True confession: I bought my first camcorder - a Panasonic HDC-SD90 - to record 1080/60p HD videos for personal/biz use. My goal was to do simple editing and ultimately burn the clips to DVD for posterity and sharing.
Sounded simple (to me). But, no!!!
I've spoken several times with Panasonic and Apple (I own a year-old iMac running latest OS with iMovie 11), and their responses only confused me more. I've also read a ton of posts online and still feel no closer to knowing how to export the HD clips to iMovie and them edit them with no loss in image quality.
After years of working with still photo and high end audio/home theater, I was confident I could figure out this home video thing. Not!
I've looked at info on QuickTime Pro, ClipWrap and others. I've read about Alan's software here. My head is spinning!
So...what's the simplest/most efficient (timewise)/best and (reasonably) inexpensive to get from import to export while maintaining HD image quality and not creating massive (some folks have ended up with 10x larger) video files?
If these are mutually exclusive goals, please tell me.
Also, what software do I need to acquire to convert and what basic settings do I need to use?
If there are other threads that address my question (keeping in mind I'm a relative novice at this), feel free to direct me there.
I sincerely and gratefully appreciate any guidance you can give me. I want to enjoy this new video adventure. Thanks in advance.
I wasn't entirely sure what the SD90 was, but looking online, it seems to have much the same file format as the TM700 / SD600 range that we talk about here.
My workflow is as follows, but I'm sure there are many alternatives.
1) First I record in 1080p at the full 50fps - For best picture quality
2) iMovie can't at the moment see movie files on the camcorder recorded at 1080p50. This is because iMovie is designed to work with AVCHD, and 1080p50 is a later, more advanced video format that is subtly different. Different enough that iMovie won't see your movie files when you plug the camcorder in. When the disk is full, I record a tiny clip at 1080i which enables iMovie to 'see' the attached video camera, and use the Create Camera Archive option (can't remember exactly how that is phrased, but it creates a clone of your camcorder disk, so you always have the original version to go back to one day. You can also use Super Duper or even Disk Utility I think to make a copy of your original SD Card or Hard DIsk. This will be in original (best) quality and smallest file size.
3) Even if you don't create the archive (or if the disk isn't full yet) you can still plug your camcorder in at any time and see the contents via the Finder. I take it you know where the files are stored ?? The route is well documented here - Can't remember it off the top of my head but its buried deep in the folder structure in folders such as AVCHD, Private, BDMV - Look for those and you'll get to know them when you see them !! I drag the files as a batch out of that folder into a new folder on my desktop - This should copy rather than move the files. Once they are safely on your desktop folder, I drag and drop them onto Alan's automator script Rewrap2M4V which creates new M4V versions of each of the video files. It keeps the name the same and takes just a few seconds for each file to 'repackage' the movie into something the Mac can read and work with - An M4V file.
4) So, you'll now have a folder on your desktop with two lots of movie files, the original mts files, and the new repackaged M4V files, which are fractionally smaller than the originals. I throw the mts files away to free up space - I've always got the archive for later. The M4V files are high quality 1080 progressive video at the full 50 or 60 frames per second. You will need a fairly high spec Mac to play these at good quality, slower Macs will stutter.
5) What you do with these files is kind of up to you. I still like to use iMovie 06. This can't work in 50fps, but I like progressive, so I create a new 720p25 project, import the files and it converts them (over quite a long time) into very large, but stunningly good quality 720p25 AIC movie files to be edited. I've recently started migrating more to iMovie 11. For this, I tend to convert my files to AIC first with MPEG Streamclip. Give it the parameters to convert the M4V files to Quicktime AIC files at 1280x720 at either 25 or 50fps. My older Mac can handle these no problem, and iMovie 11 is the first incarnation to handle 50fps. I still find its not overly well supported, and has caused me a few issues so I tend to stick with 25fps, thereby reducing my resolution from 1080 to 720p and frame rate from 50 to 25, but they still look good. I have played with previous model iMacs using i5 processors and found these to handle 1080p50 pretty well, so I can only assume that these very latest Macs won't have any issues at all. Once I can prove that, I guess I will keep and edit my video files in their M4V second generation repackaged files, and avoid the whole step to AIC.
