HDV Workflow

This post was published more than a few years ago (on 2009-06-04) and may contain inaccurate technical information, outmoded thoughts, or cringe takes. Proceed at your own risk.

Quick word of advice.

If you’re ever editing anything shot on HDV: NEVER EVER capture low-rez DV proxies and expect to recapture in HD clean at the end. Yes, I know the HDV decks have that hand-dandy feature to downconvert to DV over firewire. DON’T DO IT. NONE of these HDV cameras seem to record clean time code, and it will never match back exactly. If you HAVE to do it via proxies (and I can’t think of a compelling reason why), crash dub all your source tapes with clean TC to something sensible first, like HDCAM or DVCproHD. Of course, then, you’re adding a generation of compression.

Better yet, just capture the HDV as native HDV to begin with. It’s only about the same data rate as DV. There’s really no reason not to — the native HDV data is the best your footage is ever going to look. If you’re worried about rendering issues, I suggest editing in a ProRes timeline in Final Cut Pro. The HDV plays as a realtime preview, no problem, and all your renders go to ProRes, so no crunchy graphics or chroma resolution issues, and your final master QuickTime gets rendered out as ProRes. Yay!

If you really need to edit in another format because your corporate overlords demand it, capture over SDI, or do a transcode before you start editing. But then, have a load of drive space available and edit in your final format. Trying to match back timecode to an HDV master is just asking for a world of hurt. Believe me, I know.

Enough ranting for now. Back to eye-matching HDV…