I'm in over my head. Please help with taking avchd and creating a dvd

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by matamua, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. matamua macrumors newbie

    Feb 12, 2011
    I am usually reasonably capable with tech stuff, but this is eluding me. I've spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to create a dvd from avchd (.mts and m2ts) files while preserving some quality. I understand that the quality will not be HD, but the goal is to be able to play them in a standard DVD player.

    I've tried using iMovie to export as an .mp4 and then burning it in iDVD but I get file sizes that were *much* larger than the original, and can only fit a fraction of what I should be able to on a standard dvd.

    I've also tried using MacX video converter to go from .mts > .mov and .mp4 with SD resolution and video quality of 1400kbps (no idea where that ranks, I saw some things stating that dvd quality is 5mbps and reduced with bitrate compression from mpeg-2, though I have no idea what that means). The video quality is absolutely terrible.

    I'm not expecting HD quality. I am expecting SD quality without lines running through the picture, without a/v dissociation. I feel like those are pretty low standards, but I have not been able to achieve them. I'm getting pretty frustrated.

    I would greatly appreciate any ideas, tutorials or help.


    I have the adobe cs4 suite if that makes a difference.
  2. ctyhntr macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2010
    This is my workflow

    import AVCHD files into iMovie 11 as Events
    Edit in iMovie, and then export as mov.
    Open iDVD and import mov files. iDVD will do its own conversion (downgrade to 480x720). Keep it under 2 hours, and if you get the 4.3 GB size warning (single layer DVD), go into settings and change video quality until it fits.
  3. matamua thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 12, 2011
    Thanks ctyhntr. I'm on imovie 09 and the mts files are grayed out when I try to import them. any thoughts?
  4. floh macrumors 6502

    Nov 28, 2011
    Stuttgart, Germany
    Hi matamua!

    The .mts files are only a part of the whole container. You need the whole folder structure to import into editing software. For more information on this, I made this video:

    I hope you didn't throw away the rest... then you can just go to "File->Import camera archive" and open the AVCHD folder. Then edit and export. It is true that the files will become ridiculously huge on import, but that's because iMovie automatically converts them to an intraframe codec (see the video from before) and to be expected.

    If you threw away the folder structure, you can not simply import the .MTS files, but change the container first. I programmed this little tool to do that for you, and it will be fast and without quality loss.

    Finally for the DVD quality: No matter what file you import into iDVD (it could also be a perfectly pre-converted file suitable for DVD), it will be re-encoded by iDVD with a matching preset. So, you should just try to input the best quality you can get and have iDVD do the conversion.

    This means:

    1. If you want to edit the video in iMovie first, and have not lost the AVCHD folder structure:
    - "File->Import camera archive"
    - Edit
    - Export in Full HD with ProRes codec (if you have the disk space)
    - Import file in iDVD and burn

    2. If you want to edit in iMovie but lost the folder structure:
    - convert .mts files with my little tool to .mov
    - import files in iMovie
    - ... (see 1.)

    3. If you don't want to edit at all but just burn (or you don't have enough disk space to import all your footage into iMovie), you could:
    - convert the .mts files into .mov with my little tool
    - import those files directly into iDVD
    - burn them

    You see: So many people are confused about codecs, containers, AVCHD and the like that I bothered to make this video and write this program, just to simplify things. :)

    Hope this helps,

  5. matamua thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 12, 2011
    Floh, your video is great and the fact that you went through the trouble to write the code is also really awesome. Thanks for all your effort and the time you put into your response.

    I ran the files through your converter, and the picture quality is great. I lost the audio though. Any idea why?
  6. floh macrumors 6502

    Nov 28, 2011
    Stuttgart, Germany
    Hm. Not really, this seems strange. The converter actually doesn't touch the video or audio streams but just copies them and wraps them in a new container.

    Could you go to the converted file in the Finder, mark it and press "Cmd+I" to open the information window? It should display the video- and audio-codec, something like "H.264, PCM-linear". I am curious to see if it's just a weird codec that doesn't work out of the box.

    What software are you trying to play back the converted file with? You could try "VLC" if you haven't, a great player that can handle almost any codec. If VLC can't play it back with sound, there is something seriously messed up...
  7. ctyhntr macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2010
    What is the resolution? 480, 720 or 1080p? iMovie 09 supported up to 720. After I upgraded to iMovie 11, I was able to import files in 1080p.

    After you upgrade to iMovie 11, check out this thread to add ProRes 422 codec.

    The latest version of QuickTime (that came with ML) will play MTS files. QT is alot snappier that iMovie, so I use that alot to preview and watch the videos.


  8. matamua thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 12, 2011
    h.264, AC-3 is the codec I show.

    The software I was initially using was iMovie, iDVD and Premiere CS6. I also tried it in VLC. The sound doesn't come through on any of them. I then tried playing back the original .mts file in Premiere and the sound works. I tried the .mov converted file in Premiere just to double check, and it in fact, does not work.

    You, good sir, are the most helpful fellow I've found on the interwebs. Cheers to you.
  9. floh macrumors 6502

    Nov 28, 2011
    Stuttgart, Germany
    I have no idea what is going on there. You could try to convert into another container (.mp4) instead of .mov, I have sometimes seen AC-3 cause problems with Quicktime, but that was a very long time ago. If all fails, you can send me a (short) sample of what you have, and I'll take a look at what the problem might be.

    I'm also a bit too tired right now and should get some sleep. :) But I'll be back tomorrow.
  10. Richardthe4th macrumors regular

    Jan 4, 2008
    Below Sealevel

    AC3 is the audio format for DVD's (=compressed dolby, the other usable format is uncompressed PCM). Sometimes ac3 doesn't play in quicktime, but try to import the file in iDVD and see if it recognizes the audio stream. Your goal was to create a DVD :) (I cannot test it because I use DVDSP)
  11. Siderz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2012
    Wow, thanks for that! That is very useful!

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