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Old December 27th, 2010, 10:16 AM   #1
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Here's a solution to make m2t usable in FCP

I've been wrestling for a while now with the problem of capturing HDV on a PC (I use Vegas and Premiere Pro) and delivering the footage to a client who wants to edit in Final Cut Pro. Thanks to Mac Drive, I have no problems reading, formatting and writing to external Mac drives to deliver large amounts of HDV footage, but FCP is notorious for choking on m2t files.

When I scoured Google for solutions, most everyone recommended re-compressing to Quicktime, seemingly without a care for generational loss and the extremely time-consuming process of handling several hours of footage, not to mention losing the original timecode (and this from self-proclaimed professionals who really should know better).

One viable solution that I found until now was using ClipWrap, which rewraps m2t files into a Quicktime container, even preserving the timecode. But it only runs on Macs, and that would require the client to install the software on their computer, which was awkward at best.

Another solution that I've recently tested is demuxing the footage in MPEG Streamclip into unscaled m2v and aiff streams. FCP loads them without a problem, but the original timecode seems to be lost. Still, unless you install a Mac emulator on your PC, it's the best solution.

So, for anyone else faced by the technical challenge of delivering m2t footage to a client editing on a Mac, the best solution seems to be demuxing into unscaled m2v and aiff using MPEG Streamclip. No recompression, no generational loss, and it only takes a few minutes.

I'm hoping this post will show up in Google hits. It would have saved me a few hours of searching.
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Old December 27th, 2010, 12:40 PM   #2
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No recompression at your end sure, but the Mac User s going to recompress the footage (probably to Prores though) to edit it anyway, which I imagine they could do using mpeg stream clip just like you have. Maybe just including the Mac installer for mpeg stream clip with your files would be the better option.

I see your point that these files would be immediately viewable to someone with an OS X system with Final Cut installed, but you are actually introducing a step into the equation that could make the process of editing more difficult, so for a non technical editor this is a non optimum workflow and for a technically minded editor, they are just going to convert the footage into prores anyway because it works best within the current FCP toolset.
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Old December 27th, 2010, 01:02 PM   #3
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I can only offer video footage that'll load into their editor - I can't make provisions for their particular work flow. After all, this is Apple's shortcoming to begin with.

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Old December 27th, 2010, 09:29 PM   #4
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Understandable point of view, but for ease of workflow I would also include the muxed MTS stream as well as the split apart files - that way you are supplying both camera originals and something they can edit straight away - I just know that M2V's don't play nicely with Final Cuts Real Time architecture and certainly won't work well with third party hardware.

I can't remember if MPEG streamclip will also open up the M2V and AIFF simultaneously to allow QT export - but if it can then this is less of an issue as they could do that and do their export to Quicktime from that. Either way, no matter how you cut it Final Cut wants Quicktimes. It may occassionally work with other wrappers, but generally not very well.
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Old December 28th, 2010, 10:09 PM   #5
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Wish I had this two years ago. But I'll never go near a mac again!
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Old December 28th, 2010, 10:26 PM   #6
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I'm doing tests with a friend who works on a Mac. He says that FCP requires rendering of the m2v and aiff files before he can edit them in full-res. He's going to tell me what takes longer: rendering the demuxed files or converting the original using MPEG Streamclip. If rendering takes too long, I'll have to look into installing a Mac emulator to run ClipWrap or buy a used Mac just so I can accommodate clients caught n the Apple gauntlet. There ought to be a telethon or something, the poor souls... ;-)

In addition, of all the solutions presented above, only ClipWrap preserved the timecode.


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Old January 11th, 2011, 02:36 PM   #7
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I'm not sure I'm following your process description though I seem to arrive at the similar conclusion ... largely.

ClipWrap will repackage your MTS files so Quicktime can read them. It can (amongst other options) rewrap without re-encoding -- there will be no generation loss. It will preserve the timecode. It is fast -- on my MacBook C2D 2.4ghz it will rewrap a 10 second h.264 encoded shot in under a second. And any version of QT on my Macs will play it, no new software required.

Note that I'm not sure that would apply to an MTS file encoded in Mpeg2, as HDV is -- QT is fussy about Mpeg2 on Macs in a way that it is not in the world of Windows, so maybe a rewrapped HDV file would require the installation of an Mpeg2 codec ... that said, Final Cut will install one so any Mac with FCP will play the rewrapped HDV files. As will any Windows computer with Quicktime installed -- Mpeg2 is either installed or a free upgrade for Windows users. And the purchase of a QT codec for Mpeg2 on a Mac is only a few dollars -- hardly a deal breaker.

So add a Mac to your arsenal and use ClipWrap -- a modest Mac Mini will do the job, serve as a convenient bed for all things Mac and still use the monitors, keyboards and mice you've got in your Windows environment. If your client requires FCP ready edit files from HDV, it seems a reasonable way to go ...

Cheers,
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