LAFCPUG: HD Formats FAQs
Can't capture HDV Video.
When I try to capture my HDV footage into FCP all I get is a black screen. What gives?
Most likely answer :
From Jude Cotter
Check if your deck is set to 'i-Link Conversion'. This setting causes the deck to down-convert HDV to DV automatically. If this is not what you want, turn it off.
Also, make sure that your project is set up to capture HDV, not DV.
More detail :
From Christina A
With the Canon XH A1 you CANNOT change the settings that you NEED to change if the camera has the FireWire cable plugged INTO it.
- 1. You FIRST need to disconnect the FireWire cable, then put your camera on VCR/Playback mode.
- 2. Click on the menu button and go to SIGNAL SETUP. (Since you do not have the FireWire cable plugged in, you can NOW change 2 important settings needed to import HD footage).
- 3. Under SIGNAL SETUP, scroll down to PLAYBACK STD. Click on that and make sure the HDV is set. NOT the AUTO, it most likely will not import under AUTO. Once the HDV is set, you're half-way there.
- 4. Next go back to SIGNAL SETUP and scroll down to HD DOWN-CONV and click on this. Make sure it is OFF. Once you set this, you're done.
- 5. Go back to SIGNAL SETUP and check this settings to make sure they read:
- PLAYBACK STD HDV
- HD DOWN-CONV OFF
- 6. You can now plug in your FireWire cable and you will see after a few seconds that these settings turn "gray" and you cannot change them.
Q. What are the differences between all of the HD formats and which one do you recommend I use?
From Jude Cotter HD is a huge and still growing field. For currency of information (and because it’s easier!) we recommend the excellent HD FAQ at
From Graeme Nattress
HD currently has two frame sizes - 1920x1080 and 1280x720. However, it's much more complex than that because of two things - some tape formats sub-sample and don't record the full rated resolution, and the nature of interlace.
HDCAM is nominally 1920x1080, and that's the size of image you get off the HDSDI ports, but it's stored on tape as 1440x1080, making it a subsampled format. HDCAM SR, the more expensive version of HDCAM does record the full 1920x1080
DVCProHD is 1280x1080 or 960x720 depending on version used. It subsamples further than HDCAM, but uses a lower bit rate too. D5 is Panasonic's full raster 1920x1080 or 1280x720 format, but doesn't appear in any camcorder, but only as a deck for mastering to.
HDV comes in 1280x720 (ie full raster 720p) or 1440x1080 subsampled 1080i, like HDCAM.
Next there's the issue of interlace. 720p is always progressive, hence the p, and can range from 24 to 60 full frames per second depending on format. This makes every frame clean, and it compresses very well.
Most 1080 formats are 1080i. That means they're interlaced, so store each frame of 1920x1080 (or 1440x1080) as two fields of 1920x540. However, it's not as simple as that, as before each field is made it is vertically filtered which reduces it's resolution to about 70% of what it started with in an attempt to reduce the nasties of interlace flicker (twitter). This means that the measurable resolution of 1080i is something like 1920x700 or 1440x700 or so, so effectively a lot of pixels are wasted on blurred data, and given the issues of compressing interlaced video makes the overall video harder to compress.
Some 1080p formats are properly 1080p, and don't do interlace or it's vertical filtering and store the full resolution. These are mostly used for digital cinema, although it's still below what is normally considered the minium for cinema use - 2k.
What's the best workflow for working with HDV?
What's a good workflow for working with HDV on my Mac?
From Graeme Nattress:
Although many people recommend getting out of HDV as soon as you can, what is usually best for HDV is to edit nativly. Yes - this works fine, as Apple have done a superb job on the codec to make it work right. Then, right at the end of editing, you change the timeline to uncompressed, re-render, and output to your high end HD deck. Quality is maintained as best as possible throughout the whole process, and you don't need a massive raid while editing, only at the end.
Dubbing to HDCAM or DVCProHD might simplify workflows for some people, but is detrimental to image quality (and resolution if you dub to DVCProHD) - dubbing to D5 or HDCAM SR might be fine for quality as they're very lightly compressed, but the others are not. HDV even stores colour with a better sampling than HDCAM!
Also look at:
Apple has very good "White Papers" (PDF) on HDV Workflow including a FAQ. Download it by clicking the below link.
Also read Charlie White's tutorial titled "Native HDV on Final Cut Pro 5"
Capturing HDV into ProRes via Firewire by Andrew Balis