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Old September 10th, 2012, 10:50 AM   #1
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Playing back MTS files from Mac

I was looking for a Mac Topic that deals with General Video Playback on Mac and Adobe Premier C6, but I only see Soapbox and FCP topics.

I'd love to use FCP, but AFAIK, you can't natively edit MTS files in it... only in Premier C6.

I've had a longtime issue that I've been trying to solve for over a month. If anyone here could help solve this, I would be incredible grateful.

1) The Video from the Canon Vixia M50 hooked directly to an HDTV via HDMI looks amazing... exactly like Blu-Ray quality. How can I preserve this same quality once it's off the camera and be able to play it back? Ideally, I'm looking for a playback solution on a Mac via the built in HDMI, but if Blu-Ray is the only way (which I doubt), then I'm willing to go that route.

2) How can I edit the MTS files without converting them to another format? Is Adobe Premier C6 the best way? If so, what steps should I follow to create the project, import and export MTS files?

Background Info on this question:

The reason I ask is simple. I simply want to be able to view and edit the amazing video this camera takes, preserving 100% of the quality and play it back off camera. Who would of known this would prove to be so difficult without even Canon being able to help...

I originally thought that if I imported the footage into FCPX using the best 1080p settings, the footage would look the same. I was wrong... the colors are more saturated and the sharpness doesn't look as crisp as played directly through the camera.

Then I tried simply re-wrapping the MTS file as a MOV file using ClipWrap. No conversion... just a file type change. When I played this through my MacMini's HDMI on my HDTV, the same thing happened... that "Blu-Ray" sharpness and color was gone!

So logically, I'm assuming that A) the problem is either the Mac's video card and HDMI port isn't capable of producing the same quality as the Canon's HDMI... or B) once you change the file type from MTS to Anything else, the video will look different... perhaps due to a codec or something.

So if anyone could help me resolve this, I would be INCREDIBLY grateful! Thank you!
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Old September 10th, 2012, 11:47 PM   #2
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

I often use Canon Vixias.
You simply import the entire camera folder and it works.
Taking the mts out of the folder is more or less like ripping the tape out of a cassette. Don't do it.
FCPX supports AVCHD straight from the camera folder.
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Old September 11th, 2012, 01:12 AM   #3
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

Take a look a this thread regarding x.v.color: x.v. Color. Great color space, or Greatest color space?

I know my Vixia M41 has the feature. Could be the reason why it looks so good on a HDTV that supports it?
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Old September 11th, 2012, 10:02 AM   #4
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Seeman View Post
I often use Canon Vixias.
You simply import the entire camera folder and it works.
Taking the mts out of the folder is more or less like ripping the tape out of a cassette. Don't do it.
FCPX supports AVCHD straight from the camera folder.
Yay, finally someone who has Vixias and Mac. Thanks Craig.

OK, that's very reassuring. So then my next question is this... I've yet to find a way to play back the footage using the Mac (connected via HDMI to the same TV) and have it look as good as the Canon connected to the same TV. I'm now suspecting it's the video card that these Mac Minis use. I suppose I could try using a Blu-Ray burner, but I was really hoping for a file streaming solution rather than physical media. What is your suggestions to play back the video off camera?

I have a PS3 which I hear can play MTS files right off the SD card... but obviously, even if that looks as good as the Canon, I still need to find a way to watch edited footage. I pretty much gave up on FCPX because I heard it couldn't support MTS without converting them. Premier C6 can.

But again, maybe FCPX isn't the problem... maybe it's just a playback issue. Please advise. Thanks!
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Old September 11th, 2012, 11:58 AM   #5
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

Since I do not have a MacMini with HDMI, I can not tell you from experience but you have to know that TV color space and computer color space are not the same and the MacMini is probably not set up to make the adjustments. That's not including the fact that you may not be using the same resolution going from the MacMini to the TV set. The video card may be interpolating the pixels to get it to fit on the monitor which will do things to the detail. Or you monitor is changing it's resolution for the output of the MacMini and your video files are actually getting expanded. Many different things could be happening.

