I was editing some footage of an interview I shot with an emeritus faculty here when I discovered to my delight that iMovie HD suddenly supports 25p/30p progressive HDV input.
I had shot the interview with my Canon XL-H1 and forgot to reset the frame-rate from 30p to 60i. I only realized this when I got back home and started to edit. I was adjusting settings and turned off the HDV->DV downconvert on the XL-H1 and was astonished when iMovie was happy to suck in the 1080i/30p footage without problem. A quick check of the Help file and it states that 25/30 frame progressive modes are supported.
Last winter, when I bought the XL-H1, I tested various editing products. Both iMovie HD and Final Cut Express HD didn't support the progressive frame modes -- they'd either fail to sync sound or fail miserably.
One of the minor version updates for iMovie HD must have changed this. I'm at 5.02 which isn't even the latest version. I haven't had a chance to check if Final Cut Express HD supports 25p/30p. If it does, this is a Big Thing (see update below).
- This still leaves the problem that there is no playback deck for 25p/30p on the XL-H1. I hate using my camcorder as a playback deck. Please, Canon, work on this issue pronto.
- Yes, yes, I know the Canon sensor is not really progressive so it's 25F and 30F respectively, not 25p / 30p. But what's on the tape is recorded progressively so excuse my shorthand.
- And yes, I'll be the first to admit that I use iMovie HD for quick edits like this, where I need 24 hour turnaround. Shoot me for not always using Final Cut.
- In retrospect, I should have downconverted in the camcorder anyway. I'm burning final product to DVD-R and the encoding from HDV->DVD is painfully slow. I'm on 6 hours + for encoding in iDVD....
Update: Odder and odder, the official comparison chart on Apple's website between iMovie/FCE/FCP doesn't list progressive frame compatibility in iMovie. However, an iMovie support post says:
iMovie HD supports multiple video formats and allows you to create projects that are tailored to your specific video format. You can use the following formats in iMovie HD:
- DV Widescreen
- HDV 1080i (25 and 30 fps)
- HDV 720p (25 and 30 fps)
- MPEG 4 Simple Profile
(ps. The modify date of the support message is February 8, 2005.)
Update 2.0:: OK, here's the skinny. After some investigating, iMovie HD (5.02 and above) and Final Cut Express 3.5 both support the XL-H1 progressive modes (30F/25F). The answer to iMovie is above.
In Apple's Final Cut Express 3.5 qualified device list, the XL-H1 is listed for the first time. This should indicate all modes are supported -- with the caveat in footnote #4 that the optional 50i / PAL mode has not been tested.
The sneeky thing about chart comparing Final Cut Express vs. Pro is that 24 frames per second is only supported by FCP; the progressive video modes 25 fps and 30fps are supported by all products. So if you want to go film, you need to spend the extra $500 for FCP. The rest of us can pocket the change and buy another terabyte of hard drive space.*
This is great news for all XL-H1 owners. Yippee! Now if only Canon can make a playback deck or convince someone else to make one that's compatible.....
* In many ways this is brilliant. HDV editing requires so much horsepower that people like me who bought a brand new, top of the line PowerBook G4 last year are now hankering for a Mac Book Pro since editing high-def is so slow.