What do people do with iMovie and AVCHD?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by aircanman, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. aircanman macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Hey all, something that is really bugging me at the moment.

    So I make a recording on my digital camera, AVCHD in full HD and 50i

    The original file is under 1GB but when I put it into iMovie, it converts it to a file which is way over 2GB, and I am running out of space. I dont see why it has to do this to be honest.

    Luckily I can set the camera to record in MP4 mode, full HD 25p, the size of the movie is half the AVCHD, and it imports them directly to iMovie so no more big files, but I am a little worried I am losing some quality by doing it this way.

    I have a good eye for quality and can not really notice much of a difference, but the videos are important to me and I dont want to lose any quality!

    Any help?
     
  2. Anonymous Freak macrumors 601

    Anonymous Freak

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    #2
    AVCHD is a format that is compressed in such a way that makes frame-by-frame editing nearly impossible. So when you import an AVCHD video, iMovie transcodes it into Apple's own codec. It takes up more space, but it is frame-by-frame editable.
     
  3. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #3
    Your problem is not that your transcoded video file is too large. Your problem is that you are way short of free space on your hard drive. You need to archive a lot of your unused files to an external hard drive and remove the originals from your boot drive.
     
  4. aircanman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #4
    So as I said before, the MP4 file which looks very similar is much much smaller, but the more popular AVCHD is very big when iMovie converts it, I dont see the need for it to be like this.

    My videos are very important to me and I do not want them spread over loads of hard drives. Windows machines can edit AVCHD in its current state, this is what I also do not understand.
     
  5. cgbier macrumors 6502a

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    #5
  6. aircanman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    Gosh I am sensing the attitude issues here, I think there is a valid point here to be honest, but obviously you do not.

    It is people like you that give apple users the fanboy brand.

    Useless advice anyways thanks.
     
  7. cgbier macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    That message was written on a Sony Vaio, so I play the attitude ball back to your half. :D

    You don't like the answer, but that doesn't mean it is bad advice.
     
  8. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

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    #8
    Cgbier didn't give advice, he gave an explanation of The Way Things Are.

    The advice was use FCP X if you want to edit mts as mts, or do housekeeping on your hard drive. Or both

    Personally, I opt for the latter. I find my personal projects to have a lot of extraneous footage so I finish them (always the hardest part...), export as something for the appletv, and delete the lot.

    The exported file is of a high enough quality to drop onto DVD if needed.

    You could always try out Premiere. IIRC it handles mts files right off. A free trial is available.
     
  9. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #9
    You are not getting it. When I told you that you do not have enough free space on your hard drive, I meant that you do not have enough free space on your hard drive, period. It doesn't matter whether you are editing video or editing plain text email. The fact that you want all of your video in one place notwithstanding. If you want all of your videos in one place, then you need to replace your internal unit with a much higher capacity hard drive.

    Look. This may be a Mac fan forum, but there are people here who know things. One of the things that we know is that MacOS X requires 10-15% of its boot drive capacity available as free space. By your own admission, your boot drive has only 2 GB available as free space. I'd bet dollars to donuts that your drive is larger than 20 GB. I'll go out on a limb and bet that you have less than 1% of your hard drive as free space. Your free space is woefully inadequate.

    You should not only have problems editing video but also you should have trouble performing mundane tasks like composing email and surfing the Web. BTW, when I told you to archive your old files, I did not specify that you archive your old video files. Persumeably, you have other kinds of files. Archive those:rolleyes:

    Wow, Apple fanboys on a Mac fansite! Who knew? Apple fanboy or not, cgbier is absolutely correct. AVCHD was never intended edited later. It is a highly-compressed format that is designed to store HD-resolution video from inexpensive camcorders on low-capacity media. These videos were intended to be played back unedited from the camcorder rather than edited into other productions. Despite the fact that AVCHD is not an editable format, consumers demanded the ability to edit AVCHD video anyway. Consumer demand was addressed, but not by magic. It must be transcoded to frame-based video. AIC is Apple's frame-based editable video format. Video editors from other developers transcode to a frame-based format in cache [or memory]. Be it a visible video file or a hidden cache [or memory] file, every video editor that edits AVCHD edit a file converted to frame-based video.
     
