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Old Oct 22, 2011, 05:09 PM   #1
B&I Dog
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Need iMovie '11 importing help

Sorry, but I have read and reread other threads and I am completely lost.

My problem is that I have been importing movies from my new Sony DCR-SX63 Handycam into iMovie '11 and the quality is blurry and horrible. I am looking for a reasonably simple solution to being able to import video and make decent movies with iMovie. Please be gentle. I am so confused about MPEG4, AVI, DV, MPEG2 and all of the other stuff. Here are some specific questions:

1. What format is best for iMovie and how do I convert my video to it? I think my camera shoots in MPEG2.
2. To keep it simple, is it better to just buy a different camera? What kind and what format does it need to shoot in?
3. What is the step by step simple way of importing my video to iMovie in a format that it likes?

Thanks for any and all responses!!!!
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Old Oct 22, 2011, 05:19 PM   #2
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How do you import footage from the camera into iMovie?

1. iMovie transcodes (converts) the footage upon import into .mov files using Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) for video and uncompressed for audio. Thus a prior transcoding is not necessary, if iMovie can import from the camera directly.

2. Depends on your needs, but MPEG-4 is a better codec, than MPEG-2, thus those HD cameras using AVCHD (MPEG-4 variant), are more common and often have better visible image quality and the footage is imported better.

3. Depends on how you do it currently.

MPEG-4 is a codec with many variants, like H.264 (used in iTunes videos and Apple's movie trailers and YouTube videos and much more) or Divx and Xvid (used in many video files meant for distribution over networks).
.AVI is a container, not a codec. A container can accept footage in various codecs, but the most common .avi files use Divx or Xvid as codecs.
DV is a codec meant for DV tape footage. DV tapes are those small cassettes used in MiniDV camcorders from 10 years ago.
MPEG-2 is an older, less efficient codec and is used to compress video on video DVDs.
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Old Oct 22, 2011, 06:53 PM   #3
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Thanks, but you are 20 feet over my head. The problem is and the question remains: my camera takes video in MPEG2 format, when imported to iMovie it is poor quality and blurry, can it be converted to another format so that it imports at a better quality?

Note: The video plays beautifully when the camera is plugged directly into a 50" TV.
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Old Oct 22, 2011, 07:50 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by B&I Dog View Post
Thanks, but you are 20 feet over my head. The problem is and the question remains: my camera takes video in MPEG2 format, when imported to iMovie it is poor quality and blurry, can it be converted to another format so that it imports at a better quality?

Note: The video plays beautifully when the camera is plugged directly into a 50" TV.
But you can tell us at least how you import the videos from the camera into iMovie, can't you? I mean, you already did it, so describing it shouldn't be a problem.
You ca make a screenshot or two/three and attach it/them to your next post, if you can't describe it.

And what went over your head? EVERYTHING?
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Old Oct 23, 2011, 03:26 PM   #5
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But you can tell us at least how you import the videos from the camera into iMovie, can't you? I mean, you already did it, so describing it shouldn't be a problem.
You ca make a screenshot or two/three and attach it/them to your next post, if you can't describe it.

And what went over your head? EVERYTHING?
My method of importing is pretty basic. I take the video, plug either the camera or SD card into my iMac, open iMovie '11, and import the files. The quality of the import is very poor. However, the same video played on a 50" TV is crystal clear. My question remains: how do I import video to iMovie that is also crystal clear? Do I need to convert the raw digital video to another format first? If so, how and what program is easiest to use?
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Old Oct 23, 2011, 04:16 PM   #6
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Your Camcorder does record in MPEG2 format, and Apple says that iMovie11 supports it: http://help.apple.com/imovie/cameras...tml?lang=en_US

In view of your problems, I would drag the movie files from your camcorder into Finder and then use MPEGStreamclip to convert them to Quicktime. Use the Apple Intermediate Codec(AIC) option as this is what iMovie uses. If you don't hear the audio on your clips, then you will need to buy Apple's MPEG2 playback component form their website.
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Old Oct 24, 2011, 02:12 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Dave Braine View Post
Your Camcorder does record in MPEG2 format, and Apple says that iMovie11 supports it: http://help.apple.com/imovie/cameras...tml?lang=en_US

