Editing HDD/Flash Camcorder footage: Is it even possible?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by portena, Apr 10, 2008.

  1. portena macrumors member

    Apr 9, 2008
    I have a small business converting and editing VHS and miniDV to DVD for distribution/viewing/low-level archiving (family home movies being the bulk of my business). With the increasing move towards HDD and Flash Memory camcorders I am concerned that my client base could be on the decline. As much as anything I think people are misled into purchasing these camcorders believing that their footage can be more easily edited, when it seems - at least from the research that I have done - that the opposite could be the case. In fact, I've already had one person ask me if I will take their HDD footage and edit it but I'm not sure I should be touching it with a barge pole.

    For a start,

    - How will they send it to me? (if they have to send the Hard Drive - can it be powered externally and transferred over Firewire or will they need to send the whole camera in order for the Hard Drive to operate?)
    - Will each clip constitute a file (assume they will be Mpeg2) or will I have to separate them manually somehow?
    - From the research I have done it appears I will need to convert from Mpeg2 to dv for use with Final Cut. How long will the conversion to DV take and which programme is best (i have quicktime, Handbreak, Mac the Ripper). For best performance will I need a knowledge of how to adjust the settings accurately?
    - And crucially, what sort of quality loss are we really talking about? Is it about as significant as say watching an ipod quality move on a 32inch TV screen (i.e. unwatchable) or only so marginal that a serious movie buff would notice/care? Compression in general is an area that confuses me - Mpeg2 (the format used by HDD/Flash Camcorders) is already compressed, yet for viewing on a large TV screen it is apparently perfectly adquate. How then does the process of converting Mpeg2 to DV for editing purposes result in such a drastic quality loss as is purported by the critics? Indeed, is it therefore reasonable to predict that at some point Final Cut and other video editing platforms may introduce support for the editing of Mpeg2 directly so that the conversion is not required and therefore some semblance of the original quality is preserved? I really need a crash course in this topic because if I'm to be selling a service in this area I need to be able to tell people in simple, layperson terms what it is they are paying for and by extension what is reasonable for them to expect from it. I don't want people to feel they are being bummed out of more cash with the use of some fancy techno-jargon!

    The same dilemmas have been raised when customers requesting their footage recorded on DVD camcorders be edited (and all very basic things - cuts/crops/transitions, music over, combined featurette DVDs, etc etc). So far I haven't needed to take on this business because I've been busy enough with the miniDV/VHS clients and so for the past while the problem has remained in the "too hard basket". But I fear that with the trends in camcorders being what they are, I may yet have to jump on the band wagon if I'm to stay in business in the future.

    Any answers/advice, even if only in part, would be gratefully recieved.
  2. soLoredd macrumors 6502a

    Mar 12, 2007
    I think the move toward HDD/Flash is going to be geared more toward users like myself: those who just want to capture and use it as is. I don't know to what depth you can do editing, however.

    My belief is those who use and need to edit their captures will remain with DV for a long time.
  3. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    But that isn't the case -- consumers who want the services that the OP provides don't think ahead when they buy their latest spiffy camera.

    portena, I think you need to plan out the workflow here. I suggest you get a couple of USB external drives -- the simpler and more rugged the better -- and your loan an external drive to the customer to load the video onto. Write up an instruction sheet for the customers that has the different variations on:

    With this technology, you are going to have to get much more involved in computer/camera support.

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