Camcorders in Snow Leopard

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Dented, Jun 3, 2010.

  1. Dented macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    #1
    Firstly, apologies for the really basic question I'm about to ask.

    I'm a relative newbie to Macs (switched from PC to a new 13" Macbook Pro last October) and a complete newbie to all forms of digital video - the last camcorder I used in anger had a tape in it, and I'm not talking about DV either. However, I'm about to become a dad for the first time, so my thoughts are naturally those of any new father - namely, what camcorder should I buy?

    I'm not after specific recommendations, I have a budget (not much) and baseless personal preference (Sony), but what I'd like to know is if there's anything I really need to be aware of and avoid, when it comes to working with the Mac and iMovie. Up till now I've pretty much assumed that I'll be able to plug anything in and it'll "just work", but now I'm getting closer to parting with my money I'm suddenly afraid I'll end up with that one camcorder in the shop that doesn't talk nicely with the Mac.

    Occasionally camcorder manufacturers (and reviews) will boast about specific PC software that comes included, but I'm assuming that's only needed as PC support is generally poorer out of the box, whereas Apple has the mighty iLife pre-installed already. So is compatibility with iMovie etc guaranteed with whatever you buy, or are there still particular makes/models to be avoided?
     
  2. spinnerlys Guest

    spinnerlys

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    Sep 7, 2008
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    forlod bygningen
    #2
  3. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2003
    Location:
    SF Bay area
    #3
    You'll need to study up on this topic ahead of time. HD is not like DV. With DV we had a complete path from the camera to the computer to the nonlinear editor to a DVD. With HD the situation is quite murky.

    Cameras record at HD, but they use a compression technique, AVCHD, to fit the movie onto the storage medium, usually either a hard drive or flash memory. This format is not very amenable to editing so on the Mac you first convert it to an intermediate form either at the original resolution or something that is much less resolution. Finally, there is no destination for your video. Apple doesn't support Blue-Ray.

    Now, there are ways around many of these issues. I'm just trying to give you a thumbnail sketch of how things are.

    My suggestion:

    Get a camera that uses SD flash cards (speed rating 6 or better I believe). Then you can archive these files directly to a set of backup hard drives.

    Decide on how you want to deal with the resolution used to import files to the Apple Intermediate Codec. Give the lower resolution a try. It may be OK for your purposes, it is easier to edit and it doesn't destroy the original files.

    Output is an issue. Web base exports are convenient but low resolution. Higher resolution (720P) can be sent to the hard drive or distributed on optical disks. These optical disks will not play in a DVD player (that I know of). You can use Roxio Toast to burn to Blue-Ray with an external burner. I make QT files that I play on my computer screen. That is suitable for me. YMMV.
     
  4. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68030

    Mac'nCheese

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    #4
    First of all, congrats on your soon to be born. Dad-hood is fantastic, enjoy every second of it.

    Second, I have done a nice amount of research on this topic myself. When my first child was born, I bought a new digital camera and a mini-dv canon sd camcorder. I am now upgrading for two reasons: wanted HD and wanted a more rugged camera.

    You need to decide what is most important to you. You can get a very easy to use cheaper hd camcorder but you will sacrifice some things: low-light shooting (very important for indoor shooting), zooming, image stabalization (how shaky the video is). Anyway, I just killed two birds with one stone by getting a Sony Cyber Shot T-5. Its the sony line of digital cameras that is waterproof, dustproof and shock-proof. Very important for dads. No worries about taking pictures/videos at the beach, pool, etc. The video on the camera is fantastic! Its HD and looks great on my iMac. However, no light and smaller electronics add up to not great video indoors. The zoom also stinks and the image can be shaky. You can go for a video camera like the flips. People love them! Cheaper, HD video but, again, shaky video and the zoom isn't so great. Kodak even has their version of the flip called a playsport which is a HD video camcorder but is waterproof!

    Remember, any HD will be downgraded when edited on the mac (very, very easy to do using iMovie) but you can save the originals hd video (the cards aren't that expensive, so you don't have to reuse them, you can save them) and someday re-edit everything in full hd..... someday burn them to an internal bluray drive in your imac..... maybe..:)

    Feel free to pm or ask any other questions. I'm probably going to buy a HD Canon soon and use the little waterproof one for vacations and have a better one for all "safe" times.
     
  5. spinnerlys Guest

    spinnerlys

    Joined:
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    #5
    stevensteven123, you can select to import 1080i video in full during the import dialog.

    [​IMG]

    Or what do you mean with iMovie downgrading HD content?
     
  6. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68030

    Mac'nCheese

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    #6
    Thank you for the info. Rereading what I wrote, I think I was typing too fast and not thinking. Honestly can't remember if I thought that you need to downgrade because macs only have built in dvds so they can't handle the full hd or because the file itself needed to be downgraded since the mac couldn't edit full hd in imovie. I apologize, should have just stuck to talking about cameras, i obviously have more reading to do about the content itself.
     
  7. SpinThis! macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2007
    Location:
    Inside the Machine (Green Bay, WI)
    #7
    Yeh that's kind of the blessing and curse of editing in hdv/avchd. The actual format the camcorders "record" is not very editable but it's easy to archive in case so you can edit it later (just copy over the entire folder structure on the camera), versus DV having to bring in everything from tape. Lose the tape and you've lost your master.

    When iMovie imports the file it's actually making a conversion to an intermediate format. You can edit 1080i footage just fine but it'll take up more room and it'll be slower to render out because you're dealing with a bigger resolution. Most people can get by 720p footage just fine or you can also use half HD size of 960 x 540 (iMovie calls that "large" iirc).
     

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