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Q: Cheaply down-converting HDV to DV ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Cheaply down-converting HDV to DV
Category: Computers > Graphics
Asked by: laughingman-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 23 Aug 2006 17:36 PDT
Expires: 22 Sep 2006 17:36 PDT
Question ID: 758918
All right, I'm getting rather frustrated with this problem, so before
I threw my shiny new HD camera out the window I figured I would come
to the fine people at Google Answers for some help. Let me explain:

I've recently bought a new Sony HDR-HC1, which is most certainly a
beautiful camera. However, all that wonderful footage I shot in 16:9
HD is completely worthless to me now because my computer geeks out
every time I try to import it. Now, I'm eventually going to be able to
afford buying a computer that can handle HD, but right now all I want
to do is get the video onto my computer in DV format while keeping the
16:9 ratio (I don't care if it's letterbox, I just don't want it all
stretched out.) Now, I've already come up with a few ideas on how to
do this, such as getting a converter box that takes AV signals and
turns them digital (for example the Pyro A/V Link Basic
( and importing
it into iMovie or Final Cut, but I'm worried that this may cause the
aspect ratio to go to 4:3 and be all stretched out. So, let me recap
my question:

How do I convert my HD signal to DV for import to my computer (An
apple powerbook, by the way,) while maintaining the 16:9 aspect ratio?

Note: the reason I need the video is for submission online, so the
video doesn't have to be absolutely breathtaking (although I don't
want something that's garbled and indecipherable either.)
Subject: Re: Cheaply down-converting HDV to DV
Answered By: sycophant-ga on 23 Aug 2006 21:34 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars

If I understand you correctly, you want to edit the footage you've
shot in HDV as standard definition DV (SD-DV) on Final Cut o iMovie.

This should be fairly simple, according to the manual for your camera
you can select the Firewire/i.Link output to be either HDV or SD-DV
for material recorded on tape in HDV.

So to begin with you will need to change that setting. This requires
that you change the [VCR HDV/DV] setting to [DV] - as detailed in the
manual on page 77.

Now, here is where you need to understand how 16:9 works in standard
definition television... While HD resolutions are natively 16:9, this
is not the case with standard definition, which means that 16:9
signals in SD are dealt with in one of two ways...
Letterbox - This is what we are used to seeing on 4:3 TV. It uses
black bars at the top and bottom of the screen to maintain the correct
aspect ratio of the images.

Anamorphic - This is what the camera will do by default when
downconverting. It uses the full height of the frame to record the
information - essentially making everything look tall and skinny.

Letterbox is preferable from a viewing sense, as it looks right.
However, Anamorphic is preferable from a technical perspective as it
retains the most image data by recording the picture with all the
available frame.

Effectivly a Letterboxed widescreen image has 25% less image data than
an Anamorphic one.

So at this point if the video coming out of your camera is looking
tall and skinny, there is nothing to worry about. iMovie HD (Version 5
and up) supports 16:9 projects. As does Final Cut Pro (since Version 2
I think).

The following page explains how to use 16:9 Anamorphic video in Final Cut Pro

If you have an earlier version of iMovie that lacks Anamorphic
support, then this plugin will allow for letterboxing of Anamorphic

Also, this video tutorial explains how to use Quicktime Pro to change
the display format of an Anamorphic Quicktime file.

As you are creating video for the web, it isn't vital to letterbox it.
It can be encoded in native widescreen resolutions (like the trailers
here: )

The copy of the manual I have was found here:

Reel Classics:About Aspect Ratios

Wikipedia: Aspect Ratios

World's Easiest Explanation of Anamorphic 16:9 Widescreen Enhancement in DVDs

I hope that helps.


Request for Answer Clarification by laughingman-ga on 24 Aug 2006 07:54 PDT
Thanks for the info on Anamorphic, Sycophant, but unfortunately if it
were as easy as something in the manual I probably would have figured
it out by now. Unfortunately if I select the output to DV when the
video is in HD it won't work, as the camera tells me there is no
signal in that format (instead being in a HDV format), so it can't
just tell it to import in DV to my computer since the signal is in HD.
HD's signal is so much more complex than DVs that there's just no way
to take it directly from my camera to the computer. What I need is a
solution that will allow me to move through some sort of medium so
that my HD signal can be picked up by my computer as a regular DV
signal while maintaining its 16:9 format.

Thanks for your help, but (as of now) my question remains unanswered.

Clarification of Answer by sycophant-ga on 24 Aug 2006 13:20 PDT

One of the main selling points of HDV as a format (especially for
Sony) is that all the cameras and decks offer real-time downconversion
to regular DV video, so your camera can definately do the DV

I will investigate the settings a little more and get back to you soon.


Clarification of Answer by sycophant-ga on 24 Aug 2006 19:27 PDT

With your camera, there are two settings which will need to be set to
ensure that HDV recorded material is played back over the
i.Link/Firewire connection as stadard DV.

In the STANDARD SET menu you need to set the following:
VCR HDV/DV needs to be set to: HDV
i.LINK CONV needs to be set to: ON HDV->DV

The details for the VCR HDV/DV option are on page 57 of the manual.
i.LINK CONV is detailed on page 59. And a table with the setting
options can be found at the bottom of page 77.

These settings will output any HDV recorded material you play as
standard definition DV anamorphic video.

There is also the TV TYPE setting, which will letterbox the picture if
set to 4:3 - however it's unclear if this will apply to i.LINK output,
although it may.

laughingman-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars

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