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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old June 12th, 2010, 08:35 PM   #1
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AVCHD files and FCP?

No doubt this has been covered somewhere..... at the very least maybe someone can point me in the right direction if that's the case.
I recently purchased a new Sony CX500 to begin a transition to solid-state media with about a dozen or so HDV cameras I use for wildlife research. (these cameras are deployed with motion sensors in the field for many months at a time.... for reasons too numerous to go into, the solid-state recording option sold me on this camera)

I'm not completely new to solid state media and editing, I have a Sony EX3, a Canon 7D, and even a little GoPro Hero HD camera, all of which have been easy to ingest and edit content with, even combining formats including the HDV files.

Now I'm stumped.... I can't for the life of me figure out how to import files from this little handicam. I'm on MBP, 2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, with 4GB RAM. While it's a little weak to play back files from my 7D or Hero cam native, I have had no problems importing and editing in FCP (v 6). I have also used MPEG Streamclip to convert some files for other uses.
I have had no luck in getting anything to recognize the files from the 550. I'm afraid I may have to revert back to HDV, but thought I'd see if anyone here had any suggestions? Does FCP 7 handle these files? Why doesn't MPEG Streamclip recognize them?
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Old June 13th, 2010, 05:09 PM   #2
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No one has any tips on working with this format in FCP?

I was able to import the files into into iMovie, and then import them into FCP. but the results were really weird once I got the files into FCP. I should qualify that... the clips looked good until I mixed them with the files from the GoPro camera and rendered the footage. THEN it got really weird, lots of pixellation and color banding, plus the playback skipped horrendously.

Both sources were the same resolution, but the CX550 is 60i, and the GoPro is 30p. Obviously the codecs are also different, since the GoPro is immediately recognized and imported without conversion to whatever iMovie did to the Sony files to make the a recognizable quicktime.
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Old June 13th, 2010, 09:49 PM   #3
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transcoding of AVCHD

FCP can do exactly what iMovie does; it transcodes AVCHD into either AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec) or ProRes 422. You do this with "Log and Transfer" option.

In addition to this default option, you can use something like Voltaic, VideoPier HD or Neoscene to do the transcoding outside of FCP. Either way, what happens there is, your original MPEG-4 video (encapsulated inside AVCHD container) is converted into either AIC or ProRes (or Cineform, if using NeoScene), which is much easier to handle and edit. Audio usually just gets copied, without any conversion.

Alternative option is ClipWarp 2, which re-wraps AVCHD files into MOV container. Your video remains in its original encoding (MPEG-4), which QuickTime can understand perfectly fine, but is repackaged into a container (MOV) which QuickTime can actually open. That means FCP, iMovie, FCE, Premiere and anything that supports QuickTime can work with it. That way, you're working with the original encoding (not a second-generation copy), but your Mac will struggle with it, since MPEG-4 is fairly challenging for the CPU.

As for your specific problems, I haven't had an experience like that before, so I can't say what's the problem. Possibly, the difference between 60i and 30p might point to a cause.
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Old June 13th, 2010, 11:59 PM   #4
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Thanks for the reply, Predrag-
I would not have a problem working with ProRes or even AIC, both are fine for what I need, but I can't even get FCP to recognize that the camera is connected. When I try to import manually, it says that the file is an unsupported format. (which is also what MPEG Streamclip tells me)

I suppose if iMovie is converting to the same thing FCP would, then that's a workaround to get it in there, but I still have this issue with how it looks. I don't think the differing frame rates is the issue, because I have worked with the 30p files from two other cameras (and codecs) just fine with the HDV 60i content from my other cameras.

Guess I have some troubleshooting yet to do.....
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Old June 15th, 2010, 01:40 PM   #5
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The FCP forum is probably a better place to get an answer to this (or a Sony forum), but have you tried mounting the card directly on the desktop and not through the camera? It probably won't make a difference, but I would try that. Make sure it's mounted before you open Log and Transfer.

FCP7 handles files from Sony's NX5U, which is quite new, so I'm guessing it would handle yours.

iMove transcodes AVCHD using the Apple's Intermediate codec, which is not as high quality as ProRes. It's still very good but if you have FCP I would go with that.

You can also use Toast to transcode to ProRes.
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Old June 15th, 2010, 03:12 PM   #6
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Thanks, Matt-
I did not try that yet, but will give it a go. I'm afraid that I probably need to upgrade to FCP 7 though. (it was inevitable eventually anyway)
As far as the other issues, I'll also try the FCP forum.
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Old June 20th, 2010, 05:33 AM   #7
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I have a canon HF11 AVCHD camera and a similar macbook pro and I import the flies in FCP V7 via log and transfer, pro res LT seems to be the best option and I am shooting at 1920x1080i 50i at 24mbs.

I think you need FCP V7 as this has the AVCHD import and more pro res options available, the latest i-movie will also handle AVCHD as mentioned.

An intel machine is also required but you have this already.
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Old July 3rd, 2010, 08:19 PM   #8
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The best thing to do is copy the files from your camera to a HDD and then transcode, rather than doing it directly from the camera.

Also, try ClipWrap rather than Log & Transfer; tons faster and has much more in the way of output codec options.
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