I know this has already been asked in one form or another, but I've yet to see a satisfactory answer, so please indulge me.
I own a Canon HF10 AVCHD camera and want import, edit, then burn to a standard DVD with the least amount of quality loss in the downgrade from HD to SD.
I work on a mac and own both iMovie/iDVD and Final Cut Studio Pro as well as Toast 9 and MPEG Streamclip. I would prefer to stick to iMovie/iDVD, but will take on the extra steps of Final Cut/Compressor/DVD Studio Pro if these will, in fact, render superior results.
Thus far, I have tried many different permutations of above, and have yet to stumble upon the right settings of interlace/deinterlace, field dominance, format conversion, etc., etc. It almost seems the more I research the more lost I get, so if anyone knows the "recipe" I seek, please do share it!
[Marc Sedaka]"right settings of interlace/deinterlace, field dominance"
Pure and simple, what you shoot in, you edit in, what you edit in, you encode as. Never change field order or deinterlace if you want to maintain quality.
FCP/Compressor/DVDSP gives you more control, more control can give you better results.
WIth FCP6 using Log and Transfer, in pref set the Transcode to ProRes. Edit, if you want quality you have to color correct.
Then get yourself a bitrate calculator (links have been posted) and encode in compressor to the highest bitrate you can. Make sure you use ac3 to give you more of bitrate for video.