I am working on a project in which I need to capture 720p HDV tapes to a Mac. The tapes were recorded by a JVC camcorder. I am using a JVC BR-HD50 deck and so far it's working fine in terms of the connections, etc.
However, I'm new to capturing this kind of video and I want to make sure I'm doing it correctly. The test file that iMovie captured has these specs:
Apple Intermediate Codec, 1280 x 720, 29.97 fps, 56.81 Mbps
12-bit Big Endian stereo, 48 kHz, 1.81 Mbps
If these specs are correct, should I export the video with the same codec/specs or change them? The main reason I ask is because I have a little experience capturing 1080 HDV video before, and I seem to recall that it was captured as an MPEG-TS stream. So when I saw "Apple Intermediate Codec" and a MOV extension on the captured test file, I got a little worried.
These files will be provided to a person who wants to edit them on his Mac for his own use (the videos are of his family). So I need to make sure that the videos I provide to him are a) captured correctly, per the video on the tapes, and b) in a codec/format that is simple to work with and compatible with a home user's needs.
Hopefully my questions will be simple for a regular HDV user to answer. Thanks!
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"a lot of people are better dead" - prisoner KSC2-303
I could not get FCP to connect to the deck through any of the capture presets, but I was probably doing something wrong.
I'm 99% positive that the camcorder they used was the JVC GR-HD1. There just weren't any other JVC HDV possibilities for the consumer around the time their tapes begin (September 2004). Online specs indicate: "the HD mode shoots 30p, 16:9 widescreen at 1280x720."
iMovie does ask when I start the project what format I'm capturing (DV, etc.) and I did select HDV 720p.
Update: I got FCP to capture the tapes. The video format is now shown as "HDV 720p30" (instead of Apple Intermediate Codec).
However, I have another problem. Whenever there is a scene change, FCP creates a new clip in the browser panel and doesn't record the first 2-3 seconds of each clip. During those seconds, the capture panel says "Searching for media". When it starts capturing again, the message changes to "capturing clip - now capturing." It's like it loses connection to the deck upon each scene change.
My FCP setup is as follows:
Sequence preset: HDV - 720p30
Capture preset: HDV
Device control: HDV Firewire
Note that even though it is set up for device control, FCP does not seem to be able to control the BR-HD50 deck. I have to manually push play on it before FCP will capture anything. But the HDV 720p capture does not seem to work when I set it to "non-controllable device" either.
OK--so apparently the breaks happen because FCP thinks there are timecode breaks, and it's a common problem with HDV tapes.
This is similar to the reason why I capture all DV material in iMovie these days; FCP would constantly screw up the audio sync whenever there was a (real) timecode break. I'd do that now, but not if iMovie converts HDV 720p material to Apple Intermediate Codec.
Does any Mac user have a capture solution for me that maintains the original video format? I'm running out of ideas.
I would ask: why do you have continuity breaks in your timecode? Is this because of your habit of "shooting-pause-shooting-pause"? Then you should be giving yourself more "cushion" by shooting (as the pros do) prior to "action!". This is the reason WE do that.
HDVSplit and DVHSCap should capture native MTS HDV, and I've heard (not tried) QT X and dvgrab maybe can. Still, you might end up with discontinuity/clip problems there too. Premiere and/or AVID MC can surely do HDV MTS capture (and have been able to for a while), but again, you might have that discontinuity business. That's why I suggested changing your habits.
However, since iMovie (via AIC transcode) seems to be able to gloss over whatever discontinuity there might be, it is a good bet at least ONE of those above might also.
<edit>I forgot to menton: 12bit audio is sub-par. I'm sure iMovie is confused because it is having to transcode from MP2-compressed audio streams on the HDV, but that should be unacceptable as an intermediate choice. 16bit/48kHz should be your standard.</edit>
1) These are not my tapes. I did not shoot them. I am simply attempting to capture them. So while you think I should "change my habits," that does not apply to this situation at all.
2) They are not professional tapes. They are simply home movies shot by a consumer. He would have no reason to know to film a "cushion" because he is not a professional. And most were filmed 10 years ago.
3) Regarding 12-bit audio: again, "my standard" does not apply because these tapes are what they are.
Please read what I wrote about my project before you attack me for not being professional and not shooting film the way "WE the pros" do.
I appreciate your software tips. Thank you.
ETA: Maybe I was not clear originally that the tapes are not mine, but I did mention that the files would be provided to another person, and that the video is footage of his family. My apologies if that left me open to the criticism I received regarding my filming technique.
Last edited by moxiecat; 24th Apr 2014 at 15:27. Reason: Another criticism of "my" work added to previous post.
