Save my video project, please!
May 3, 2012 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Newbie video person here, having loads of trouble. I have some video files in .mts that I would like to edit in Windows Movie Maker (or, if I must, in iMovie) and then publish on YouTube or Vimeo. I need to convert them first, since they won't import correctly into either program. What free program do I use to do that, and what should I convert them into to make the editing and then uploading as pain-free as possible?

I've been fiddling with this stuff for days. I searched the archives, found several threads along these lines, and downloaded several converters.

The best of them converted the videos but didn't attach the audio right. The worst came with a virus that had me spending the rest of the night trying to system restore, realizing it had corrupted my hard drive so that I couldn't system restore, and then trying fix the corruption. It took about four hours, but I managed to system restore back to a working computer.

I obviously got rid of all the software and don't remember which of the four or five converters I downloaded did what, but I did try Super, Any Video Convertor (sp?), and Format Factory amongst some others. So please don't recommend those again.

I have a Dell laptop and would prefer to use it to edit and publish, and thus would use MovieMaker.

I am not that familiar with Macs, but if you guys think I really need to, I can use a Mac/iMovie to edit and publish... HOWEVER, it would be a school Mac so I would have to be able to use only existing software already on the Mac to both edit and publish (as they block admin rights).

Either way I need to convert them on my own computer, first. Because I can't download anything onto a school computer to convert, and they don't have anything on there that can do it.

So... what reputable, virus-free but also free $ software can convert .mts files, and what do I convert them to? .wmv? .mp4? .mov? I want to convert them just once and then be able to edit and publish without converting, again, to publish.
posted by vegartanipla to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not actually sure but .mts are, but MPEG Streamclip, is free, easy to use, and just a fantastic conversion tool. Can't recommend it enough.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:07 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately, MPEG Streamclip doesn't work with .MTS files.
posted by Cortes at 5:11 PM on May 3, 2012

.MTS is tough. They're basically camera encoded files that work best with the original camera file structure. When they're that way, they can be processed in Final Cut and several other editing programs.

However, without the structure, you're way more limited. Basically the likelihood is you're not going to be able to find a free program. I work in television, and I spent a whole day looking for a free MTS converter before finally realizing we needed to purchase one.

If you choose to go that route, I would recommend Aunsoft's MTS Converter. It's $29, but it works like a charm, and will convert it to pretty much any format you want.
posted by dithmer at 5:25 PM on May 3, 2012

It looks like mencoder can handle these.
posted by pompomtom at 5:29 PM on May 3, 2012

I have a system that processes M2TS files, which I think are very similar. I use ffmpeg to convert them to MPEG4 or MOV. But I'm on OS X and get ffmpeg through Fink. If you can find a source for Windows, here's the basic formula:
ffmpeg -y -fflags genpts -i $INPUT -deinterlace -s '1440x1080' -vcodec libx264 -sameq -shortest -acodec libfaac -ac 2 -ab 128k -ar 44100 -f mp4 output.mp4

posted by sbutler at 5:34 PM on May 3, 2012

Well, in theory .mts is a subset of MPEG-2 Transport Stream (i.e. it's a file container, not a codec / compression type - it usually contains MPEG-2, MPEG-4, or VC-1 encoded video, but can contain almost anything). So something like tsdemuxer or ProjectX should be able to demux it into separate audio & video files. Then you should be able to import it into any suitable editor / encoder.
posted by Pinback at 5:52 PM on May 3, 2012

If you're not in a hurry, and not short of bandwidth you can upload them to youtube and either edit them online or download them again as .mp4 files.
posted by samj at 3:38 AM on May 4, 2012

Best answer: Have you tried Handbrake?
Or, if you still have the files in camera, import them into Final Cut on the school computer and use that to export to a format your PC can use.
posted by glasseyes at 5:12 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So I went to the digital faculty and asked for help. They were trying stuff, VLMC, etc, and couldn't get anything to work. I imagine that eventually they'd have come up with something, but after they had tried and failed a few things, I mentioned I had an AskMeFi question on it and brought up the thread. After browsing it, they pulled up Handbrake as suggested by glasseyes, and tested it out to positive results. It appears thus far (fingers crossed, am in the process as I type) to be working!

Since it converts to mp4, I'm probably going to go to school and use iMovie to edit because converting takes ages and I don't want to have to convert it all twice to be able to use Movie Maker.
posted by vegartanipla at 4:57 PM on May 4, 2012

Response by poster: Aaaannnddd.... just in case anyone needs help later on, Handbrake worked but iMovie still didn't read the files. Then I did something I'm surprised no one suggested and trial downloaded Sony Vegas Pro. Boom. Though obviously it's a once-off fix, I plan to never use this horrid little .mts recorder again so hopefully in the future MovieMaker or iMovie will be sufficient.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:37 PM on May 15, 2012

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