Right now PC and Mac based editing systems don’t have built in support for HDV (though it’s around the corner for sure), therefore, you have to jump through some hoops if you want to ingest HDV footage into your Mac or PC right now. I work with a Macintosh G5 and Final Cut Pro HD, so I’ve used the following workflow based on my research and advice from the folks at Rule.
HDV to Final Cut Pro HD workflow summary: (1) ingest the footage into Mac using the DVHSCap capture utlility which creates MPEG-2 Transport (m2t) files; (2) convert the MPEG-2 Transport (m2t) files into QuickTime files using the MPEG Streamclip utility; (3) import the files into Final Cut Pro HD for editing. A more detailed explanation with links follows.
Here are the details: Apple’s Developer Kits page includes a link to the “FireWire SDK 19 for Mac OS X” developer kit which you can download. It includes the DVHSCap utility you need to ingest HDV footage from the HDR-FX1 into the Macintosh via FireWire. DVHSCap will create files in the MPEG-2 Transport (m2t) format, therefore an additional step is required before you can import the files into Final Cut Pro HD. You can covert the m2t files into any number of formats that are frame based and therefore suitable for editing. The actual format depends on how and what you are editing, however, two good candidates are the DVCPRO HD 720p and DVCPRO HD 1080i components, which are included with Final Cut Pro HD or the HD update. A good utility to use to convert the transport files into QuickTime files is MPEG Streamclip by squared5. This utility will convert MPEG transport streams into muxed, demuxed, QuickTime or DV files so you can then import them into Final Cut Pro HD, DVD Studio Pro, etc. By the way, this utility requires the Apple MPEG-2 Playback Component (which comes with Final Cut Pro 4, HD, and DVD Studio Pro). MPEG Streamclip will let you set in and out points so you only need to covert the footage you need.
MPEG Streamclip’s default settings are fine for starters, but there are some optional settings you might consider using. If you are scaling an interlaced MPEG file to a different height (for example, downconverting an HDV original to SD) you can tell MPEG Streamclip to preserve the interlace and scale each video field separately by checking the “Interlaced Scaling” option which will reduce artifacts. Another option to consider when converting an interlaced MPEG file is “Reinterlace Chroma.” By checking this option you enable a special remapping of 4:2:0 chroma so it will be divided correctly between the two video fields. This is an option only for the most finicky viewers who might notice the difference. If you have an interlaced MPEG file, you will want to deinterlace it if you plan to convert to a progressive format (e.g. DVCPRO HD 720p). When you check this option the utility enables a motion-adaptive deinterlacer and it deinterlaces the lower field in the parts that contain motion, and preserves video quality for the parts that do not contain motion with the upper field left unchanged. This option slows down the conversion, but I think it’s worth it. If you are changing the height of file (vertical scaling) you must enable either “Interlaced Scaling” or “Deinterlace Video.” If you don’t, you will see some unpleasant artifacts in the final results. Try doing some experimentation and this will all make more sense.
I can report in my experience so far MPEG Streamclip works like a charm, having converted several files with it into various formats, however, be prepared: it’s time consuming. High quality conversion requires a lot of processor cycles, so choose the options carefully. The program has good documentation available via the Help menu.