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Premiere and AVCHDLight (.MTS Files)

As I’ve already mentioned previously, I like to get good quality products on the cheap and find solutions for such. In this case, a collegue via Twitter (@beryll) posted about his issue with .mts files (an AVCHDLite format) and while I know very little about AVCHD, I do know it’s becoming an increasingly popular recording format. Naturally, I figured I’d take a stab at coming up with a workflow for it.

First of all Premiere does not support .MTS files natively.  Also, AVCHD is highly compressed so you probably wouldn’t want to edit in it anyway. With FCP, you can capture ProRes4.22. Nice quality, easy on the system, which additionally, is recommended when working with HDV on FCP as well.  I feel in this case, AVCHD sort of falls into the same category as HDV on Mac= The Suck. So I took my current HDV workflow and attempted to accommodate AVCHD into it. Here’s what I came up with and I’ll preface this by saying, you can’t make a crappy video less crappy, you can only make it LOOK less crappy:

Convert to .MP4 via Handbrake: settings I used were x.264 codec, 3200 kpbs, large file size with 2-pass rendering. The output file looked identical to the source with the exception of perhaps less compression artifacting in a few details. (Question for anyone reading this: any idea what Handbrake does when it “converts”?)

Then, and here’s where it’s gets controversial because it’s the second transcode before editing! But it looks BETTER than the source with WAY less artifacting. This is also exactly what I do with my HDV (.M2T ) files:

Convert to .MOV via MPEG Streamclip: settings I use are Apple Photo-JPEG codec, 75% quality, Re-interlace Chroma, unscaled (if 60i footage, you have to designate frame rate). The footage is mostly uncompressed, maintains a decent file size and is a breeze to edit. The resulting footage also looks better than the source with, as I mentioned, quite a bit less artifacting.

If anyone as a different tapeless workflow for AVCHD in Premiere, I’d love to hear it!

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©2019 by Jay Friesen.

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