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Old October 5th, 2010, 02:20 PM   #1
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HDV and "Apple" HDV

I recently discovered that if I capture HDV footage in Final Cut Pro it is not compatible with any codecs in Final Cut Express, which uses the Apple HDV Intermediate codec.

Are there any technical advantages to capturing in Apple's HDV codec rather than the "official" (for lack of a better term) HDV codec? I mean other than transcoding to another format? Are there any disadvantages?
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Old October 5th, 2010, 04:47 PM   #2
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AIC is the codec (which covers a number of TV formats) and FCE uses that when it captures HDV data streams. Quite frankly, if FCE doesn't recognize QuickTime HDV or ProRes then you have to use the AIC codec. It's not a bad codec but ProRes is better.
William Hohauser - New York City
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Old October 6th, 2010, 12:51 AM   #3
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Apples Intermediate Codec is not HDV. HDV is a long GOP MPEG2 (m2t) stream, AIC is frame based.

When you output HDV it has to calculate each edit relative to I-Frames, every eight frames, which can take forever.

If you can capture via firewire from HDV and encode to AIC in realtime, that's a better way to go. I don't know if you can do that in Express. ProRes is a much better way to go but the data rates and file sizes are significantly larger and since your acquiring in HDV which is 4:2:0 there's not really much benefit to it.

It kind of depends on what your doing, if you edit HDV natively a one hour project with 500 edits can take four hours to conform and it never fails that there's a bad frame ad you have to re-conform the entire project, FCP doesn't save the conform the way it does a Quicktime.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 04:43 AM   #4
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As you found out, capturing to Apple Quicktime HDV restricts you to Apple computers with Final Cut Pro installed. I know that iMovie can edit Apple Quicktime HDV as long as FCP is installed, and I was under the impression that Final Cut Express and Premiere Pro could do the same. Question for you, are you importing your Apple Quicktime HDV files into FCE using a machine with FCP installed? Yes I know that's a Catch-22, but I'm just wondering.

The main advantage of capturing to Apple Quicktime HDV is that it is the original data recorded by the camcorder. Additionally it is easily editable on most current Apple computers and doesn't take up much hard drive space.

Transcoding to AIC increases the file size by 3x or more. But it does ease the load on the computer, editing on the timeline can be bit smoother. Generally for 2-3 tracks of editing you won't notice much of a difference between AIC and Apple Quicktime HDV. Both are 4:2:0.

Transcoding to ProRes also increases the file size by 3x or more and can also make editing on the timeline smoother. But at the higher bit rates, ProRes can also quickly max out your computer's performance. The main advantage to ProRes over AIC and Apple HDV is that it has a 4:2:2 color space which can give you better quality special f/x and color correction. But with HDV material, you may not notice a significant difference between AIC and ProRes.

On the PC you can capture HDV as an .m2t file which tends to be universally accepted by most NLEs. Unfortunately, the Apple has chosen to go their own way, and made an HDV wrapper that doesn't play well with others.
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Old October 7th, 2010, 01:55 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses. Just so you know what triggered this, I'm a college professor who teaches video and audio production. We have a computer lab where I teach editing on Final Cut and After Effects.

Anyway, last week I loaded I loaded a bunch of high def HDV video onto the hard drives of all the computers, which only have Final Cut Express. When the students imported them and tried putting them in the timeline, they got the red line and the unrendered video wouldn't play back. So everything had to be converted to the Apple codec to work. Kind of a pain.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 05:05 PM   #6
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I've never used FCP Express, but is it similar to FCP regarding Sequence settings?

What happens if you have a red bar and you hit Option-P? Does it play? Can you choose Sequence settings in Express?

What generated the HDV files?
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