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AVCHD Format Discussion
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Old October 29th, 2010, 09:25 AM   #1
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Basic AVCHD on Mac - Help Please!!

A couple years ago this forum helped me figure out simple editing and burning of AVCHD files from my Sony SR1 on a PC using Nero (thanks to Larry and others).

Incorrectly thinking software had advanced substantially I recently purchased a 27" iMac as I heard that I could now use iMovie for AVCHD. We'll it turns out I really can't and now, I'm not sure what to do. I downloaded Movist, so I can at least view the files, but can someone recommend the easiest, user friendly mac compatible program that I can use for very simple editing and burning if there is such a thing?

Many thanks.
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Old October 29th, 2010, 01:51 PM   #2
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To edit AVCHD on the Mac you have to either use Premiere CS5 which can work with native AVCHD footage, or you have to transcode your footage into a format that your editor can work with.

I'm not a Mac person ( I was for 10+ years, but now I'm all PC ), so I can't think of any low cost solution for you. ( on the PC there are lots, my preference being the Vegas Studio 10 Platinum that can edit native AVCHD and burn your DVDs )
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Old October 29th, 2010, 04:58 PM   #3
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Direct editing, transcoding

Most Mac owners prefer the bundled, free solution and its workflow. AVCHD is still rather demanding to edit directly, so we would rather transcode our source material from AVCHD into something like AIC or ProRes 422. It does take up massive amounts of disk space (compared to the original AVCHD), but is infinitely easier to work with in iMovie.

If you definitely don't want to waste hard disk space, you have two options.

First one is something like Adobe Premiere Elements. Most recent version for Mac allows you to edit AVCHD directly. No transcoding, no re-wrapping, just import your original media into your project and work with it. That costs $100.

Second solution is using ClipWrap 2. This is a little utility for Mac that re-wraps AVCHD files into a QuickTime container. Since QuickTime in Mac OS has full support for a variety of codecs, including MPEG-4 AVC (used in AVCHD), the only reason iMovie is unable to see and work with AVCHD files is because they are in an AVCHD container. ClipWrap gives you the option to re-wrap the files into QuickTime container, without touching the actual audio/video data. Therefore, files are the same size, and identical to the original, since there was no conversion or transcoding. The resulting MOV files can now be imported into iMovie, Final Cut Express/Pro, or any other application that handles video on the Mac. ClipWrap costs $50.
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Old October 29th, 2010, 05:08 PM   #4
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AVCHD vs. DSLR cameras

In a way, DSLR photo cameras (such as Canon's Rebel models, 7D, T2i, etc) are somewhat easier to work with on a Mac. Unlike AVCHD devices, these cameras encode their video into a proper QuickTime container (.MOV). When you plug SDHC card into an iMac, iPhoto automatically pops up and asks you to import pictures and videos. If you do, all those pictures and videos will become available in iMovie. You create a new project in the iMovie, and the media browser will immediately show you all video clips from iPhoto, in their original format (no transcoding).

One of these days, I'll get the trial version of ClipWrap and test it out myself. I'm tempted to move to that solution, rather than transcoding every time I want to edit. Rewraping not only saves space, it goes much faster than transcoding.
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Old October 30th, 2010, 12:54 AM   #5
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ClipWrap experience

So I tried the trial version of it, and it works. Re-wrapping AVCHD clips into MOV (QuickTime) was as fast as copying them from SDHC card over to the internal drive. After that, the files behaved exactly like the ones shot on DSLR photo cameras. The most hassle-free workflow (although a bit counter-intuitive) is to import them into iPhoto, then access them from within iMovie. I could get the clips into an iMovie project. There is a way to import files into iMovie directly, but iMovie will always transcode them from H.264 (AVC) into AIC, which takes all that hard drive space.

Real-time playback was mostly smooth. Form there, once you finish edit, you can export into any format supported by iMovie and QuickTime.

In Final Cut Express (and Pro) import is easier and direct.
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Old November 4th, 2010, 07:06 AM   #6
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Many thanks for the suggestions, I guess I will have to decided on ClingWrap or Adobe. One further question; when you import photos or video into iPhoto, where do they get stored on the hard drive? I keep all my photos in one place (My Pictures) and I've resisted the auto import option on the new mac so far because I can't tell where they are going once they are imported. Thanks again
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Old November 4th, 2010, 07:29 PM   #7
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Hi Predrag and Jamie,

My solution to work with my Canon 7D movie files is as such:

I bypass the import function of iPhoto or iMovie. Instead, I directly drag and drop the .mov files from the compact flash card into the iMovie Events folder. Then I open the iMovie application and it automatically detects the new .mov files in the event library and creates thumbnails of them. In this case, it does NOT create new AIC files (those occupy large hard drive space), but uses the existing .mov files which are already in the events folder.

I hope this helps,

P.
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Old November 9th, 2010, 08:07 AM   #8
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Simple and easy!

Pedanes,

Your solution worked just perfectly! I would only add one more thing: when copying/moving .MOV files into the 'Events' folder, it is necessary to create a sub-folder with a name for the event. This is actually quite practical, as it allows you to sort out your clips into these, well, Events. Once the files are in their proper Event folder, iMovie takes a minute or two to go through them and generate those thumbnails.

