Final Cut Pro X AVCHD support

Final Cut Pro X is here!

Today we fired up Final Cut Pro X for the first time to see how it goes with AVCHD editing and support.

Getting Started

Final Cut Pro X looks a lot more like iMovie than the old Final Cut Pro.

On startup, you have the Event Library in the top left. This Event Library looks just the same as the iMovie Event Library that you see down the bottom of the iMovie window.

The Final Cut Pro X Event Library replaces the previous Asset Browser window, so that you can now browse assets from all of your imported Events, rather than assets from the open Project only.

In the bottom of the Final Cut Pro X window you have a Project browser, which is similar to the Project Browser you see up in the top left of iMovie. This allows you to open Projects from within Final Cut Pro X rather than loading each Project from the filesystem.

Overall, Final Cut Pro X is very similar to iMovie in the way it deals with Events and Projects. iMovie users will find it much easier moving up to Final Cut Pro X than moving up to the old Final Cut Pro 7.

AVCHD support

FCPX claims 'Native AVCHD Support'. What does this mean?


FCPX can import AVCHD video from an AVCHD camcorder. The difference this time is that FCPX does not have to convert to ProRes as part of the import workflow.

Note that the import process does 'rewrap' the AVCHD video file to a QuickTime container. This means that the video and audio streams from the file are unaltered, but they are re-wrapped to a QuickTime format.

A nice option on Import is the ability to 'Create Optimised Media' when importing. This allows you to convert to ProRes on the way in, if thats what you still want to do. Going to ProRes will still be important when working on older, lower powered Macs.

Final Cut Pro X will still not import a stand-alone AVCHD video file. Importing AVCHD still requires access to the original AVCHD camcorder, or a valid Camera Archive disk structure.


Once you get through the import process, editing is smooth and easy. No rendering is required - the AVCHD just works.

We haven't done extensive edit testing yet - that will come soon. We will look at mixing AVCHD formats (e.g. 1080p and 720p) on the timeline.

Exporting your finished Movie

FCPX gives you some basic exporting options from within the application, but to do anything fancy you still need to use Compressor. Compressor is a Apple's full-featured video converter available via the App Store.

FCPX now includes AVCHD DVD exporting from the Share menu. You can take a project and create an AVCHD DVD which will play back on most Blu-ray players. You can also create a Blu-ray disc, but you need to have an external Blu-ray burner for this.


FCPX is now $300 US. Compressor (multi-purpose video converter) and Motion (for titles and special effects) are $50 each. No sign yet of Color (used for colour correction and tuning in video), but Color is only for Pros.

That brings the new 'Final Cut Studio' equivalent to the grand total of $400, down from $1,200 for its previous version.

FCPX, Compressor and Motion are only available on the Mac App Store. This is great news as you only have to buy it once and you get it on all your machines. Its not such good news if you installed Final Cut Pro across many machines under different Apple IDs in the past (not that anyone would do that).

As a side note, Compressor is now available for the first time as a stand-alone app. This means that for $50 US, you can now have a top quality video converter from Apple without having to buy Final Cut Pro as well.

What happened to Final Cut Express?

Final Cut Express used to be $200 compared to $1200 for Final Cut Studio. With FCPX now down to $300, Apple doesn't need to provide a 'budget' version of Final Cut. At $300, FCPX is now a realistic 'step up' option for home video editing enthusiasts as well as any video editor that needs something more than iMovie.

Wrap up

Final Cut Pro X now supports native editing of AVCHD video, but still requires you to import from a Camera or Camera Archive. If you have stand-alone AVCHD (.MTS) video files, you are stuck.

You can now create AVCHD DVDs from a Final Cut Pro X project. These DVDs will play in Full HD on most Blu-ray players sold today.

Final Cut Pro X contains improved, but not complete AVCHD support. Final Cut Pro X still does not support the workflow of 'Editor to HDTV playback' without going through a Blu-ray player or AppleTV (not that AppleTVs are anywhere near Full HD capable). The Shedworx Full HD playback workflow is still the best way to go straight from an edited Project to playback on a HDTV.

Overall, Final Cut Pro X is far easier to get started with than its predecessor, Final Cut Pro 7. It will be interesting to see what the Pros think of it, but for the prosumer and part-time video editor, Final Cut Pro X is a winner.

