I shoot videos with Sony XR520, and I could import my Sony XR520 footage deteriorates to FCE. They are transcoded into Apple Intermediate codec, but the objects appear to be in low resolution. While looking for a proper solution, I notice that the reasons for the low resolution problem could be that FCE 3.5 does not support 1920x1080 codec or the non-native support of AVCHD in FCE.
There are several solutions:
1) upgrade to FCE 4 from older version;
2) transocde AVCHD to 1440x1080 with 29.97fps for FCE 3.5;
3) convert AVCHD to AIC for FCE 4.
MPEG Streamclip is the freeware on Mac to export Apple Intermediate codec (AIC), but it does not support AVCHD very well. The economic solution is to use Aunsoft Video Converter for Mac to convert AVCHD footage to AIC for FCE, which supports 1080 AVCHD videos and converts AVCHD to Mac compatible Apple Intermediate codec.
For guys who may face similar problems when editing HD videos in FCE, here I demonstrate the fast guide to convert and deinterlace 1080i video to Apple Intermediate codec for FCE.
Step 1. Upload Sony files to Mac video converter.
Use USB cable to connect Sony HDR-XR520 to iMac/MacBook Pro, run Aunsoft Video Converter for Mac as the fast Sony XR520 footage to FCE converter. Click the "Add" button to upload .mts files from camcorder to Mac application. The Mac Sony HDR-XR50 video converter also supports .mts and .m2ts files from Apple Macintosh hard drive or external hard drive as input.
Step 2. Choose AIC codec with 1080 video size.
Click the "Format" option, and move mouse cursor to QuickTime Movie Format > Apple InterMediate Codec(AIC) (*.mov) as output format. To get 1080 video, click the "Settings" button and choose 1440*1080 for FCE 3.5, or 1920*1080 for FCE 4. If for FCE 3.5, you may also change frame rate to 29.97 from the drop-down box of video frame rate option.
Step 3. Deinterlace 1080i AVCHD video.
Select a clip on the file list, and click the "Editor" button. Go to the Effect tab and make sure the checkbox for deinterlacing is ticked. To apply to the deinterlacing settings to other files on list, just click the Apply to all button.
Step 4. Convert Sony XR520 video to MOV with AIC for FCE.
Click the convert button under the preview window, the Mac Sony XR520 video converter will start converting 1080i AVCHD videos to MOV with Apple Intermediate Codec with deinterlacing and keeping 1080 HD resolution.
After converting Sony XR520 footage into Final Cut Express compatible Apple Intermediate codec, the importing process is pretty simple and the video and audio are in perfect sync.