Monday, June 07, 2010

Creating a DVD with .MTS files from an HD camcorder

Early this year, we purchased a Canon HF200 HD video camcorder. The quality of the video and pictures is excellent, but the native format of the video (.MTS) is a little troublesome to deal with. Fortunately, there are several programs that allow you to convert .MTS files to .AVI, .MP4, .WMV, or any other more usable video format.

I convert the .MTS files using Free HD Video Converter for Windows and Moyea MTS/M2TS Converter for Mac ($29). I preserve the native high definition resolution (1920 x 1080) of the videos and convert them to WMV (on Windows) or MP4 (on Mac OS X) using a video bitrate of about 7,000-8,000kbps, and an audio bitrate of 256-320kbps, 48khz sampling rate (WMA or AAC codec). I figure that this is good enough quality to then backup the videos onto a data DVD for long-term archival purposes. Plus, I can usually fit about one month of HD video onto a single DVD disc.  Both Free HD Video Converter and Moyea MTS/M2TS Converter have presets to easily convert HD video if you don't want to mess with the technical details of the conversion.

When it comes to actually creating a video DVD that we can use to casually playback the videos, I use Windows Live Movie Maker and Windows DVD Maker on Windows 7 and iDVD on Mac OS X (iDVD 7.0.4, iLife '08). I don't need a fancy menu, I just want a simple DVD that will playback the videos automatically. Windows DVD Maker prefers the WMV video format which I create using the Free HD Video Converter. In iDVD, to create an autoplay DVD, follow these instructions.

Unexpected results in iDVD
In iDVD, I've found that the DVD comes out looking not as good as I expected, with a black frame surrounding the entire frame, and the audio being badly blown out (too hot). Perhaps this is due to some setting in Moyea MTS/M2TS Converter that isn't quite right. More experimentation and troubleshooting is necessary here.

For now, to make a simple autoplay DVD from the HD video files from my Canon HF200, I find myself going back to Windows 7 and using Windows Live Movie Maker, which is just drop-dead simple.  Hopefully, more video editing and DVD authoring programs will support the .MTS format in the future, making the conversion step unnecessary. Windows Live Movie Maker actually does support the .MTS format, but editing full HD video is terribly slow and frustrating. In the meantime, these are the workarounds that have worked best for me.  If you have found a better way, please comment!

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