3D Editing on a Mac - RevolverHD

Panasonic was first to the home 3D camera market with its HDC-SDT750 (also called the TM750) 3D camcorder. We put up a quick review back in November 2010 and now it's time to show you how to edit 3D!

The Panasonic camcorder came with some software to do importing from the camera and simple edits on a PC but, as usual, nothing for the Mac. We've updated both Cosmos and RevolverHD to take care of this.


First, go and shoot some footage. Keep in mind the limitations of 3D - there is no zoom and the depth of field is quite shallow so you need to keep your subject between 6 and 10 feet away.

Once you have your footage, it's time to get it off the camera and into your Mac.

If you want to try this 3D game out, but you don't have a 3D camera, feel free to download our sample disk image containing 3D footage straight from our camera. You will need a Panansonic 3D TV to view the results though.


There are two ways to do this - using Cosmos or doing a manual copy from the camera's filesystem to your Mac.


Fire up Cosmos and plug in your camera. Cosmos will do the rest!

Manual Import

Plug in your camera and wait for the SD Card to mount as a drive. Drill into the drive and go into PRIVATE/AVCHD/STREAM to find the video clips. Copy the whole lot to your hard drive somewhere for safe keeping, then eject and switch off your camera.


Now load up your clips into RevolverHD. If you use Cosmos to import and manage your clips, just navigate to the album containing your clips and right click to 'Send to Revolver'.

If you imported manually, find your MTS video clips and drag them onto RevolverHD.

Once your clips are in RevolverHD you can run a preview and set in/out points to trim the clips as required. If you find some dud clips in there, just remove them from the list.


Your simple edit is now complete and it's time to export.

We have added a special TV Export option for Panasonic TVs to create the file structure that Panasonic requires for 3D playback.

The export that you create will playback directly on the TV, straight from your USB drive, so go and find a USB drive and stick it in your Mac.

Click on TV Export in RevolverHD. On the next screen select Panasonic as the TV type and select your USB Drive as the destination for your Export.

RevolverHD now does its magic, trimming your clips then putting them into a structure to play back on your TV.

Eject your drive and plug it into your 3D Panasonic TV. Enjoy!

The process described here works just as well for regular 2D high definition video too. For quick edits and perfect quality HD playback, its a great way to go.

Digital SLR vs Camcorder video - which is the best for you?

For the past 12 months we've been using our regular HD Camcorders and also some of the new Digital SLR video cameras.

The Digital SLRs are very impressive video cameras, but there's some gotchas.

This review pits the Panasonic GH-1 Digital SLR against the Panasonic HDC-SDT750 (also sold as the TM750) HD Camcorder.



The TM750 weighs in at 450g while the GH-1 is 850g. In fact, the GH-1 lens weighs more than the entire TM750. If you've ever had to shoot a long scene with your camcorder, this is a big deal. In our real world tests, it is easy to hold up the TM750 in one hand for long periods. The GH-1 takes two hands to hold it for for long periods and eventually gets too hard!


The TM750 camcorder has powered zoom while the DSLR is manual. This means that you really can't zoom while shooting with the DSLR, while its easy with the camcorder. Even on a tripod, zooming on the DSLR moves the camera far too much to keep shooting.


The DSLR has a narrow depth of field (DOF) which gives you the 'professional' look where your subject is in focus while the background isn't. The problem with this is that the camera has to work hard to auto focus, especially in a moving scene.

The camcorders on the other hand have a very wide depth of field (like a compact still camera) so don't need to do much at all to keep the subject in focus.

The result of all this is that DSLRs really struggle in high movement scenes while the camcorders do a very good job.

Shooting Conditions

In a crowd

Because of it's narrow DOF, the DSLR will find it impossible to auto-focus into a crowd scene. It will always focus on the nearest person, leaving everyone else out of focus. If you have to shoot someone in a crowd you will have to go to manual focus. Manual focus isn't easy with a video camera.

The camcorders do a good job in a crowd because the whole crowd will be in focus, so you can just zoom right in to your subject.

Action scenes

In fast moving scenes the DSLR falls down again because of it's need to continually auto focus. Te camcorders shine again due to their limited need to change focus as subjects move around.

Powered zoom on the camcorder lets you shoot one-handed and zoom, allowing you to keep tracking your subject. The DSLR requires two hands to hold and zoom, and you will probably lose your subject when you bump the camera around.

