Use AVCHD (MTS) or XAVC-S (MP4) from a Sony camera?

zerozoneice

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Original poster
Jun 26, 2013
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Given a Sony camera that records in both AVCHD and XAVC-S, what is the recommended recording format to use if i'm going to edit the files on a Mac?

Currently there's a bunch of blu-ray folder structures on the sdcard because it was set to record in AVCHD. I "showed contents" of the card all the way to the MTS files, which i backup-ed over to an external SSD. This SSD will be used to plug in TV to playback the video library. However some TVs have issues with MTS files, esp. if they're not in the original folder structure....

Should i change recording to use XAVC-S format which outputs MP4 files for more compatibility and probably ease of editing in iMovie?

For the already existing bunch of MTS files, what converter do you recommend (except handbrake) that makes use of Intel QuickSync? I have a 2018 Mac Mini i5 which supports QS....and also has the T2 chip...

...although Handbrake with T2 & Quicksync support seems a win.
that selecting "H.264 (VideoToolbox)" as encoder engine in the video tab, right?
(since H.265 will not probably work on a lot of TVs i think)
 
Last edited:

Dave Braine

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Mar 19, 2008
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I can't say which is better, but iMovie 10 can import both.

For the AVCHD footage that you have there is no need to convert, just connect the camera(or SD card in a card reader) and iMovie will see the video files and import them.
 

kohlson

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Apr 23, 2010
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Something to consider is how much "CPU work" is needed to edit the files for what you want. If AVCHD files are smaller, easily editable (don't require a lot of processing power), otherwise easily handled, and deliver the quality you want, then stick with that. Otherwise go with mp4.
 

joema2

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Sep 3, 2013
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Given a Sony camera that records in both AVCHD and XAVC-S, what is the recommended recording format to use if i'm going to edit the files on a Mac?
AVCHD is a difficult format, esp. on Macs. Ideally use XAVC-S. However both are tree-oriented and work better with iMovie and FCPX if re-wrapped with an external utility like EditReady.


For the already existing bunch of MTS files, what converter do you recommend (except handbrake) that makes use of Intel QuickSync? I have a 2018 Mac Mini i5 which supports QS....and also has the T2 chip...
QuickSync is only relevant if *transcoding*. For both AVCHD and XAVC-S you only need re-wrapping which is much faster.

There used to be a free utility which did this but it no longer exists and EditReady is regularly maintained: https://www.divergentmedia.com/editready
 

zerozoneice

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Original poster
Jun 26, 2013
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imovie indeed imports MTS AVCHD just fine but can't play back in realtime on the mac mini 2018.
i converted using handbrake (h264 videotoolkit codec) to MP4 and files are just a bit smaller but play fine in preview in imovie.

purpose is to first of all dump all the videos from the sdcards on an external T5 SSD for backup purposes and view on a TV, and second to slowly create some movies out of this material in imovie and playback also on TV.

2:21min material converted to MP4 in about 28s. Pretty fast.
 

ColdCase

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Feb 10, 2008
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My 2013 Mac mini 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 has no issues with AVCHD playback of 1080. The performance of your 2018 should blow my away? Are you viewing from the SD card, or importing the video to a local iMovie library? Last I heard iMovie doesn't support proxy editing, most folks do that in FCPX when faced with scrubbing or playback issues. Compressor is another alternative if you have it, otherwise you may want to bite the bulit and use something other than iMovie. If you have a ton of video to sort through, iMovie's tagging and organization isn't going to help you anyway, where FCPX is very good at organizing.
 

ColdCase

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One can tell FCP to create a lower resolution version of a video for editing purposes a so called proxy. On export, it applies the edits to the original high res video. So you can edit and scrub HD stuff on lower performance machines with acceptable response.
 

zerozoneice

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Original poster
Jun 26, 2013
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My 2013 Mac mini 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 has no issues with AVCHD playback of 1080. The performance of your 2018 should blow my away? Are you viewing from the SD card, or importing the video to a local iMovie library?
i didn't specify it clearly enough: pure playback from finder/quicktime of MTS is fine and smooth.
where it stutters (or drops frames) a bit is in the preview window (top right) of imovie, when i press play (space bar).

files are saved locally on the mini (512 ssd)
 

ColdCase

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Feb 10, 2008
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iMovie plays back HD stored AVCHD video from the timeline just fine on my mini, you may want to try reinstalling iMovie.

Regardless, stuttering in the iMovie time line does not get exported, so its only an editing annoyance.

I use bigasoft's prores converter for video that the editing software can't figure out or needs to be cleaned up before editing, but its not free and usually only necessary for some OTA DVR video recorded in MTS format.
 

Rydawg96

macrumors newbie
Aug 7, 2018
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They are basically just different container files, with AVCHD created in 2006 and XAVC in 2012. Both use the h.264 codec for video, also known as AVC or Advance Video Coding (hence why both use AVC in the name). The main difference between the two is that AVCHD was originally intended for rotational media such as DVD, Blu-Ray and HDD, while XAVC was designed for faster solid state storage, such as flash and SSD drives. Noticeably, XAVC generally uses higher bitrates compared to AVCHD. I have a Sony Handycam which supports both, and AVCHD supports 5 different bit rates. In 1080i, AVCHD has 4 record modes ranging from 5mbps to 24, and in 1080p60, records at 28mbps. In XAVC however, it only runs at 50mpbs regardless if you record in 30p or 60p. So pick based on which bitrate you prefer. Many cameras also offer higher resolutions such as 4K in XAVC, something which AVCHD doesn’t support due to being an older container. Audio formats can also differ, such as one supporting Dolby AC-3 while another supports PCM (it varies from camera to camera, so check the manual).