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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old December 31st, 2009, 09:06 PM   #1
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Ways to get AVCHD into a computer

I have 2 ways to get the AVCHD files from my camera into my computer.

1st way is to connect the camera via USB and go to the folder called stream and grab the MT2 files and paste them onto my hard drive.

The 2nd way is to connect the camera to the computer and run the software that came with the camera, which is called HD Writer AE 1.0 and import via the software. HD Writer is one horrible program to use, so my question is do I need to use it to get the AVCHD files from the camera onto my hard drive. Does HD Writer do anything differently than when I just copy and paste the MT2 files straight from the stream folder on the camera.

An import via HD Writer seems to be slightly quicker and it also imports many other associated files with the MT2 files, but do I need those extra files and am I going to get better quality images from importing via HD Writer software.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 09:12 PM   #2
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Copy the entire folder structure from your camera to your hard drive. That way, you have the video files, and the supporting files. Some NLEs need the extra files, others don't.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 10:13 PM   #3
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My Sony SR11 is nice in that all I have to do is plug the camera or card into the computer and a little box pops up, it will only recognize files that have not already been downloaded (ignoring files that have been even if they are still on the card). It asks me if I want to download those, I click yes.

It puts them into a file with a date on it... easy.

Even if the card is full of old video, I shoot one new clip, it will only download that clip.
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Old January 1st, 2010, 08:44 AM   #4
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The Sony software is pretty effective. The ease of downloading to your PC that you mention is really good. It also combines files on the cam into one file on your PC on the fly. As you film, there's a breakpoint where a file is closed out and a new one started (4 GB, I think) due to file system design. This happens under the covers and you don't have to worry about it. But if you transfer the files to your PC yourself (direct copying), you'll have the individual files. If you use Picture Motion Browser (non-native-English-speaker name but there it is), if you filmed the original clip as one long clip, it will end up in one long file on your PC.

Two obvious enhancements are needed:

(1) allow in-product renaming of files/clips and
(2) allow simple combining of clips in a sequence to create a longer clip.

How Sony missed #1 is beyond me, but you can obviously use Explorer instead. #2 would probably enable many people to function without a separate editor, ever. That's people who mostly trim and combine and don't want effects added. I'm in that group most of the time, though transition effects between clips would be good to have as well.

That said, this is not an editor product. It's a download/upload and trim edit product whose real function is to let you browse and see your pictures and videos.
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Old January 1st, 2010, 10:25 AM   #5
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I think Sony's goal was to ensure the date and time ( and now location) are accurately recorded as the clip name. That's why its important to have the correct time set in the camera ( another benefit of the GPS system). It will divide clips in camera correctly with this information too enabling simple cuts editing and creation of a playlist for showing to an audience.
I think they did the correct thing in file naming. IF you want to make a copy on the PC and rename that can be done as you say with Explorer but you will at least have the original with all the information.

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Old January 1st, 2010, 03:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Evans View Post
I think Sony's goal was to ensure the date and time ( and now location) are accurately recorded as the clip name. That's why its important to have the correct time set in the camera ( another benefit of the GPS system). It will divide clips in camera correctly with this information too enabling simple cuts editing and creation of a playlist for showing to an audience.
I think they did the correct thing in file naming. IF you want to make a copy on the PC and rename that can be done as you say with Explorer but you will at least have the original with all the information.

Ron Evans
I'm fine with them creating the file with that name. Making me jump to other software to rename it is just inconvenient and totally unnecessary, in my opinion. It's a classic example of "user not allowed to be in control because of some philosophical stance we're taking...", or just bad UI work. I'm a software developer - I have a strong opinion about something like this. It's just clumsy, whatever their logic.
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 01:16 PM   #7
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Sony PMB software is a universal "container" for things Sony cams shoot - it also stores stills, so it's a good organizational tool. It's designed for the consumer, simple, easy, no brains required... I think they figure if you're a power user you'll be able to figure out the rename, and it's better to keep it simple with thumbnails for the "average" user.

