Hi Danny,I’ve been doing


Hi Danny,

I’ve been doing some tinkering at our office with a JVC GZ-MG555 Everio camcorder. Your file format issues with the .MOD file types are not unusual. The .MOD file format is, obviously, a proprietary file format that JVC has engineered to help their camcorders function with their Direct to Disk/Share Station product. But, the challenge, as you have found, is to use the native .MOD files for video editing. As JVC has mentioned, the supplied software (Cyberlink PowerDirector 5, PowerCinema and PowerProducer) will do all your basic functions, including convert your .MOD files to DV-AVI files which are compatible in nearly all video editing software packages. I’ve tried this several times and it has worked. However, it’s a rather ridiculous process in that you need to do each clip one at a time, or, throw all your clips in the timeline and render out one very long DV-AVI file. Either way, this is not ideal.

The ideal solution to the problem would be the ability to batch render these .MOD files to DV-AVI files by simply selecting the clips you want encoded and pressing a "start" button. To that effect, the computer would individually convert each file. In the end you’d have a bunch of completely edit-able video clips. Unfortunately, that software functionality is not included with the software from JVC/Cyberlink. And to my knowledge, there is not a software package that can do this simple batch conversion with .MOD files as of yet. I suspect that unless JVC makes this happen, software companies probably won’t do it themselves, as there is little reward in it for them.

With that said, all hope is not lost. Some video editing software makers have included .MOD file format support. I know that Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0 ($99) has .MOD support. I’ll be running a few tests later to see just how that support works, but from what I gather it does exactly what I mentioned the batch conversion would theoretically do, but it does it sort of behind the scenes. I’ll let you know how that goes. We’re also waiting to hear back from our contacts at JVC to get a more current list of third party video editing software that supports .MOD. So stay tuned.

An interesting side note to my tests with the GZ-MG555 camcorder, is that I used the dock that is supplied with the camcorder. On the dock there’s a FireWire port. I plugged it in and used Cyberlink PowerDirector 5 to capture a AVI file, completely avoiding the .MOD file format. Unfortunately, this is counter productive, as the true benefit of having a hard drive camcorder is to avoid capturing altogether. But, it’s an interesting alternative. Moreover, the DV files I capture were less than ideal, as the front and tails of the DV clip were about a half second of the .MOD file stalled. I think this is a natural response to the delay in the long GOP of MPEG-2 converting to DV.

For the sake of anyone looking into a camcorder purchase in the future, the lesson learned here is that there are many great attributes to hard drive camcorders and even DVD camcorders, yet anything that captures to MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 (especially the AVCHD flavor of MPEG-4) will be significantly more difficult to edit straight out of the camcorder. This has been true since we saw the first DVD camcorder come to market. Over time there has been additional support built into video editing software that will allow you to edit this stuff, but at the very least, the software needs to convert the files to a more edit friendly format. This is also true of the more common HDV video format. Anyone who edits HDV will tell you that native HDV editing is a little clunky. Video editing software have since authored Intermediate Codecs for HDV that will make the editing experience more friendly–this again is converting file types, usually in the case of HDV, on the fly as you capture your footage.

The good news is that I think you’ll be able to find a post-production work flow that’s much more what you expected when you got your camcorder. We’re going to continue looking into that, but I hope this gives you some perspective to what the heck is going on.


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