys happens if you dear to challenge their beliefs it's almost cultlike.
     
  13. simsaladimbamba

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Location:
    located
    #13
    Listen to this, he is a video professional. Looking at his previous posts, you can see, that he knows more about codecs and that stuff than anyone here, thus his words should be drank like woolaid.
     
  14. Richardthe4th, Jul 15, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012

    macrumors regular

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    #14
    Whoops, you are right there. But doing so in the same codec means you compress it more, that is getting rid of information. And even if not immediately visible on TV, when editing later on, or applying effects, it can become visible. When the information is gone, you can never get it back. The type of codec is important but also the bitrate (=quality).
     
  15. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2006
    #15
    Actually I think you'll be pleasantly surprised soon. ;)
     
  16. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2002
    #16
    Mr Ubilos, is that you? ;)
     
  17. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    Location:
    Canada
    #17
    aw c'mon...that's just plain teasing us! ;)

    btw, I don't mind the workflow of AVCHD in FCX. Any blu rays or HD files I create look pretty darned sweet.
     
  18. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2002
    #18
    I swear there was an article that stated Apple prefers you to use the native format such as AVCHD.
    However I cant seem to find it now.
    Since Ive started teaching FCPX, Ive burned it into everyone (and mine) to transcode to ProRes but that article seemed to debunk that.
     
  19. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2007
    Location:
    Michigan
    #19
    I edit all my .MTS files in adobe premiere and they come out just fine in .mp4
     
  20. macrumors 6502

    bagelche

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Western Mass.
    #20
    I do a lot of quick turnaround items (meetings, talks, etc.) and never transcode for those (I use both a 2010 quad MacPro and a 2011 MBP) and it's been easy. I've also done a variety of mixed projects (just did one with ProRes LT, h.264 and AVCHD) and it went quite smoothly.

    For anything that's going to involve more than mild processing (color correction, keying, layers of titles, etc.), I recommend going ProRes, but I've certainly done it straight AVCHD.
     
  21. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
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    #21
  22. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    Location:
    Canada
    #22
    I started to do the same at first, but then I tried copying the folder structure from my card onto a hard drive and editing natively. It works.

    Takes a long time to burn a 1.5 hour blu ray, but I have a CompressHD card from Matrox which helps speed up h.264 files.

    Also, a 12 core mac pro. lol
     
  23. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2012
    #23
    For iMovie, I've been able to input .MTS files if I go directly from Sony camera with card in it using Log & Transfer. There's a mode under playback on the camera. In the absence of the camera, I used Roxio Toast successfully but it's expensive.
     
  24. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AndyR

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    #24
    Does it need to transcode the AVCHD files or can it use them natively?
     
  25. macrumors 6502

    bagelche

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
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    #25
    Premiere can handle the .MTS files natively; it doesn't seem to care about card structure. I also use CS5 and CS6 regularly. My Premiere usage is strictly quick turnaround, so I've never transcoded for it. AVCHD in, trim tops & tails, add lower thirds/titles, do some tweaks as necessary and batch output using Adobe Media Encoder.
     

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