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m2ts conversion

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Josh Huff
m2ts conversion
on Jan 11, 2011 at 1:12:48 pm

I have a hd video recorder and it stores the video files in the .m2ts format. They import into After effects and premeir fine. My question is there a way to render it back to the orginal format. I have been through all the setting and after editing a file I would like to save it in the higest quality possible. It doesnt make sense to save it in quicktime or windows format. The file gets a extremely large, instead of the orginal 45 megabyte file it will turn into 4 gigabytes. which make it impossible to view on my computer anyway it runs super slow. My question is is there a lossless format to export it as without having such a big file. I like to use the .FLV and f4V but this has to be lossless because it decreases the size so much. I just want to store the edited clips for easy viewing later.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 11, 2011 at 4:43:17 pm

The terms "high image quality" and "small file size" are pretty much mutually exclusive. If you do work in video, you have to get used to that fact.

M2TS is an HDV acquisition format. It's meant to get the video, and that's about it. It doesn't hold up under repeated re-rendering, so it's a poor choice.

If you can reveal what you'll be doing with the completed video, we might be able to offer some suggestions on workflow.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Josh Huff
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 11, 2011 at 5:06:05 pm

Well I will primarily be using it for the web. I would like to prepare some of the files to submit to the stock video sites. I am not sure the best way to go about it though. I am not real familiar with video, so I wanted to know an acceptable format to use to store the video in case I need to use it in the future. I would also like it to look good on the television.

Like I said it just seems strange that when I export it to .mov which seems to be the standard for stock footage, it gets so much bigger then the original file size. I am just trying to develop a workflow.

I would assume then the taking the footage from a finished DVD would make for bad rendering. If a 30 second clip in the best .mov format is over a gigabyte.

I'm sorry if my question seems stupid or hard to understand, for I myself am having a hard time understanding what it is I am trying ask.


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Josh Huff
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 11, 2011 at 5:19:29 pm

I think I understand now.
The standard hdv capturing format is ok for storing the file and viewing the file. It should be converted to an uncompressed format before editing though.

What should be done in the following example. I have a 5 minute video clip and I only want to keep say 30 seconds of it. I should convert the original .m2ts file to an uncompressed .mov file then edit out the part I want. Would re-compressing it loss any quality when it is viewed, or uncompressed again for more editing.

I am just trying to establish a method for editing and storing the video without loosing any quality


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Josh Huff
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 11, 2011 at 5:40:12 pm

Not to keep responding to myself but I read an article here about the workflow I am trying to achieve. I don't have any of that software I was hoping I could do something similar with the Adobe suite. Is there a way to convert multiple files that will save time. My PC is several years old and it take about a few minutes per second to render a file to an uncompressed .mov using after effects.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 11, 2011 at 7:33:51 pm

Rather than telling us what you don't have, I recommend telling us what you do have.
  • Cameras you intend to use
  • Computer: make/model, processor(s)/cores, amount of RAM, drives & capacities, OS & version number
  • Application software you currently use & version numbers
  • Capture cards & graphics cards
  • Utility software: (quicktime, quicktime pro, etc.) with version numbers

Then we can start diagnosing and recommending

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Kevin Camp
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 11, 2011 at 8:26:25 pm

the stock video companies may (and probably do) have specs for formats and codecs that they want you to use, they also probably have specs for frame size and frame rates and such, so you should probably check out what they recommend for final delivery.

since premiere will work fine with codecs like hdv, you could start there with the raw footage, and edit your shoots there. then export just the portions you want to a higher quality, higher bit rate codec. if you can't go with lossless, try quicktime photo-jpeg (around 95% quality) to work with in ae.

if you don't need to take the shot to ae, photo-jpeg may is also a common codec for stock footage, so depending on what stock site you are uploading too, that may be fine for them too (they may have different quality settings based on frame size/frame rates, so check those specs out).

if a site requires compression like h.264, mpeg2, or similar, then you should do that compression from a high quality source file (like lossless or photo-jpeg) with a compression utility like adobe's media encoder, sorenson squeeze, mpeg-streamclip or any number of utlities that will do a multi-pass encode to the necessary codec and container (.mov, .mp4, etc.).

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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Josh Huff
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 14, 2011 at 5:13:40 pm

Thanks this kind of clarified some things for me. I just couldn't understand the point of converting the hdv to uncompressed Avi creating a 15 - 20 gigabyte file to simply cut out the bad footage. I will try just editing it in Premier first. What about adjusting the color curves or brightness. Should I decompress the file before doing this, or is it just recommended to decompress before editing when adding effects like adding a light or keying. Based on what I read here it is not a good idea to do any keying before decompressing. Sorry like I said I am just having a hard time understanding when to bring in the footage in uncompressed format, and when it is ok to edit the original format. I appreciate the time and advice everyone has to offer as it it would consume a lot of time to experiment with trial and error.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 14, 2011 at 6:41:53 pm

As long as you're cutting in Premiere, just cut the footage down and export in the codec, pixel aspect ratio and H&V resolution specified by the client.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Kevin Camp
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 14, 2011 at 6:55:42 pm

generally speaking, codecs like h.264, hdv, and pretty much any of the mpeg-2 variants aren't good 'working' codecs, and preferred workflows would involve converting them to a codec that does not use temporal compression, like uncompressed, lossless compressed, photo-jpeg, prores, dnxhd, or even dvcprohd (those are common ones, but there are others). this is largely due to further loss as you have to render transitions, effects and composite with graphics.

