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Old August 3rd, 2008, 01:32 AM   #1
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AVCHD, iMovie, and big uncompressed video files

When importing AVCHD files from my Sony HDR-TG1 on the Macintosh, iMovie automatically creates uncompressed .MOV files that are 15 times bigger than the original files. This obviously creates some challenges, as the files were not small to begin with.

The high level question is - can someone describe a good setup for recording and saving AVCHD on the Mac?

More specific questions...

What's the best way to copy the files from my camcorder to save on my local hard drive?
- I don't have enough room to store 50GB of uncompressed video data per hour of footage, so importing in iMovie for all probably is not an option.
- What files do I need to copy? Are the *.MTS files in STREAM folder enough, or do I also need the *.CPI files in the CLIPINFO folder (and any others)?
- How do I play these local files and/or open them in iMovie? I copied a *.MTS file locally and can't do much with it.
- Should I convert them to some other format? Some of the threads suggested that there were slight variations between different AVCHD file formats, and I don't want to try to open these 6 years from now and find that no-one has the 2008 Sony file format translator available.

What's the best way to create movies in iMovie?
- I don't want to have to keep around the uncompressed files (again, too much space)
- Should I just create the movie and then get rid of the original files?
- Is there a way to get rid of the uncompressed imported .MOV files but have the ability to reimport them later, so that I can keep the iMovie project around and redo if needed later?

Was HD a mistake?
- When reading up before the purchase, it seemed that it should be usable for a hobbyist now.
- I start to wonder when there's no obvious way to copy the AVCHD files to your computer.

Thanks,
Evan
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Old August 4th, 2008, 02:54 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Gilbert View Post
When importing AVCHD files from my Sony HDR-TG1 on the Macintosh, iMovie automatically creates uncompressed .MOV files that are 15 times bigger than the original files. This obviously creates some challenges, as the files were not small to begin with.

The high level question is - can someone describe a good set up for recording and saving AVCHD on the Mac?
No NLE I can think of can handle native AVCHD files. AVCHD is designed for minimum file size when recorded to disc, but is not suitable for editing. iMovie will be converting them to the Apple Intermediate Codec rather than uncompressed. Uncompressed would be WAY bigger than 50GB per hour, closer to 400GB an hour! They do sound rather big for AIC files, but it depends on the material you're filming.

If you just want to play the .MTS files and not edit them, then the VLC media player might do it for you. However if you do want to edit I would suggest buying a second hard drive, (USB2 or firewire) and saving your projects there if you don't have enough hard drive space at the minute. If 50GB sounds like a lot of space for video, then, yes, HD probably isn't the game for you. Frankly, these days for video editing, even on a hobbyist level, 50GB is nothing. If you want to edit them, then really you are going to have to let iMovie do what it does.

As for backing them up, again, I suggest getting a F.O. Big hard drive. If you're going to go solid state recording, then archiving footage is a big question, and even the pros haven't come up with completely suitable answers for everyone yet.

I'm pretty sure the Sony files are a standard, it won't be a case that no one will be able to play them in 6 years time. 60 years might be a problem, but VHS has been around for 30 years, super8 for a decade more than that and you can still find places that will transfer that to DVD.
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Last edited by Dylan Pank; August 5th, 2008 at 02:03 AM.
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Old August 9th, 2008, 12:26 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response! I'm OK with using high bit rates while editing. My two questions are:

- How do I archive files that I'm not editing? It's not clear what files I need to copy, or how I reopen them - I haven't seen instructions anywhere on how to copy files to your hard drive and then open in iMovie later.

- Is there a way to edit files in iMovie, create the output,and then dump the Apple Intermediate Codec sources - but reimport as needed? This is less important, as I'm somewhat OK making this call on a case by case basis.

This is also about backup, etc - I'm not keeping the only copy of my videos around on a hard drive. At 8 GB / hour, my incremental backups will work to an online service, at 50GB I'm not even sure how can efficiently do offsite backup.
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Old August 9th, 2008, 11:03 PM   #4
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IMHO, the best way to archive AVCHD files is to purchase a hot-swap hard drive system. No matter how you slice & dice it, you will need the hard drive space. As pointed out, AVCHD files are highly compressed. This simply means that copying the files is the most economical way of archiving them. These are NOT the type of files I would try to archive via online storage solutions. As far as how to copy them.... open disk utility and create a new image of the mounted camera. Once you have a hot swap hard drive system, you can create the disk image on a new hard drive and re-import from the image as needed.