Hope this helps. Remember that you need Perian (a free System Control Panel) for Rewrap2M4V to work properly, and there are free utilities such as Movist, (my choice), for playing the original mts files without any conversion. But, you will need to convert to edit. One more thing, if you delete your hard disk or reformat your SD Card, the TM700 range will reset the counter and start recording video files starting with 00001.mts. I always found this a bit of a pain as I like to keep numbers unique and progressive (much like my footage) so I don't delete the whole card. I delete all but the last couple of files and it continues the numbering sequence. This does still throw up the occasional problem (ie when you delete files mid way through a card) but it is something to think about if you want to keep some order to your files
Wow, thanks , Guy, for the detailed response. I've printed it out, am going to get the suggested software, and then follow it step by step.
Can you please post links to Alan's, plus the Perian and Movist software? If I understand you correctly, Movist is used only to playback the original mts clips from my camcorder.
And...in your experience the image qality of the converted Quicktime AIC 1280 x 720 video is very close to the original 1920 x 1080 (1080/60p) files...yes?
One Apple tech guy mentioned Quicktime Pro yet I've not seen any comments about it in this thread. (Perhaps I've missed them due to onset of brain fog?)
https://public.me.com/catservant - The Rewrap2M4V script
http://clipgrab.de/en - Forgot, this needs to be in your Applications folder as the Rewrap2M4V script uses it
Perian Download Version 1.2.1 not the most recent version which seems to have a sound issue
http://movist.en.softonic.com/mac - Or from lots of other download sites
Yes, Movist is as you say a bit like Quicktime Player for mts files. It plays the raw mts files off the camcorder, and seems to do it faster than most. VLC can play them as well
I can't see a difference between 1080p and 720p but then my main TV is a 720p Plasma so obviously I would say that. I don;t think there is a huge difference in quality unless you are too close to a large screen. The difference from 50fps to 25fps i think is visible but at least you get aware from all the interlacing issues and the herringbone combing effect.
As to Quicktime Pro - No idea. I think the latest Quicktime X has been a bit underwhelming and don't think it is going to solve any problems for you.
Good luck and have fun
I've been very impressed with Movist. It was the only utility that would play the raw 1080/60p MTS files on my old 2GHz Core Duo MBP. It didn't play them anywhere close to the full frame rate, but the frame rate was consistent, unlike QT Player and VLC, which both would completely choke on the files.
my workflow on 1080/50p so far:
- plug the SD card to MacBook Pro i7.
- carry the mts files to my archive hard disc by locating them in the STREAM folder and dragging them to my Finder
- use ClipWrap 2.2 to convert all the .mts files to workable .mov files. As I read from different places, ProRes is the codec to use, for it allows smoother editing on Final Cut Pro. I found that ProRes 422 HQ decompresses the .mts files to be too large, 422 to be a bit less, 422 LT still less, and 422 (Proxy) to the least. From my 15" screen I cannot see any difference between the files, but clearly there is a difference. If you use a software like Media Inspector (sold in Apple Store), you realize that the decompressed .mov files have very different mbps bit rates depending on the ProRes codec I use. If ever I find that the 422 (proxy) codec's conversion does not give me good enough quality, I still have the original .mts files on my archive.
I should also say that, ProRes 422 (Proxy) is also a lot quicker than the HQ.
- finally, i import the .mov files to FCP either by "import file" or by dragging them to the bin.
I tried working with Cine Mode of TM700, which has 25fps progressive. I could then import the .mts files into FCP directly from the SD card using Log and Transfer (not the Log and Capture, which is different). There you can even put a preset for filenaming and it will keep track of the sequence in filenames giving you the ability to have unique file names.
However, when I tried to do the same thing to import an .mts file from my archive, FCP did not recognize it, even if it was 25fps.
