I am trying to import some footage into Premiere CS5. The footage was recorded on a Sony Z1 as HDV 1080i. My camera man captured the video into a series of files for me. He claimed they were in "native HDV 1080i" files. The files play fine in VLC.

When I try to import them I get an error claiming the file is unsupported.

I used ffmpeg to get the information about the file. It claimes it is mpeg2video (Main) (hdv3 / 0x33766468):

Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from 'part i':
    major_brand     : qt
    minor_version   : 537199360
    compatible_brands: qt
    creation_time   : 2011-10-26 07:09:12
  Duration: 00:15:05.36, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 26541 kb/s
    Stream #0:0(eng): Video: mpeg2video (Main) (hdv3 / 0x33766468), yuv420p, 144 0x1080 [SAR 4:3 DAR 16:9], 25000 kb/s, 25 fps, 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 50 tbc
      creation_time   : 2011-10-26 07:09:12
    Stream #0:1(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le (sowt / 0x74776F73), 48000 Hz, 2 channels, s16, 1536 kb/s
      creation_time   : 2011-10-26 07:09:12
    Stream #0:2(eng): Data: none (tmcd / 0x64636D74)
      creation_time   : 2011-10-26 08:06:48

Obviously I am going to need to install a codec, or convert the videos. But I'm not sure how to d this.

I had a go at using ffmpeg to convert: ffmpeg -i "part i" -s 640x360 -sameq -acodec copy part_i.avi That didn't work. It created a file that I could import as an audio file, but with no video.

Any help would be appreciated. If it turns out I need to re-encode it would be great if you could make a suggestion of what codec to use and what tool to use.


  • I can re-encode the file as a dvd, then I am able to import it. I don't think this is the optimal solution though. To do this I use the following command: ffmpeg -i "Part I" -target dvd -aspect 16:9 -sameq part_i.mpg
    – Andrew
    Oct 27, 2011 at 12:37
  • Your first ffmpeg command was audio only because you didn't specify a video codec (-vcodec). Obviously "-vcodec copy" won't solve your problem - "ffmpeg -codecs" will list available codecs but they're probably all lossy so quality will be affected to some degree). Nov 1, 2011 at 18:20
  • Thanks for that Darren. Not including a video codec, doh! I'm fairly new to all this. Could you suggest a not too lossy codec that works nicely with Premiere Pro? H.264 perhaps?
    – Andrew
    Nov 9, 2011 at 11:53
  • Reading through several sites it seems that I should not convert to H.264. This is because H.264 is designed for delivery and capture. If H.264 is used for editing it will be very slow. Instead I should use a codec designed for editing.. Apple's ProRes might be an option, but I'm not sure this will work on a PremierePro/Windows system.
    – Andrew
    Nov 9, 2011 at 15:25
  • Looks like ProRes is Apple only. So... what is a good codec to use for a Premiere Pro project. Lots of site say "it depends". I'm guessing it depends on Standerd vs. High definition, Film vs. Animation, processing speed of computer etc. Could anyone suggest a good all rounder codec to use for Premiere Pro projects?
    – Andrew
    Nov 9, 2011 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


I've had a bit of account trouble, so I now have a different account and I can't log in to modify this question. So.. I'm going to answer my own question with what I have learned:

The video files I had were not supported by Premiere Pro. However I was able to play them (in VLC) and transcode them (in FFMpeg).

The real question I was asking above was: What codec should I transcode to? And How do I do the transcode?

After quite a bit of research it seems that the best editing codec for PP on Windows is DNxHD. This codec is not provided with Windows or PP, and must be downloaded here. There are other editing codecs out there, but they are either expensive (CineForm) or only work on Apple (ProRes).

It is important to note that files for editing should not e stored as H.264, even though you might capture them in this format, and you will probably release the video in this format. This is because H.264 is very slow for editing files, and with really thrash your hard drive and CPU.

I found a nice tutorial that describes how to do the transcode using free tools.


What file extension are you using? I've had problems with CS5 rejecting a file then accepting it with a new file extension.

You could try renaming it to a .mov file (if it's not already).

  • Thanks for your input :) They were generated on a Mac, so they do not have a file extension like files on windows. However I did try renaming them; I tried .mov, .mp4, and .avi. None worked - so it must be a codec issue.
    – Andrew
    Nov 9, 2011 at 11:49

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