and I picked up a Canon VIXIA HF200 HD Flash Memory
a bit ago since we didn’t have anything that’d capture decent video and
we wanted something a little more than those little Flip Video deals
that have become so popular.
I’ve been messing around with it and so far I like it a lot. It’s very
light, it’s easy to work with, and the video that comes out of it is
great - we’ve taken some test videos and played them back from the
camcorder directly to the TV and it’s beautiful.
That said, I don’t want to be one of those people who leaves their
videos on the camcorder and just buys new flash memory when it’s filled
up. That’s dumb. I gotta get the videos off the camera onto the
To that end, I looked at what the camcorder records. It uses the AVCHD
format (.mts files), which, from what I can tell, is basically “the
Blu-ray file format.” (Yes, I know that’s a technical generality and
it’s not complete and correct. Just go with me here.) Honestly, I’ve
lost track of all the different file formats for things and what to do
with them all. I have my music in Apple Lossless (AAC) and MPEG-4 (also
AAC, but not)… I have movies in full VIDEO_TS format (which is sort
of MPEG-2 in disguise)… I’ve got some videos that are DivX, some
WMV… and I just want to play the damn things.
So I started some research. Turns out I’m much less “in the know” about
how these things work than I thought. Apparently some formats are just
“containers” like Matroska (.mkv files) and
they might contain video of any format (like H.264) with accompanying
audio of any format (like AAC). ARGH.
When this happens, I start playing dumb. I mean, average people buy
these things and somehow get them to work, right? They don’t go do all
the research I do to figure out what’s what. That means - time to
install the software that comes with the camera.
I did that - installed the bundled
software - and it’s absolute
garbage. The UI is confusing. The manual that comes with the software
doesn’t actually get installed with the software so you have to go
digging on the installer discs to find it. The manual says the software
will work with certain disc formats and file types, but it’s wrong. In
the end, the only thing it does reasonably is copy the original .mts
file from the camera… but don’t move that file once it’s copied over
or the bundled software will lose track of it and corrupt your video
library. Absolute crap.
I went back to research because there have to be real, decent,
non-bundled apps that will do… something… with these .mts files.
Turns out I have a few options (including Nero
9 and Cyberlink
I’m also trying to figure out how to maybe get these things to play
natively on… some device or another. Playstation 3 will play the
files, but Windows Home Server (using old Windows Media Connect) won’t
share .mts files because it doesn’t know them, so I have to sneaker-net
them over to the PS3 on a USB stick. I can install a codec or three and
get them playing in Windows Media Player, but I have to manually do a
File -> Open on them because the extension (.mts) isn’t registered to
anything. (Yes, I can fix that, but should I?) How do I get Windows
Media Center in my other rooms streaming these videos? Is the Cyberlink
After going through all of this, I returned to my original question -
how do average people get these things to work? I decided that they
don’t. The difference between the average person fighting with this and
me, though, is that the average person probably doesn’t care that it
doesn’t work, or gives up in frustration and stops trying. I know enough
to be dangerous and I care that it doesn’t work. That’s a dangerous,
stressful combination. Maybe I need to just stop caring.
But if I don’t care, who will? And, ultimately, what will become of my