  10. kirsch92 macrumors member

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    Apr 30, 2009
    #10
    Nowhere in the OP's post did he say he had less than 2G of hard drive space available. The size of the resultant files are bigger than 2G, and it seems to me, he was merely complaining about the files being twice as large (or more) than the originals.

    He had an alternate format available to him that did not result in these larger files and was merely wondering if this was going to cost him in quality.

    I came to this thread because I am looking at buying a camera (that also happens to record movies in AVCHD and mp4), and was curious because I assumed AVCHD was a better format than mp4 for editing.

    Reading through the bickering, I gather that perhaps neither one is a good format, but perhaps someone could enlighten me as to which is better, given no other choice; which is what I think the OP really wanted to know.
     
  11. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #11
    OK. The iMovie prefers the standard .mov QuickTime container. The standard .mov container now uses h.264/aac video/audio by default. Before Apple adopted standard h.264, it used an older, less-compressed standard MPEG-4 video format. There is no such thing as a an uncompressed digital video format.

    Transcoding between any two digital formats will result in some loss is quality. The only question is "How much?" This is why you never transcode to one format and then transcode to another unless you have no choice. Whenever possible, transcode from a high-quality source directly to your destination format.

    You may safely assume that standard MPEG-4 will work fine for consumer video. For professional video, you may want DV Pro or another lightly-compressed format.

    I have no clue where you got the notion that AVCHD is a better format for editing video. As I said in my previous post, the format is designed to store high-resolution video on space-constrained media. This is the exact opposite of the criteria for an edit-friendly format.

    Now to the OP. The OP is very clear that a 2 GB video file is an issue for him. If a 2 GB file is an issue for him, then whether he has 2 GB or 8 GB capacity remaining is besides the point. His hard drive is low on free capacity. This is a problem. He needs to take measures to address the problem.

    Am I clear?
     
  12. cgbier macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    Kirsch, the inclusion of MP4 into your camera is a safety for people with older, slower computers. To play back or edit AVCHD, the computer has to decode your footage frame by frame on the fly (see Misterme's terrific explanation). Therefore, you'll need solid hardware. Look around on the net. You'll find plenty complaints about stuttering AVCHD playback and audio/video synching problems.
    If you want to edit "native" AVCHD, I wouldn't use anything below a 4-core machine.
    MP4 is more humane in hardware needs, but therefore, its compression algorithm is (IMHO) not as good as AVCHD's (and it is not an editing codec either). It is just more compatible - even a pocket calculator could play it. ;)

    The decision if you shoot MP4 or AVCHD is based on your computer hardware. In any case, I would shoot AVCHD and transcode everything to AIC or ProRes, and don't bother with the thought that Windows software does AVCHD native (which it actually doesn't).
     
  13. kirsch92 macrumors member

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    #13
    My notion that AVCHD was better came from merely from knowing that mp4 isn't that great.
    Now let me risk hijacking this thread, but I'm going to do it in the OP's defense; plus it let's me rant a bit.

    What I have now is a Canon DV camcorder, that leaves me with a 13G file for 1 hour of video, which frankly I don't need that kind of quality for a standard definition video of my kids running around doing kid things (or maybe I do).

    My paranoia demands I keep every single DV tape. It also demands I have each tape moved to the hard drive on my computer. DV won't be around forever right? Maybe it will, but my DV camcorder will stop working someday. (I've played this game already with my Sony 8mm camcorder.)
    But the one hard drive isn't enough either, I've got to have that backed up too. So now I have two drives wasted, just for archiving footage, most of which is crap. But I have to, because it's my kids.

    The truth is, I haven't done much with this footage either. The footage that gets used the most, comes from my point and shoot that also does video.

    Why? Because it's easy.
    It's there in iPhoto. It's a short clip, easy to see, easy to edit in iMovie, and most importantly, easy to put into iTunes for viewing on my ATV after editing, and I don't feel guilty deleting the original (I don't know why, but maybe my shrink will have the answer).

    So, this isn't everybody, and certainly not the people that hang out giving advice in the Digital Video forum. You guys want (make that need) that high quality 13gig file. You're pros, or nearly pros.

    OP is not. OP is like me. aircanman just wants to use the best choice he has available, and came here to make sure he was doing the right thing.

    MisterMe, you gave good advice, as well as cgbier. and frankly neither one of you were being that mean, either.

    Truthfully, couldn't 90% of the questions asked in forums be answered with one of the two following?

