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Old October 25th, 2007, 12:22 AM   #1
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Some AVCHD findings on the Mac

My other threads were about finding a suitable Mac hardware configuration for editing AVCHD. While I've received lots of great information, I wanted answers to the following:
1. Could a 20" iMac import AVCHD into FCS2 (system requirements state that you need a Mac Pro)?
2. How much faster is a Mac Pro compared to an iMac for importing?
3. How important is the camera/media directory structure for importing?

A few visits to the Apple Store accompanied by a USB drive with a 30 second clip shed some light on this.

1. The Intel-based iMac does import AVCHD from my Canon HG10 into FCS2. Initially, I just had the MTS (stream) files and couldn't seem to get them to work so I dumped the entire AVCHD directory from the camera onto the USB drive and tried that, which did work. Importing into FCS2 is achieved using the Transfer and Log menu option. If you have the USB drive (or camera) connected, it immediately displays the video files. If you don't, then you can point it at a folder on your hard drive, but this needs to have the same directory structure as the camera drive (see question 3).

2. The clip was about 30 seconds. The iMac (2.4GHz) took about 90 seconds to import. The Mac Pro (2.66GHz) took a little over 60 seconds. In both instances, I copied the AVCHD directory over to the local drive so the slow access speed of flash should not be an issue. Now there are a few things to say here: first of all, it was a short clip (1080/60i) and I have no idea if there's any "start-up" conversion overhead that skewed the results. Secondly, I was just looking at the second hand of my watch so the timings are very approximate, but I was mostly interested in ratios. Thirdly, there may well be some tuning options I'm not aware of.
I tried importing the same clip using iMovie 08 and its conversion process from AVCHD into whatever intermediate format it uses took about the same amount of time.
I did not try the Voltaic program at www.mac1080hd.com.
I have no idea if more RAM helps speed up the process. I'm guessing no, because of the CPU intensive nature of AVHCD.
These results would seem to indicate to me that only one CPU is being used in the processing, which is why the Mac Pro isn't that much faster.

3. The directory structure is key - at least with FCS2. This is something that's going to be vitally important for archiving footage. As I said above, just the MTS files are not enough - they are greyed out in the Transfer and Log slug; you need the AVCHD directory, which has a specific structure:
/AVCHD/
/AVCHD/CANON/
/AVCHD/BDMV/
/AVCHD/BDMV/BACKUP/
/AVCHD/BDMV/CLIPINF/
/AVCHD/BDMV/PLAYLIST/
/AVCHD/BDMV/STREAM/ <--- MTS files are here
/AVCHD/BDMV/INDEX.BDM
/AVCHD/BDMV/MOVIEOBJ.BDM

I tried deleting things until I was unable to import. I found that I could delete the CANON, BDMV/BACKUP directories and the MOVIEOBJ.BDM file. I also found that I could point the FCS2 Transfer and Log tool to the BDMV directory rather than the AVCHD top-level directory. Finally, all the files are binary - including INDEX.BDM.
So based on the above, my archiving strategy needs to be to dump the AVCHD directory from the camera to my hard drive and treat that like a tape.

Hope this is helpful to folks and keep in mind that this is very quick and dirty testing on my part.

Last edited by David Sayed; October 25th, 2007 at 12:23 AM. Reason: fixed directory structure
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Old October 25th, 2007, 11:36 AM   #2
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Thanks.

My guess is the AVCHD is still not ready for prime time.

Wish it was with a global shutter, 3CCD imager, and with Intra support.

All for $1000.00.

Wishing . . . .
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Old October 25th, 2007, 10:12 PM   #3
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So I'm guesing that you used a new iMac Intel and not a G5. Do we know if it will work with a 2 ghz G5 iMac with 2 gigs of ram and FCP 4.5? I'd get iMovie if necessary.

I only plan to shoot run-n-gun stuff with the camera for home use. SD would work too. Can I down convert with iMove 08 and then import to FCP 4.5?
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Old October 26th, 2007, 11:58 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Aaron Rosen View Post
So I'm guesing that you used a new iMac Intel and not a G5. Do we know if it will work with a 2 ghz G5 iMac with 2 gigs of ram and FCP 4.5? I'd get iMovie if necessary.

