OS X and AVCHD video


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2012
I currently use Windows 7 and it is about time to upgrade to a new PC. I tried the Consumer Preview to Windows 8 and I hated it. That leaves me with staying with Windows 7 for another several years or so or move to Mac. I have an iPad 2 and it works very well. I have been curious about macs for some time now.

My research has showed that everything that I do now, with the possible exception of video editing, can be done just as well on a Mac if not better.

Windows Media Player plays the AVCHD files straight from the camera just fine and even de-interlaces them properly. I can then use Sony Vegas movie studio to edit them and export them as a interlaced file that also plays well in Windows Media Player. I choose to leave the files interlaced because I like the smooth motion. These files converted to 30P looks "choppy" to me, so I leave them as 60i.

What kind of experience should I expect on a Mac? From what I read raw AVCHD files are not supported and I would need to convert them to watch or edit them. I have many hours of AVCHD footage already and it would be very impractical to convert everyone of them so that they can be watched.

I have thought VLC or MPlayerX would play them and deinterlace them properly. Is this correct? I have also read that iMovie will automatically convert AVCHD files to 30P. Is this also correct? How does FCPX handle AVCHD on import and export? if I find that I will have a smooth AVCHD experience I will almost certainly go Mac for my next PC.


macrumors regular
Sep 1, 2006
VLC plays my AVCHD files straight from the camera and if I need to edit them "Media Converter" app converts them very fast without hassle

it's a little bothersome & I was worried about it but in practice its no big deal


macrumors 6502a
Jun 6, 2011
As long as you copy your whole SD card, with the file structure intact, to your computer, you'll do fine.

FCP X can work "natively" with AVCHD. However, this is not advised. You'll be glad that FCP X offers you to transcode your footage to an intra-frame codec (ProRes), which makes editing much more fluid.

ACVHD is a delivery codec, not really meant for editing. Even Vegas is transcoding that stuff (smart render or what it is called).


macrumors 6502
Nov 28, 2011
Stuttgart, Germany
Almost everything has already been said: VLC can play AVCHD files, but they are actually not meant for playing. You can import them into iMovie as well as FCPX. iMovie will automatically convert them, FCPX can handle them natively if you want it to, or convert them.

cgbier said that it is not advised to use H.264 footage in FCPX for editing, since a lot of frames have to be interpolated and it will challenge your CPU if you skip through stuff quickly and have a fast paced workflow.

However, I want to add that I personally like to split my footage into two types: I usually know what I want to do with the footage when I import it from my camera and can decide directly on import whether I want FCPX to transcode it or not.
If I want to do some major editing, lots of exact cuts and spooling through footage, with effects and compositing applied, and if the project overall is a bigger and more complicated one, I would always convert the footage on import, since it will save me tons of frustration later.
However, I often times have footage (e.g. recording from a concert, some trial shots, interviews, ...) that I know I will just watch once, cut very rough and then export, without a lot of color grading and visual extravaganza. Those kinds of video I usually don't convert and just edit as is. Even my laptop is strong enough for such simple tasks on H.264 codecs, and it saves me lots of disk space (oh my god, HD video files are huge...).