Edit AVCHD .mts HD movie files on a Windows PC for free

HOWTO: Edit AVCHD .mts HD movie files on a Windows PC for free

Updated – 10/31/2011

Since I first wrote the article below in 2008, there have been major changes that make things a lot easier to edit and view AVCHD .mts files on Windows.

The biggest change is Windows Live Movie Maker. If you have a fairly recent machine and OS, download it here (as of this writing) and all will be well. It works with .mts files natively and it’s simple enough a novice can create great movies with it.

If you want to edit your movie with a different editor, use Handbrake to convert the movie to a different format first. It’s a wonderful app that also comes in handy for converting your masterpiece to a format your phone will display great after all your editing. Download Handbrake here.

Also, if all you want to do is watch .mts files (or darn near any other format), give VLC a try. It’s lightweight, and works great. Download it here.

My original tutorial, while a bit outdated, is included below for posterity, or in case you are still using really old software the above programs won’t work with.

Brad Hanken

Original Tutorial by Brad Hanken – 07/06/2008

This year, my friend Don Bailey was kind enough to film our 4th of July fireworks in full HD. I was pumped! Immediately afterwards, we copied the file right from his SD card to my network, and were immediately in heaven re-living the show in high def on our TV through our iStar network media tank, which supports AVCHD.

The next obvious step was to upload the file to YouTube. That’s where I ran into a glitch. In past years, my DV video dumped from my older camcorder loaded up fine in Windows’ built in movie maker. Unfortunately, Windows Movie Maker doesn’t as of this writing support AVCHD .mts files. After a day and a half of searching, I finally have the procedure figured out. So, without further ado, here’s how you can edit these files for free without much trouble.

First, download and install the latest FFDShow MPEG-4 codec. This is the biggie. Once you install this, try watching your .mts file in Windows Media Player. If it works, you’re almost there.

Next, install Windows Media Encoder. Follow instructions on the page. You may need to install a patch if you’re running vista. This is the program which will convert your AVCHD files into something usable by Windows Movie Maker.

After you’ve got Windows Media Encoder installed, fire it up. Select Custom Session, and select your file for the Source. (You’ll need to change the drop-down to list all files.) On the output tab, select Encode to file, and type in a name for your new, editable, wmv. Next, select the compression tab. Depending on your ultimate destination, various settings may be acceptable, but I clicked edit and made a custom configuration by selecting Video size Same as video input, upping the bit rate to 8000K, and allowing nonsquare pixel output (since it’s 1440 x 1080 16:9). On the video size tab, I then selected DV NTSC 16:9 with no cropping. After all this, click apply and then click the Start Encoding button on the top of the screen. In what will seem like forever, you should now have a .wmv file that’s editable by Windows Movie Maker! Open up Windows Movie Maker, make sure you change the aspect ratio to 16:9 in options, then edit away!

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