Re-wrap AVCHD clips to Quicktime in no-time

28

AVCHD HX9v badge

Above snap taken with SLRMagic E-mount 28mm with SLRMagic macro extension tube on Sony NEX. Click here to buy the lens on eBay. Full review soon!

Premiere Pro CS5 aside, support for AVCHD has been poor to date on PCs and Macs. Are you tired of having to wait for media to transcode in Final Cut Pro? Can’t edit HX9v 1080/60p in Final Cut Pro X? Having trouble previewing AVCHD clips in Quicktime Player on a Mac? No thumbnail of AVCHD clips in the Finder?

Finally a solution is at hand.

Media Converter V1.2 is a really nice freeware app by Maarten Foukhar for the Mac. Click here to download. You simply drag files to it and it converts anything to pretty much anything. It’s simple, it’s fast and 64bit.

Key to the AVCHD conundrum though is an in-app downloadable preset called “Re-wrap AVCHD for Quicktime with uncompressed audio”.

This jailbreaks the H.264 video stream from the evil AVCHD prison, and releases it into the world of Quicktime with a .MOV extension and it’s far faster than converting or transcoding AVCHD to a different format like ProRes. You can then edit the files directly in your chosen NLE software.

It also makes HX9V AVCHD footage in 1080/60p compatible with Final Cut Pro and FCPX so it is perfect for a news shooter who has B-roll or documentary footage shot on the HX9v but needs a quick editing turn-around.

It also enables you to preview your media in Quicktime player and because they are now in Quicktime format instead of AVCHD, Mac Finder gives you a nice thumbnail preview whereas previously I was using VLC Player and a AVCHD thumbnail plugin which took ages to render in the Finder, to preview clips outside of the NLE.

For those without FCPX or Premiere Pro CS5 this little app will save a lot of time. Here is the step by step guide for using it…

  1. Download the app to your Mac and drag it to the Applications folder on the dock.
  2. Run the app then open Preferences and go to Presets
  3. Click Get More Presets, this takes you to a webpage with a download link for “Re-wrap AVCHD for Quicktime with uncompressed audio”
  4. Download that preset and open it. Media Converter will install the preset and it will appear in the Presets panel in Preferences
  5. Under the Drag Files Here window click the Covert To drop down box and select Re-Wrap AVCHD…
  6. Drag your files to the window and they will be unwrapped and saved in Quicktime format. The default directory where they’re saved to is Movies and you can change that in the Preferences.

Big thanks to Kopmann on the DPReview forums for the discovery of this app

About Author

British filmmaker and editor of EOSHD, Andrew works in Berlin on his own self funded filmmaking and video projects.

28 Comments

  1. numerizedstudio on

    Hi,

    It doesn’t work from my GH1 hacked camera. Have you tried it with factory settings ?
    Here my log message :

    /Users/USERXXXXXX/Downloads/Media Converter.localized/Media Converter.app/Contents/Resources/ffmpeg -i /Users/USERXXXXXX/Movies/UIDD_TAIWAN/Day2_Cam2/PRIVATE/AVCHD/BDMV/STREAM/00015.MTS -f mov -vcodec copy -acodec pcm_s16le -sn -threads 1 -metadata frontend=Media Encoder 1.2 /Users/USERXXXXXX/Desktop/00015.movffmpeg version git-4f12e15, Copyright (c) 2000-2011 the Libav developers
    built on May 15 2011 20:54:45 with gcc 4.0.1 (Apple Computer, Inc. build 5370)
    configuration: –enable-libtheora –enable-libvorbis –enable-libvpx –enable-libmp3lame –enable-libx264 –enable-libfaac –enable-libopencore-amrnb –enable-libopencore-amrwb –enable-libgsm –enable-libschroedinger –enable-libspeex –enable-libxavs –target-os=darwin –enable-gpl –enable-pthreads –enable-nonfree –enable-version3 –disable-debug
    libavutil 51. 1. 0 / 51. 1. 0
    libavcodec 53. 2. 0 / 53. 2. 0
    libavformat 53. 0. 3 / 53. 0. 3
    libavdevice 53. 0. 0 / 53. 0. 0
    libavfilter 2. 4. 0 / 2. 4. 0
    libswscale 1. 1. 0 / 1. 1. 0

