Loading .mts files into Final Cut Pro 6.0.6

I have video documentation from PEAL that I’m planning to edit in FCP… but it’s in .mts format and from a couple of different HD AVCHD camera sources…

PastedGraphic.tiff

After a bit of head-scratching and online research I got to a reasonably straightforward and speedy solution… and in the process managed to clarify a few significant terms for myself such as:
Mbit/s V MBps
Apple ProRes 422
Similarities and Differences Between 1080i and 1080p

I happened across this useful article – TTFN (Tech Tip for Nerds): Working with MTS (AVCHD) Video Files files on a Mac – and though a little prosaic – it summarises my own research and findings quite well.

It turned out that importing the files from one of the cameras was straightforward enough – since I had the entire SD card data structure I was able to use “Log and Transfer” under “File” in FCP… though I didn’t have this option with the data from the other – which was just several folders containing .mts and .xmp files… hmmm.

FCP 6 – and QuickTime and iMovie – don’t recognise .mts files… though I’ve read that FCP 7 is more forgiving (downloading it now).

I was looking for a solution that didn’t loose quality, didn’t take ages, didn’t mean converting/rendering the files several times… and didn’t entail using some skanky converter app… some of which seemed to recommend disabling (the in my book ‘de rigeur’) Perian QuickTime component ?!

After the “Log and Transfer” I was able to open the resulting .mov files in FCP’s “Capture Scratch” folder and check their configuration in the QuickTime Movie Inspector window: –
Format: Apple ProRes422, 1920 x 1080, Millions, 16-bit Integer (Little Endian), Stereo (LR), 48.000 kHz
FPS: 25
Data Rate: 122.96 mbits/s

So how best to convert directly from .mts to this config… so that FCP could load and play these files immediately?:

  • I came across the Apple ProRes QuickTime Decoder 1.0 for Mac“The Apple ProRes QuickTime Decoder software allows both Mac and Windows users to play Apple ProRes files through QuickTime.” – but this is redundant on Snow Leopard… and is for only for decoding and not encoding;
  • A search for ”mts“ at osx.iusethis.com listed several tools for converting the mts format – but all were shareware and non particularly popular… and though I looked at a couple such as Wondershare Video Converter Pro for Mac and the MTS to MOV Convertor Mac I really wasn’t convinced.
  • VLC will play .mts… and convert from .mts (though not very well);
  • Adobe Media Encoder – which I have installed but not used before – seemed to offer lots of presets and customisable settings – albeit a bit .FLV format focussed… but while noted for future use was both too restricted and complicated for this job;
  • but surprisingly for me I found that Toast 10 both plays and converts them easily… (here’s a YouTube! video demo) and in the end this was my solution… and though Toast on my everyday Mac didn’t offer Apple ProRes 422… once I switched to my production machine with FCP installed I had the codec available and was able to set up a custom QuickTime Movie export setting as above… et voilà.

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