Mixed media is a confusing prospect because we are not used to it in the language of video production and editing. Unfortunately, the present is a difficult time for digital video production. There are so many different HD formats mixed with SD formats, all being integrated and downgraded for viewing. In the coming years formats will become a little more standardized, but there will still be times that you want to mix media format types. Here are a few tips for what to actually look for when you are utilizing mixed media in your video editing project.
What happens in most non-linear editing program is that you will create a sequence. You can then alter your sequence settings, which will set things like frame rate and aspect ratio, in the menus that you have. Oftentimes you can just do this the easy way by dragging and dropping a clip into the sequence and choosing that you want the sequence settings to conform to the clip that was included. This will match it to that clip, allowing all clips in that specific format to play correctly in that sequence. If you then want to bring in clips of another format into that sequence you may begin to find playback issues. If these file types are comparable in a certain way, such as sharing similar formats, aspect ratio, and frame rate, it may not be too dramatic of a problem.
What you do have to decide is what clips you want to set the sequence settings according to. What should usually be done in this situation is to set the sequence settings according to the clip format that dominates the footage. This means that if there is one format that is more prevalent than the other then you should set the sequence settings according to that. Many people will want to set their sequence settings according to the highest quality HD footage even if it is in the minority, and this is a bad idea. Instead try both sequence settings out and see how your final sequence looks. The likelihood is that the dominate file type will make the final project smooth better.
Capture and Import
The likelihood is that you are going to be using mixed media between true HD formats recorded on digital file formats, like P2 cards, and an SD tape. This often happens when you are filling up P2 cards on an HD camera that can handle DV tapes and then you switch to DV when you run out of digital storage space. When you switch over to DV tape it is assumed that you will maintain comparable settings on the DV tape recording, and you should. This means that if you were filming on 720p24 on the P2 storage card then you will likely switch over to 480p24 on the DV tape. This will not look identical when you are watching your film, but it will be close and passable on almost all monitors. What you will have to make sure you do is set the appropriate capture settings for this specific format. Oftentimes the capture settings will just automatically be set to a 30 FPS format and you will have to stray from these capture presets and match the correct frame rate and aspect ratio so that there are no capture mistakes, which would render the video choppy. If you are importing existing footage you will be fine as long as the footage is captured at the right rate, but if it is too far from your original footage it will stand out. This means that if you are shooting on 24 FPS then regular movies and film reels will do well, and if you are at 30 FPS then news footage and VHS will match well.