M2TS is a filename extension used for the Blu-ray Disc Audio-Video (BDAV) MPEG-2 Transport Stream (M2TS) container file format. It is used for multiplexing audio, video and other streams. It is based on the MPEG-2 transport stream container. This container format is commonly used for high definition video on Blu-ray Disc and AVCHD.
The BDAV container format is a modification of MPEG-2 transport stream (ITU-T H.222.0 | ISO/IEC 13818-1) specification for random-access media, such as Blu-ray Disc, DVD, hard drives or solid-state memory cards. It is informally called M2TS.
In order to optimize the storage size, the format uses variable rate (VBR) Transport Streams instead of the typical constant rates (CBR) found in MPEG-2 TS broadcast. To be able to reconstruct a T-STD compliant constant rate Transport Stream for playback the arrival timestamp (ATS) of each packet needs to be recorded.
The standard MPEG-2 TS 188-byte packet is prefixed with a 4-byte extra header to a total size of 192 bytes. The header consists of a 2-bit copy permission indicator and the 30-bit arrival timestamp with a resolution of 27 MHz.
The BDAV container format (.m2ts) is a standard used on Blu-ray Discs. Blu-ray Disc titles authored with menu support are in the BDMV (Blu-ray Disc Movie) format and contain audio, video, and other streams in BDAV container (.m2ts), which is based on the MPEG transport stream format. The BDAV container is also used in the BDAV (Blu-ray Disc Audio/Visual) disc format, the consumer-oriented alternative to the BDMV discs. BDAV disc format is used on BD-RE and BD-R discs for audio/video recording.
The BDAV container with the filename extension.MTS or .m2ts is also used in AVCHD format, which is a high definition digital video camera recorder format. AVCHD is a simpler form of the Blu-ray Disc standard with just one video encoding algorithm and two audio encodings. Compared to Blu-ray Disc format, AVCHD can use various storage media, such as DVD media, memory cards or hard disk drives. The BDAV container contains videos recorded using AVCHD camcorders, such as Sony's HDR-SR(xx) series models. Panasonic, Canon, and other brands of AVCHD camcorders also store recorded video in BDAV container format. There are some problems with AVCHD compatibility between brands.
The BDAV container format used on Blu-ray Discs can contain one of the three mandatory supported video compression formats H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, or SMPTE VC-1 and audio compression formats such as Dolby Digital, DTS or uncompressed Linear PCM. Optionally supported audio formats are Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD High-Resolution Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio, and Dolby TrueHD.
The BDAV container format used on AVCHD equipment is more restricted and can contain only H.264/MPEG-4 AVC video compression and Dolby Digital (AC-3) audio compression or uncompressed LPCM audio.
The names of M2TS files are in the form zzzzz.m2ts, where zzzzz is a 5-digit number corresponding to the audiovisual clip. This number is also used in the filename of an associated clip information file "zzzzz.clpi". (This number can be a date and time stamp of when the video clip was recorded.) Each stream has its own file.
Files in AVCHD format use legacy "8.3" file naming convention, while Blu-ray Discs use long filenames. This is why the filename extension of video files is ".MTS" instead of Blu-ray Disc's ".m2ts". Also, other files use different extensions: .CPI – .clpi, .MPL – .mpls, .BDM – .bdmv.
The M2TS files on a Blu-ray Disc are placed in the subdirectory "STREAM" of the "BDMV" (or "BDAV") directory, which is at the root level. (e.g. \BDMV\STREAM\00001.m2ts or \BDAV\STREAM\00001.m2ts) On some AVCHD equipment, the "BDMV" directory is located in the "AVCHD" directory, which is placed at the root level (e.g. \AVCHD\BDMV\STREAM\00001.MTS).
Almost all commercially produced Blu-ray Disc titles use a copy protection method called Advanced Access Content System, which encrypts the content of the disc (including M2TS files). Software that supports M2TS files usually works only with decrypted or unencrypted files. Blu-ray Disc software players can usually play back encrypted content from the original disc. Video content created using AVCHD equipment is commonly unencrypted.
Currently, M2TS files can be played using the Picture Motion Browser, which is an application video player provided with Sony AVCHD camcorders.
Most M2TS files can be played with ALLPlayer, MPlayer, VLC, PotPlayer, and other media players, depending on used compression formats in an M2TS file. Some players will need an appropriate codec, component, or plugin installed.
Current versions of Nero Vision, FormatFactory, MediaCoder, HandBrake, and Picture Motion Browser are capable of converting M2TS files into MPEG-4 files, which can also be viewed using the aforementioned media players. On August 2012, VLC media player 2.0.1 could convert .m2ts files into MP4 as well. DVDFab (at least premium) can also convert .m2ts to various other formats, including .mkv or .mp4.
Sony products Media Manager PRO for PSP, Media Manager PRO for Walkman, and Mobile Media Manager PRO are all capable of converting M2TS format to MP4 files.
M2TS format from Sony is not necessarily the same as that of Panasonic or Canon camcorders. However, programs like Sony Vegas Pro and AVS Video Editor can open and edit both Sony M2TS files as well as for Panasonic M2TS files. (Sony Vegas Pro v.9 is also capable of reading and editing M2TS files produced by Canon Vixia Camcorders.) The only other piece of software known currently to handle both types is Pinnacle Studio 12 Ultimate and Cyberlink Power Director, starting with v8.
M2TS files can also be played on Sony PlayStation 3s, Sony Bravia TVs, Western Digital WDTVs, Xtreamer media player, Amkette FlashTV HD Media Player, and Panasonic Viera TVs supporting playback of AVCHD.