AVCHD video editing in Final Cut Pro

Getting video out of the NEX-6 to work with in Final Cut Pro X

To a large extent it was much easier to work with the video clips taken with the Canon 600D as they were discrete files that could be identified, copied or moved and worked with immediately in Final Cut Pro X. Things are a little bit different with the NEX-6 where the video is recorded in the AVCHD format. When you connect the camera up to the computer in order to get the files off and you go to the correct folder within the camera system all you see is one file called AVCHD. There could be a number of video recordings within this file, but you still only see one file which grows as you add more videos to it as you shoot them. I have been using an app called Free AVCHD to Mov and there are others that you can buy ranging between 5 or 6 dollars to 50 dollars. Since using this app has been useful and does what it is supposed to do I will probably get the paid for version if I continue using it.

Free AVCHD to Mov

Importing AVCHD files into Final Cut

It is possible to import directly into Final Cut Pro X the videos contained within this AVCHD file, but there are advantages in using software to convert those videos into the Apple pro res format. It does take some time to convert these video files and you do end up with files which are quite large. I have been doing some testing on importing videos into Final Cut Pro using both methods, first of all copying the AVCHD file from the SD card onto my Mac and then using an application to convert that file into the Apple pro res format and also by importing directly from the camera into Final Cut Pro X. For professional work obviously you’re going to use the Apple pro res as there is much more information contained within the file and you will get a better final product. On the other hand when you’re actually using Final Cut Pro X with a file that has been brought in from the camera through the import tool, the video clip will come in as a H.264 and to be honest for the sort of work that I do it looks like it will be plenty good enough. I can save space by just working with the smaller files and as far as I can tell Final Cut Pro X works just as well with the h.264 files as it does using the larger professional codec files. So to a large extent it really depends upon what the final destination is of your movie. The stuff that I work with tends to get output to YouTube with the resolution of 1280 x 720 so it looks like I will be just saving time by not having to convert them.

QuickTime conversion

Convert AVCHD to movJust for fun I did a right click on the AVCHD file and saw that there are a few apps on my computer that will open such files. QuickTime was in there and so I gave it a go. I was given the choice of which video clip I want to see in and chose one of them. It opened really quickly and I was able to play the video. I then decided to export the movie and I could choose the size. I went for 1080p but there were other lower resolutions available too. I got a file that was 18mb in size with a data rate of 14.58 Mbits per second. Then I did a save and it saved out at the same dimensions but with a higher data rate of 25Mbits per second. Either of these files could be used in video editing software.

The file that came out of the Free AVCHD to Mov is 460MB and the data rate is 365.1 Mbit/s. Quite a difference! The audio was at a different sample rate and the frames per second 50. When I did a save from Quicktime the frame rate came out at 49.9 which isn’t correct and may or may not be a problem.

So you can convert the AVCHD video to .mov clips for free and even without downloading any extra software. When importing the video clips in Final Cut you get the better quality as you would get from QuickTime so it could be the best approach to take for video that will be going to YouTube.

I have read in the Apple forums where there are people who undoubtedly know better than I do have said that it is better always to convert to the Apple pro res format. With that in mind I will be converting some of the jobs that I do into both formats and testing to see what gives me the best end result.