How should I archive AVCHD files

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by andrewcoleman, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. andrewcoleman macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2013

    I am in the process of migrating from a Windows PC to an iMac and am trying to understand how I handle the videos generated from my Panasonic HDC-SD900 video camera. Back on my Windows machine I used the software that came with the camera to import the video clips to the hard drive. Over time I have built up a archive of the files.

    I have two questions. Firstly what should the correct process be to archive the footage I have taken on the video camera? It seems that all of the video information is contained in a single file called AVCHD. Should I simply copy the file onto my local drive and then onto my NAS for archive? It seems there are several utilities out there that can read the AVCHD file from the camera but they seem to transcode the file which is not what I want to do. I just want to archive the file without losing any data.

    My second question is what is the best tool for taking the AVCHD file and editing the footage and put it together into a movie? Should I try Final Cut Pro?

    Also looking at what I used to archive on my old Windows machines I have files with extensions like .m2ts, .cont, .pmpd and .tmb. From what I understand these are files that are normally contained in the AVCHD file and have been split out by the Windows software that came with the camera. Am I losing anything by having these files like this? It seems iMovie is able to open and play the .m2ts file. Should I be looking at splitting out the AVCHD file like this on the iMac or keep it as one file.

  2. Unami macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2010
    tha "avchd"-file is in fact a folder, which osx (since mountain lion) shows as a file - you can show it's contents with "right-click -> show package contents" - if you dig deep enough, you'll eventually find the .mts files containing the video. it used to be that final cut pro or imovie could only read videos contained in full avchd folders, but this is no more the case. they now also read the .mts files.

    having said that... everything else in the avchd-folder might contain metadata (like timecode, location data,...) and it's file-size is neglicible compared to the .mts files - i always archive the whole avchd folder. so the video files keep being compatible with older versions of final cut and don't lose any metadata.

    as for editing.... use whatever you are comfortable with and what fullfills your needs - there's a 30-day trial for fcpx in the app store and you can download a trial for premiere from adobe's website.
  3. Geranium macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2013
    According to me the best way to archive AVCHD is to create a dmg image disk of the SD card. Use Disk Utility for this

    You will not lose any think : data, mts, folder structure, timestamp, ...

    Rename the disk image with date as prefix in order to not overwride it !
  4. Big Stevie, Feb 19, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014

    Big Stevie macrumors 6502a

    Big Stevie

    Jun 20, 2012
    I take quite a lot of footage with my Panasonic SD9 camcorder and I use iMovie to edit out the bits I don't want, add music and join clips together. Im a lover of iMovie:)

    As for the originals, well I copy them onto both my MacBook and my PS3, then copy again from the camcorder straight to dvd, making two copies. Then I format the SD card. Every now and again I will copy the MacBook files onto two external HD's. So in total, I have 6 copies of each recording.
  5. HobeSoundDarryl, Feb 19, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    I have that very same camera and post #2 offered the right advice. Store the whole AVCHD folder. What I do is create a folder with a date range name and then put them in there. For example the folder might be called 010113-123113 or similar. Then I know what footage is in there if I want to ever go back to the original source video later.

    Making a folder also affords you the ability to save a descriptive file within it (with the AVCHD folder). For example, you could describe the various videos that were shot in that AVCHD archive. Later, you might appreciate being able to use this to quickly find the right "Christmas" or "Birthday" video.

    Storing the original source matters for maximum future flexibility. If you get out there somewhere and need to re-edit the footage for something else, using original source instead of something you edited and rendered will yield a slightly better end result. We will eventually get to something better than h.264 and you might want to go back and re-edit from masters to render in that better format.

    Store these AVCHD files in at least 2 drives so that if your backup drive dies, you'll have a backup of your backup.

    Store these backups in 2 places so that if your residence is robbed or burns down, both of your backup drives are not stolen or burn with it.
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Yes you need to work out some kind of work flow. The most conservative one is to copy the data from the camera EXACTLY as it came from the camera with no changes at all. On a Mac you'd simply drive the entire content of the SD card to some hard drive. No unitily programs, no conversion. Just drag the folder to the archive.

    The problem is you them have an un-indexed archive with impossible to decipher folder names. You would need to also take note and keep those notes in README files inside the archive.

    Another way is to first do the above then review the footage and move the shorter files, the ones inside the folders into folders with descriptive names. also re-name the files. You can also "cull" to trash where the camera was pointing at the ground or maybe like me you leave the camera rolling between "takes". Just cut that up into shorter files. Now after this first level of organization you have a MUCH better archive.

    Import you much better arhinve into FCPX and allow FCPX to use the file and folder names to organize your FCPX Events folder. After importing you need to spend move time in FCPX organizing the files and clips and making in and out points, adding comments and tags, finding the best takes and labeling them as such. You will want to also archive and backup this work.

    You need to kep your data on multiple physical media and also in multiple geophgraphic locations. Three copies is reasonable. I would place that first archive on one device and FCPX Events fielders on another.

    Some how you periodically copy this and send it off to some far away place using other SATA disk drive in a fire safe in some other building or a Internet "cloud" based service.

    So in short I'd have two archives, (1) an exact copy of the SD card and (2) a backup of the FCP Events folder. Both archives wouls be stored locally and at a remote location.

    The FCPX Events folder holds the original un-transcoded content but also your comments and in and out points and is organized. In addition it can also hold transcoded data which can be huge. I make a point NOT to archive those big ProRes files.
  7. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    I'm still very new at this too. I started off by copying out the individual MTS files from the SD card since they seemed to be all I needed. You can play the MTS files in VLC and import them into editors OK. However, I've since read (as someone posted above) that this is really incorrect as I would be throwing away a lot of metadata.

    If it was truly important to keep EVERYTHING then I would archive the entire SD card, but I don't personally like the idea of having big blobs of 16-32 GB each that are hard to "open up" to look for clips later. Also, it means you need to be disciplined about archiving after each event, otherwise Timmy's birthday party and your trip to the Caribbean could end up in the same .DMG file and make it harder to organize things later.

    I'm trying an approach where I take my SD card filled with AVCHD footage and use a utility that copies them off the SD card and wraps each clip in its own .mov wrapper. I should be able to then shuffle individual clips around, organize them in folders, delete the junk clips, etc. and retain most of the metadata that's important to me (not being a professional editor I don't think I care too much about timecode, etc.)
  8. USAntigoon macrumors regular


    Feb 13, 2008
    Rochester Hills, MI

    I use ClipWrap to import the .mts (AVCHD) and convert them into ProRes 442. You can also import the AVCHD media into FCPX. My preferred workflow is the ClipWrap route as I can review the footage and delete some prior import into FCPX 10.1.1

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