I only plan to shoot run-n-gun stuff with the camera for home use. SD would work too. Can I down convert with iMove 08 and then import to FCP 4.5?
Aaron - yes I was at the Apple Store, so it was all the latest gear. In fact, the AVCHD support in FCS2 is for Intel only - it simply doesn't work on PowerPC. I'm not sure if the same limitation exists for iMovie 08.
However, the Voltaic program I mentioned does work on both PPC and Intel, so that could be an option. It will convert AVCHD to formats editable by both iMovie and FCP. The other benefit of the Voltaic program is that it seems to be able to handle the raw MTS streams without the whole AVCHD directory structure rigamaroll that FCS2 requires. However, I've not actually tried Voltaic so I'm just going by what the web site says.
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Old October 26th, 2007, 02:23 PM   #5
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Thanks David.

They Voltaic people answered my other questions also. It sounds like it will be a wort while program. The customer support was very good. It may work on my FCP 4.5 and they provided a AVCHD file and their free download for me to try, so I know it works.
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Old March 11th, 2008, 02:17 PM   #6
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AVCHD question...

Is there any way to rebuild an index file in the camera?

Long story, but i am using a client's HDR-SR7 and neither FCP S2 or iMovie '08 would recognize the camera. I tried everything. In a vain attempt to force the camera to rebuild it's index file, i deleted it. And the camera then forced all the footage into a backup folder AVCHD_BK. I can not get the camera to access these files or final cut to see them. Anything NEW recorded on the camera, however, shows up in FCP no prob.

So, short of converting all of these .MTS files manually with the ridiculously slow Voltaic software (12X original clip), is there ANY way to force FCP or the camera to see the movie files that are in the backup directory on the camera?!!

Thanks,

david.
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Old April 27th, 2008, 08:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by David Fernandes View Post
Is there any way to rebuild an index file in the camera?

Long story, but i am using a client's HDR-SR7 and neither FCP S2 or iMovie '08 would recognize the camera. I tried everything. In a vain attempt to force the camera to rebuild it's index file, i deleted it. And the camera then forced all the footage into a backup folder AVCHD_BK. I can not get the camera to access these files or final cut to see them. Anything NEW recorded on the camera, however, shows up in FCP no prob.

So, short of converting all of these .MTS files manually with the ridiculously slow Voltaic software (12X original clip), is there ANY way to force FCP or the camera to see the movie files that are in the backup directory on the camera?!!

Thanks,

david.

I'd be interested in this as well. I have a bunch of older footage which I would like to put back into AVCHD directory formats so that I can treat them like tapes.

What I have begun to do now is just create an image (dmg) file from the camcorder and treat it just like a tape like the other poster mentioned. This allows me to log and capture with minimal problem.

The real question is why is voltaic soo much slower then the FCP or iMovie import?
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Old April 27th, 2008, 11:01 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by James Russo View Post
I'd be interested in this as well. I have a bunch of older footage which I would like to put back into AVCHD directory formats so that I can treat them like tapes.

What I have begun to do now is just create an image (dmg) file from the camcorder and treat it just like a tape like the other poster mentioned. This allows me to log and capture with minimal problem.

The real question is why is voltaic soo much slower then the FCP or iMovie import?

This evening I've played around with this some. Renaming files, trying to get camera to rebuild information. Can't seem to get it to work. I'd love to be able to just copy M2TS files back onto camcorder and re-capture.. but putting them back on the camcorder (SR7) doesn't seem like an option.

-jr
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Old April 28th, 2008, 06:34 AM   #9
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The Sony Browser software ( I know this is only PC) will do most of what this thread is all about I think. Also the SR7 and SR11 etc have a maintenance routine in the menus for directory repair, I have never used this so have no idea if it would recover damaged files. The Sony Browser software will copy back AVCHD to the camera. Sony Browser software does a good job of logging the input from the camera and all the metadata with it including face recognition date time camera settings etc and displaying in a directory or calendar format. IT also stiches the FAT32 files into one long file if a long program was recorded such as a 1 hour event etc. This may work under bootcamp to get all the files into the Mac and back to the camera?

