Native HDV Editing Workflow

If you use this method, you capture, edit, and output your original MPEG-2 HDV data throughout the entire process. This process is referred to as native editing because Final Cut Pro works directly with the MPEG-2 data captured from your HDV tapes. Native HDV playback is processor-intensive because displaying a single frame can require decoding of several frames earlier or later in the video stream. As a result, you may be able to play back fewer real-time effects when editing in this format. However, there are many benefits to native HDV editing:

  • Native HDV editing uses less disk space because long-GOP MPEG-2 HDV video has a very low data rate.

  • Outputting HDV to tape requires little processing before output because your video is already in the native HDV format. Only segments of your sequence that contain cuts or effects must be reencoded, or conformed, to create the proper HDV GOP pattern.

This workflow is useful for cuts-only edits that you want to quickly output back to tape, or for export to other MPEG formats.

The process for capturing, editing, and outputting HDV in Final Cut Pro is almost identical to the workflow used for DV, but there are several important differences. The differences between the HDV and DV workflows are highlighted in the sections that follow.

Stage 1: Connecting an HDV Camcorder to Your Computer via FireWire

This stage is similar to connecting a DV device via FireWire. Once you have HDV footage on tape, you can connect your camcorder or VTR to your computer to capture.

Figure. Diagram showing how to connect an HDV camcorder to a computer via FireWire.
To connect your HDV camcorder or VTR to your computer
  1. Turn on your VTR or camcorder and switch it to VCR (or VTR) mode.

    Note: On some camcorders, this mode may be labeled “Play.”

  2. Connect the connector on one end of your FireWire cable to the FireWire port on your camcorder.

  3. Connect the connector on the other end of your FireWire cable to a FireWire 400 port on your computer.

  4. Make sure your camcorder is in HDV mode, not DV mode.

For more information, see the documentation that came with your HDV device.

Stage 2: Choosing an HDV Easy Setup

Final Cut Pro has several native HDV Easy Setups available. Always choose the Easy Setup that corresponds to your footage.

To choose an Easy Setup
  1. Choose Final Cut Pro > Easy Setup.

  2. Choose HDV from the Format pop-up menu.

  3. Choose “(all rates)” from the Rate pop-up menu.

  4. Click the Use pop-up menu to see all of the Easy Setups related to your choice in the Format pop-up menu.

    You can further refine the list by choosing a specific frame rate from the Rate pop-up menu.

  5. Choose an Easy Setup from the Use pop-up menu.

    Important: Make sure to choose an Easy Setup that matches the format of your HDV source tapes.

  6. Click Setup.

The corresponding capture, sequence, and device control presets are loaded, as well as A/V device settings.

Stage 3: Logging and Capturing Native HDV Footage

This stage is much like logging and capturing DV and other video formats. The differences are:

  • Some options and controls are different in the Log and Capture window when you capture HDV. For example, you can resize the window in real time.

  • When capturing HDV, scene detection is always enabled. A scene break is embedded data on tape that indicates where the camcorder was stopped and then started again. Whenever Final Cut Pro detects a scene break in your incoming HDV footage, a new media file and corresponding clip are created.

Once you’ve connected your camcorder and chosen the appropriate Easy Setup, you can log and capture your footage. When you select a native HDV Easy Setup, the Log and Capture window appears, specifically tailored for use with HDV. For information about the Log and Capture window, see About the Log and Capture Window.

For detailed instructions about logging and capturing, see the following chapters in the Final Cut Pro 7 User Manual:

  • “Overview of Capturing Tape-Based Media”

  • “About the Log and Capture Window”

  • “Logging from Tape”

  • “Capturing Audio from Tape”

When you capture HDV footage, you can control how media files are created when start/stop indicators and timecode breaks are detected. This behavior is slightly different from the way DV footage is handled:

  • When you capture DV: Start/Stop indicators can be detected after capture if you select the clip and choose Mark > DV Start/Stop Detect.
  • When you capture HDV: You can control whether start/stop indicators create individual media files by selecting or deselecting the “Create new clip on Start/Stop” checkbox in the Clip Settings tab of the Log and Capture window.

In the General tab of the User Preferences window, the option you choose from the “On timecode break” pop-up menu determines how timecode breaks affect capture, but the Warn After Capture option is disregarded to avoid capturing media files that contain breaks in the middle of an MPEG-2 GOP.

To choose how Final Cut Pro handles start/stop detection when capturing HDV footage
  1. If you have not already done so, choose Final Cut Pro > Easy Setup, choose HDV from the Format pop-up menu, and then choose an Easy Setup from the Use pop-up menu.

  2. Choose File > Log and Capture (or press Command-8), then click Clip Settings.

  3. Select or deselect the “Create new clip on Start/Stop” checkbox to turn start/stop detection on or off:

    • Start/Stop detection on: When the checkbox is selected, a new media file and corresponding clip are created each time Final Cut Pro detects start/stop indicators in the incoming HDV stream.
    • Start/Stop detection off: When the checkbox is deselected, one continuous media file and corresponding clip are created, and start/stop indicators are ignored.

