I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

All I want is to take all of the video from my Canon HF100 and burn it to a simple DVD so I can show my parents-in-law tomorrow on their TV. But I won’t be able to, because this 3-hour iMovie export just failed for no good reason (error code negative-something), and I don’t have enough time to sit through another one with slightly different settings to see if it works.

AVCHD is proving to be a bigger pain in the ass than I expected when I bought the camera. I don’t think I can recommend cameras that use it until QuickTime natively supports AVCHD and .MTS files, and there’s no guarantee that it ever will. (Sorry, Lauren, for having already recommended this camera to you. Hope it’s working out better for you than it is for me.)

Here’s the process of doing anything with this video, which is a tremendous pain in the ass and massively time-consuming:

Note that none of this is Canon’s fault, and supposedly the process is better with Vegas on Windows. This should be embarrassing to Apple, and I hope AVCHD support is dramatically improved in the next versions of iMovie and QuickTime.

Many people find that their standard point-and-shoot digital still cameras with video-clip-recording capability are sufficient for their video needs. There’s a reason for that. Point-and-shoots usually record movies as standard AVI or MOV files using the simple, widely supported Motion JPEG codec, which basically just records every video frame as a JPEG image. Doesn’t get much simpler than that in 2008. iPhoto imports them, sticks them right alongside all of your still photos, and plays them perfectly well whenever you want in QuickTime Player.

Granted, they’re not recording HD resolutions, and Motion JPEG would probably be too large at 1920x1080/30p to be efficiently encoded or reliably written to flash in real time. This is exactly what H.264 is for. But clearly, AVCHD’s complex folder structure and readable-by-nothing .MTS container files aren’t the only option: the upcoming Canon 5D Mark II SLR shoots 1080p/30 into standard, QuickTime-supported H.264 in MOV containers, and it’s not even a dedicated video camera. Surely, video-camera designers can come up with something better than AVCHD that can be implemented practically in their consumer lineups.

AVCHD’s time with me is limited. Economics permitting, I’m selling the HF100 as soon as I can buy a 5D Mark II. It’s a shame, because other than its incredibly inconvenient output format, it’s a perfectly nice camera.