HDV Format Specifications

HDV has the following format specifications.

Storage Medium

HDV is recorded on standard mini-DV videocassette tapes or on a hard disk.

Video Standard

The HDV standards were jointly created by a consortium of manufacturers including Sony, Canon, Sharp, and JVC. HDV supports 1080i, 1080p, and 720p HD standards.

Aspect Ratio

HDV has an aspect ratio of 16:9.

Frame Dimensions, Number of Lines, and Resolution

The HDV format supports two HD video resolutions:

  • 1080 lines: 1440 pixels per line, 1080 lines (displayed with an aspect ratio of 16:9, or 1920 x 1080); interlaced or progressive scan
  • 720 lines: 1280 pixels per line, 720 lines; progressive scan

The native and displayed pixel dimensions are shown below.

Figure. Illustration of native and displayed pixel dimensions for 1080-line and 720-line HDV video.
Frame Rate

Final Cut Pro supports the following HDV frame rates:

  • NTSC-compatible frame rates: 29.97 fps, 59.94 fps (1080i60, 1080p30, 720p60, 720p30)
  • PAL-compatible frame rates: 25 fps, 50 fps (1080i50, 1080p25, 720p50, 720p25)
  • Film-compatible frame rate: 23.98 fps (1080p24, 720p24)
Scanning Method

HDV can record either interlaced or progressive scan images:

  • 1080 lines: Interlaced (1080i) or progressive (1080p)
  • 720 lines: Progressive
Color Recording Method

HDV records a 4:2:0 Y′CBCR (component) digital video signal. Each sample (pixel) has a resolution of 8 bits.

Data Rate

The following table lists the data rates for MPEG-2 HDV as well as HDV transcoded to the Apple Intermediate Codec and the Apple ProRes 422 codec. DV data rates are included for comparison.

Native frame size
Data rate
720 x 480
3.6 MB/sec. (equivalent to 12 GB/hr.)
720 x 576
3.6 MB/sec. (equivalent to 12 GB/hr.)
MPEG-2 HDV 720p30
1280 x 720
2.5 MB/sec. (equivalent to 9 GB/hr.)
MPEG-2 HDV 1080i60/50
1440 x 1080
3.3 MB/sec. (equivalent to 12 GB/hr.)
Apple Intermediate Codec HDV 720p301
1280 x 720
7 MB/sec. (equivalent to 25 GB/hr.)
Apple Intermediate Codec HDV 1080i501
1440 x 1080
12 MB/sec. (equivalent to 42 GB/hr.)
Apple Intermediate Codec HDV 1080i601
1440 x 1080
14 MB/sec. (equivalent to 49 GB/hr.)
Apple ProRes 422 codec HDV 1080p24
1440 x 1080
12.6 MB/sec. (equivalent to 45 GB/hr.)

Data rates for the Apple Intermediate Codec are variable; these figures are approximate and may vary according to the complexity of your footage. Images with a lot of detail have a higher data rate, and images with less detail have a lower data rate.

Note: Although audio is compressed on an HDV tape, Final Cut Pro converts this signal to an uncompressed format during capture. This means that the overall HDV data rate on tape differs from the captured data rate.

Video Compression

HDV uses MPEG-2 compression with a constant bit rate (CBR). I-, P-, and B-frames are used, creating a long-GOP pattern.

MPEG-2 video and audio are composed of a hierarchy of data streams:

  • Elementary stream: This can be a video, audio, subtitle, or other basic media stream. Formats like HDV contain both video and audio elementary streams.
  • Transport stream: A transport stream encapsulates elementary streams for real-time distribution, such as television or Internet broadcast.
  • Program stream: A program stream also encapsulates elementary streams for content stored on media such as DVDs or hard disks.

HDV devices store and transmit elementary video and audio streams in an MPEG-2 transport stream. When you capture HDV video, Final Cut Pro automatically extracts the elementary video and audio streams from the transport stream and stores the data in tracks in a QuickTime media file.


HDV uses two audio tracks with a sample rate of 48 kHz and 16-bit resolution per sample. The audio is encoded using the MPEG-1 Layer 2 format with a data rate of 384 kbps.


The timecode format of an HDV camcorder matches the frame rate of the video format. For example, 1080i50 footage uses 25 fps timecode.

Important: Some HDV camcorders do not record timecode, so you won’t be able to precisely recapture any clips if you delete the corresponding media files.