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Old March 2nd, 2011, 10:36 AM   #1
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AVCHD in FCP Questions?

I have done research on this, but haven't really found any definitive answer yet, as PC users generally chime in to muddy the waters.

I am about to upgrade my FX1s to Sony NX5Us.
FCP can obviously handle native editing HDV footage and my workflow has been painless thus far. I import HDV footage from MRC1K (I have been recording both tape and CF card), rewrap using ClipWrap. Change my sequence setting to render in ProResLT, then edit as needed. When finished I export as QT ProRes LT file and encode as needed for DVD in Compressor.

But, since I'm switching to totally tapeless now, I will be recording in AVCHD. FCP can't edit native AVCHD, thus the footage has to converted to an intermediate I-frame codec. I woudl use either ClipWrap to convert the files or FCP via Log and Transfer. My onlu concern with Log and Transfer is that FCP might not join spanned clips properly. Clipwrap lets you join spanned clips and it seems that it doesn't lose any data like audio of frames.

For those who are shooting AVCHD and editing in FCP, which is your preferred method. Due to file size I might have leaned towards AIC over ProRes. But he addition of ProResLT almost makes the file sizes even.

So basically it's this...

1. What's your workflow...
a. AVCHD footage and transcoded footage on main drive and AVCHD footage external backup.
b. AVCHD footage and transcoded footage on both main drive and external backup.

2. How do you capture footage into FCP, Log and Transfer or other encoder?

3. How do you join spanned clips, as one file or place on the timeline and edit as desired.

Before anyone says it, I know that there are other programs like Edius, Premiere, Vegas etc. that can edit native AVCHD footage. But most of those apps are PC only, and I made the switch to MAC. I do have bootcamp and Vegas 10. so I could edit natively in Vegas. But I prefer to keep my entire worflow on one operating system. And I really have grown to like FCP over Vegas. There are some things that Vegas is better at, like audio, but surprisingly I have found that FCP has more tools for me to edit with. I prefer DVD StudioPro to DVD Architect. And I can't encode DVDSP files on the PC side.

And yes I do, have Adobe products such as Photoshop etc. on the Mac side, but I don;t want to drop the money right now to upgrade to Premiere, and also have to learn another new program in Premiere.

Hopefully, the upcoming version of FCP will address some of my issues, like maybe native AVCHD editing. Come on Apple step up.
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 01:05 PM   #2
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Re: AVCHD in FCP Questions?

I use Clipwrap and convert it to Prores during the "wrapping" process. I think editing in Prores takes less processing power while editing than AVCHD ... when FCP supports it....albeit at the cost of storage and transcode time up front. YMMV

Last edited by Les Wilson; March 2nd, 2011 at 03:48 PM.
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Old March 3rd, 2011, 07:49 AM   #3
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Re: AVCHD in FCP Questions?

I too use the Clipwrap to ProRes method. HDD storage is down around $100 per terabyte for an external FW800 drive in my neck of the woods -- at that price, storage is nearing zero cost. And the Clipwrap process takes a some time but I just start it and walk away -- by the time dinner is done, so too is the wrapping.

Editing in ProRes is smooth even on my older MacBook Pro. I export a 'master' for my projects on ProRes as well, using Compressor to create deliverables from the ProRes version.

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Old March 3rd, 2011, 10:07 AM   #4
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Re: AVCHD in FCP Questions?

I prefer editing in ProRes as well. Any work with filters is incredibly slow with AVCHD or M2T files and I'm talking about my 8 core tower, forget the four core iMac and especially my old 2 core laptop.

ProRes is taken care of in the Log and Transfer process so no time is lost there. Clipwrap is great for files that are orphaned from the original media file structure or comes from a HDD recorder.
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Old March 3rd, 2011, 11:58 AM   #5
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Re: AVCHD in FCP Questions?

Thanks all for the info.

Is anyone/everyone here working with NX5U/AX2000 footage?

If so, good to know that there aren't any spanning issues between clip with the NX5U.

My workflow already is similar to what's mentioned ere already. Even though I have been shooting HDV tape, I have also been working with CF files via MRC1K. So when I get back to the office, I simply offload all of the files onto main and backup drives. But I also had the tapes for archival just in case.

Since I won't have tape, I guess that I'm gonna have to invest in a bunch of extra drives to backup right away from the card. As I said, I do this anyway, but since I don't have the luxury of tape to fall back on, I'm gonna make sure that I have everything in triplicate before I edit.
(Main system drive, backup, and redundant backup drive.)

The only ProResLT media will be on the main drive for editing. Or should it also be on main and backup?

After completion the master ProRes file will of course be archived along with DVD/BluRay files and original source AVCHD files.

