About HDV

HDV is an HD format created by a consortium of manufacturers including Sony, JVC, Canon, and Sharp. HDV allows you to record an hour of HD video on standard mini-DV videocassettes. You can connect an HDV camcorder to your computer via FireWire, so you can capture and output just as you would with a DV device.

HDV uses MPEG-2 compression to achieve a maximum video data rate of 25 Mbps, which is the same as the DV data rate. This means you can fit the same amount of video on your scratch disks as you can when using DV.

Although the HDV workflow is nearly identical to a typical DV workflow, a few additional steps are required. This chapter describes the unique features of Final Cut Pro that allow you to capture, edit, and output HDV video in its native format.

HDV Formats Supported by Final Cut Pro

Within the HDV specification, 1080-line and 720-line formats using several frame rates are defined. Final Cut Pro supports the following HDV formats.

59.94 fps–Based Formats

The following table shows the 59.94 fps–based HDV formats supported by Final Cut Pro.

Format
Final Cut Pro Easy Setup
Frame dimensions
Video data rate
1080i60
HDV - 1080i60
1440 x 1080
25 Mbps
1080i60 (Canon)
HDV - 1080i60 FireWire Basic
1440 x 1080
25 Mbps
1080F30 (Canon)
HDV - 1080p30 FireWire Basic
1440 x 1080
25 Mbps
1080F24 (Canon)
HDV - 1080p24 FireWire Basic
1440 x 1080
25 Mbps
720p60
HDV - 720p60
1280 x 720
18.3 Mbps
720p30
HDV - 720p30
1280 x 720
18.3 Mbps
720p24
HDV - 720p24
1280 x 720
18.3 Mbps
50 fps–Based Formats

The following table shows the 50 fps–based HDV formats supported by Final Cut Pro.

Format
Final Cut Pro Easy Setup
Frame dimensions
Video data rate
1080i50
HDV - 1080i50
1440 x 1080
25 Mbps
1080i50 (Canon)
HDV - 1080i50 FireWire Basic
1440 x 1080
25 Mbps
1080F25 (Canon)
HDV - 1080p25 FireWire Basic
1440 x 1080
25 Mbps
720p50
HDV - 720p50
1280 x 720
18.3 Mbps
720p25
HDV - 720p25
1280 x 720
18.3 Mbps

Standard Definition Recording with an HDV Camcorder

In addition to recording HD video, most HDV camcorders can also record standard definition DV video. You can capture, edit, and output this DV video just as you would any other DV video.

Important: You should avoid recording DV and HDV video on the same tape. (You should also avoid recording HDV footage using different frame sizes and frame rates on the same tape.) This can cause problems during capture and playback.

An additional format defined within the HDV specification, known as SD, is available on some JVC camcorders. Final Cut Pro does not support this format.

About MPEG Compression

HD video requires significantly more data than SD video. A single HD video frame can require up to six times more data than an SD frame. To record such large images with such a low data rate, HDV uses long-GOP MPEG compression. MPEG compression reduces the data rate by removing redundant visual information, both on a per-frame basis and also across multiple frames.

Note: HDV specifically employs MPEG-2 compression, but the concepts of long-GOP and I-frame-only compression discussed below apply to all versions of the MPEG standard: MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 (including AVC/H.264). For the purposes of this general explanation, the term MPEG may refer to any of these formats.

Spatial Compression

Within a single frame, areas of similar color and texture can be coded with fewer bits than the original frame, thus reducing the data rate with a minimal loss in noticeable visual quality. JPEG compression works in a similar way to compress still images. Spatial, or intraframe, compression is used to create standalone video frames called I-frames (short for intraframe).

Temporal Compression

Instead of storing complete frames, temporal (interframe) compression stores only what has changed from one frame to the next, which dramatically reduces the amount of data that needs to be stored while still achieving high-quality images. Video is stored in three types of frames: a standalone I-frame that contains a complete image, and then predictive P-frames and bipredictive B-frames that store subsequent changes in the image. Every half second or so, a new I-frame is introduced to provide a complete image on which subsequent P- and B-frames are based. Together, a group of I-, P-, and B-frames is called a group of pictures, or GOP. HDV uses a long-GOP pattern, which means that there is at least one P- or B-frame for each I-frame.

For example, suppose you record some typical “talking head” footage, such as an interview in which a seated person moves very little throughout the shot. Most of the person’s body stays still, so most of the visual information is stored in an I-frame; the subsequent P- and B-frames store only the changes from one frame to the next.

Because P- and B-frames depend on other frames to create a meaningful image, your computer spends more processing power decoding HDV frames for display than it does when displaying intraframe-only formats such as DV, uncompressed video, or the Apple Intermediate Codec.

More About Long-GOP Video

The term long refers to the fact that P- and B-frames are used between I-frame intervals. At the other end of the spectrum, the opposite of long-GOP MPEG is I-frame-only MPEG, in which only I-frames are used. Formats such as IMX use I-frame-only MPEG, which reduces temporal artifacts and improves editing performance. However, I-frame-only formats have a significantly higher data rate because each frame must store enough data to be completely self-contained. Therefore, although the decoding demands on your computer are decreased, there is a greater demand for scratch disk speed and capacity.

1080-line HDV media uses an open GOP structure, which means that B-frames in the MPEG stream can be reliant on frames in adjacent GOPs. 720-line HDV media uses a closed GOP structure, which means that each GOP is self-contained and does not rely on frames outside the GOP.

Transcoding HDV to Other Apple Codecs

Instead of working with native MPEG-2 HDV video, you can transcode your HDV video to an Apple ProRes codec or the Apple Intermediate Codec during capture. For more information about these codecs, see Transcoded HDV Editing Workflow, Working with Apple ProRes, and About the Apple Intermediate Codec.

Unlike MPEG-2 HDV, these Apple codecs do not use temporal compression, so every frame can be decoded and displayed immediately, without first decoding other frames.

You can also capture and edit native HDV but render your footage using an Apple ProRes codec. For more information, see Stage 4: Choosing a Render File Format for HDV Sequences in Native HDV Editing Workflow.

Working with HDV in Final Cut Pro

If you’ve previously worked with DV, you’ll find that the HDV workflow is similar. However, the nature of MPEG-2 long-GOP editing can add significant rendering time when editing native HDV. To avoid this, you may want to choose one of the other HDV editing workflows.

There are two main workflows for working with HDV footage in Final Cut Pro.

Native MPEG-2 HDV Capturing, Editing, and Rendering

This is the default HDV workflow. For more information, see Native HDV Editing Workflow.

A slight variation of this native workflow involves rendering using an Apple ProRes codec. For more information, see Stage 4: Choosing a Render File Format for HDV Sequences in Native HDV Editing Workflow.

Figure. Diagram showing the four stages of the native workflow: shooting, ingesting, editing (in native format), and finishing.

You can only output HDV footage to tape using the Print to Video command. The Edit to Tape command is not supported for HDV media. For more information, see Stage 7: Using the Print to Video Command to Output HDV in Native HDV Editing Workflow.

Transcoding, Editing, and Rendering Using an Alternative Codec

In this workflow, you transcode your media to an alternative codec directly on ingest. For more information, see Transcoded HDV Editing Workflow.

In the illustration below, the media is transcoded to an Apple ProRes codec, but you can also use the Apple Intermediate Codec in a transcoded HDV workflow.

Figure. Diagram showing the four stages of the transcoding workflow: shooting, ingesting, editing in an alternative codec, and finishing.