Apple Intemediate Codec (AIC) really loses nothing and, if you can effect a good capture, then go ahead and transcode to whatever codec the recipient's Mac likes for the particular version of iMovie (or FCP) is installed. 50+Mbps is excessive anyway; you can lose 50% or more of that bitrate and never notice the difference in the real world. Remember that H264 1280 footage looks virtually flawless at 2+Mbps. I watch 1280p movies at 1.3Mbps all the time.
As long as it's staying on a Mac, AIC in FCP is fine.
I disagree about "loses nothing" with AIC. It is 8bit 4:2:0, and though it is Intra-Frame, it IS a lossy form of compression.
Is it sufficient for the OP's needs? Probably. Would I recommend it? Depends on the situation. ProRes is much better quality as a lossy intermediate. Native editing retains (for as long as possible) the original codec's stored quality. The compromise is balancing workflow & ease of editing & storage size along with quality.
That bit about h.264 at 2Mbps is apples vs. oranges blind alley. Inter-frame compression is where h.264 really gets its quality vs. bitrate boost - AIC doesn't have that.
AIC is less ideal because it will twice the size for lower quality (albeit minimal quality loss)
Native HDV will be ~25Mb/s and bit for bit copy of the tape (if he can get it working without the breaks)
Theatrical movies are different than "home video". Home video will be full of noise, shaky camera movements. This makes it much more difficult to compress . With "home video" you usually need to clean it up a bit, fix levels that sort of thing . It's always better to start with a higher SNR
I looked at some of the options mentioned. Some are PC only. I got DVHS Cap to capture, but when I brought the test files into MPEG Streamclip, there were errors that prevented the entire file from being encoded.
Then I tried to play and re-encode the video that iMovie seemed to capture successfully--only to find a second or two of obvious audio sync issues.
It seems obvious that these tapes are seriously flawed.
I'm not sure that I have any other option at this point except to capture the tapes in FCP and "give up" those 2-3 seconds that won't capture at the beginning of each clip. Looks like there is a good reason that FCP is choking every time the "start" button was pushed on the camcorder.
Did you try any of the other capture option settings in FCP? one of them might give you a slightly better capture
Well--that link is about timecode breaks and the ways in which FCP can handle them. I've tried "make new clip" and "warn after capture" but there's just no way to tell FCP, "Just keep capturing and ignore those breaks!" Basically, that link says that there are "ordered timecode breaks, "which aren't really timecode breaks, but FCP sees them as such.
Anyway, there is no way that I can see to get FCP to capture those few seconds of video that happen after each "fake" timecode break.
bummer. do you have pc with firewire you can use? if so try using the program HDVsplit and uncheck the box "scenes split". if not go for the highest quality codec you can have the mac encode to, some form of prores maybe?--
"a lot of people are better dead" - prisoner KSC2-303
The person who will be working with the files is 100% Mac, so I don't really want to introduce another variable into this.
Here's what I got to work the best. I would appreciate advice on the final codec, however.
I connected the JVC BR-HD50 deck to a Blackmagic converter via the HDMI out. Blackmagic to the Mac via Lightning. The clips capture as Pro Res 422. All the other specs seem fine: 1280 x 720, 59.94 fps (which is probably not the right frame rate, but it looks OK).
The test clip that I captured is about 1 minute long and 1.25 GB. So, extrapolating that, a 60-minute tape would wind up being a 60+ GB size file.
I then loaded that test clip into MPEG Streamclip and converted it to HDV 720p30. The resulting file is 286 MB. So that would entail a much smaller 60-minute file. The frame rate remains 59.94 with this setting; don't know if that is wrong or not. (I left the frame rate setting in MPEG Streamclip at "automatic.")
I know that capturing via HDMI AND converting the clip to another codec is not ideal. However, this method did not have any audio sync problem AND each clip between the original start/stop points of the camcorder was captured fully. There is maybe a split-second audio dropout once in awhile (only at the start of a clip), but I'll take that over audio sync issues and 2-3 seconds of missing footage for each clip.
So, here is (hopefully) my last question: is converting the huge ProRes file to HDV 720p30 via MPEG Streamclip a viable solution? Keep in mind that the end user of these files is a consumer. My main guess is that he will only know a) if the files are HD, and b) if they work (or don't) in whatever video editing program he uses (which is likely to be iMovie or maybe FCP).
Given all that, am I on the right track? Is there a better codec I should be using to make the file smaller with little quality loss? I did not notice any obvious difference between the picture quality of the ProRes video file and the HDV 720 video file.