    Note: The option to turn off start/stop detection is not available when capturing footage shot on a JVC HDV camcorder because the nature of the MPEG-2 stream requires creation of a new media file at each start/stop indicator.

To determine how timecode breaks are handled when you capture HDV footage
  1. Choose Final Cut Pro > User Preferences, then click the General tab.

  2. Choose an option from the “On timecode break” pop-up menu:

    • Make New Clip: This is the default option. Whenever a timecode break is detected during capture, Final Cut Pro finishes writing the current media file to disk and then begins capturing a new media file. A clip corresponding to the new media file is also created in the Browser.
    • Abort Capture: If you choose this option, Final Cut Pro stops capture immediately when a timecode break is detected. All media captured before the timecode break has frame-accurate timecode and is preserved. The resulting media files are saved, and the corresponding clips are placed in the Browser.

      Depending on the signal on tape, you may see one of two messages when a timecode break is detected:

      • A “stream error” message

      • A “timecode break error” message

    • Warn After Capture: When you capture HDV, this option behaves identically to the Abort Capture option.

How Timecode Breaks Affect Clip and Media Filenames

Filenames for new media files and clips generated by start/stop indicators and timecode breaks are appended with a number to ensure they have unique names. For example, suppose you are capturing a media file named Cafe Wide Shot when a scene or timecode break is detected. At the break detection point, Final Cut Pro begins capturing a new media file named Cafe Wide Shot-1. If there is already a media file named Cafe Wide Shot-1, the new media file is named Cafe Wide Shot-2, and so on.

Recapturing HDV footage is similar to recapturing other video formats. It is important that your clips contain accurate timecode, or you may have difficulty recapturing. For more information about recapturing footage, see the Final Cut Pro 7 User Manual.

Important: Some HDV camcorders do not record timecode, so recapturing media files from tapes recorded by these camcorders may result in new media files with an offset of one or two frames.

Using an HDV Camcorder to Capture or Output DV Footage

You can use an HDV camcorder as a standard DV device. However, before doing this, make sure that:

  • The Log and Capture window is closed.

  • The camcorder is set to DV mode, not HDV mode. For more information, see the documentation that came with your camcorder.

  • You choose the proper DV Easy Setup before opening the Log and Capture window.

Stage 4: Choosing a Render File Format for HDV Sequences

When you render segments of an HDV sequence, you can choose to create render files using either the native HDV MPEG-2 codec of your sequence or an Apple ProRes codec.

Rendering native MPEG-2 HDV creates small render files that conserve disk space, but rendering takes longer than for other formats because of the interframe compression this format uses.

If native rendering is slowing down the pace of your editing, you can choose to render segments of your native HDV sequences using an Apple ProRes codec. Because Final Cut Pro supports mixed-format sequences, you can play back the entire sequence, including the Apple ProRes codec files, in real time. In this slight variation of the native HDV editing workflow, you continue to edit using a native HDV sequence, but any render files will be in an Apple ProRes codec.

Figure. Diagram of a workflow that includes shooting, ingesting, editing in the native format, rendering in an Apple ProRes codec, and finishing.

The advantages to using an Apple ProRes codec as the rendering codec are:

  • Apple ProRes codecs use I-frame–only (intraframe) encoding, providing faster rendering and real-time playback performance.

  • Apple ProRes codecs have a generous color sample ratio and bit depth, allowing for higher-quality rendering of visual effects.

The advantages to rendering natively are:

  • Conforming for export or output to HDV tape happens faster because the render files are already in the necessary format. If you aren’t outputting to an HDV format, this may not be an advantage.

  • Native HDV render files are smaller than those generated by other HD I-frame-only codecs.

To choose the render file format in an HDV sequence
  1. Select your sequence in the Browser or Timeline.

  2. Choose Sequence > Settings, then click the Render Control tab.

  3. From the Codec pop-up menu, choose one of the following options:

    • Same as Sequence Codec: This option enables rendering with the native MPEG-2 codec of your sequence.
    • Apple ProRes 422 Codec: This option enables rendering with the Apple ProRes 422 codec.

Note: Because HDV, XDCAM HD, and XDCAM EX constant bit rate (CBR) footage use an identical format, the information in this section also applies when rendering XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX footage.

Stage 5: Editing HDV Footage Natively

For the most part, editing HDV footage is identical to editing any other format in Final Cut Pro. However, because of the GOP structure of MPEG-2 media, edits in HDV sequences require some additional processing during playback and output. The additional processing happens automatically, but it is a good idea to understand why it is necessary.

When you edit two HDV clips together in a sequence, the GOP pattern is typically broken. In particular, cutting an HDV clip can remove the I-frame that subsequent P- and B-frames rely on for picture information. When this happens, Final Cut Pro must preserve the I-frame for these other frames to refer to, even though the I-frame is no longer displayed in the sequence. Final Cut Pro reconforms the broken GOPs in the vicinity of the edit and leaves the subsequent GOPs unchanged.

This requires additional processing power and memory not necessary for I-frame-only editing (such as DV editing). During playback, this process happens in real time. For output and export, Final Cut Pro reencodes (or conforms) the areas of your sequence that require new I-frames or GOPs.

