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Mac: Convert MTS for iMovie, Final Cut, or Other Editors

In Mac Desktop, Video on 09/27/2012 at 1:18 pm

What’s an MTS and why would I need to convert it? What is this window with the arrow, and what is “Drag Media”?

Nice, clean interface. Easy.

MTS is the video file format for most consumer HD camcorders (total nerd info dump on this at Wikipedia). You likely have never even seen the MTS files on your HD camcorder if you’re used to transferring directly from your camera from within your video editing application on your Mac.

But if you’ve copied from the camera to your computer without going through your video editing app, then you’ll have orphaned MTS files that most video editors won’t play with. You’ve likely tried going to File > Import and navigating to where you’ve saved them, but they won’t import. You make a sad face.

I have found and tested a tool that does it: Media Converter.

Download the file, unzip it, and put it in the Applications folder.

You’ll need to add the Re-wrap AVCHD for Quicktime – uncompressed Audio preset from Media Converter’s Presets page as well.

Once it’s downloaded and unzipped, to add it to the list of available presets, go to the Preferences in Media Converter and click the Presets tab and then the + button at the bottom of the list.

This will allow you to drag and drop your mts files and have them convert to the format you want and save in the directory you want – you can choose default settings in the Preferences.

Again, to import without this conversion rigamarole, it’s essential to keep the mts video files on the camera or card in exactly the file/directory structure on the card. You can’t just copy the folders to your computer.

There’s a fiddly alternative, but you need to be comfortable with disk image files on Mac OS X. You can make a disk image (.dmg) file of the media cards from your video camera. This completely replicates the file structure, and iMovie/FCP can import from that. Macworld has a good clear article explaining how. Note though that the recommendations in the last couple of paragraphs are superseded by Media Converter. Which is good news for all – except the developers of the $40 and $50 conversion apps.

Leave a comment if any of this isn’t clear.