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Your camcorder is an HDV tape-based video cam, which should interface perfectly with Premiere Elements, assuming your system is properly configured and you have the latest version of Quicktime, per the program's requirements.
You've got kind of a convoluted workflow there, so I'll tell you the simplest way to do what you're doing.
1) If your notebook has a FireWire connection, plug the camcorder into the FireWire (not USB) port and use Premiere Elements' Get Media/from HDV to capture the footage. On Windows 7 machines, you sometimes need to set the FireWire driver to "Legacy" to get this to work.
I suppose you can capture the video on another computer and transfer it, if your notebook doesn't have a FireWire port. But just be sure your'e capturing over a FireWire connection and that you're using a universal program like HDV Split to do the capture, so that you can be sure the video is captured in .m2ts format. (This appears to be what you are doing.)
2) When you start your Premiere Elements project, be sure to choose the project preset for HDV 1440x1080 video.
3) You don't give any specs on the MOV output you're using. But in order to get something similar to yoru 720p WMV, you'll need to use Share/Computer/Quicktime using the HD 720p 30 preset from the drop-down menu. Is this what you're doing? And naturally, make sure you're playing the test footage on Quicktime Player and not Windows Media Player.
BTW, what do you plan to do with the video you're outputting from your project? Use it in another project? Post it online? Post it to Vimeo, Facebook or YouTube? Burn it to a DVD or BluRay? Each specific use has a specific optimal output setting.
Yes, the workflow is convoluted, but that is not by choice.
One of the questions I asked was where is it possible to "check or update Quicktime codecs" used by PE9?
1) As stated in my initial post "PE9 was unable to ingest directly from the camera via Firewire (probably due to an incompatible Firewire chipset in the computer)." In other words, computer has a Firewire interface but it has been unusable for video layback from the camera, or even file transfer from the HVR-MRC-1K. I will investigate the "legacy" setting on the FW driver.
2) I always match the project settings to the input video, in this case HDV 1080i 29.97 frames/sec 1440x1080 HD anamorphic 1080 pixels (1.33 aspect) upper field first.
3) Actually, I said I was outputting 720p-30 and was hoping to approximately match bit rate/file size with the successful WMV output. The two presets offered are "H264 720p" and "MPEG4 720p." The former produces a file of equivalent size to the WMV file, but is extremely blurry and noisy throughout the image (on QT viewer, of course). The latter produces a file about 10x the size of the WMV or H264 files with better image clarity but still noticeable, more finely-granular noise throughout and also inferior smoothness of horizontal motion to the WMV file that is 1/10 the size.
Output video is distributed by download and viewed by others using the appropriate viewer for the format in question. As stated in the OP, WMV files of the parameters I listed are satisfactory, but Mac enthusiasts have requested the files in "their" format.
FWIW, the Quicktime item in the control panel says it is up to date when asked to check. It has a checkbox under the advanced tab to "enable encoding using legacy codecs," which is presently unchecked.
Under the device manager, under IEEE 1394 bus host controllers, there is one entry - 1394 OHCI Compliant Host Controller. Its driver appears to be up to date, and does not offer a "legacy" setting.
If you are going to have your clients/friends download the video from a drop site and watch it on their computers, then the best output is Publish & Share/Computer/AVCHD with the H264 720p preset.
This wil produce a high-quality, computer-viewable MP4 that will give you the best viewing quality with the most efficient file size.
Here are instructions for setting your FireWire driver to Legacy:
Incorporating that into your current workflow should give you the best possible results in that medium.
The options I have in PE9 under Share/Computer are:
Adobe Flash Video
Was the AVCHD option added in a later version of Premiere Elements, such as 10 or 11? Is there an option that produces usable MOV or MPEG4 video from PE9?
The problem with the Firewire connection is not that the device is not recognized, but that transfer is glitchy. I'll try the legacy driver and see if anything improves.