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AVCHD Archiving on a Mac - My method

Discussion in 'Video Post-Production' started by sprinke, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    Hello folks,

    I've been wrestling with a way to archive raw AVCHD footage from my GH2 onto my Mac (Snow Leopard). See, I'm kind of a backup nut. I like to make sure I have EVERYTHING just in case.

    Yeah sure, you can just dig around in the file structure on your SD cards and pull the .MTS stream files off to watch your AVCHD clips or even import them into an editor (I use iMovie; I'm not a professional). But if you do that, you don't have all of the other goodness that's stored in that mysterious "PRIVATE" folder ... information about when the clip was shot, for example, that video editors can use.

    So I've come up with a method I'm going to be using to create AVCHD archives that LOOK and ACT just like SD cards, and contain all of the information just as it exists on your real SD card. It works for me on Snow Leopard but it should be common to all the recent flavors of OS X.

    1) Insert your SD card.

    2) Select the PRIVATE folder and do a Get Info on it. Make a note of how large it is.

    3) Open Disk Utility. This is under Applications / Utilities.

    4) In Disk Utility, select New Image. Decide where you want to save it and what you want to call it. Keep it short and simple.

    5) Select a Size that is slightly larger than the size of your PRIVATE folder.

    6) Select Format: MS-DOS (FAT). Leave the other settings at the default.

    7) Click Create. Your new disk image will be created and then mounted.

    8) Copy the PRIVATE folder into the disk image.

    That's all. You can eject the disk image and move it wherever you like, and delete the movies off of your SD card or re-format it. When I mount these images, iMovie acts as if I've attached a camera/camcorder and gives me the import window.

    Hope this is helpful to someone.
     
    • Like Like x 4
  2. jumbotron

    jumbotron Mu-43 Regular

    134
    Jul 9, 2011
    Vancouver, Canada
    very useful - thanks!

    I've been wrestling with this since I bought my HD Panny SD recorder. In the end, I just ended up copying the whole directory to my BU drive and then copy the directory back onto the SD when I need it.

    Does your method work for importing into iMovie? Seems like a slick solution that I'll try out soon.
     
  3. ripleys baby

    ripleys baby Straw clutcher

    605
    Aug 10, 2011
    It is !
    Thank you very much. :)
     
  4. Empireme

    Empireme Mu-43 Regular

    150
    Aug 25, 2011
    LA, CA
    Im new to the world of video so im really grateful for posts like these....
     
  5. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    Yes; that's exactly how I use it. If iMovie is open, when you mount the disk image, iMovie opens up the Import from Camera window.
     
  6. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    I've been able to archive the movies from my SD cards without creating new disk images. As long as the folder structure is there, AVCHD-aware programs will know what to look for.

    Before I learned this, I made the mistake of just copying the .MTS files over. If you do that, AVCHD-aware programs won't know how to open the .MTS files, but a simple program like Clipwrap wil re-wrap the MTS files into a Quicktime Movie Container (.MOV) that most video programs will recognize.

    As others have noted, AVCHD is a very disk-efficient but CPU-intensive codec, so if your Mac is choking on the files - skipping on playback, playing out of sync, etc... - then that likely means that your CPU is struggling to keep up with the firehose of data it's being asked to process on the fly.

    The way around that is to convert the AVCHD to a codec that is less CPU-intensive. Codecs like AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec) and ProRES are designed for editing. You'll end up with a file that's much larger (5x and more!), but should play and edit better on slower Macs as long as your hard drives are quick enough. IIRC, Clipwrap can create AIC/ProRES files. Apple's QuickTime - the dev version, not the free playback version - will do that too.

    In any case, once you start editing video and get the right system to do so, it will laugh when you throw a measly 14Mp still image at it. Child's play LOL
     
  7. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    I haven't been able to get iMovie to recognize just a folder. Are you using something else more advanced?
     
  8. TonyB

    TonyB Mu-43 Regular

    106
    Jun 6, 2010
    Nice one...

    I've had a few occasions when I've had AVCHD files sitting on my camera for a while and this solution will save me the pain of having to look for the camera cable. Thanks for sharing it.:2thumbs:
     
  9. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    I'm using Final Cut Pro X. I don't think iMovie recognizes AVCHD. Try Clipwrap.
     
  10. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    iMovie works just fine with AVCHD; I was working with new firmware High Bit Rate clips this past weekend. :smile:
     
  11. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    Oh. Then try copying a SD card onto a folder on your drive and then when you import into iMovie can you point to the folder? Works on FCPX
     
  12. TonyB

    TonyB Mu-43 Regular

    106
    Jun 6, 2010
    That doesn't work for imovie, at least on my macbook anyway. You have to import directly from the camera.
     
  13. manju69

    manju69 Mu-43 Veteran

    493
    Jul 1, 2011
    Stroud, UK
    Pete
    You can stick the card in a card reader that the mac reads as if it is a camera or external drive. Worked on my MacBook.
     
  14. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    Right ... my method of creating a disk image makes iMovie think that you've stuck an SD card into the computer (or attached a camera).
     
  15. TonyB

    TonyB Mu-43 Regular

    106
    Jun 6, 2010
    Nope, thats what I usually do and that doesn't work with imovie either, it has to read it from my E-P3 directly.
     
  16. jumbotron

    jumbotron Mu-43 Regular

    134
    Jul 9, 2011
    Vancouver, Canada
    It should work, assuming that everything is up to date - I've been working with iMovie for years. And an SD card in the slot works the best.
     
  17. ftwphoto

    ftwphoto Mu-43 Regular

    46
    Dec 12, 2011
    What you need to do with iMovie to get it to recognize a PRIVATE folder is to use - Import - Camera Archive. From there you can open a Private Folder. If it doesn't work selecting PRIVATE, you might need to drill down and open 1 or 2 folders deeper.

    This method works on both iMovie (confirmed in the latest version) and FCPX.
     
  18. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Debi
    I confirmed this too on my Snow Leopard Macbook Pro and iMovie 11. Thanks ftwphoto. This is easier than what I had suggested.