(old) HDV Tape Capture for Sony Z7U to Final Cut Pro

This workflow is specific to Final Cut Pro for the Sony Z7U. (link leads to user manual)


The format of HDV should be noted: it is 1440 x 1080, 60i, using a 1.2 pixel aspect ratio (which makes it the size equivalent of 1920 x 1080).  Many other frames rates and sizes can be encoded within HDV, but they are not native rates and sizes - they are 'embedded' into the HDV format above.

If you shoot '24p' with the Z7u, those 23.98 frames are scanned across the 60i rate, so the capture device will be receiving 60i-worth of information.  Only after conversion will the footage become 'true' 23.98.

Final Cut Pro offers numerous options for HDV tape capture, and picking the right one is often a process of trial and error, because FCP contains numerous inconsistencies in its menu options and format descriptions, e.g. frequently using '30' in place of '29.97', and offering 'Firewire', 'Firewire Basic,' and 'Sony Firewire Basic' without specifying the differences between them.

HDV is an acquisition codec and should be used for shooting only, not editing.  Because it is an interframe codec, it is not good for extended edits or any special effects.  Footage should be re-encoded to an intermediate codec; if working in Final Cut Prores 422 is recommended, since it is built specifically for FCP. (HDV Capture to Avid is different, because Avid will re-encode on the fly into one of its own proprietary intermediate codecs, such as DNxHD.)


Attach a firewire cable between the camera and the computer.  Make sure the camera is powered on and set to VTR (not camera) mode.  Tape should be loaded.

Under the 'Final Cut Pro' menu, find --> Audio/Video Settings.  Set them like this:
Sequence Preset: HDV - 1080i60
Capture Preset: HDV
Device Control Preset: Sony HDV Firewire


Go to File--> Log and Capture

The capture window should open and intialize the camera, and video should be available in the preview window, as well as device control on screen.  If not, you may need to quit and restart the program, making certain that the camera is powered on and attached when FCP launches.

Capturing this way captures plain HDV video, at 1440 x 1080, 60i (though possibly 'flagged' as 24p).  To edit with it, you will need to convert to Prores (or another intermediate codec.)  You will be converting to 1920 x 1080, (framerate), with a square pixel aspect ratio.  This is accomplished either in Final Cut Pro's Media Manager (File-->Media Manager), or in any other encoding program, such as MPEG Streamclip.  The intermediate codec files will probably be a lot larger than your original HDV!  Make sure you have plenty of drive space.

Try and keep your footage organized!

Notes and Troubleshooting

•Try to never re-use DV/HDV tapes.  Even if the recording is clean, data errors are likely to creep through from the first recording and cause problems, often only noticeable when capturing.

•Final Cut Pro offers a Device Control Preset called 'HDV --> Prores 422'.  This is ok to use - it will convert your footage in almost real time as the capture takes place.  However, you cannot capture In-to-Out this way, or Batch Capture; only the whole tape.  It will create file breaks either at timecode breaks or when the camera was turned on/off.  Since timecode breaks and camera on/off sometimes come all over the place, and often when we aren't expecting them, capturing this way may lead to unpredictable sets of clips, e.g. a hundred clips 3 seconds long if there are timecode recording problems (such as on a twice-used tape).  If this capture method is preferable, however, you may take advantage of the time savings.