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AVCHD Essentials: get, play, edit and convert AVCHD video on Mac

By Jane2009

As we know, AVCHD is a high definition (HD) digital video camera recorder format recording 1080i and 720p signals onto MiniDVD discs, MiniDV tape, Hard Drive, and digital camera Memory Cards. AVCHD recordings made on MiniDVD discs can be played back on some Blu-ray disc players, however, AVCHD with a .M2TS and .MTS file extension can not be played back on standard DVD players and most portable players. This article will provide the essential tips to get AVCHD video off HD camcorder, tools to edit, play and convert AVCHD video on Mac, including Snow Leopard.

Part I. Get AVCHD footage off HD camcorder to Mac
Part II. Play AVCHD video on Mac
Part III. Edit AVCHD footage on Mac
Part IV. Convert AVCHD video on Mac

Part I. Get AVCHD footage off HD camcorder to Mac
To play AVCHD video files on your Mac, first you need get them off HD Camcorder to your Mac desktop or laptop. It's easy with iMovie:
1. Connect camcorder to your Mac computer with cable (USB/Wifi).
2. Select mode of camcorder such as PC/Computer mode.
3. iMovie will automatic open Import window.
4. If DVD Player automatic open, just quit DVD Player first.
5. So Now, you can review your video or select "Import All"(make sure your switch is set to "Automatic").
6. If you select "Manual", you can import some clip to iMovie.
7. If you import from Tape based device (DV/HDV), iMovie will automatic revise tape & import all.
8. iMovie automatic create thumbnail video after complete import.

iMovie will automatically detect when you have a FireWire camcorder connected. If you see the message No Camera Attached, make sure your camera is turned on and properly plugged in to your computer via a FireWire cable and that your camcorder is set to VCR, VTR, or Play mode.

Most modern video editing programs, such as Adobe Premiere Elements 8, support AVCHD editing

Part II. Play AVCHD video on Mac
Each of the AVCHD camcorders ships with software designed to playback the files on your computer, such as Sony's Picture Motion Browser, Panasonic's AVCHD camcorders. While the bundled applications work, but they all run for PC. How to play these AVCHD M2TS / TS / MTS files on Mac for FREE? Here are some alternatives.

VLC Media Player is a totally free program that you should already have on your Mac that plays oodles of different video and audio formats, far more than QuickTime and DVD player. Simply run this application, choose FILE>OPEN FILE, select you VIDEO_TS folder, and that is OK!

Mplayer for Mac is another free AVCHD media player, it's binary distribution of MPlayer (The Movie Player for Linux) and comes with native GUI in Mac OS X. After installation you can simply (by Drag Drop) play almost all 3ivx, DivX 3, 4, 5 and other codecs files in the window or full screen mode. Rendering of very nice antialiased text-based subtitles is also supported.

Part III. Edit AVCHD footage on Mac
AVCHD camcorders had been out since mid 2006 the first fully capable software for editing the footage only became available with the recent release of Sony's Vegas 9 editing software for Windows. Ok, so which software you can use to edit AVCHD on Mac, including Snow Leopard?

If your budget allows, make iMovie for your AVCHD video editing, but there are two core requirements. First, you need to make sure you have iMovie '09 or newer software. The other limiting factor to using iMovie is hardware. You need a Mac with an Intel-based Core Duo processor or better to edit AVCHD in iMovie '09. Power PC G5 Macs or older will not work for editing high definition AVCHD with iMovie.

Final Cut Pro is the premium choice for any Mac video editing. The Final Cut Pro 7 is the most up-to-date support for AVCHD available, with 6.0.1 being the first version of FCP with AVCHD support. Making sure you have Final Cut Pro 7 installed is your best bet to making sure you have a great editing experience with AVCHD and FCP.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 is another choice. AVCHD smooth playback and video editing totally depends on your systems performance. Most Laptops will work just fine with AVCHD editing but don't have as smooth a playback as a highend desktop.

So which is best, iMovie, FCP, Adobe Premiere? Well, I personally prefer Final Cut Pro to iMovie for editing AVCHD on a Mac. It makes editing easier and helps bring out your more creativity!

Part IV. Convert AVCHD video on Mac
While AVCHD camcorders save HD video in M2TS and MTS formats, they cause problems down the road - for example you will find that YouTube doesn't support the file format of the AVCHD video you want to upload, and most portable players as well. There are some 3rd programs available, but if you're looking for easiest solution to handle the job on Mac(including Snow Leopard), with better output quality, AVCHD HD Video Converter from iFunia comes as a good choice. It walks three easy steps to finish the conversion.

The first step is run iFunia HD Video Converter program and add your AVCHD(M2TS, MTS) video files by clicking 'Add' button or drag-n-drop. Besides, a good consideration is to edit movies down before conversion, crop into the picture to remove unwanted portions and even apply global effects and watermark. In my evaluation, the editing process worked in real time, happily getting the instant comparison of original preview and output preview unlike other AVCHD video converters with no comparison.

Now that you have finish the source setup, the next step is to select an output profile and set specific folder. It accepts most popular formats as output, including AVI, WMV, HD AVI, HD WMV, FLV, MP4, and of course, QuickTime video. There are various format/bit rate/screen resolution encoding options in the Setting window. Remember that the output file size mostly depends on the Bitrate you set. Larger Bitrate, larger file size. But the easiest way to get good results is just to let iFunia HD Video Converter set the quality details for you.

Finally, it's time to start the conversion. If your movie is large, a better way to tick "Shutdown when done" checkbox before conversion, then let iFunia HD Video Converter do its thing!

Well, AVCHD camcorder is becoming more and more popular. I hope these essenstials help you to gain a better understanding of AVCHD and the entertainment they bring to your digital life.

About the author
Bellu Su is a devoted fan of digital photography and video who works to gather information, tips and news for digital camera users and Mac OS users.

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