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How to Work with AVCHD Video and MTS Files – Izzy Video 252

AVCHD video can be confusing.

When you’re shooting video, you see on your camera that you have several different clips. But when you plug the card into your computer and look at the files, you can’t see the individual video clips.

If you dig deep, you’ll find mysterious MTS files, but when you try to open them in a video player, it doesn’t work.

How can you copy or move a single video clip? How can you open them in a video player without bringing them into your video editing software?

This video shows a tool called ClipWrap that I find useful for working with AVCHD video clips on a Mac. I hope you find this brief tour helpful.

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23 Responses to “How to Work with AVCHD Video and MTS Files – Izzy Video 252”

  1. Bob Krist says on :

    Izzy: I can understand doing a quick re-wrap of the dreaded MTS files for passing around or quick looks on a computer, but why would you transcode them for editing outside of FCPX? Why not just import into FCPX and select “create high quality media” or whatever that box is called and work on the footage right away while FCPX transcodes in the background?

    This seems like an unneeded workaround. Isn’t one of the advantages of FCPX that it can handle AVCHD clips right away while it transcodes in the background, and you don’t really need to wait around for some third party software to do the transcoding? I was stuck doing this for a couple of years before FCPX came along.

    I”m a little confused as to why you’d do this. Can you help me understand? Thanks, Bob

  2. Tim says on :

    I use clip wrap all the time. Unfortunately, even though I name each “reel” with a separate name, FCP X does not import the labeling properly, nor does Clip Wrap do Pro Res 444….the default important standard for FCP X.

    Say you have six cameras from a wedding and each has two or three cards full of video. If you try to name each camera and each card into an Event folder, it does not carry through into FCP X as folders and subfolders with the same names. I’d be very interested in seeing a really good work around for this problem

    Tim

  3. Aje Bruecken says on :

    Why should I buy 50$ software when I can import it through FC?
    Strange…

  4. John Link says on :

    I heard about ClipWrap last month and thought that it would allow me to avoid transcoding to much larger files but then I learned that Final Cut does not deal well with the wrapped files.

  5. Stephen says on :

    I usually I preview the mts files in VLC and then transcode / import into FCPX.

  6. Joe says on :

    The most significant advantage Clip Wrap offers in my opinion is the ability to rescue AVCHD footage when the the card structure is not preserved. FCX will not recognise your media card enabling the import of AVCHD (.MTS streams) with out the entire card structure in it’s original form. If for some reason the card structure is corrupted or not all the files are copied you are out of luck using FCX import function. Clip Wrap can read and transcode individual .MTS files without the card structure making very powerful for this purpose.

  7. Dale Johnson says on :

    Izzy,

    Thanks for this treatment of download AVCHD files. Is this pretty similar to what will be required to capture XAVC-S files? And what will the 4K file size require…for editing and for exporting? For exporting either as single clips or as completed programs? Can we even produce programs in the 4K format using FCPX?

    Thanks for doing such a good job of transmitting information so clearly.

    Dale

  8. Izzy Hyman says on :

    Thanks for all the great comments, everyone! :)

    Bob – great question. Why bother transcoding to Prores when FCPX can do it for you automatically in the background? Well, there are probably lots of reasons depending on an individual’s workflow and needs, but here’s a reason that I like (and I should probably make a video about this):

    Sometimes you might prefer to manage the clips yourself rather than have FCPX do it for you. When you let FCPX manage the media, it places it where it wants to so that it can be fully automatic. If you manage the clips yourself, then you can keep them where you want (in a project folder, for example).

    And because Prores edits easily, it helps to have them transcoded for FCPX in advance.

    Also, and this might be minor but it’s something I personally do — I like to archive the Prores versions of clips, just in case the Prores codec has a longer life than H.264. I suspect that it might, but who knows? Hard drive space is so cheap these days that I don’t worry about the file sizes very much. I prefer to have access to Prores clips in the future.

  9. Izzy Hyman says on :

    Aje — Yes, many people wouldn’t bother doing all this ahead of time because FCPX can do it for them. ClipWrap is for the folks who have specific needs (like managing the clips before bringing them into FCPX).

  10. Tristan says on :

    Many people are still using FCP7, too, where this will remain useful. VLC should play the MTS without issue, too.

    For Windows people, I have had horrendous issues playing MTS files in Premiere 5.5, and after some tests, I found that converting to the free Cineform video codec over DNxHD high res codec improves performance immensely. With straight MTS, after about 3 seconds, video would stutter to a halt. With DNxHD video would drop frames, but play through. With Cineform (which I had never used before), the files would play completely smooth – no dropped frames, no stutters. It was an awesome discovery.

  11. Izzy Hyman says on :

    Great tips, Tristan!

    Up until today, I didn’t know that VLC player would play back MTS files. That’s useful too!

