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Retrieving imported AVCHD files from Final Cut Pro X

689 Views 14 Replies Latest reply: May 4, 2012 5:12 AM by Luis Sequeira1 RSS
Jonab Calculating status...
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May 3, 2012 7:13 AM

Hi there, does anyone know how to retrieve raw AVCHD clips from Final Cut Pro X, after they have been imported? I shot some footage on my GH2 and it DID import from the camera into FCP X, but it's not running smooth at all. I heard that it's better to convert the files into pro res first, but I wanted to see if it worked. It does work, but not very well. So now I want to find the original video files I imported and convert them into pro res and then import again. Anyone had experience with this?

Final Cut Pro X, Mac OS X (10.7.3)
  • Ian R. Brown Level 6 Level 6 (17,460 points)
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    May 3, 2012 8:22 AM (in response to Jonab)

    They should be in your Events folder inside the Original Media folder.


    However, I think they will have been slightly modified from the original MTS files.

  • Jari Innanen Calculating status...
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    May 3, 2012 1:14 PM (in response to Jonab)

    Thats what FCP X is all about. You can transcode your clips easily to ProRes 422 (Optimized media) or Proxy. It takes some time but the transcoding is a true background process so you can keep working and decide later which format to use for editing. Once you have transcoded the clips to ProRes and/or Proxy you can change the edit format in preferences.

    To transcode the long gop AVCHD to ProRes you need aproximately ten times more hard disk space, though.

  • Ian R. Brown Level 6 Level 6 (17,460 points)
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    May 3, 2012 2:38 PM (in response to Jonab)

    You can edit the AVCHD files natively if you want with no ill effects.


    The fact that your footage may not be playing smoothly in FCP should not affect the final output.


    Whether you use ProRes or native AVCHD is something of a personal choice depending on your particular workflow.


    It might be worth doing a very quick short test project replicating what you anticipate doing using both formats and then you can decide which suits you best when you view the final output.

  • rtb42 Calculating status...

    May be irrelevant because FCPX might well not do it like that, I don't know: working with the original files means that you can conceivably avoid a lot of recompression and loss of quality when the final output is AVCHD (or blu-ray) again: entropy would only increase around cuts, transitions and effects...  everything that needs individual or out-of-gop frames.


    I was actually wondering whether compressor worked that way as sometimes it is surprisingly speedy.

  • Ian R. Brown Level 6 Level 6 (17,460 points)
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    May 4, 2012 1:30 AM (in response to Jonab)

    You should be able to edit the AVCHD footage smoothly in the timeline assuming you are not loading it with multiple timelines and and loads of effects etc.


    I am using a 4 year old iMac and have no problems though most of my editing is quite simple with cuts, titles, transitions and the odd effect.


    Don't worry about generation losses if you do convert to ProRes.  Yes it does occur but I challenge you to spot any deterioration even after several generations.


    It is absolutely miniscule, like the idea that a butterfly beating its wings as you run towards it will slow you down!

  • rtb42 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Oh... there I'm getting skeptical. Take an AVCHD, ProRes it & re-compress to h.264, re-ProRes and re-compress and I bet you'll start seeing serious degradation after 2-3 of those cycles. I actually "see" it after one, but I agree knowing it invalidates the result... 

  • Luis Sequeira1 Level 5 Level 5 (4,790 points)
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    May 4, 2012 2:19 AM (in response to rtb42)

    If you want to avoid an extra conversion step but FCP X in your mac does not handle the original format smoothly, there is another way. Simply don't create optimized media, and instead edit in proxy. Granted, the quality of the proxy media is much lower, but editing will be smooth. Before exporting, switch back to original/optimized. FCP X will then use your original media to create the export.


    Or you can edit in optimize and manually delete the files in the Optimized Media folder before export...


    That said, I don't think the loss in quality would be that significant, but what really matters is if it's significant for you and your workflow.

  • Ian R. Brown Level 6 Level 6 (17,460 points)
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    May 4, 2012 2:20 AM (in response to rtb42)

    If you do it often enough it will become visible but I think the OP was thinking of converting to ProRes for editing and then exporting to H.264 for output where it would be absolutely impossible to detect any difference even though there is one.


    My point is that some people are paranoid about the mere idea of generation losses.

  • Ian R. Brown Level 6 Level 6 (17,460 points)
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    May 4, 2012 4:28 AM (in response to Jonab)

    Whether you edit native AVCHD or ProRes and then export H.264/AAC there will be no way you can see the miniscule degradation.


    If you are seeing poor videos on Vimeo, that is because the creator has made poor ones.


    My videos are pretty well perfect but I can make poor ones if I wish by messing up either the shooting, editing or export settings.

  • Luis Sequeira1 Level 5 Level 5 (4,790 points)
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    May 4, 2012 5:12 AM (in response to Jonab)

    Proxy video is lower size and lower quality. It is encoded in ProRes Proxy, at a smaller size, and uses a lot less disk space than optimized. If you then switch back to original, FCP X will use the original video for the final export, so you won't lose any quality. If you export from proxy, then of course the quality will be poor, but you can change back to full quality whenever you wish, and your edits will be fully preserved.


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