How to import standard AVCHD video files into OS X?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by macbook123, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. macbook123 macrumors 68000

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    Feb 11, 2006
    #1
    OK, I must be missing something very obvious as I seem to be unable to import AVCHD files from my camera to my Macbook Pro. iMovie09 doesn't see them, doesn't appear to recognize .mts files. A little google'ing suggests that FCE has some way to view .mts files but not necessarily (?) import them.

    I've now spend quite a long time looking into this and am trying to decide if I should be embarrassed or upset that this most crucial functionality of all functionalities is so hard to find in iMovie. I mean, come on, Macs are known for their graphics and video editing capabilities but I can't straightforwardly import the most popular video encoding format, now standard on pretty much any consumer grade camcorder? Must be me missing something...would be like a windows computer lacking any form of text editor...

    Oh, and I know there's VLC, but I just need a pointer to how to do this in iMovie or FCE. Sorry if this is a dumb question.
     
  2. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    Nov 5, 2009
    #2
    Might have to re-encode them in mp4 using handbrake/avidemux using a very lossless avchd codec.

    I know whenever I record hd gameplay footage from my hd pvr I use mp4 format and not mt2s, because mp4 just seems to be more recognizable from multiple applications.
     
  3. macbook123 thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #3
    So you're confirming that Apple software is unable to process the most standard camcorder file format?
     
  4. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

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    Australia
    #4
    What camera do you have? How are you connecting it? Are you following the iMovie instructions?

    See here for tutorials.

    Here's a specific one.

    iMovie (and FCE) look at the whole camcorder file structure when importing, not individual .MTS files.
     
  5. beejam macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2007
    #5
    Doing this right now with iMovie and a Sony camcorder.
    1) Set the camcorder as a usb device.
    2) Plug into computer and copy the ALL the files on the memory card into a folder on the mac. On the Sony, it has a folder called AVCHD, another called AVF_INFO, a file called MEMSTICK.IND and another file called MSTK_PRO.IND. Make sure you get all the files and not just the .mts files. And leave the folder structure as is.
    3) In iMovie import the video under File/Import/Camera Archive.

    The reason why I throw in the extra step of copying from the camcorder to the computer first is because I've found that importing directly into iMovie seems slower from the camcorder. Also, the resulting files from iMovie (.mov files) will be huge! So I'm going to burn a dvd of the memory card archive since that's a much smaller file and to preserve the original data.
     
  6. spice weasel macrumors 65816

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    Jul 25, 2003
    #6
    As others have basically alluded to, yes, you are missing something obvious. You need to either import the clips into iMovie, or log and transfer them using Final Cut (studio or express). Doing so will transcode the AVCHD files into AIC or ProRes. From there they can be edited with ease.

    AVCHD may be the most commonly used camcorder codec, but it isn't designed for editing. I'm not sure why you are so upset about this.
     
  7. xStep macrumors 68000

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    #7
    The Apple apps are designed to read from your camera as a drive. There is extra information in the directory hierarchy that the software uses when it converts those MTS file to something more appropriate for editing.

    If you are saying that when you hook the camera up, iMovie doesn't find it, then that would seem to be a problem. If on the other hand you are expecting to tell the software to import the MTS file via File-->Import menu selection, then no, that doesn't work.

    If iMovie isn't seeing the camera, check via System Profiler that the camera is even seen. If you see the files via the Finder, that is a valid test too.
     
  8. Mr Kram macrumors 68000

    Mr Kram

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    Oct 1, 2008
    #8
    i use imovie to pull avchd straight from my camera with no issue. i have to connect the usb cable and put the camera in "backup" mode. this is for a jvc everio.
     
  9. PenguinMac macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    #9
    iMovie 09 has a "Camera Archive" function that copies the entire memory card, or clips you select, into a folder that's an exact copy of your memory card WITHOUT transcoding. Only when you import this archive for editing are the AVCHD .mts files transcoded to AIC for editing. So you don't have to copy the camera card yourself.

    If you only have the .mts or .m2t or .m2ts files (file extension depends on the importing software you used), you can use Shedworkx RevolverHD to recreate the AVCHD memory card structure and save it as an archive that iMovie or FCP can import.
     
  10. ManuteBol65 macrumors newbie

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    Oct 11, 2010
    #10
    Guys, I don't mean to throw you a curveball at this point, but I'm also having some serious questions about MAC vs. AVCHD.

    I will soon be receiving a DVD disc with large AVCHD native files on them. I would like to view the files and edit them in order to make a video collage, or movie if you will. I would like to be able to watch this movie directly on my computer, as well as be able to burn it onto DVD and watch on a regular HD TV.
    Now in anticipation of the arrival of my disc, I started researching to see what were my options.

