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HDV, Premier, Mac and Must-Have Tools

One of the reasons I started this blog is to address the challenges that come from limited budgets, high-end output and a limited user-base. In video, workflows and systems can be really, really…really finicky. That said, if you’re using a setup similar to mine, the follow resources can be invaluable. 

The Red: MPEG Stream Errors

I addressed this question last fall on Creative Cow and received no responses. Since then, I’ve had several emails asking if I’ve found a solution. I have. First, let me give you the setting. 

When putting together the equipment for Peacemaker Ministries’ production work, I orginally built everything around the tapeless workflow of the Sony Z7U (CF cards) and the ability to pull HDV in to FCP as ProRes 4.22. This is a great workflow. However, after getting the list put together, we were over budget. I had to cut somewhere. I cut FCP since I was getting Adobe Production Premium. I figured I might as well give it a shot. 

The Premier/AE workflow is flatout awesome – if you’re an AE user. However, the “native” editing of HDV (.M2T files off the CF card) resulted in lots and lots of clip errors. I couldn’t edit more than 5 minutes before al my clips were just destroyed by red error messages. This was unacceptable. 

I won’t get into it, but it’s essentially the way the frames are joined when it’s recorded. Read more about that here. In a nutshell the frustration I found at the complete lack of information around this was astounding; namely because I’m using Premier on a MAC and not a PC. But…

I found a solution. 

Codecs and Apps

We didn’t have any budget left so I started poking around the “free” category and while most of the time, you end up with garbage, there are some jewels out there. Here’s why I discovered works fantastically. *NOTE: I do primary editing on a dual-core MacBook Pro (2.6ghz/4GB).

MPEG Streamclip

This free program found here will convert almost anything and everything utilizing your installed video codecs,  you just pick the codec. It doesn’t do P2. I already tried. 

Avid DNxHD 

Download all their codecs for free here. Good news, their motto, “beauty without the bandwidth” rings true. I transcode my .M2T files to DNxHD 36 (shot at 1440×1080 at 24fps) at 1920×1080 and can edit them from my laptop over the gigabit network. DNxHD’s a broadcast standard in most local and regional markets, and it holds up extremely well under FX and color. 

Because my final outputs are always 1280×720 for the web and SD for DVD, the final quality with transcode and effects is perfectly acceptable and way better than even the non-transcoded SD files. 

So that’s my suggestion. If you work with HDV in Premier on a Mac, do the above. It’s an extra step, but just plan for it and you’ll be happy in the long run.


©2019 by Jay Friesen.

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