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HD Holiday Workflow

I recently returned to the UK after two weeks in San Francisco and Las Vegas. Unfortunately the free WiFi in the SF hotel was nowhere near as reliable as hoped with my Macbook so there were no updates while abroad. The hotel in Las Vegas wanted $15 a day for WiFi internet and while there are a few free access points (the two nearby Apple stores being the main ones) I didn’t want to spend my holiday lurking around these.

I now have a lot of photo’s and 1080p video to edit, and it’s a fairly straightforward task. I’ve listed my method here to help anyone else in the same position, as this is the easiest way of managing large AVCHD files I have found.

First a brief recap. My laptop is an original 2006 Macbook using the intel 950 chipset, and the main editing computer is a hackintosh with a Q6600 Code 2 Quad, 4Gig of ram and a 1Tb hard drive. The Macbook is a fine machine to take on holiday, not too large and reasonably powerful. It struggles with 1080p video, both playback and importing into iMovie. The hackintosh has plenty of power and makes short work of importing and converting the video. So the requirement is to save the raw footage on the Macbook for importing into iMovie on the hackintosh once I arrive home. The problem here is that AVCHD footage uses a more complicated file structure than a simple one file per clip, and copying the folders/files to the Macbook doesn’t allow them to be imported into iMovie at a later time.

My solution for this is to make a Disk Image using Disk Utility, a standard part of Max OS found in the /Applications/Utilities folder. A disk Image saved on the Macbook is easily transferred to the editing machine and once mounted the image appears to the OS as a memory card or video camera would. iMovie recognises the mounted image and imports the video. Here’s how to make the Disk Image.

  1. Launch Disk Utility and  connect your Video camera or memory card using a card reader. Select the card/device from the list on the left. Mine is shown as 7.6Gb Myson.avchd_method_1
  2. Select File>New>Disk Image from diskn. The number of the disk will depend on what hard drives you have installed. avchd_method_2
  3. Select where to save the image and give it a name. Something that describes the content is useful, but I use the year/month/day for simplicity. I leave the Image Format as compressed and Encryption as none as these work and it’s only holiday video. Anything more sensitive can be encrypted with a password.avchd_method_3

My video camera is a Canon HF100 that also captures reasonable quality stills. These are included when a Disk Image is made, so all that’s left is to copy images from my Panasonic digital camera to a dated folder each day ready for sorting when I get home. This method of archiving footage for later editing is fast and can be left running while doing other things so doesn’t consume chunks of holiday time. It’s also a great way of saving the raw footage to a backup drive if you need it in future.

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