    I have iMovie '09 on both my iMac desktop (OS X 10.5.8) and Macbook (OS X 10.6.4). Both of my computers are Intel Core 2 Duo.

    But I do not have the original camcorder (LOL as it owned by someone else, in another country). I will only have a DVD disc with the bulky AVCHD files on them. Now according to the HELP section of iMovie '09, this is what I found:

    "iMovie doesn’t import AVCHD video files from the Finder.
    To import AVCHD video, you need to import directly from the camcorder."

    Is there anyway around this?
    I guess I was assuming that I would stick the DVD in, drag and drop the AVCHD files onto my desktop and work from there.... with iMovie.

    Final Cut is too expensive for me, as this is a one time thing for me.
    Will any other software allow me to do this?

    Big thanks in advance!
     
  11. Sir Gawain macrumors newbie

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    Oct 8, 2010
    #11
    Final Cut Express 4 will transcode the AVCHD files to AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec), but I have not found a way of doing this without the camera, even using an exact copy of the Panasonic file structure. Apple have confirmed that the application can't transcode ('Log and Transfer') the bare m2t(s) files.

    I use Clipwrap to transcode those bare files to AIC, which it does very fast.
     
  12. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

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    #12
    Like he said: Clipwrap (and convert to AIC, don't just re-wrap) or Voltaic. Both have demo versions.
     
  13. Sir Gawain macrumors newbie

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    Oct 8, 2010
    #13
    I found Voltaic HD a bit slow and it has a bug whereby the Custom Preferences can 'leak' into the default AIC converter, resulting in a conversion not to AIC but to a Quicktime wrapper. Their FAQs tell you how to get round this, but it's not ideal. If you only want a a simple, quick conversion to AIC for your M(2)TS files then ClipWrap is in my view the better software, though more expensive.
     
  14. douglasomar macrumors newbie

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    Aug 20, 2010
    #14
    Toast/Clipwrap/Voltaic ??? recommend which one?

    martinX you seem to know what your talking about so i will ask you the following question. I am converting from 1920x1080i video taken with my panasonic hdc-hs60 to a usable format that will work with imovie and FCE. I have tried the three; Toast/Clipwrap/Voltaic. In your experience which one is the best? When i tried them i didn't change any of the settings in Voltaic and Clipwrap. The only one i edited the settings in was Toast. I would like to keep the image the same or as close as possible as the original. Toast gives me the smoothest video playback. Clipwrap although faster gives me a video that has noise in it. Voltaic gave me a video that is full of noise and it freezes while i play it back. All videos are being converted from AVCHD to AIC. Also should i be de-interlacing before my edit or after? The one thing i can find out is if my video is 1920x1080 60i or 50i. My video is recorded in the best setting the camera has HA which it says it records it at 17mbps.

    looking forward to your reply and thanks for your time.
     
  15. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

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    Australia
    #15
    Using 1080i50 footage recorded at 24 mbps on a Canon HFS10, I converted the .MTS file to AIC using Clipwrap, Voltaic HD (deinterlaced and not deinterlaced) and FCE.

    I placed each clip into a single AIC sequence in FCE, settings 1920 x 1080i50.

    I exported as a QT movie. I opened in QT X and took screenshots at the same point in time.

    I rank the images from best to worst as:
    1. Voltaic (not deinterlaced) and Clipwrap (I had to convert audio as well) equal
    2. FCE
    3. Voltaic (deinterlaced)

    FCE was a bit blurry. Since I'm fairly sure they all use the same AIC codec, the difference must be in how they read the .MTS file.

    There's something weird happening with the Voltaic deinterlacing settings. Setting it for "deinterlaced" makes it look interlaced and I can force a sequence to become progressive, whereas setting it not to deinterlace makes it look progressive but the supposedly interlaced footage can still force a sequence change. Odd.

    Voltaic HD is $10 cheaper so go with that if you like the results you get from the demo. If I was going to do a lot of this sort of stuff without using the FCE Log and Transfer function, I'd buy Flamingo HD as well from the same company. And they're from the land Down Under.

    I hate interlacing questions. I can never give the right answer.

    Clipwrap deinterlaced.png ... FCE import.png
    Voltaic not deinterlaced.png ... Voltaic Deinterlaced.png
     

    Attached Files:

  16. fastforward macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2010
    #16
    Sorry guys I am really confused.
    I bought a Sony high def video thinking that I will get the best quality video picture.
    Is it true that if I want to edit and play with the high def files I am going to lose quality?
    Doesnt that defeat the purpose of going high def??
    Tks.
     
  17. douglasomar macrumors newbie

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    Aug 20, 2010
    #17
    From experience...