I would like to try Alan's ReWrap but as I mentioned before, files converted by that program cause my FCP to crash with General Error. No one replied to my comment about it.
Those of you who do not have the same problem with Alan's ReWrap, how do you find your editing? is it unusually long to render? How about when you export?
What settings you export with?
I have certainly imported from Alan's script into Final Cut Express and that didn't seem to cause any problems. I gave up in the end as everything had to be rendered and FCE 3.5 doesn't allow for 720p25 for reasons unknown.
M4V playback on my old Early Intel iMac was also painfully slow and jerky so I curiously found iMovie 06 my rough cut editor of choice. Obviously from there, movies could be created and opened in Final Cut without any issues (other than file size!)
Alan's script should not be used with Final Cut as it does a simple re-wrap to H.264 which is nit supported in the FCE or FCP timelines. The media should be re-wrapped to a production codec. Using H.264 is never recommended with Final Cut. Use ClipWrap2 to transcode the media to a production format.
could one of you give me a step by step instruction on how to use rewrap2m4v? I am new to Imac and beyond confused. I need to convert some Sony 1080p m2ts files so that my new imac can recognize it. I downloaded clipgrab (not sure what it does except that I have a blue dot on the dock), I downloaded rewrap2m4v but the moment I click on it, a little robot appears and disappears. I do not understand how I can get a menu to appear so that I can specify which files to convert. Thanks!
OK, I see you are new to Mac.
The Mac originally wouldn't 'see', play or edit these 1080p files produced by the Panasonic cameras. Alan Somers produced a tiny program that would convert these files very quickly into a format that the Mac would recognise, and that is the Rewrap2M4V script. I couldn't say for certain that it will work with other formats, and I'm not exactly sure that your Sony camcorder is producing the same sort of video files ????
For a start, the Rewrap2M4V is not really an application, it is a script. I tiny program that is set by the user to carry out a series of steps. It is an example of Apple's built in Automator that allows users to create a workflow so that if you regularly have a series of repetative tasks you can create a short script that will carry out each step in turn and save you time and effort.
The beauty of Alan's script is that it is small and simple. You don't open it like an application, it is an Automator Workflow that can just sit on your desktop and be used when needed. To use is, you just drop one (or a few) mts video files directly onto the little 'Robot' icon. The script (Automator workflow / Rewrap2M4V - What ever you want to call it) will then take the recorded video file (from a Panasonic TM700 camcorder) and then go through several steps to make some setting changes to the file, reset the date and then resave it as an M4V file in the same folder.
Clipgrab is just needed for the Rewrap2M4V script to use, so just make sure it is there as an application in your Applications folder.
So, in summary .........
Download Rewrap2M4v and sit the little icon on your desktop (for example)
Download Perian version 1.2.1 (as mentioned in a link above above) and install that
Download Clipgrab and make sure it is in your Applications folder
Copy some video files at 1080p from your camcorder and place in a folder
Drag and drop the icons onto the Rewrap2M4V Robot icon on your desktop
The files should be repackaged and resaved in your same folder. I stress again this script was written for Panasonic .mts files at 1080p50 or 60 - You'll have to ask someone better whether it would work on your video files, or just have a look yourself and see if the results are good.
@alexandrefromkaty you will also have to download and install Perian for the sound to work.
If you are new to mac it would also be worthwhile installing Flip4MacWMV as well and also the Movist app which will probably play your raw video files out of the camera. You will still need rewrap to edit the files in iMovie.
Ok, thanks a bunch. For everyone's information, I use the new Sony DSC-HX9V. Imovie recognizes the AVCHD FX (24M) format with no problems - it is the format that Sony says can be burnt on blu-ray dvds. However, Imovie will not recognize the highest 1080 format - the AVCHD PS (28M). I will just run the camera in the 24M format from here on. I was able to convert the .m2ts footage I had with Handbrake late last night.
I believe Sony PS is 1080p at 60fps while Sony FX is 1080i at 60fps.