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Basic HowTo: Using MTS/M2TS files in FCP/FCE/iMovie

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  • Basic HowTo: Using MTS/M2TS files in FCP/FCE/iMovie

    Hi All,

    This is probably one of the most common video conversion topics I've seen on the boards here since I first started posting. I thought it might be a good time to note on this topic in the hopes that people searching may find this solution.

    First: If you are taking footage from an AVCHD camera that stores its files in an AVCHD structure, DO NOT take the actual stream files out of their folders. DO NOT attempt to import the .mts or .m2ts files directly. Instead, connect the camcorder to your computer and run your editor (FCE, FCP or iMovie) and import the footage that way. The editor will automagically import and transcode the footage from the distribution codec (AVCHD structure usually storing H.264 video) into an editing codec (Apple Intermediate Codec or ProRES).

    This is the best option. If you want to back up your master footage, copy the ENTIRE AVCHD folder structure to another folder on your system. For example - if your SDHC card contains a Private folder under which all of the folders exist, copy the private folder to a HD with free space on your system. Usually I tend to create container folders to make sense of the footage so it might be like:
    Graduation 4-20-2010 -> Card1 -> <folders from SDHC card>
    Graduation 4-20-2010 -> Card2 -> <folders from SDHC card>

    If you have FCP or FCE you can direct Log and Transfer to look in those folders. If you have iMovie, you may need to copy the folder off onto an SDHC card prior to attempting to import - I don't use iMovie enough to know if you can point it to a folder to find an AVCHD structure.

    Second: Now this is for if you have already copied the streams out or are using a device that only produces the .mts or .m2ts files (ie: Hauppage HDPVR) - to use these files you'll need to transcode them first. Normally one would suggest using MPEGStreamClip - but it doesn't like some of those containers. You can use Handbrake, but you won't have a lot of fun editing unless you transcode a second time to get it from Handbrakes H.264 output into an edit codec. You do have some options:

    1) ClipWrap ( ClipWrap: Easy AVCHD and HDV conversion for the Mac ) it's not free, but not terribly expensive. It has worked well for me as it will either re-encapsulate the H.264 into a more apple friendly .mov or it will transcode to AIC or ProRES (assuming you have FCP installed). I have nothing to do with this software other then have purchased it myself to use. There is a trial version and I always suggest to use a trial before buying anything to make sure it works for you. I've used this for my Hauppage video without problems so far. Re-wrapping H.264 is VERY fast. Transcoding isn't light speed, but it is a reasonable speed. ($49.99)
    2) VoltaicHD ( AVCHD converter, AVCHD video converter, AVCHD editor | ShedWorx )- it's an AVCHD transcoder, not free but also not terribly expensive - works fairly well, but it is sloooooowwwww. Some files seem to experience audio sync issues. My version is older, so the current version may be better. Claims to have some edit features, but seems to be limited to trimming rather then cutting multiple sections of a single video clip - but as I've not used it, I can't comment on its editing capabilities. ($39.99 for VotlaicHD)
    3) Roxio Toast ( Roxio Toast 11 Family - DVD Burning - Video Conversion - Music and Video Capture for Mac )- a general Data/Audio/Video/CD/DVD/BluRay package for Mac. One of the most popular pay packages out there. Does do some nice conversions. Definitely costs money tho ($99 - $149 depending on version pre-rebate) Offers other features ClipWrap and VoltaicHD don't offer (like authoring)
    4) FFMPegX ( ffmpegX a DVD, SVCD, VCD, CVD, VOB, DivX, XviD, H.264, PSP, iPod, MP4, MOV, FLV encoder for Mac OSX )- shareware - will do a variety of conversions but tends to require the user to know enough about containers to get the combinations right. More of an advanced users tool then a drop and go.
    5) Handbrake ( HandBrake )- the current version will convert many m2ts/ts/mts to m4v, but the files are not necessarily edit friendly and may require additional transcoding for fluid editing work (ie: you may be able to import the footage but you may find you have to do a lot of rendering unless you transcode it to something more edit friendly). Handbrake is more geared to distribution conversion, not edit conversion.
    There are some other options that I'm sure some people will pop on to suggest, but I figured this would be a good starter for those that either don't know or have recently switched from Windows based solutions where the workflow is different.

    My personal preference *right now* is clip wrap (I have purchased licensed versions of Toast, VoltaicHD and ClipWrap at various times in my video life on OSX). I use it for my Hauppage footage and it has worked extremely well for me - I have it take the footage and generate mov containing ProRES footage. (I should note, I have nothing to do with these people or their site, I only purchased their software after trying it).

    As with any tool, I'd strongly suggest trying the demo version on a variety of test footage first to see how (if) it will perform for you. Most demo versions (except ffmpegx and handbrake) will only transcode a short portion (1-10 minutes) of the full video, but that should give you enough to judge quality and audio.

    Hopefully this helps those with using mts/m2ts video files.

    Note: Originally written by member Nethfel.