Video Quality

For this article I'm going to look at video quality under action or high-movement scenes. This is the technical bit of the article. The short answer is the GH-1 struggles while the TM750 does a good job. Read on to find out whats going on under the hood...

When shooting video yourself, panning is not good. You should avoid panning as a rule since it creates too much movement and the consumer cameras just can't handle it.

Having said that, if you want to take a sport or action video, panning has to happen.

DSLR video cameras (and cheaper camcorders) suffer from what is known as 'rolling shutter'. This is caused by the image sensor taking some time to record each frame, and the sensors scans from top to bottom. It means that the image recorded at the bottom of the frame is slightly different to the image recorded at the top.

Camcorders are less prone to this due to a number of reasons but the main one being that the high-end consumer camcorders use multiple sensors (rather than one for the DSLRs) and have built-in processing software to deal with this.

Rolling shutter, and a number of other problems that come up with fast panning, can be reduced on any DSLR by using a higher frame rate (the GH-1 can shoot at 50 frames per second) and higher shutter speeds. The manual controls on the DSLR video cameras are very good and you can control shutter speed, just like shooting still photos. If you do this remember that shutter speed on a video camera works the same as for your still photos - go too quick and you will not get enough light.

With its 3 sensors and better video capture, the TM750 camcorder easily out-performs the GH-1 in this area. Its more than out-performing too. Fast action shots at Full HD (1920x1080, 25fps) on the GH-1 just don't work. The quality is almost unwatchable.


The Panasonic GH-1 got rave reviews from Indy filmmakers all over the world because it gave them professional video results with a $1,500 camera. These rave reviews made it look like the new DSLRs would take over the home video world.

Under ideal conditions (like you get when shooting a movie) the GH-1 is outstanding. See our Parrot video for a sample. Put a DSLR video camera in the real world and the story isn't so good.

Throw in busy scenes, fast moving subjects, camera panning and low light and the traditional camcorders look a lot better.

If you need a video camera for all those usual things like family events, sports, holidays and so on, I recommend a top of the line HD camcorder. Panasonic is still our number one choice, but you won't go wrong with a Canon or Sony.

If you want to get creative and take control over your movies, the Digital SLR can be for you.

For me, it's back to the HD camcorder for regular video shooting. The GH-1 will be our special project camera.

Final Cut Pro X coming soon

Final Cut Pro X is due for release anytime now - even Apple is talking about June 2011.

What does this mean for you?

We will be doing a review as soon as it comes out to let you know exactly how FCPX fits in with your workflow and the Shedworx product line.

Final Cut Express no more

Firstly, it looks like Final Cut Express will disappear. This means home users looking for 'something better than iMovie' will have to shell out $300 instead of $200. We've been using Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro here at Shedworx for years now and for the home or semi-pro user, there is no practical difference between Final Cut Express and Pro.

So, it will be more $ required to move up from iMovie.

The Mac App Store

Final Cut Pro X will be sold through the Mac App Store. While it will cost more than its predecessor (Final Cut Express) the Mac App Store will let you install on more than one computer (legally).

Native AVCHD Support

Final Cut Pro X is rumoured to have native AVCHD support. This should mean no more transcoding to ProRes.

This has been a long time coming and is why we developed Cosmos from the ground up as a Native AVCHD movie manager. With Final Cut Pro X no longer requiring transcoding, all the native AVCHD video in your Cosmos library will be very easy to 'Send to Final Cut' when you are ready to edit.

Our guess is that native AVCHD will be coming to iMovie'12. Again, Cosmos will fit in just fine.


The demo at the NAB Supermeet in April hinted at some keyword tagging within video clips as a way to highlight subclips of interest.

We will look into how this works and see if there is a useful way to transfer keywords from Cosmos into Final Cut.

Wrap Up

Final Cut Pro X will be a huge step forward for the high-end editors. For those of us who just want something better than iMovie, the ability to edit native AVCHD will probably be the biggest improvement.

The user interface looks like it could be easier to use than the current Final Cut Pro, but we'll need to see it first.

We will put out a series of Final Cut Pro X guides aimed at people like you - people who need a better editor than iMovie, but don't spend much time editing Hollywood blockbusters!

iMovie and Full HD editing

So you bought the best HD camcorder around, shot some great movies and got them imported into iMovie. The editing went just fine and now it's time to share your masterpiece with the world.

So all you want to do is get that HD movie out of iMovie and playing on your TV. That should be easy right?