    1. RTFM.
    2. Google.

    Most of the info is already out there, but then these forums wouldn't exist in their current form if we all answered as 1 & 2. And they are much more civil than the Linux forums I use to prowl years ago.

    Here's what I do now, every time I want to scream at someone on a forum.
    I breathe deep, and I remember this:
    "Apple invented Mission Control for people who couldn't find thier apps any other way."

    Now I will end my rant, with apologies; because I have been up for nearly 36 hours, and may have made no sense whatsoever.

    Thanks for the advice.
     
  14. cgbier macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    No need to apologize. Having roughly 2000 tapes (business and private) I can feel your pain.
    You don't need to keep all footage on a hard drive. Import it into iMovie, edit it and throw away what you don't need. You still have the tape as back up, and I bet you'll still find working H/DV cameras in ten years (I recently bought a Hi8 cam for 20 bucks to replace my old deck).
     
  15. kirsch92 macrumors member

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    Apr 30, 2009
    #15
    I know you're right, but somehow I haven't gotten there yet. Physically or mentally.

    My old 8mm stuff I ended up having archived by Costco to DVD. That came with Windows editing software.
    So I ended up using Handbrake to rip and encode to mp4.
    Some guy on another forum told me that mp4 is a better archive format than rotting tape.:cool:
     
  16. cgbier macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    Be careful: I have tapes dating back to the 90's, all playing flawlessly, but 5-6 y/o DVD (Verbatim, no scratches) give trouble already.
     
  17. tekriter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 16, 2004
    #17
    Well, I'm in a similar spot as the OP, and if I may, I think he was merely surprised that the transcoded file was twice the size of the original. I was similarly surprised myself.

    I have a Canon HF M40, replacing my old SD DV Panasonic that bit the dust a while back.

    Getting started with AVCHD has been quite a learning experience, and I still don't really know what I'm doing.

    When I imported some test video into iMovie, the import took far longer than my old workflow using DV tape, and I did not know this in advance. Then iMovie wanted to build thumbnails, and I have read here that you should not do that. Probably good avice; my test video created thousands of thumbnails and took about three hours on top of the transcoding time.

    One question I have is - after import to iMovie, is the resulting file in AIC? Or, should I convert to AIC before importing into iMovie?

    FYI - I have a 2.4ghz iMac, Core 2 Duo, maxed out at 4 gb.
     
  18. cgbier macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Yes, it is.
     
  19. DisMyMac macrumors 65816

    DisMyMac

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    #19
    I have successfully imported Apple ProRes 422 LT into iMovie 11. I didn't believe it at first, but I checked the Event file with VideoSpec and it says that it's ProRes, not AIC. I think the key is to use Streamclip to make the .mov file (and of course have the ProRes codec installed).

    (I also did a short export to make sure iMovie can use the file, and it seems fine... I haven't tried heavy editing though...)
     
  20. cgbier macrumors 6502a

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  21. DisMyMac macrumors 65816

    DisMyMac

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    #21
    Not needed… you can download it here: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1396 then use unpkg to pick which codecs you want. Avidemux doesn't like it for some reason, but Streamclip and iMovie recognize it.

    Like I sez- I haven't tried editing yet, but it imports OK...
     
  22. cgbier macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    Oh, Ok, that's the stuff for FCP X. Nice from Apple that they let you download it now even if you don't have the "Pro" apps (before you only got it in the box with FCS).
     
  23. nateo200 macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #23
    Currently working on a 30 minute video all AVCHD and H264...Its about 20 gigs compressed. I have been using MPEG stream clip to transcode before even opening FCP X and that has made life allot easier. I use Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) since my MPEG stream clip doesn't have ProRes 422, a bit old but the bit rate is high and the quality looks excellent. H264 codecs are a bitch to work with so I've gotten in the habit of transcoding before hand with AIC to save the headache.
     
  24. carlgo macrumors 68000

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    #24
    Great answers. Lurking here gave me some understanding of something I've never done, but will when my new camera (Nex-7) gets here.

    So, keeping in mind the technical considerations explained here, what software, hardware and workflow would you suggest if you were starting from scratch?

    This would be for numerous short clips of kids and nature mostly, to be viewed on everything from iPhones to a TV, so I would think "HD" would be the goal.

    Thanks.
     
  25. nateo200 macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #25
     

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