First you have to go into system preferences, click "Displays" and see what resolution the TV set comes up as to the MacMini. Make sure that it's set to the 1920 x 1080 (unless it's a 720 set). Next click on "Color" and run the calibration program. You can try the simple version and see if that works or just take the time do advanced. This might address your problem. I spent a couple hundred dollars on a hardware USB color meter to get my computer's monitors as close to TV color as possible.

Running MTS natively isn't the issue here and regardless it's barely a reason to use Premier 6 over FCPX. You don't have to convert MTS files in FCPX, just import them either within FCPX and not have optimize footage checked (optimize converts the files to ProRes which is a plus for many jobs) or use ClipWrap and just rewrap the files with QuickTime wrappers. Use Premier for other reasons.
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Old September 11th, 2012, 12:08 PM   #6
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

Thanks for your reply William. Based on my Experiments with the Mac Mini, I tried every kind of resolution they had. The results all looked the same. The problem isn't just a color issue. It looks like a frame rate or even an Interlacing issue. In layman's terms, it's just not as crisp and the motion doesn't look like the Canon. Simply put, the Canon's out looks like a Blu-Ray and the Mac's doesn't. And to repeat what I mentioned earlier, I even tried rewrapping one of the MTS files as a MOV file with ClipWrap... same result.

My educated guess is that the MacMini's HDMI out just can't match the same type of signal output that the Canon Vixia's HMDI can.

This is why I'm looking for another way to playback the footage which can match the quality of the Canon.
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Old September 11th, 2012, 12:42 PM   #7
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

Interlaced will not look as good as the MacMini is outputting progressive. Have you tried VLC?
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Old September 11th, 2012, 12:51 PM   #8
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

Yes, I tried VLC and QT. Both look identical. In fact, no matter what kind of conversions I tried...and even the non-converted MTS file re-wrapped with Clip Wrap... everything looked the same.
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Old September 11th, 2012, 02:05 PM   #9
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

Update... so I've had success with FCPX and burning to BluRay. The footage looks nearly identical between my Canon and the PS3 playing a BluRay...

This still doesn't solve the problem of finding a way to play back the footage via some kind of Media Server, but at least I know FCPX is NOT the problem. The problem is the MacMini's HDMI video out.

So now the question is... what other hardware playback options are there for Mac, in particular a MacMini. Is there some kind of FW or Thunderbolt Video box that can handle the same HD specs as a BluRay?
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Old September 11th, 2012, 02:29 PM   #10
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

Research this line of HDMI hardware:

Blackmagic Design: Intensity
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Old September 11th, 2012, 02:49 PM   #11
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

The problem with those boxes is that you have to playback using a NLE like FCP. AFAIK, you can't use QT or VLC.

I'm looking for a media-server type of solution where I can browse all the various movies that have been exported from FCP and view them. (like when you're browsing through home movies)

So far, it looks like exporting to Blu-Ray is the only Mac solution to view edited footage that matches 100% of the quality of the original AVCHD of the Canon Vixia.

I'd love to hear if anyone has another solution.
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Old September 12th, 2012, 08:30 PM   #12
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

Try exporting using the AppleTV preset. Obviously those files are designed to play back properly on a TV and look good.
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Old September 12th, 2012, 09:21 PM   #13
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

Thanks Craig. I wish it was that simple but the Apple TV preset looks horrible (relatively) compared to the Blu-Ray export...which looks exactly like the original footage.

If I do a FCPX export with the original settings, the footage looks as good as Blu-Ray, but the trick is trying to get that to stream smoothly through the PS3. I'm currently experimenting with compressor to find a setting that will produce a result that looks like the Blu-Ray, but can actually stream smoothly.

Once I find it, I'll report back.
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Old September 13th, 2012, 03:40 PM   #14
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

Are you using the HDMI as a main monitor or second monitor? By coincidence my wife's old MacMini just died and I got a new MacMini for her. I might just test this issue out with some HD files she has at some point.
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Old September 13th, 2012, 04:12 PM   #15
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Re: Playing back MTS files from Mac

Hey William,

I abandoned the Mac Mini as a playback unit connected directly to the TV via HDMI. My guess is the video card just didn't cut it.

The PS3 is a great playback unit. I'm just trying to figure out some network and bitrate issues to avoid the choppy playback I'm getting.
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