Well, no.

The Apple way...

  1. Share out of iMovie to AppleTV (iMovie->Share->Export Movie)
  2. Add to iTunes
  3. Go to your AppleTV and watch your movie

What's the catch? Firstly, you need an AppleTV.

If you're happy to shell out the $100 or so for an AppleTV, there's bad news. Apple isn't interested in helping you watch your movies in Full HD. Apple created the AppleTV so you could rent movies off iTunes.

Your AppleTV runs at a maximum resolution of 1280x720 (often called 720p) but your movie was shot and edited at 1920x1080 resolution (or 1080p). The Share option out of iMovie is even lower at 960x540.

But wait there's more. The AppleTV requires your movies to be at a maximum bit rate of 5Mbps, but you camera shot the movie at 20Mpbs.

What does all this mumbo jumbo mean? When you watch you edited movie on an AppleTV it is running at one tenth to one quarter of it's real resolution.

Don't believe us? Plug your camera directly into your TV using a HDMI cable and take a look. Compare this to your AppleTV movie. The AppleTV is closer to standard definition TV than HD TV.

There has to be a better way! And of course there is.

The ShedWorx way...

RevolverHD can take an exported Full HD (1080p) movie from iMovie and create a top quality Full HD movie that will play on most TVs and Blu-ray players.

It's as simple as this...and you don't even need an AppleTV.

Export from iMovie using QuickTime conversion (Share->Export Using QuickTime...)

Set up your Export type to "Movie to QuickTime Movie" then click the Options... button.

You need to set up an Export as follows:

  • H.264 Video, Size 1920x1080 HD
  • Audio to LPCM, 16bit, 48kHz

Here is the RevolverHD User Guide if you want to see the QuickTime screens for these settings.

Do the Export and drop the new movie into RevolverHD.

Now you can:

  1. Burn a high definition DVD to play on a Blu-ray player or PlayStation3
  2. Export for Panasonic TV
  3. Export for Sony Bravia TV
  4. Export for PlayStation3

All of the TV Export options require you to copy the export onto a USB drive for playback on the TV or PS3. RevolverHD helps you with this.

The Results

We can't show you how this all looks on a big screen HDTV, so we've uploaded both the AppleTV and Full HD samples to YouTube. Even with YouTube's low bit rates, the quality difference between the AppleTV 540p and Full HD 1080p movies is clear (Go full screen to get a feel for what they will look like on a big TV).

Make sure you go to 1080p resolution once playback starts - otherwise you will only get 720p

Getting Technical

If you want to know how this works, here you go...

Firstly, we create an AVCHD movie from the QuickTime export. This is a very fast conversion because we do not re-encode the video stream, just rewrap it from a QuickTime container to an AVCHD (MTS) container.

Our rewrap process relies on Revolver being given a movie with the right video and audio codecs for AVCHD. Revolver checks the video and audio codecs when you add the movie to Revolver.

Next, we take the new movie and put it into the required file structure for playback on a TV. We set up variants of this file structure as required by the different brands of TV.

RevolverHD also supports the creation of an AVCHD DVD which is special format DVD that can play HD movies on a Blu-ray player.

Thats it! Download Revolver now and see for yourself. We're sure you'll be impressed!

RevolverHD 2.1 Released

RevolverHD 2.1 is out now. This is a free upgrade!

RevolverHD 2.1 is a big upgrade and includes the following new features

  • QuickTime to AVCHD conversion - in a major step forward, Revolver now let's you take a Full HD QuickTime export from iMovie or Final Cut and create a Full HD AVCHD movie that will play on almost any HDTV directly. Playing HD movies back on your HDTV is not well supported by Apple, so Revolver fills this gap.
  • TV Exports - Revolver can now take AVCHD video clips and package them up to play back directly on most new HDTVs.
  • 3D - we have updated Revolver to support editing and playback of Panasonic 3D footage. Using Revolver you can load up 3D clips from a Panasonic 3D video camera, trim clips as required, then create a TV Export that will play back on your Panasonic 3D TV. This is a first for the Mac!

This update includes an update to the user interface to make Revolver a lot easier to use and master.

In-depth technical HOWTO articles will be coming out over the next couple of weeks to help you take advantage of these new features.

In the meantime - download RevolverHD now! It's free for existing users and if you haven't tried Revolver before, now is the time to try! A free demo is available.

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