AVCHD is a file format (Advanced Video Coding High Definition) used by many high-definition video cameras, including the Canon Vixias that we loan from the Tech Commons. It allows recording devices to capture sharp, professional-quality video, but it creates a package of files that are not easy to manage or playback once the recording is done.
In some cases, you can capture video in the more user-friendly MP4 format, but the quality is not as high, and there may be other limitations. For example, our Canon Vixias limit recording in MP4 format to 29 minutes. So if you’re capturing an event that is 30 minutes or longer, you have to use AVCHD!
In most cases, you cannot, and should not, attempt to drag-and-drop AVCHD files from a video camera onto a workstation and immediately try to play or share them with others. The videos probably won’t play, and you could miss companion files that are required for editing/playback later. They need to be processed first! Video editing applications like iMovie, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premiere have “import” functions that make this easy. Just connect your camera to your computer, start a new project, and then import the AVCHD video.
If however, you don’t need/want to edit the video, and you just want to “download-the-video-and-go!”, we have a solution. It’s a simple application, available on all Macs in CL240, called ClipWrap. In just a few clicks, you can convert complex AVCHD files into stand-alone MOV files, without any generational loss of quality.
To convert AVCHD files to MOV:
- Connect the memory card from your camera to your workstation. You can either use a card reader or cables supplied with the camera.
- Open ClipWrap. Its icon looks like a video tape with disguise glasses over it!
- Position the memory card window and ClipWrap window side-by-side on the desktop.
- Drag-and-drop the “private” folder from the memory card, into the ClipWrap window. ClipWrap will automatically detect each of your video clips, and display them in the window.
- Click the Add New button, and select Desktop as the Movie Destination.
- Select Rewrap (Source Format) from the “Format:” drop-down menu.
- Click the Convert button.
When the progress bars all turn green, the process is complete. You can transfer your new MOV files to an external USB hard drive, and/or to UCSF Box.
NOTE: The name of the folder than contains your AVCHD video files may vary from camera to camera. The “private” folder mentioned above is specific to our Canon Vixia video cameras.