    Seems stream 0 codec frame rate differs from container frame rate: 50.00 (50/1) -> 50.00 (50/1)
    Input #0, mpegts, from ‘/Users/USERXXXXXX/Movies/UIDD_TAIWAN/Day2_Cam2/PRIVATE/AVCHD/BDMV/STREAM/00015.MTS':
    Duration: 00:00:04.80, start: 0.370933, bitrate: 40417 kb/s
    Program 1
    Stream #0.0[0x1011]: Video: h264 (High), yuv420p, 1920×1080 [PAR 1:1 DAR 16:9], 50 fps, 50 tbr, 90k tbn, 50 tbc
    Stream #0.1[0x1100]: Audio: ac3, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16, 192 kb/s
    Output #0, mov, to ‘/Users/USERXXXXXX/Desktop/00015.mov':
    Metadata:
    frontend : Media Encoder 1.2
    encoder : Lavf53.0.3
    Stream #0.0: Video: libx264, yuv420p, 1920×1080 [PAR 1:1 DAR 16:9], q=2-31, 25 tbn, 25 tbc
    Stream #0.1: Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16, 1536 kb/s
    Stream mapping:
    Stream #0.0 -> #0.0
    Stream #0.1 -> #0.1
    Press ctrl-c to stop encoding
    [mov @ 0x1824e00] Application provided invalid, non monotonically increasing dts to muxer in stream 0: 16 >= 16
    av_interleaved_write_frame(): Operation not permitted
    USERXXXXXX

  2. The presets are available for download on the media converter home page as well, incase your nle is offline . I´ll be installing and let you know how it goes. A wish come true because I just switched cameras and didn´t want to switch computers as well. thanx

  3. disdausdebil on

    Works like a charm and is so much quicker than converting to prores in final cut! Big thanks for this one :)
    @numerizedstudio
    You need to drop the files right from your sd card into media converter..

  4. tuliocampregher on

    I have been using ClipWrap for the past 3 years when dealing with AVC / MTS files.
    Great App.

  5. I am importing MTS files from my SD card into FCP 6.6 going through ProRes to MOV file conversion. FCP shows thumbnails and allows me to choose how much of the file to process. The result is dumped into the selected folder on my drive and I am done.
    I checked time from beginning to end and this method works faster for me then using Media Converter. Please enlighten me.

  6. Thanks for posting this! This should be very useful on Avid Media Composer, as well. Avid Media Access (AMA) can link to H.264 media in the .MOV container, but not in the .MTS container. As of Media Composer 5.5, .MTS files need to be imported and transcoded to Avid DNxHD.

  7. what are the advantages quality-wise over 5D to RGB (ProRes)? Or is it equal, and merely a speed thing?

  8. “Premiere Pro CS5 aside, support for AVCHD has been poor to date on PCs and Macs…”

    Obviously no one here has heard of Edius????

  9. Might be a daft question this but I heard from a number of people that if you edit a dSLR video and make it appear smooth you need to use a fast PC. I always thought a fast PC only assist in speedier rendering and does not influence the final outcome of the video. Also read something about hardware acceleration within the operating system and enabling it can cause skipping but even if that is true I would have thought it only affect playback and not the final outcome of the video itself after rendering. Any truth or baloney?

  10. Baloney mixed with truth!

    You only really need a very high spec editing computer if you are handling 1080/60p or a more sophisticated format like from a RED.

    You don’t need a high spec PC for editing 24p 1080p DSLR footage especially if you convert it to ProRes or Apple Intermediate codec.

  11. Didn´t work for me . running g5 ppc with 10.4.11. Installed but just bounces the files when loaded . Still in search for a free solution .

  12. What exactly is high spec for a MacbookPro? I’m wondering if I should get a late 2010 17′ or a 2011 17′ for editing DSLR footage on Final Cut Pro 7 and Adobe CS5. Given the premiums Macs command, I’m not looking to upgrade for a while after this purchase.