To save time during rendering and editing, you can set up your native HDV sequence to render using an Apple ProRes codec. Using an Apple ProRes codec also produces high-quality 4:2:2 render files that, in some cases, may be higher quality than rendering back to native HDV. For more information, see Stage 4: Choosing a Render File Format for HDV Sequences.

Note: Some applications, such as DVD Studio Pro, support simple MPEG-2 editing, in which you are allowed to cut only at GOP boundaries. Final Cut Pro allows you to cut on any frame. Although you cannot set Final Cut Pro to edit on GOP boundaries only, you can transcode your source files to an Apple ProRes codec, ensuring I-frame-only editing, or you can temporarily turn off the reconforming of the GOP boundaries by deselecting one or more render status categories in the appropriate Render submenu of the Sequence menu.

Stage 6: Rendering and Conforming Long-GOP MPEG-2 Media

Before you can output or export a native HDV sequence, Final Cut Pro needs to process your media in two ways:

  • Render any applied transitions and effects, as well as any leader and trailer elements included in the Print to Video dialog.

  • Conform any noncompliant GOPs to the correct I-, P-, and B-frame pattern. Any segments of your sequence that contain cuts, transitions, or other applied effects must be conformed to standard MPEG-2 GOP structures before output, creating new I-frames and GOP boundaries where necessary. Conforming also ensures that your HDV sequence has the proper data rate for the HDV format you are outputting. The time required for conforming depends on the number of edits and effects in your sequence.

Note: Because HDV, XDCAM HD, and XDCAM EX constant bit rate (CBR) footage use an identical format, the information in this section also applies when rendering XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX footage.

Conforming While Rendering in the Timeline

If you choose to use native HDV render files while you edit, your render files can be conformed when they are rendered. You can generate properly conformed render files for your sequence by enabling all options in the Render All, Render Selection, and Render Only submenus of the Sequence menu.

For example, if you enable rendering for all render status categories in the Render Selection submenu and then choose Sequence > Render Selection > Video, the render files created for selected video items in the Timeline are conformed with proper GOP structures. When you output to tape or export using the Export QuickTime Movie command, these render files are already properly conformed, reducing the time required for final rendering and conforming.

Tip: You can disable conforming during rendering in the Timeline by deselecting one or more render status categories in the appropriate Render submenu of the Sequence menu.

Stage 7: Using the Print to Video Command to Output HDV

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.

Optionally, you can export your sequence as a QuickTime movie, export your sequence to Compressor, or send your sequence to Color for finishing. You can also use the Share feature to quickly create and deliver output media files in iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, MobileMe, DVD, Blu-ray Disc, YouTube, and Apple ProRes formats.

For more information about using Compressor, see the Compressor User Manual. For more information about the Share feature, see “Using Share” in the Final Cut Pro 7 User Manual. For more information about Color, see the Color User Manual. For more information about workflows, see Final Cut Studio Workflows, available at

To prepare for tape output, any effects in your HDV sequence need to be rendered, and then the sequence must be conformed to create a proper MPEG-2 output stream. These steps happen automatically when you begin a Print to Video operation.

During a Print to Video operation, Final Cut Pro renders and conforms video in a single pass, storing properly conformed media within your sequence’s render files. As a result, subsequent Print to Video operations don’t need to conform the video unless you make changes to your sequence. However, leader and trailer elements, as well as gaps in your sequence, are rendered and conformed each time you use the Print to Video command.

To output your HDV sequence to tape
  1. Make sure your camcorder is properly connected to your computer via FireWire.

    For more information, see Stage 1: Connecting an HDV Camcorder to Your Computer via FireWire.

  2. Insert a DV tape into the HDV camcorder.

  3. In the Browser, do one of the following:

    • Select a sequence or clip.

    • Double-click a sequence to open it in the Timeline.

    • Double-click a clip to open it in the Viewer.

  4. Choose File > Print to Video.

    The Print to Video dialog appears.

  5. Select any leader or trailer elements you want to include on your tape, as well as start, end, and looping options.

    Tip: If you want Final Cut Pro to start recording automatically, select the Automatically Start Recording checkbox.

  6. Click OK.

    If any segments of your sequence require rendering or conforming, Final Cut Pro renders and conforms them now. A progress dialog appears indicating the amount of time that remains until rendering and conforming are complete. Any segments of your sequence where GOP boundaries were broken (such as the frames around edit points or any frames with added filters, motion parameters, and so on) are conformed.

    A second progress dialog briefly appears indicating the time it takes to process leader, trailer, and gap elements in your sequence.

    A dialog appears when your sequence is ready for output.

  7. If you did not select the Automatically Start Recording checkbox in the Print to Video dialog, press the record button on your camcorder or deck, then click OK.

    If your tape is write-protected or if frames are dropped during the Print to Video operation, a dialog appears allowing you to try the operation again.

Note: When using the Print to Video command with a JVC ProHD device, you can output sequence timecode to tape. For more information about proper deck settings, see the documentation included with your JVC device.