Sound about right?
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Old March 4th, 2011, 04:18 AM   #6
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Re: AVCHD in FCP Questions?

I just got a NX5 and started my first AVCHD project.

I have FCP 7 and I tried using L&T to import in about 80 clips (about 5.5 hours of footage). It did all of them fine except 1 clip that was a little over 30 minutes long. FCP crashed. I tried several times. So to import in the 5 hours it took about 2.5 hours ish (not exactly sure).

I used Clipwrap on the same group of files. That had no problem with the 30 minute clip. The downside is, Clipwrap took about 5 hours to transcode the 5.5 hours of footage.

But once in FCP the clips work and look fine. When it comes time for final archiving, I'll keep the ProRes version of the finished product and the AVCHD files. I will delete the ProRes files. Not worth saving the 250 gigs of pro res files when the AVCHD files were about 40 gigs.
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Old March 4th, 2011, 05:56 AM   #7
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Re: AVCHD in FCP Questions?

Though I'll always edit in FCP, I gotta say that having a copy of Premiere around just to transcode AVCHD is mighty handy. I just pop in AVCHD footage and convert it to ProRes right in Premiere. Boom. No muss, no fuss. And conversion is very fast as well (my Mac Pro tower is only a few months old, so having eight cores helps). I'm downsizing my full HD 30p footage down to 720p, since I'm making video for the web.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 12:52 AM   #8
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Re: AVCHD in FCP Questions?

I haven't seen anyone explicitly mention this, so I'll do it. Clipwrap's primary selling point is the ability to re-wrap MTS or MT2S files that come from those AVCHD camcorders into ordinary QuickTime wrapper without touching video and audio content. The point is, while QuickTime (and therefore, FCP) does NOT recognize MTS/MT2S container, the video (and audio) encoding used inside those MTS files is standard H.264, which QuickTime supports without issues. So, Clipwrap can remove that MTS wrapper from those H.264 MPEG-4 videos and put a MOV wrapper around them. This process takes only a little more than what it would take to just copy the files from one medium onto another (SDHC card to hard disk), since there is no transcoding/conversion of formats. The newly re-wrapped files can be imported into FCP just like any other QuickTime files.

Of course, with those files, you'll be battling the same hardware performance issues you battle when editing native AVCHD files in Vegas or Premiere (depending on the power of your hardware, of course).
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Old March 7th, 2011, 02:26 AM   #9
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Re: AVCHD in FCP Questions?

My own experience with Clipwrap made me want to never use it again. FCP choked on the files and didn't like them. And I have a new 8-core system with an ATI 5870 card and 8GB of RAM, so it's not like I lack power. AVCHD files are compression monsters, and there's no way around that. Even Premiere, which natively supports AVCHD, can barely process the files on my system; if I add even a simple transition, like a 10-frame crossfade, I'll be waiting minutes for a render. Not worth dealing with it!

Conversion is easy, with the right tools, and then there no problems editing footage. The big downside, especially with ProRes, is obviously file size, so I will end up buying more storage -- but is there a person here who isn't constantly buying new storage?
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Old March 7th, 2011, 04:04 PM   #10
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Re: AVCHD in FCP Questions?

In defense of ClipWrap, it was designed originally for HDV files and those it rewraps excellently. Never had a problem with it unless the file was corrupt already. The designers have updated ClipWrap to work with AVCHD but they recommend transcoding to ProRes or some other frame friendly codec due to the processing load that AVCHD presents as opposed to MPEG2HD. And the fact that FCP in it's present version is not accessing the full power of your computer.

Even with HDV, the manufacturers never use the same exact codec so problems will occur and the ClipWrap people are the first to acknowledge that. They are very open to discussion with their customers and will spend time researching specific problems that you present to them.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 06:42 PM   #11
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Re: AVCHD in FCP Questions?

No doubt Clipwrap works fine under the right circumstances. But like any software, under the wrong circumstances it spectacularly fails.

So, to clarify, when I tried to use it to wrap AVCHD files for use in FCP 6, even on my fairly powerful machine, it wasn't happening.

No doubt newer versions of FCP will make Clipwrap unnecessary for editing AVCHD -- especially since AVCHD has already become a standard HD format.
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Old June 10th, 2013, 08:36 PM   #12
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Re: AVCHD in FCP Questions?

Although this post is a little late, my personal experience with AVCHD/H.264 and 60i is a sawtooth edge (rough) on all vertical lines when the subject is moving. i believe this is an interlace problem and not a straight conversion issue because when i do log and capture in final cut pro there are no issues with "p" progressive ingests but only with interlace.

for the interlace and i use wondershare video converter and select prores422 (not intermediate) and not HQ and get an awesome picture without the sawtooth edges.
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