AVCHD and iMovie '09: What can I expect?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by NJRonbo, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. NJRonbo macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2007
    I'm having a hard time getting many
    opinions on AVCHD and iMovie '09. I
    wrote a similar post in a smaller area
    of this forum and figured that I would
    hopefully get more advice from AVCHD
    camcorder users here.

    I have a 5-year-old Sony HD camcorder
    that uses tape. It's a pain-in-the-ass to
    use because if I shoot an hour of footage
    it takes an hour just to transfer it from
    camcorder to iMovie. It bugs the hell out
    of me.

    I want to move to a new Sony CX550V
    AVCHD camcorder for the simple reason
    that I want to cut that initial transfer time
    out completely.

    I want to simply drag my footage into
    iMovie, edit it, then burn to DVD or upload
    to YouTube.

    Now I have heard horror stories about the
    way AVCHD behaves on a Mac. However,
    I am hoping that iMovie '09 will be able to
    work with the camcorder I am looking to
    purchase. I do know that it is compatible
    according to the Apple compatibility page.

    I need to know all the ins-and-outs of using
    AVCHD and iMovie '09 before I decide to buy
    this camcorder. Here are my questions...

    Now, can I simply drag and drop clips from
    the AVCHD camcorder into iMovie? No waiting.
    No fuss.

    I understand iMovie changes the codec. It
    probably does it to the tape system I am using
    now. However, I am interested if there is any
    video degradation at all in the transfer from
    camcorder to iMovie (before final compression).
    Since the files are AVCHD would the the degradation
    be WORSE over what I am getting with the tape
    system or it will remain the same?

    I just need a basic answer as to what my iMovie
    experience will be. I want to drag my clips to
    the software, edit and add titles/effects and then
    either burn to DVD or (more often) upload to YouTube
    in the H.264 format.

    Thank you so much. This is a very important
    purchase I am considering.

    Should I go ahead and buy the Sony CX550V?
  2. CygnusTC macrumors newbie

    Sep 7, 2010
    Works pretty good

    I have been using iMovie 09 and a 4 year old Sony AVCHD camcorder without problems for awhile now. You do not really lose any video quality as long as you import on the highest setting (imovie will prompt you). You do lose the 5.1 audio if your camcorder has that. It still sounds fine though. It still takes awhile to import each clip but the faster processor the quicker it goes. One real nice feature is a way to "archive" the camcorders contents to your mac hard drive. This basically creates a mirror image the contents in the same folder structure as the camcorder. This allows you to import from that image anytime without the camcorder and also acts as a sort of backup. One big advantage is since it is still in the compressed AVCHD format it takes a lot less disk space then converting everything to imovies format. Oh yeah one more thing (I sound like Steve Jobs himself!), the big headache people have with AVCHD and iMovie (and Final Cut for that matter) is there is no NATIVE import for the file container itself. This means you HAVE to import it from the camcorder or the archive or it won't work. I find this frustrating as well. I would LOVE to be able drag and drop the native files (especially since they are so small in size relative to uncompressed) right into iMovie or FCE but cannot. I would also LOVE to play them natively in quicktime but I have to use VLC and at times it sputters but at least it somewhat works. What I find really interesting is my PS3 will play them natively AND with the surround sound intact! I guess since Sony is one of the co-inventors of the format it made sense for them. It really works great and saves alot of disc space (and time) not converting everything over to a uncompressed playable format. I typically video my daughters cheerleading events come home copy the relatively small file sizes over to the MAC and them stream them straight from the PS3 in minutes. She loves it and the audio/video quality is fantastic.
  3. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2007


    The big factor here is the transfer time between
    a HD tape system (which is real time) and AVCHD
    to iMovie.

    I am using an older Macbook Pro, 2.8GHZ (duo core)
    with 4GB memory.

    10 minutes of footage from a tape will take 10 minutes
    to transfer to iMovie. It's real time.

    I am concerned about the time it will take for AVCHD
    to transfer from the camcorder to iMovie.

    If I can get a much faster transfer rate with AVCHD
    that may be an incentive to switch to that format.

    I am trying to get away from the long, real-time
    transfer of tape.
  4. CygnusTC macrumors newbie

    Sep 7, 2010
    Import Times

    It actually does import quicker than realtime but depends on your processor how much quicker. I have a 2.4 core duo and 4 gb memory and my is definitely quicker than real but I would have to do a test to get an exact time. One thing I did when I was testing avchd awhile back was go to a Best Buy and find an avchd camcorder with similar specs (and a memory card slot). I brought my own memory card and filmed the place for about 10 minutes and then brought the card home and imported it. You could test it out that way
  5. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2007
    What a remarkable, brilliant idea!

    I will stop by my Best Buy store this
    morning bringing along a SDHC card.

    Will report my results back tomorrow.
  6. dbrothers macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2010
    As I recall, you're contemplating a Sony camera - an SDHC card won't do you any good. Sony uses their proprietary MemoryStick flash widgets. You can probably buy one fairly inexpensively where the camera is sold, and there are various adapters available. I've got a Belkin thingie that plugs into the weird slot on my MBP and accepts MemoryStick as well as SD, but I mostly use USB to transfer stuff from the camera to the MBP, since I've configured the camera to store video on it's hard drive, and stills on the MemoryStick.
  7. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2007

    Absolutely, this camcorder takes an SVHD card.

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