In a bit of excellent timing, I currently have a MacBook Pro and a Sony HDR-HC1 HDV camcorder for a couple of weeks (alas, I don’t get to keep either of them). I’m going to be doing some testing and shooting HD footage for the next revision of the iMovie HD/iDVD Visual QuickStart Guide, so today I went up to the roof of my office building and shot a few clips.
As you probably know, importing HDV footage into iMovie HD is extremely processor-intensive, because the Mac needs to transcode the HDV MPEG-2 format into the Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) format, which is what iMovie (and Final Cut Express) uses to edit the footage (Final Cut Pro can work with HDV natively). On my pokey little 1.25 GHz PowerBook G4, importing HD usually comes in at one-quarter or one-eighth speed. On this 2.16 GHz MacBook Pro, the footage was captured in real time. That’s extremely cool, especially when you’re accustomed to laptop speeds lagging behind desktops.
I also want to note that the HC1 responds to iMovie’s playback commands; the Sony HDR-FX1, a much more capable HDV camera, requires that you start playback on the camera before hitting iMovie’s Import button. The HC1, by contrast, let me rewind the tape and import video from within iMovie, just as with DV camcorders.