That said, I find the download and organize structure to be quite effective, and yes, requiring of little or no brain, which is OK with me!

To clarify one point - the function of "stitching" (combining files) Tom refers to is for LONG AVCHD clips (over approximately 15-17 minutes in length, and 2G in file size). The AVCHD structure splits these longer files into 2G files, and the first one is unreadable until stitched back into the remainder of the file by the software (or the little app someone here developed to do the file stitching). For obvious reasons, MOST clips are shorter than this length, and so files can just be dragged and dropped as is... IF you shoot longer segments (events, mounted on tripod for instance), you NEED to use software to combine the pieces of the longer clip into a single file/clip.

Hope that helps, most of the time the files are "good enough" by themselves to work with, but there are situations where the software the manufacturer includes becomes a necessity. PMB is a convenience, but well worth having since it's included with all the Sony cameras (and a DIFFERENT version for each camera, which IS silly IMO...).
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 06:54 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
Sony PMB software is a universal "container" for things Sony cams shoot - it also stores stills, so it's a good organizational tool. It's designed for the consumer, simple, easy, no brains required... I think they figure if you're a power user you'll be able to figure out the rename, and it's better to keep it simple with thumbnails for the "average" user.

That said, I find the download and organize structure to be quite effective, and yes, requiring of little or no brain, which is OK with me!

.........
The software doesn't restrict you to using Sony-created content in any way, it just recognizes certain file types and ignores a few others (MPG it spots, MP2 it seems to ignore, even when the files are identical except for the extension). I had all my parents' home videos converted to MPEG-2 files about 10 years ago and they're all available for playback in Picture Motion Browser. You just have to point PMB to the folder with the files you want it to know about and hit Refresh.

That's also how you rename files. You go to Explorer, rename them normally (including both M2TS and MODD files if there is a pair), then return to PMB and hit Refresh.

I've got to believe any internal argument against renaming files was really weak. I think it's as likely that someone got lazy or it got lost in the shuffle of doing enhancements. They let you right-click on a folder name to rename it and then they re-register it in their database for you (they Refresh automatically). The same thing should be true for files, and if you rename a file that has a corresponding MODD file, they should rename that for you automatically. This is the farthest possible thing from rocket science, it would be really easy to implement.

And these are our files, not theirs. Once past the initial naming decision, there can't be any serious justification for preventing users from renaming files in the product. That's just poor UI design. It's a design bug, not a feature. Sorry to be so strong about this, but it is a royal pain to have to rename files elsewhere, refresh, etc. just because they didn't implement this. By itself, it sours my experience with the software to a much higher degree than Sony should like. No one should explicitly try to keep users from renaming files by failing to include a Rename option - that has been there since day 1 in Windows and Mac applications.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 06:48 PM   #9
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Tom, as a software designer you have a point of view that may not be shared by others. Namely you want to name files and select them that way. Others will want to use the Sony MBS the way it was designed. To organize by the capture folder( again automatically taken from the PC clock so that one can remember what day they were transferred to the PC) or calendar. No files involved, just clips( picons). Done this way there is no need to rename files as they are not used at all by the user. Much safer in retaining the originals for the average user.
For my project work I also do not change the files names but use the capability of MBS to transfer to a directory of my choice( the named project) and as you say MBS will register this directory and present the clips( no file names needed again).
Family stuff goes into a family main directory and automatic subdirectory set by MBS. Searches of family stuff is mainly by calendar, no file names needed.
For editing files are also best kept in the Sony format as most NLE's will assemble clips in ascending order on the timeline, or by group selection etc, or by picons just like MBS.
As you can see I have little use for renaming files. Date and time are just fine. My NLE will create a new name for my edited files anyway.
I shoot a lot of video and don't have the time to rename files on the PC or in camera. Naming a project directory is just fine, date and time and consecutive numeric file names then have some meaning and potential automatic use.
My main criticism of MBS is its glacially slow.
Ron Evans
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