  12. Tim says on :

    Still looking for a way to use Clip Wrap so that FCP will import a complete folder structure like this:

    Cam 1
    card 2

    Cam 1
    Card 2

    Cam 2
    card 2

    etc.

    I just can’t get it to do this from a clip wrap output on a separate hard drive which has a single event folder name with these sub folders within it.

  13. Tim says on :

    sorry

    Cam 1
    Card 2

    Cam 2
    Card 2

    Cam 2
    Card 2

    etc

  14. Tim says on :

    sorry, am meaning put cam1 card 1 silly typo

  15. Chuck Braverman says on :

    Izzy:
    I have the same question as Bob above. Why bother to do any of what your video shows if you are cutting on FCPX?

  16. Larry says on :

    Izzy,
    do you have an up-to-date tutorial on selecting codecs? I still use FCP7.
    previously, you said to transcode clips to Intermediate, because that’s what FCP would like to see for editing.
    In this episode, you said Intermediate is for FCE and ProRes is for FCP… is ProRes for any FCP or for FCPX?
    my primary use is for 2 to 2½ hour classes, which upon transcoding cause files to be 61GB to 104GB in size, Intermediate… If I remember some time ago trying ProRes, the files were even bigger.
    What determines which codec you use?
    How can I balance, quality, size (economy), and time (transcoding/importing time)?

  17. Izzy Hyman says on :

    Larry, Prores is a better, higher-quality codec than Apple Intermediate Codec. Prores comes with Final Cut Pro versions (including X). If you have FCP, then use Prores. AIC is really for Final Cut Express and iMovie.

    The difference in file sizes will depend a lot on how the frames in the video change. If there is little movement, then the files sizes will be smaller. The more things change, the bigger the file.

    Anyway, I hope that helps a bit…

  18. Larry says on :

    Is there a solution to this:?
    I have as my 2nd angle camera, SamsungHMX-Q10BN which creates MP4 files, however, it breaks them into 16 minute clips (about 2GB each). The problem I have is, it seems to drop some frames between clips. So if I try to glue the clips back together, so I can multicam edit with my 1st angle cam (Canon Vixia HF R10)which is AVCHD, I cannot sync the entire 2 hour video.
    So far my workaround is to multicam each 16 minute piece, each in a diff sequence, then later join those sequences together in yet another sequence. this does create some other problems down the line. One is problems with transitions between sequences. Another is trying to get to the audio editing of just one scene in the final sequence, won’t let me.
    Any suggestions?

  19. Izzy Hyman says on :

    Larry, many times the camera manufacturer provides propriety software that you can use to “join” the clips when you import them. That would be the first place I’d look…

  20. nken says on :

    Larry, have you tried (in Angle Viewer) adding the spanned clips to one angle and selecting ‘Sync Selection to Monitoring Angle’? I’ve come across issues similar to yours and this option has helped me. Here’s a tutorial that mentions it: http://urosbaric.com/how-to-edit-multicam-music-video-final-cut-pro-x

    I assume the frames are dropped in spanned clips for certain, otherwise joining them first using MPEGStreamClip could be an option.

  21. nken says on :

    Tim,

    Would the option ‘import folders as keywords collection’ in FCP X helpful in your situation (option is enabled when you select multiple folders)?

    Also, have your looked at scripting conversion using ClipWrap’s command-line interface:
    http://www.divergentmedia.com/support/documentation/clipwrap/view#command-line-interface

    I’m also wondering a renaming tool (allowing renaming based on camera make etc and also prepending path components to the name) would be helpful – here’s the one I use:
    http://www.publicspace.net/ABetterFinderRename/

  22. Pete McWade says on :

    I found that all you need to do (if you have a mac) is to open the AVCHD file from your camera (Sony A7R) and pick your clips from that and open it in Quicktime and then just export as is. Do this for each file then import to FCPX. Works great for me. I find that the Quality of the AVCHD files are quite high. Enough to give room to play with color correction. Not exactly like RAW but still quite good. Plenty good for any WEB video and even for TV.

    Pete :)

  23. Pete McWade says on :

    Question, if your camera is recording in AVCHD or H264, DNxHD would the original information still be there so if you upgrade to AppleProres 422 HQ you don’t loose any information? I thought that if you recorded in H264 that the information was lost at the point of recording. If thats the case why bother with AppleProRes 422 HQ? I can record to my Blackmagic from my HDMI and record directly to AppleProRes 422 HQ. Better would be to just record in uncompressed Quicktime. So far I get decent results but huge files in uncompressed Quicktime. Great results with AppleProRes 422 HQ. I can’t however record on my blackmagic Hyperdeck Shuttle in 29 fps. I can only do 30 fps. Arrg.

    Pete :)

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