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iMovie import GF2 MTS file - poor quality

Discussion in 'Video Post-Production' started by roverT, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. roverT

    roverT Mu-43 Regular

    121
    Nov 27, 2011
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Hi guys,

    Does anyone else have this problem or already have a work around? I've made two videos with my GF2 because I've seen such great quality on Youtube I was inspired to output something but after editing in iMovie the picture quality comes out very noisy, soft and "pixely" compared to watching the raw MTS file with VLC. Outputing to 720 or 1080 make no difference in iMovie. I just learned that upon importing, iMovie copies the MTS files to the HD as MOV files on the fly. Watching those 'rawish' MOV files shows the same as final output. So I want to find a solution so my videos come out just as crisp and clear as on Youtube. Any help would be great!!

    Here is a sample of what I just made:
    [ame=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psdZeyy5yzg]Christmas with the Mah's 2011 - YouTube[/ame]
     
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  2. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Mu-43 Regular

    113
    Nov 9, 2011
    Whitehorse, Yukon
    Sounds like iMovie might be transcoding the files somehow and losing quality.

    I re-wrap my .mts files to .mov to edit them in Lightworks. I am able to preserve the codec and quality of my files. I use ffmbc on Windows, I am not sure what you could use on Mac.
     
  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    iMovie trancodes mts files to another codec to make editing easier... I believe its the Apple Intermediate Codec... though that may have changed - FCP X uses the Prores codec.

    It does this so that it has an image of each frame of the video...just like a strip of film ...as opposed to the way an mts file is constructed which only stores a full frame every so often and records just the changes - this makes for smaller files... but they are harder to edit as the computer has to decode these on the fly.

    iMovie by default down sizes your video files to 960 x 520 as most people will view them on an iPad/iphone/etc, and saves some disc space as well

    you can though in the iMovie preferences tell it to transcode at the original size


    try that and see if that helps

    PS.... nice little video.... just lay off using the auto focus :)



    K
     
  4. ripleys baby

    ripleys baby Straw clutcher

    609
    Aug 10, 2011
    Sorry, no help from me, but just to say what a pleasant video. :2thumbs:
     
  5. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Your issue is likely what Kevin mentioned. Actually, you have the preference upon import. The default is to import at a lower res, as Kevin mentioned, but you have the option to import at the original res.

    I am not sure if AIC is lossy or not. It likely is. Others have mentioned higher tools and better intermediate codecs. But, as you noticed, it starts getting into some manual handwork. For me, I import everything into iMovie as original resolution, and I'm fine with the output, but if you want better, you'll need to step up either your tools (and maybe also your mac hardware, depending on what you have), and possibly do some manual work.
     
  6. roverT

    roverT Mu-43 Regular

    121
    Nov 27, 2011
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    I just went back to check the iMovie Events folder and the .MOV files are using Apple Intermediate Codec 1920x1080@122Mbps and I remember I selected import at full size. I looked back at an event that a Flipcam was used and it's using it's native 1280x720 size.

    I've been doing some reading and it seems I am not the only one to experience this. Solutions seem to point to converting my MTS files into an MP4 so that iMovie will use them natively without loss of quality.

    The thing I dislike the most is the MTS is so razor sharp yet my exported file is so dead and soft when I compare to other Panasonic ILS HD cams. I do record at FSH too. What I am grateful for is that it still captures the memories I aimed to record. :)

    About the autofocus...yeah I was trying to use AFC mode in AF tracking mode thinking it would hold track of what I wanted to be in focus but it doesn't seem to stay locked as much as Canon P&S cameras that I have used. I wanted my GF2 to focus as best as it can on the spots I chose because being new, manually focusing might not be as sharp given the candid scenario I was in. I guess I have to learn to trust my eye but it's hard to say something is in focus on an LCD panel compared to an optical viewfinder on a DSLR. I think if the GF2 had a 1 million pixel display like the Canon T3i, I might have more confidence in using the LCD to manual focus.
     
  7. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    That's a really sweet video Trevor, well done despite the technical issues. And it looks like being the camera man is one way to get out of the cooking chores! :wink:

    You're right that the GF2 is capable of much higher quality. If you've determined that the problem is the MTS-AIC conversion by iMovie, then you might want to try a third party tool like ClipWrap to turn your MTS files into MOV files. There's no IQ loss with ClipWrap, as the name suggests, it simply re-wraps the video into a MOV container.

    AIC, for the record, is capable of better quality than you've seen. Like ProRes, it's an editing codec, not a playback codec. As Kevin described, I believe it stores each frame as an actual frame, so as you are editing and scrubbing, all the computer has to do is load the frame from the HD, as opposed to building frames on the fly. The downside is ridiculously large editing files, but hard drives are cheap, right? AFAIK, the difference between AIC and the different flavors of ProRes boils down to color fidelity and reproduction, but it's academic for personal projects.
     
  8. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Until very recently, canon P&s cams did not AF during video, but the deep DOF of the tiny sensor would help, as most things would seem in focus.
     
  9. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Do you have any links to share on this approach? Is it just re wrappering the file?
     
  10. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Mu-43 Regular

    113
    Nov 9, 2011
    Whitehorse, Yukon
    Here's a Windows tutorial using ffmbc to re-wrap AVCHD into either .mov or .mp4.

    This works perfectly... It only takes few seconds to process a batch of files and all the original video is preserved.
     
  11. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    I'm sure what others have said about the transcoding and workarounds is correct. But I'd just like to say that slightly soft works a bit better with this particular type of video... in my humble opinion. It gives the piece a slightly dreamy quality that goes with the Christmas season and the music. Nice work.
     
  12. roverT

    roverT Mu-43 Regular

    121
    Nov 27, 2011
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Could it be the fault of recording at 1080i. Maybe 720p is better suited. Most of the GF videos I've seen online were from the GF1 which maxes at 720p. Having the same bitrate at 1080 vs 720 must mean the 720 would be better clarity too.