The only problematic issue remains there: performance with AVCHD. I tried this on my current generation MacBook (base model), and the most prominent feature of iMovie (ability to scrub live over video) simply doesn't work, due to the extremely heavy demands of the codec on the processor. This will be a problem with all long GOP (group-of-pictures) codecs, which is why iMovie transcodes video into AIC by default. Situation is somewhat better on a new iMac (Core i3), in that playback is smoother, but scrubbing most definitely won't work as expected. You still get a lot of spinning beach balls. If you can work around the scrubbing feature (mousing around carefully, to avoid swiping your mouse pointer across a video clip), you won't see that beach ball that much.

The advantages of the editing of AVCHD directly are (at least) two (that I can think of):

1. Reducing/eliminating any artifacts that may be introduced during transcoding from AVCHD into AIC;
2. Conserving hard drive space while editing (AIC would take up to five times as much space)
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Old December 27th, 2010, 11:36 PM   #9
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What Predrag is saying is quite correct. both iMovie and Final Cut Pro/Express can work with AVCHD files that were re-wrapped in a MOV container, but still won't give you good performance; in fact Final Cut will make you render the clip every single time you perform an edit on it.

This is where ClipWrap has another helpful option. For projects where you really don't have the the time to wait for hundreds of spinning beachballs, ClipWrap gives you the option of transcoding the files into Apple Intermediate Codec (for both iMovie and Final Cut) or ProRes (Final Cut). Yes, this makes the files gigantic, but the upside is when you use these files instead, they'll behave like native video and your work will go so much more smoothly. iMovie should then let you scrub successfully, and Final Cut won't make you re-render it all the time. (downside: video has gone through a conversion cycle and isn't the original clip; whether this is an issue is up to each individual)

In short, I'd say: use the re-wrapped MOV containers for short projects, ones when you're absolutely needing to save storage space, or ones where you don't mind the lagging performance (upside: video samples are unaltered from their original state on the camera); use the transcoded MOV files (Apple Intermediate Codec or ProRes) when you can live with the project's inflated storage space, and need to save time editing. This is much better on large projects.

[I will admit here that my post has a Final Cut bias to it - I haven't spent much time in iMovie since starting to use Final Cut about 5 years ago.]
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Old February 14th, 2011, 10:56 AM   #10
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I've given up on Final Cut Pro editing AVCHD. I installed Win7 Pro 64 bit and Vegas 10.0 on my Mac Pro. I couldn't be happier with the editing speed with no need to render. FCP needs to render too often on the timeline.
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Old February 17th, 2011, 02:13 PM   #11
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Adobe Premiere Elements (as well as Premiere Pro) could have saved you the money (and disk space) of the entire Windows installation (plus the cost of Vegas).

Performance of Premiere Elements for Mac is same as (or better than) performance of Vegas on Windows.

I guess, in the end, it just depends on whether you prefer Vegas or Adobe...
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Old February 17th, 2011, 07:56 PM   #12
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Hi Jamie,
Yeah I agree if you looking for the simplest editing, you can go with ClipWrap and iMovie, I tried ClipWrap once and the result is great, it just change the container without touching the data, so it wouldn't change the quality.. but if you want to go further, you can use Final Cut Pro, there is Log & Transfer feature, you simply attach a media containing AVCHD files and simply drag the files and FCP will transcoding it to Apple ProRess (which compatible with FCP) and you can edit it without re-rendering all the times. But you need a large capacity hard drive. hope this helps..:)

AN
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Old February 18th, 2011, 12:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Predrag Vasic View Post
Adobe Premiere Elements (as well as Premiere Pro) could have saved you the money (and disk space) of the entire Windows installation (plus the cost of Vegas).

Performance of Premiere Elements for Mac is same as (or better than) performance of Vegas on Windows.

I guess, in the end, it just depends on whether you prefer Vegas or Adobe...
I started with Vegas in 2004, I prefer it.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 10:07 AM   #14
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Re: Basic AVCHD on Mac - Help Please!!

I just bought a Sony NX5U camera. I shot some stuff on 1080. I converted the files to .mov from .mts and they imported into my Mac. From there it was quite a slow process editing. It seemed that every clip had to be rendered to view. I have Adobe Premiere CS4 loaded right now. My Mac is 32 bit so I cannot run CS5 I don't think. Would Adobe Premiere Elements help me here? I am thinking about Final Cut X when it comes out. Any thoughts?
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Old May 10th, 2011, 02:52 AM   #15
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Re: Basic AVCHD on Mac - Help Please!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Lauzon View Post
can someone recommend the easiest, user friendly mac compatible program that I can use for very simple editing and burning if there is such a thing?
Hi Jamie, a 'Jaimie' helping you out here and recommending that since you are looking to ingest AVCHD and burn, your best option is Roxio's Toast Titanium. For around $100, this will take in AVCHD and transcode it to a huge variety of presets as well as MOV format for use with iMovie. Additionally, it will burn and copy discs including Blu-Ray - should you spring for a separate burner - and could be a better option than ClipWrap, which whilst good isn't complete in my experience.

Since I have 1080/50p from my TM700, that FCP really doesn't like, I've tried ClipWrap, Toast and FCP to try and wrangle it properly. In the end, I used an existing solution which is the Elgato Turbo.264HD. This is available both as software ($50) or hardware ($100 USB dongle) that effectively doubles the transcode or final encode speed from your mac.

Hope this helps,

Jaimie
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