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Most of my video editing programs simply take the stream (.MTS) files from my camera's AVCHD videos. I can confirm the imported video/audio are exactly the same if the program has access to the whole directory structure or simply the MTS file and nothing else. In fact, no program even touches the other files (my filesystem saves the time the file was last accessed).

But everywhere everyone says that all the other files are important, that by saving only the MTS files i can lose information. What information am i losing?

And if there is any information to be had, is there any way to get rid of AVCHD so my other NLV editing programs do not have to care about it (since they obviously can't handle it anyway)? maybe MTS/AVCHD converted to audio + stills (PNG)? what should i use to do that conversion and not lose all that hidden information that is scattered around?

If the specific AVCHD implementation matters, I'm using mostly panasonic cameras (GH2 to GH4).


tl;dr how do you import AVCHD footage into your workflow for maximum flexibility?

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It's possible that with certain Panasonic or MTS-specific software, the associated files are useful. I've heard of situations where Premiere won't import the footage correctly without the full folder structure. I don't have any MTS folders here at the moment to verify for sure, but it's most likely just metadata that the camera recorded.

That being said, I've never had an issue importing an MTS file disassociated from its associated files (and I do this for a living). Fortunately, the associated files and folders are relatively small and don't take much space, so it's usually more trouble to weed them out than it is to remove them.

I'm assuming you're editing in Final Cut, as the rest of the major NLE's can handle the AVCHD codec, and an MTS wrapper, natively. Final Cut's Log and Transfer does a fine job with the transcode and you won't lose anything significant.

If you're using another NLE, the best transcode codec you can use is ProRes, as it's fairly universal and a very high-quality codec. I've also seen guys use DNxHD for visually lossless transcodes, but it's a heavy codec and some machines may have trouble playing it at full speed. Unfortunately, on Windows you're out of luck with ProRes altogether as it's Mac-only.

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  • i tried to import on final cut, to see if i would get anything "else" but no. it is just the same audio/video stream. I can also see a subtitle stream but it has nothing in it. I was hopping for something like lens info and zoom level at each time, but so far i can't see it. almost believing all the AVCHD metadata on that folder is a lie and it is only there to make camera previews faster.... (btw, final workflow will not include finalcut. we demux everything to stills, colorgrade on some other thing i am not familiar with, and then edit in blender) – gcb Mar 25 '16 at 22:46
  • I'm really curious why you edit in Blender? It seems horribly inefficient... – mike.thorn Mar 26 '16 at 2:12
  • The metadata being saved really is just that - thumbnails, clip length and resolution, framerate perhaps, etc. just there to identify and ease ingestion. It has nothing to do with the actual media streams and won't affect sound or image whatsoever if you remove it. – mike.thorn Mar 26 '16 at 2:14
  • @mike-thorn well, i know you are asking with the GUI in mind, and i like the procedural interface, the ease of customization of keyboard shortcuts, etc... but the power of blender is the python api and ease of adding one-off features to the source. Try to do that with prosumer tools from adobe :( – gcb Mar 26 '16 at 2:30

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