Mike
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Old August 10th, 2008, 04:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Gilbert View Post
Thanks for the response! I'm OK with using high bit rates while editing. My two questions are:

- How do I archive files that I'm not editing? It's not clear what files I need to copy, or how I reopen them - I haven't seen instructions anywhere on how to copy files to your hard drive and then open in iMovie later.

- Is there a way to edit files in iMovie, create the output,and then dump the Apple Intermediate Codec sources - but reimport as needed? This is less important, as I'm somewhat OK making this call on a case by case basis.

This is also about backup, etc - I'm not keeping the only copy of my videos around on a hard drive. At 8 GB / hour, my incremental backups will work to an online service, at 50GB I'm not even sure how can efficiently do offsite backup.
Evan

I don't think that iMovie has a batch recapture function that you refer to. I think it's strictly an in one side/out as a finished project the other program. If it's important to do that you might need to think about moving up to Final Cut EXPRESS, which costs a bit more but does have that feature.

I concur with Mike, backing up your original recorded files on an external USB HD would be the way. At 8GB an hour, a 500GB HDD will hold 60 hours of footage, which is better storage per minute these days than DV tape.

The other possibility I can think of is backing up each hour to a dual layer DVD-R, but frankly that's much more risky than holding them on a Hard drive.
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Old August 11th, 2008, 10:55 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Mike Bisom View Post
IMHO, the best way to archive AVCHD files is to purchase a hot-swap hard drive system. No matter how you slice & dice it, you will need the hard drive space. As pointed out, AVCHD files are highly compressed. This simply means that copying the files is the most economical way of archiving them. These are NOT the type of files I would try to archive via online storage solutions. As far as how to copy them.... open disk utility and create a new image of the mounted camera. Once you have a hot swap hard drive system, you can create the disk image on a new hard drive and re-import from the image as needed.

Mike
Is there a way to do this without creating a disk image? That makes it difficult to do incremental copying (I would need to erase all contents of the camera every time I copy over), and in general it seems like there really ought to be an easier way.
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Old August 12th, 2008, 01:19 AM   #7
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Have a look at this program. It´s called Voltaic and it only needs the "raw file".
Maybe this is what you are looking for.

You can download a demo.

There is one downside, it is very slow

http://shedworx.com/?q=volmac-home
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Old August 18th, 2008, 01:31 AM   #8
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Have a look at this program. Itīs called Voltaic and it only needs the "raw file".
Maybe this is what you are looking for.
VoltaicHD for Mac - available now! | AVCHD, high definition, video converter, mac software | ShedWorx
Voltaic looks like a good utility.

Can someone in the newsgroup confirm that you only need to copy the *.MTS files from the camera? This is implied by the Voltaic video demo, but I'd prefer additional verification (links to more info are a big bonus).

Here's the file layout on the camera:
- AVCHD
- BDMV
- CLIPINF
*.CPI
- INDEX.BDM
- MOVIEOBJ.BDM
- PLAYLIST
- 00000.MPL
- STREAM
*.MTS

Evan
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Old August 4th, 2010, 10:04 PM   #9
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Now i found out a fastest and easiest way to solve it-just use a professional HD Video converter which can convert MTS/TOD/MOD to wmv, mov, mp4, avi, etc. without any problem. I've had good results converting the .mts files to .mov, with the settings h.264, 12000kbps, 1280*720, 25fps, aac. The files look good on my Mac running iMovie, edit easily, and convert well to DVD format.

Stor MTS files, i suggest you burn to DVD with iDVD.
How to convert HD footages for authoring with iDVD?
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Old August 5th, 2010, 03:09 PM   #10
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voltaic

I'm using Voltaic and what you can do is click on an mts file, which will open in the voltaic player. You can't really play it at any viewable speed or hear audio, but it will show you what's on it. Then you can decide to leave it in the queue for conversion or uncheck its box and it won't be converted.

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