    Any suggestions?

  13. Hey Andrew,

    What kind of file sizes are we talking here, in comparison to Prores? Loss of quality? compression? You mention its a faster process than transcoding to prores.

    @moebius22
    He is saying that you don’t need a hi-spec computer unless you’re editing RED footage and the like. For DSLR footage i.e. Panasonic GH1(3)(7), GH2(vk), Canon 5D, 7D, T2i, etc, etc. When I’m on the road, I edit on my 2010 Q4 17″ MBP. It’s 2.66 GHz Intel i7. 4GBRAM- I have no issues…. before that my older 17″ MBP from like 2009 handled just fine as well, (cant remember specs).

    Good luck
    z

  14. ok- so I just downloaded, installed and tried it–works like a charm. By far the fastest converter I’ve used. The files are just slightly smaller than the original .MTS files. I know the website says, no quality loss- but I’ll have to do some side by sides.

    If this holds up to being solid and reliable, this will be huge, especially when doing a shoot and hand-off!

    Thanks- great find!!

    Z

  15. Ok so just an update, I didn’t realize that the codec remained H.264, (I guess I should have), but FCP hates H.264, so I guess it’s back to transcoding to Prores…

  16. arvidtomayko-peters on

    yo! I made that preset and uploaded it. It is soooo simple simple though. I take no credit- I put it together just reading forums and blog posts.

    And Media Converter is just a front end (albeit a nice one – thank you developer!) to ffmpeg, which has been around forever as a commandline utility and in various other GUI frontends. And the preset I made is super simple

    I figured this out when I needed to get my GH2 footage into Final Cut Express, which choked on the 24p footage, randomly moving frames to the wrong places in time in the transcoded files. Now I do everything this way so that I can edit with transcoded files (made using JES Deinterlacer to conform 24p 80% to 30p), then throw them away when the project is done. If i need to go back to the project i just re-generate them from the re-wrapped quicktime h.264s.

  17. Hi, Arvid. I send you email about a strange thing in rewraping. Kae settings in PTools give us 65-75 mbits low GOP3 AVCHD 23.98 fps, but Media Converter rewrap it in 12 mbits 4 fps, while ClipWrap rewraps it ok. Is it because of low GOP3?

  18. infernovideo on

    This a great script. thank you. I just tried a re-wrap of my GH2 23.97 footage and it is very fast, the video looks great but the audio “pops” every seven to ten seconds? Has anyone else experienced this?

    I’m wondering why you had to trans-code the audio? Would it be possible to do a re-wrap without touching the audio?

    Thanks

  19. maximebrachet on

    Wonderful software for a macuser like me … After the “re-wrapping” of a gh2 .mts file (1080 / 23.976) into a .mov file, i can see the thumbnail, read it in quicktime, very useful but… when I try to work with this same .mov file in premiere pro cs5.5 it lags (much) whereas it was working with the mts file. Does anybody experience the same problem ? thanks.

  20. arvidtomayko-peters on

    I have no idea – must be an ffmpeg problem – i’ve never had a problem, but then again I’ve never pushed my hacked GH2 beyond 42Mbits/sec or messed with the GOP setting.

  21. arvidtomayko-peters on

    You could – just change audio to passthrough, but I don’t think quicktime can play the AVCHD audio codec, so it would be silent in any quicktime-based software. Dunno why pops would happen – never had that problem either.

  22. arvidtomayko-peters on

    I don’t know anything about premiere, but I could imagine that it no longer recognizes the video file as a vanilla AVCHD file since it’s in a different container and therefore does not try to apply whatever AVCHD optimizations (GPU based maybe?) to it that Adobe uses in premiere. But that’s just speculation.

  23. arvidtomayko-peters on

    Yeah – you still need to transcode to edit. I just do this so i can use other software to transcode besides FCE (which really messes up some types of GH2 footage when transcoding).

    BTW quality will be exactly the same because the video stream is passed straight through, just put in a different container.

Leave A Reply