Step 1: Capture settings are irrelevant for AVCHD on that camera. Just copy the entire folder structure intact to your hard drive. Pr will find the copied footage through the Media Browser panel. You may even be able to edit directly from the camera's HDD. You should try it and see.
Step 2: 1920x816 produces a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Assuming all of your action occurs in the exact vertical center of the shot, then you should crop 132 pixels from top and bottom. Placing your 1080 footage into a custom progressive sequence of those dimensions should get you what you want, as long as you don't have Default scale to frame size selected in Preferences.
Step 3: This is the tough one. To get 24 fps out of 30 fps, one frame out of every 5 needs to be dropped. This will produce perceptually jerky playback, especially if any motion at all is present. So the remaining frames must be blended together in some way to smooth out the bump where the missing frame is. Using AE to accomplish this is, IMHO, the best solution for an all-CS4 workflow. In AE, you have 2 choices: Frame Mix and Pixel Motion. PM produces better results, but FM renders faster. If you haven't done any editing of the clips in Pr yet, then the best idea would be to convert all of the footage in AE before importing it into Pr. If you've already got edits in place in Pr, then you can select all of the clips in the sequence and choose File | Adobe Dynamic Link | Replace with After Effects Composition. Either way, each clip in AE must be individually interpreted to Separate Fields/Preserve Edges. The comp settings must be set to 24p. Then Frame Blending must be enabled for the comp, and finally, each Frame Blending Layer Switch must be set to either Frame Mix or Pixel Motion. If you do use Dynamic Link, be sure to turn *off* Frame Blending in Pr, because AE has already taken care of that.
Step 4: Because rendering will be so intensive and take so long, I recommend exporting an intermediate file from Pr, then re-importing that file to be used as the source for the various export formats. Otherwise, you'll have to render all over again for each individual export format. For web, I recommend Flash. For computer viewing, it depends on your delivery method (CD, DVD, Download, External Hard Drive, Flash Drive, etc.). For Blu-ray, either H.264 Blu-ray or MPEG2 Blu-ray.
Quite honestly the simplest solution would be to just shoot in 24p mode. AVCHD is capable of it.
Read Step 3 in the OP.
I caught that. Seemed he knew the answer, just needed reinforcement.
Thank you for the feedback...very helpful! I think I'll quit worrying about trying to convert to 24p....probably better things for me to focus on at this stage.
This leads me to a couple other questions however. So whenever I export, either to a MPEG2, or H.264 or someother MPEG variant, I want to be sure to select a preset with a frame rate of 29.97 correct?
Also, for example, if I were to export my video out as an MPEG2, which preset would work best with my video. Many of them seem redundant to me? I see there is an option to choose HDTV 1080i 29.97 High Quality, or HDTV 1080p 29.97 High Quality. Would the latter deinterlace my video for me, or do I need to select the deinterlace option from the Field Options for each clip?
Thanks for bearing with me....still a foreign language to me at this point.
For web and computer display, you need to scale down your video and deinterlace it. That's less work than changing the frame rate to 24 fps, but it's still time intensive due to the need for Maximum Render Quality to be used for export.
If you are going to use HD video for web, download and DVD delivery on a regular basis, then you really should adopt Dan Isaac's AviSynth/VirtualDub workflow. Search the forum for "hd2sd". It's significantly faster than an all-CS4 workflow, and produces much better results when interlaced video is involved.
For Blu-ray delivery, keep the video HD and keep it interlaced. An H.264 Blu-ray or MPEG2 Blu-ray preset that produces 1920×1080, 16x9, 29.97 fps, interlaced output is Blu-ray legal, and won't be re-transcoded by Encore.