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Not sure what it actually records via HDMI. If it is just already compressed H.264 like when it records to the internal carsds, then this should be usable without any special prerequisites. If it is a raw stream the BMD hardware would probably use its own CoDec, so no problem there, eitehr, as they always provide them. And you're mistaken, no program on this planet will load the clips into RAM in theri entirety, least of all editing programs. The data is directly streamed from the storage device and only the sections are decoded that are actually required to render the current frames. Same for AE - if you are just using it for "editing" and color corrections, it will proabably never exhaust your memory. it would only do so with heavy effects processing going on or when you use multiprocessing.
You shouldn't have any trouble with the codec if you have Final Cut Pro because I think it's ProRez. At any rate, Black Magic Design has always been great at supplying codecs. The problem you're going to have with the 550D/T2i is that the HDMI output from that camera includes the focus box (the little white square) and it doesn't output a full 1920 X 1080 image. You get cropping or black pixels all around the edge.
I own one of these cameras and it's one of the many frustrations that I have. Don't get me wrong, it's an amazing camera for the price, but it's not what you're looking for. The 60D is better because you at least have a little control over the audio, but as far as I know there is no Canon DSLR that sends clean live video out the HDMI cable. I believe the 7D will deliver clean picture but it is still cropped with gray bars top and bottom.
The HDMI signal is fully compliant HDMI compliant, the camera just doesn't have the hardware built in to send the entire HD video image to the screen. Instead of getting the 1080 HD footage the camera records internally you are getting an HDMI feed of the camera's LCD viewfinder. At least they stripped off the other overlays. The HDMI output is useful for focus and to check color, but it's not a very good substitute for the real HD video.
Here's an article about the problem. Before you pick a camera do a little research.
I already have the camera, Rick. I just wasn't sure about the ability of my computer to process the BMD's output. Now that you've alerted me to the camera's HDMI problem, I won't use it.
However, I also own a Canon HV40, which also has HDMI out. Do you know anything about using that camera for the purpose I mentioned?
Thanks, Mylenium, that answers my question. Now all I have to do is change the camera I'll be using and I should be good.
The HV 40 will work perfectly.