    The only time you loose quality is when you edit and export in a different format then what you recorded in. For example in my case if I import to iMovie edit and then export to my appletv the quality is perfect as soon as I export to distribute on DVD the quality changes due to it having to compress to fit the DVD. Then it's no longer HD. I don't see any quality change after viewing on the TV at HD quality. It might depend on your settings when you export.
     
  18. xStep macrumors 68000

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    Less lost in L.A.
    #18
    Technically any time you transcode from one lossy codec to another you will lose some quality. It does not matter what camera, or operating system you are using. You likely won't notice between a couple of generations.

    I'd be more concerned about the quality that the camera originally records. Typically the more expensive the camera, the better the quality.

    Lastly, since software is what is doing the transcoding, that can have a big influence. There are third party solutions to help out.
     
  19. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

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    Australia
    #19
    If you are editing in AIC (i.e. iMovie and FCE), the answer is you probably won't lose quality you can see unless you're really really looking for it. You will lose something when you export to your final delivery codec. How much you lose and how noticeable it is will depend on your delivery codec. At home, I export using QT X and use the AppleTV setting. I can see artifacts when I view it full screen on 27" iMac (with my nose a foot away) but not when played via AppleTV on a 50" plasma in the lounge room. Then I just see my terrible camera technique.

    If you are editing in FCP using ProRes, you won't lose quality until you export to your final delivery codec.
     
  20. batistuta macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    #20
    iPhoto and AVCHD?

    Q: What if I don't want to do any editing and simply want the AVCHD clips my normal Panasonic camera takes into iPhoto 09 (but I guess 11 is the same in this respect) along with all the photos from the camera?

    I store all my photos and movies on a NAS, as my Mini with SSD doesn't have enough storage space, so photos are placed in folders on the NAS, categorised by subject and year/month. And I like it like that, also for browsing photos from at Windows machine (ie. my wife).

    Q: Any suggestions by which I can maintain my folder hierarchy, not store the movies on the Mini, not loose quality and hopefully not having to keep two copies of the same movie in different formats ??? (a lot to ask, but not too much I think).

    I only need to show the movies along with the videos in iphoto slideshows (obviously in the order they were taken).
     
  21. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 6, 2007
    #21
    If you want to play them via iPhoto you're going to have to use something like ClipWrap to change the wrapper (without transcoding) from MTS to MOV, before import into iPhoto.

    (I can't vouch for this personally, so test first to make sure it does actually work as expected.)
     
  22. Anonymous Freak macrumors 601

    Anonymous Freak

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    #22
    To import an AVCHD movie into iMovie:

    1. Make sure that the files are in the original folder structure created by the camera. This does not need to be the original disk, but it does need to be in the original folder structure: /private/avchd/bdmv/stream/*.mts
    * If all you have are the *.mts files, just put them in a folder structure that matches. This can be on a DVD, SD, or even a standard external FireWire/USB hard drive.
    2. Open iMovie, and select "Import from Camera"
    * iMovie should find the /private/avchd/... folder structure, and treat it as an AVCHD camera and allow you to import.


    *ALL* AVCHD movies, regardless of whether their from a "camcorder" or a "digital still camera", must come in through iMovie, not iPhoto. (I also have a Panasonic that records AVCHD.) Import the photos through iPhoto, and the movies through iMovie. Neither program has any way of knowing that the movies are from a still camera as opposed to a movie camera - they just know the folder the movies are in is the "movie camera" file structure. If you want the movies to end up in iPhoto instead, set your camera to Motion JPEG instead of AVCHD. M-JPEG movies are stored in the "still camera" file structure, so iPhoto handles them.
     
  23. ManuteBol65 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2010
    #23
    Guys,

    I'm stuck. :(
    I have .m2t files (not .mts or .m2ts). They are on a DVD. Once again, they are .m2t. For example: clip010.m2t.

    I cannot import it into my iMovie 09 (drag n drop). I tried the VoltaicHD demo and it doesn't import it either. The actual clip that i'm trying to import is about 3 seconds long.

    I am not importing directly from the camera. The person who videotaped my material is in another country. He sent me the DVD with all of the video files, all of which are in .m2t format.

    How should I proceed?
     
  24. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

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  25. Anonymous Freak macrumors 601

    Anonymous Freak

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    #25
    Okay...

    .m2t are MPEG-2, aka "HDV" files. They are the files that are created from a tape-based high-definition camcorder. That makes things a *LOT* more difficult. iMovie only supports this when "streamed" in real-time from a camera device. iMovie has zero support for importing an .m2t file directly.

    MPEG Streamclip is your best bet.

    Also, for those who have Final Cut Pro, you can use Sony's plugin to allow FCP to directly import .m2t files. (I say this mostly for Google spider benefit, not for you in particular.)
     

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