Or, if you'd prefer not to spend $1400 for FCP you could use Apple's free Firewire SDK
to capture HDV videos in their native format at 11 GB per hour. It's actually very easy. You must first install Apple's Developer Kit (Xtools) before you can install the Firewire SDK. Then look in /Developer/FirewireSDK23/Applications for a program named DVHSCap. Plug in your camcorder's Firewire cable, set the camera to playback mode, make sure you turn the camcorder back to its default 1080i playback (since you previously set it to downcovert to 480i DV) and press the "Capture from D-VHS" software button. The whole tape transfers to a single 11 GB HDV (.m2t) file. Very easy, and it takes up a lot less HD space than capturing in iMovie.
Playback of .m2t files isn't as straightforward as it should be. Unfortunately Mac OS X / QuickTime doesn't do a good job supporting MPEG2. The best all-around HDV playback tool is VLC Mediat Player
. On my Powerbook G4, a free program named NicePlayer
is even better, but Niceplayer doesn't handle HDV files for me on Intel Macs. You'll need the Xine Plugin for NicePlayer
installed and dragged to the top of the list in Niceplayer's third Preferences pane. The Xine plugin doesn't seem to be Intel compatible yet; running it under Rosetta didn't work for me either.
Native .m2t capture is a workflow you may want to stick with regardless of which HDV cam you end up buying. It works great for my HC3. .m2t support is fairly ubiquitous on the Windows side. I just wish furture versions of QuickTime and iMovie would recognize .m2t format. You'll have to convert .m2t to Apple Intermediate Codec (40+ GB per hour) using MPEG StreamClip
if you want to edit it in iMovie, or recapture from the cam directly into iMovie. None of this is seamless on the Mac.