Editing Sony NEX-5n 60p Footage in Final Cut Pro X

Sony NEX-5n

The more I use the new Sony NEX-5n, the more I like it (notwithstanding the clicking problem).  One thing that really makes the NEX-5n stand out among competitors is the ability to capture HD video at 1080/60p (i.e., 59.94 progressive frames per second).  This makes for smooth motion, but also gives you the option to conform to footage to a slower frame rate and get some cool slow motion in your 24p projects.

With the recent update to Final Cut Pro X, I was hoping that Apple would add support for additional codecs, like the relatively new (yet, increasingly popular) AVCHD 2.0; however, it did not.  As a result, working with video from cameras shooting 60p AVCHD 2.0 footage (like the Sony NEX-5n) brings a bit of a problem when importing the files from your camera.

I’ve already covered how to import AVCHD files into Final Cut Pro X; however, working with AVCHD 2.0 files at 60p requires another step to get the footage into FCP X.  Still yet, it’s not so bad.

Converting AVCHD 2.0 Footage for FCP X

The quick workaround is to use the free Media Converter app and download the “Re-wrap AVCHD for Quicktime” preset, which takes your .MTS files and converts them to H.264 Quicktime files.  You can then import the files into Final Cut Pro X like an ordinary .MOV file from a Canon DSLR (i.e., File > Import > Files…).

Working With 60p .MOV Files in FCP X

Once you have the footage in FCP X, you can play it back at normal speeds in the event preview window.  When you find the portion of video you want to use, select the range you want or mark your in/out points.  Then drop the footage into your timeline.

At this point, we’re still in normal editing in FCP X.  If you want to produce the slow motion effect from your 60p footage, you’ll need to make sure your timeline was created as a 30p or 24p timeline.

When you drop the 60p footage into the timeline, you’ll notice that nothing changes.  It still plays in the timeline at normal speed, which is OK if that’s what you want to do.  FCP X will handle rendering the footage out at 24p without missing a beat.

Conforming 60p NEX-5n Footage to 24p or 30p

To conform the 60p footage to 24p (or 30p):

  1. select the clip in your timeline that you want to conform,
  2. then click on the “Retime” button with the dropdown arrow and select “Conform Speed.”

FCP X Conform Speed

If you have a 24p timeline, you’ll note that the orange “retime bar” above your clip now says 40%.  For 30p timelines, it will say 50%.

FCP X Retimed 60p

Play the footage and you’ll see that nice smooth slow motion effect.

If you used the Media Converter preset with audio, you’ll note that your audio has been slowed down, which can be quite funny with dialog – particularly since FCP X maintains the original pitch.  In most cases, overcranked footage works best without the original audio.  Obviously, this is one scenario where the Sony NEX-5n’s clicking noise isn’t an issue.  Hopefully, Sony will fix this soon.

We’ve been using the Canon 7D for 720p footage at 60fps for a while. And while the 7D has performed admirably, the NEX-5n makes the other APS-C cameras a bit obsolete in the overcrank department.

The NEX-5n offers one of the most affordable ways to get 1920×1080 footage at 60p.  I suspect a lot of folks who rely heavily on overcranked footage in their productions are going to be all over the NEX-5n.

The Sony NEX-5n is available from Photography Bay’s trusted retail partner, B&H Photo, at the following link:

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Eric,

    thanks for this write-up. I’ve tried re-wrapping AVCHD files before (from my Alpha 55 most notably, you can get a sample .mts file from here: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/AA55/AA55VIDEO.HTM)

    The problem is that ffmpeg always complains:
    “Application provided invalid, non monotonically increasing dts to muxer in stream 0: 1 >= 1″

    The same happens when I use your suggested workflow with “Media Converter”.

    Any idea why this is happening or how this can be fixed?

    Thanks and best wishes,

    Florian

    • says

      No quick answer for you on this. I’ll let you know if I come up with something. Depending on what editing program you are using though, you may be able to import the A55 files since they are 60i files and not 60p like the NEX-5n.

  2. says

    Thank you for putting up this tutorial. I do have Sony’s HX9V which I want to assume that it’s the similar file codec (AVCHD, 1080p/60p capability) and while I was able to use Media Converter, the file does not play on Final Cut X’s timeline. Instead, the video is entirely black [although audio does play].

    Any ideas? Would greatly appreciate the help!

    Cheers!

  3. Danny Grizzle says

    Eric: thank you, thank you, thank you! This is an excellent tutorial, and it solved all my problems!

    BTW – I just ran a test with a Sony HX9V, and the procedure works flawlessly. One note: it is necessary to copy the entire enclosing folder from the camera onto your local hard drive. It will not work processing directly from the camera’s memory chip. Once the enclosing folder is copied to your computer, simply drag the entire folder onto the Media Converter input icon. Video will be automatically processed and results saved inside your Movie folder, unless you set Media Converter preferences otherwise prior to processing.

    The Sony HX9V is a wonderful video camera, and great for run and gun situations where grabbing a shot is more important than shallow depth of field. I’m loving the 1080 60p video, and holding out for a Sony NEX-7 soon as it becomes available. In fact, I’ve already brought 9 Canon FD lenses out of retirement and purchased NEX lens mount adapters!

    These Sony cameras rock. I own an obscene amount of equipment, but there is no bigger bang for the buck than the Sony HX9V!

  4. says

    I’m currently waffling between the 5N and NEX-VG10. 60p/24p in the 5N is interesting but the form factor, no in-cam stabilization, lack of I/O acc ports etc. is a bit of a concern…

    The intended use is for a 22 y/o son of mine to start producing music videos with a “film quality” type of look, but probably never to see anything other than You Tube etc. Suggestions welcome!

  5. Juan Leal says

    I couldn’t install the “Re-wrap AVCHD for Quicktime” preset as it “failed to create ‘presets’ folder”. Used ClipWrap and everything works fine, but its a pain to edit in FCPX. So unless you need to do slow mo or something specific I would stick to a lower quality.