Importing & Editing AVCHD Video

by Whitney Anderson on March 18, 2010

So, you have a camera that takes HD video in AVCHD format…now what do you do with it?  I have a Canon HF-200 that takes pretty good HD footage for a $500 camera.   We have a cinematographer for big projects, but we have the Canon to use for small projects.

I had trouble with this for months on my PC.  Most readily available editing software packages do not support AVCHD.  I ended up using Pinnacle Studio 12 on my PC.  It does support this format, but editing was a pain as it took forever to render.  It was very disappointing because it was a real pain in the butt to edit a simple video.  I also understand that Adobe Premiere Elements works ok.

I didn’t worry too much about it because I knew I would be getting a Mac soon.  I got the Mac and I have Final Cut Studio 3 installed.  However, Final Cut doesn’t read the AVCHD either.  Not on its own anyway – I’m sure there might be a plug-in or something you could buy.  So, I knew iMovie was supposed to support it, but i couldn’t get it to import.  Finally I read somewhere that it will import it directly from the camera.  That worked!  But, how annoying – it will not import footage previously saved to the server or the hard drive.  But, it will if it’s on the camera and plugged in or from the SDHC card in a reader.  So, now I can import the footage as it’s taken and have the files in .mov format and then I can edit using iMovie or Final Cut.  (Please note that older versions of iMovie do not support AVCHD.)

How to Import AVCHD footage using iMovie ’09

  1. Connect camera to power and via USB to computer. Click the Connect to computer on the camera.  (Or, put the card in a card reader.)
  2. If Import dialog doesn’t come up, go to File – Import from Camera.
  3. For optimize video, select Full – Original Size.