while this does pertain to nles too, it is more important when after effects is in the workflow. with temporal compression, not every frame actually has all the pixels. pixels that don't change much from frame to frame get dropped from many frames, this helps keep the file size and data rates down. you don't notice it when you view the footage, since the codec fills the missing pixels in from the other frames.

after effects, however, will work much better if it has whole frames to work with and doesn't need to do the work to fill in those missing pixels. also, the less compression you have on footage, the less time ae has to spend decoding each frame, so rendering can often go faster with uncompressed/lightly compressed footage, however, drive speed is also a factor (larger files require faster drives to maintain speed).

so, if you are looking for a basic rule to follow for an ae workflow, export just the portions you need to ae from pp as lossless animation or photo-jpeg quicktimes. render back to the same from ae, then import those into the nle, which will probably convert them to it's working codec for fater playback.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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Josh Huff
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 15, 2011 at 4:32:20 pm

Thanks for all the help I think I understand the basic principles now. However I am still having a hard time getting my clips to look good in the quicktime format. The camera I am using is a HDR- XR150 not the best but it it fits my small budget. I import the file into Premier as an AVCHD 1080i30 Anamorphic. This should be the correct format as there is no red or yellow bar at the top in the timeline. It still plays sluggish in Premeire though. I made a few color corrections then I trim the comp for the part I want then Export to quicktime with photo-jpeg codec with the following settings.
Width:1920
Height:1080
Frame Rate: 29.97
Field Type: Lower first
Aspect: I changed to square pixel because my orginal footage was anamorphic 1440.
Quality: 90

The problem is the clouds get real pixelated in the .mov format. If I export to lets say an h.264 codec the movie looks perfect no distortion in the pixels. Is this because I did a color correction first, should I always convert it to .mov before adjusting any color or brightness. I have a better understanding of the compressed version versus raw format now. I just don't understand why it looks worse in .mov format. The other thing that still gets me is it runs super slow when I view it in quicktime, very laggy and skippy. When I view other stock footage that I have downloaded in .mov format at similar sized files they play smooth. This is what leads me to believe I am doing something wrong. Viewing my exported .mov file a 20 second clip with the above settings with 100% quality yields a file size of 252,716. A file I downloaded is 10 seconds long and has a file size of 250mb it runs perfectly smooth on my machine. When I view my file it looks like it just shows the key frames from the compressed hdv. Sorry for the super long thread I am just trying to get a handle on this thing so I can actually produce something useful. Thanks again for everyone's time and help.


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Kevin Camp
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 17, 2011 at 8:34:54 pm

try a basic workflow test. use premiere only to edit an avchd clip and export to a lossless mov using the native resolution and pixel aspect.

bring that into ae, double check that ae sees the footage the same (use file>interpret footage>main to view clip properties) and render that back out to a lossless mov making sure that the render settings match the original footage (particularly fields and aspect ratios). then import that back into premiere and see if it looks the same as the original clip...

it should look nearly identical, if not then there is some trouble shooting to do... if that looks good, then you can start working photo-jpeg into the workflow to see if that can work for you.

don't worry about how any intermediate step plays in quicktime (even photo-jpeg files are fairly high data rate), if you need it to play smoothly on your computer, then you'll do that kind of compression in the last step to get it ready for delivery or for final approval.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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Josh Huff
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 18, 2011 at 5:31:33 am

Thanks again for all the help. I think I finally solved the problem I did one more sweep on the internet. My conclusion is that Photo-jpeg does not work well with anamorphic HDV mainly in Premiere. I read that if I bring it into AE to a 1920x 1080 square pixel ratio then Interpret the footage as the anamorphic ration and manually scale it to fit the comp, it will then export nicely to photo-jpeg format. Just the difference in file size from Premiere to AE in the photo-jpeg format is great. With the best photo-jpeg settings in Premiere I was getting a file size of 25 Mb for a 8 second shot. In AE I am getting 80 Mb. So I guess my work flow will consist of just bring everything into AE. Unless I have a lot of slicing to do then I would prefer to do that inside Premiere because I like the razor tool now If they had a razor tool inside AE that would be great. Well I guess sometimes the solution are the ones that make no sense. Thanks again everybody for helping me figure this out.


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Josh Huff
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 18, 2011 at 3:10:05 am

Thanks for all the responses. I still am puzzled it is not the speed at which my computer plays it that concerns me, it is just the quality of it. I tried your advice and exported a video to Uncompressed YUV 10 bit 4:2:2 but even when I open that it looks horribly pix-elated. I made sure that I used square pixels with 1920x1080. When I export to h.264 profile 5.1 even with a low data rate of like 18 mbs it looks 100 times better. It just doesn't make any sense of why it looks so horrible in .mov format. I think I am just going to give up on exporting it in .mov format I thought it was the better way to go it is just consuming so much time going through every setting in there. It doesn't run all that smooth when I export to h.264 mp4 but like you said that can be changed later I just want to preserve the quality of the file, and me the standard requirements for the stock footage sites. Any other ideas are welcomed other wise we can just retire this thread. I have way to many hours into just exporting one single video.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 18, 2011 at 4:14:59 pm

What does it look like on a video monitor instead of a computer monitor?

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Josh Huff
Re: m2ts conversion
on Jan 18, 2011 at 4:19:16 pm

I'm not sure to be honest, haven't got that far yet. What would be the best way to preserve the video in its current state while putting it to DVD?


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