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Old May 10th, 2008, 09:13 PM   #10
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I can confirm you can't even look at the clips on a G4 or G5 PowerPC Mac.

The only thing you can do on a G4 or G5 is convert them using Voltaic... which takes forever.

You need Final Cut 6.02 or later on a fast Intel Mac to be a happy camper.
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Old September 26th, 2008, 07:56 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Sayed View Post
These results would seem to indicate to me that only one CPU is being used in the processing, which is why the Mac Pro isn't that much faster.

3. The directory structure is key - at least with FCS2. This is something that's going to be vitally important for archiving footage. As I said above, just the MTS files are not enough - they are greyed out in the Transfer and Log slug; you need the AVCHD directory, which has a specific structure:
/AVCHD/
/AVCHD/CANON/
/AVCHD/BDMV/
/AVCHD/BDMV/BACKUP/
/AVCHD/BDMV/CLIPINF/
/AVCHD/BDMV/PLAYLIST/
/AVCHD/BDMV/STREAM/ <--- MTS files are here
/AVCHD/BDMV/INDEX.BDM
/AVCHD/BDMV/MOVIEOBJ.BDM

I tried deleting things until I was unable to import. I found that I could delete the CANON, BDMV/BACKUP directories and the MOVIEOBJ.BDM file. I also found that I could point the FCS2 Transfer and Log tool to the BDMV directory rather than the AVCHD top-level directory. Finally, all the files are binary - including INDEX.BDM.
So based on the above, my archiving strategy needs to be to dump the AVCHD directory from the camera to my hard drive and treat that like a tape.

Hope this is helpful to folks and keep in mind that this is very quick and dirty testing on my part.
Dear David,
I have both SR8 and SR12 and still cannot access streams copied form the cameras to my HD. I tried many of the solutions written on the web, also made a partition MS.DOS (since it is the format used from the cameras) but no way, in log and transfer if I choose add custom path, any of the folder copied (as you listed) were recognized.
VoltaicHD is great even at 12x reverse speed :-) is a lot, but the thing is that I want my clip to be converted in AppleProRes 422 instead of AIC.
What am I doing wrong about to convert streams copied to my macbookpro?
many many thanks.
ciao. stefano
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Old September 26th, 2008, 10:37 AM   #12
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Let me see if i understand... I have an FCP, MAC BOOK PRO 2.4, CANON HG21. ( i just open the camcorder now). I plugged usb and open the final cut pro, and hit Log and transfer... I couldnt see the camera or the files... So i use the + button and tryed to select many avchd directorys but i always get the same message: "BDMV"has invalid directory structure. Please choose a folder whose directory structure matches the supported media"..

So what i am doing wrong? I just copied the entire avchd folder to mac's HD and try the same, but also the same error occur.. I read if i can make an DMG image and open, i can log and transfer, but how i do this (i went to disk utility, selected the new image, choose read / write but i got an error too...

If anyone knows what i am doing wrong, please, tell me..

By the way: I just loved the image quality of this camera!!!
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Old September 26th, 2008, 03:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Marcelo Lima View Post
Let me see if i understand... I have an FCP, MAC BOOK PRO 2.4, CANON HG21. ( i just open the camcorder now). I plugged usb and open the final cut pro, and hit Log and transfer...
Which version of FCP and QT and OS X?

What bit rate did you shoot on the Canon?
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Old September 27th, 2008, 06:12 PM   #14
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The OS is Leopard, The Finall Cut Pro is version 6.0, and the quicktime is 7.5...
Thanks.

PS: The way i found is simply connect the camera to MBP by USB and tranfer the files manually, and using toast video i convert to apple pro res, but is there one way to log and transfer using Final Cut Pro?
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Old September 27th, 2008, 11:02 PM   #15
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You need at least FCP 6.0.3 (currently 6.0.4) or FCE 4.0 to handle AVCHD files.

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