My GH1/GH2 video workflow on Mac

Started Apr 28, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Travisimo
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My GH1/GH2 video workflow on Mac
Apr 28, 2011

I've only recently obtained a GH2, but I've been using a GH1 since launch. I thought I'd share my Mac workflow for those who may benefit from it, as well as ask a few questions of my own:

1) IMPORTING VIDEO ONTO MY MAC.

This is the first step in any workflow since there are several ways of going about it. Some people import into iMovie directly from their memory card. And that's fine if your video files are still on the card and you want to immediately work on a video edit. But what I like to do is download the videos from the memory card and place them into a folder on my Mac for sorting. Many times I just want the videos on my computer and may not necessarily want to create an edited video with them.

So I just use my Sandisk card reader to mount my SD card. I drag and drop just the .MTS files from the mounted SD card into a folder on my hard drive. I have created a folder structure by date so that I keep my videos organized. I also use a program called FileRenamer to rename the files using the file creation date and time, so that way I will always know when the videos were taken.

2) VIEWING the .MTS FILES ON MY MAC.

As many have suggested, the latest version of VLC plays the MTS files directly without issue. Videos taken in 1080/24p or 720/60p mode will look great, while videos taken in 1080i will show the interlacing. VLC has real-time de-interlacing that improves this somewhat, but it is still less than ideal for viewing on a Mac. However, at least it's an easy way to just quickly view videos by double-clicking on your MTS files before even going into iMovie for editing.

3) VIEWING the .MTS FILES ON YOUR HDTV.

I have a 50" 1080p HDTV in my living room, which is not in close range to my Mac. So for a long time, I resorted to the many streaming media center applications to play the MTS files on my HDTV. After trying many of them, Playstation Media Server ended up being the best solution for quite a while. It's a free program you install on your Mac and then use your PS3 to stream your videos. It'll transcode video files that are not in a format that the PS3 can play, but fortunately the PS3 can play AVCHD so it did not need to transcode. This worked, but it too was not ideal because there were always sporadic issues with PS3 Media Server, such as buffering and sometimes problems with detection.

A few months ago I finally found the perfect solution! I bought a Boxee Box. It's a media streaming device that hooks up to your HDTV via HDMI. It plays just about every format under the sun (like VLC), but it allows you to use shares from your PC/MAC. So I can have all of my MTS videos on my Mac and then just share the folder they are in using SMB file sharing. Once I did that, the videos will show up on the Boxee Box and play flawlessly in their original format. No transcoding. No issues like you get with DLNA servers. It plays files from the GH1/GH2 with no problems whatsoever. On the other hand, files from the GF1 (and other cameras that use AVCHD-Lite) do not play correctly yet... there is an issue with audio/video sync.

4) EDITING VIDEOS in iMOVIE.

Now of course, since I only download the MTS files to my Mac, I cannot directly import these files into iMovie. Sure, you can trick iMovie by keeping everything in a directory structure similar to that on your memory card. But who wants to do that? I want to keep just the MTS files and put them in my own file folders.

So what I do is just use a program called Voltaic that will easily transcode your video files into AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec), which does of course balloon your files in size quite a bit. But it retains the video quality and is much easily for your computer to edit with. Voltaic has batch encoding, so you just select the files you want to work with in iMovie and it will convert them all sequentially. It does take some time, but you can just leave your computer and come back when they are done. Once they are done, iMovie will import them directly without having to re-encode again. Once your project is all finished and you have created your final exported movie(s), you can delete the intermediate files and still keep your original MTS files in the folder structure you have created.

Another option is to use the rewrap2m4v automator script that others have mentioned. It will just convert the container without having to transcode the actual video. And while this is optimal for maintaining quality and is quicker than using Voltaic, I would imagine the imported files would not be as easy to work with in iMovie since they are more compressed. I have not used it myself, so I can't say for sure. But it's definitely an interesting option.

Anyway, I hope this helps those who struggle to create a good workflow for videos on a Mac. I'm certainly open to easier and better solutions, so please feel free to critique and improve upon my example. Personally, I'm very much looking forward to purchasing Final Cut Pro X that is coming out in June for $300! Apparently, it will be able to directly work with AVCHD files, and I saw that Panasonic is releasing a plugin for Final Cut that will allow it to work with MTS files from their cameras (not sure if this is for the current version or the X version)? Should be something to look forward to, though!

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