Fast backup your AVCHD camcorder video to DVD

Darren Yates shows you how to backup AVCHD camcorder footage onto a DVD-R disc and play it in any AVCHD-compatible Blu-ray player.

AVCHD camcorders are everywhere thanks to the likes of Panasonic, Sony and Canon. They capture full HD (1080p) video to a special Blu-ray style format on the camera’s storage. But what’s brilliant about this format is that it doesn’t take much to backup your raw footage onto DVD media in a format that will play on any AVCHD-compatible Blu-ray player or PlayStation 3 games console.

The trick is to stick with 4GB and 8GB flash cards for your recording option. By sticking with these capacities, you can quickly turn videos captured on these cards into single- or double-layer DVDs – all without any conversion process. That means all of the original resolution of your video is retained.

The process

Getting AVCHD camcorder footage to AVCHD disc is a fairly simple two-step process: first, you need to get rename the camcorder files into correct AVCHD naming format and second, you burn the final folder onto DVD using ImgBurn, which you can grab for free from (you need version or later).

PART 1: AVCHD renaming

Here’s a quick-fire list of the process you need to follow first:

  • Create an AVCHD root folder on your PC’s hard drive
  • Copy the BDMV folder from the camera storage to your AVCHD root folder.
  • Create a subfolder CERTIFICATE inside the AVCHD root folder.
  • Create a subfolder called BACKUP in the CERTIFICATE folder.
  • Inside the BDMV subfolder, rename INDEX.BDM to “index.bdmv”
  • Inside the BDMV subfolder, rename MOVIEOBJ.BDM to “MovieObject.bdmv”
  • Change extension of all MPL files in the BDMV/PLAYLIST folder to “mpls”
  • Change extension of all CPI files in BDMV/CLIPINF to “clpi”
  • Change extension of all MTS files in BDMV/STREAM to “m2ts”
  • Create the subfolders BACKUP, BDJO, AUXDATA and JAR inside the BDMV folder
  • Copy Index.bdmv, MovieObject.bdmv and the PLAYLIST, CLIPINF and BDJO folders to the BDMV/BACKUP folder.

PART 2: Burning the disc

There are few disc burning tools better than ImgBurn. But what it makes it so good is that it’s about the only freeware app available that can burn UDF (universal disc format) discs to conform to the Blu-ray standard. When you burn your discs with this process, not only will you have a perfect backup of your original video footage, the disc will play in any AVCHD-compatible Blu-ray player (just look for the AVCHD logo) or any PlayStation 3 console. Just follow the Step-by-Step box to burn your discs.

HOT TIP: Setting video capture rate

To ensure your Blu-ray player will handle the AVCHD disc, you need to limit the video capture bit rate to 17Mbps. Some higher-end consumer cameras will offer a 22-24Mbps option however, anything beyond 17Mbps will see frame jitter during playback because the bit rate exceeds the 18Mbps total audio/video rate allowed for DVD media on Blu-ray players.

AVCHD and TV playback

More recent Panasonic TVs support AVCHD playback from SD card and USB flash drive so instead of burning the AVCHD folder to disc, try copying it to the root of an SD card or USB flash drive and giving it a go. In some cases, you may not even have to rename the files in Part 1. Note this only works on Panasonic TVs with specified AVCHD support.

For other TVs, copy the .m2ts files from the BDMV/STREAM folder to your USB flash drive and give them a go. If they won’t play, try a network media player or convert the .m2ts files into a playable format such as .mp4.

STEP-BY-STEP: Burning the modified AVCHD folder to disc with ImgBurn

avchd-1STEP 1: Launch ImgBurn and select Write Files/Folders to Disc.






avchd-2STEP 2: Load in a blank DVD of appropriate capacity into your PC or notebook’s DVD drive and choose the Options tab on ImgBurn. Set the File System to “UDF”, UDF revision to “2.50” and press the third icon down in the Source box to look for your AVCHD folder.



avchd-3STEP 3: Select your folder and press the big “build” icon underneath the Source box.





avchd-4STEP 4: Change the UDF volume label to something you like and press Yes to burn the disc. Once the disc has finished burning, load it into your AVCHD-compatible Blu-ray player or PS3 games console and it should automatically begin to play.

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