In view of your problems, I would drag the movie files from your camcorder into Finder and then use MPEGStreamclip to convert them to Quicktime. Use the Apple Intermediate Codec(AIC) option as this is what iMovie uses. If you don't hear the audio on your clips, then you will need to buy Apple's MPEG2 playback component form their website.
Thanks David. I'll try to figure out how to do that. Right now I have the Quicktime player on my Macbook. I assume that there is another Quicktime? Today I tried to convert the MPEG2 files to MPEG4 files using Handbrake. There wasn't much difference in quality. Sigh!
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Old Oct 25, 2011, 01:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B&I Dog View Post
Thanks David. I'll try to figure out how to do that. Right now I have the Quicktime player on my Macbook. I assume that there is another Quicktime? Today I tried to convert the MPEG2 files to MPEG4 files using Handbrake. There wasn't much difference in quality. Sigh!
I wouldn't use Handbrake for this task.

MPEGStreamClip from www.squared5.com is your best bet.

You'll most likely need the QuicktimeMpeg2Component codec to get MPEGStreamclip to work. If you have Lion on your mac, you'll need to really pay attention to the MPEGStreamClip website, as they have a patch to make the QuickTime.Mpeg2 component work correctly.

I just used it to convert a bunch of my mom's MPEG2 video from an Ireland trip and it came out beautifully. Completely worth the $20 for the codec.

BTW, the codec is not another Quicktime. It is a piece of software that lets the Mac and MPEGStreamClip read the Mpeg2 video properly.
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Old Oct 25, 2011, 02:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by bmcgonag View Post
I wouldn't use Handbrake for this task.

MPEGStreamClip from www.squared5.com is your best bet.

You'll most likely need the QuicktimeMpeg2Component codec to get MPEGStreamclip to work. If you have Lion on your mac, you'll need to really pay attention to the MPEGStreamClip website, as they have a patch to make the QuickTime.Mpeg2 component work correctly.

I just used it to convert a bunch of my mom's MPEG2 video from an Ireland trip and it came out beautifully. Completely worth the $20 for the codec.

BTW, the codec is not another Quicktime. It is a piece of software that lets the Mac and MPEGStreamClip read the Mpeg2 video properly.

Thanks! There seems to be universal agreement that this is the way to go. I'm going to download Streamclip, purchase the QuicktimeMpeg2Component, then try to figure out how to use it all. What format am I trying to end up transposing the video into?? Also, is there a camera out there that takes video in this format so that I don't have to jump through all of the hoops? Wish me luck. I have a feeling I'll be back here with more questions on "how to".
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Old Oct 25, 2011, 02:06 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by B&I Dog View Post
Thanks! There seems to be universal agreement that this is the way to go. I'm going to download Streamclip, purchase the QuicktimeMpeg2Component, then try to figure out how to use it all. What format am I trying to end up transposing the video into?? Also, is there a camera out there that takes video in this format so that I don't have to jump through all of the hoops? Wish me luck. I have a feeling I'll be back here with more questions on "how to".
There is no consumer camera that records in an editable format.

Use these settings in MPEG Streamclip.
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Old Oct 25, 2011, 02:19 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by simsaladimbamba View Post
There is no consumer camera that records in an editable format.

Use these settings in MPEG Streamclip.
Image
Okay, I downloaded Streamclip and purchased the MPEG2 Playback component for $20 and installed it. Now what? When I open Streamclip I don't see anything that lets me get started. Are there instructions somewhere?
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Old Oct 25, 2011, 03:13 PM   #12
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Okay, I downloaded Streamclip and purchased the MPEG2 Playback component for $20 and installed it. Now what? When I open Streamclip I don't see anything that lets me get started. Are there instructions somewhere?
You use the OPEN FILES (CMD+O) option under MPEG Streamclip > Menu Bar > FILE.
If you want to process several files: Menu Bar > LIST > BATCH LIST (CMD+O).

And here are some guides for MPEG Streamclip, but they focus more on video DVDs as input choice.
Get footage from a video DVD into an editing application
Video: Transcoding ripped video to format iMovie understands (.mp4, 75s, 7MB)
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Old Oct 25, 2011, 04:22 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by simsaladimbamba View Post
You use the OPEN FILES (CMD+O) option under MPEG Streamclip > Menu Bar > FILE.
If you want to process several files: Menu Bar > LIST > BATCH LIST (CMD+O).
Image

And here are some guides for MPEG Streamclip, but they focus more on video DVDs as input choice.
Get footage from a video DVD into an editing application
Video: Transcoding ripped video to format iMovie understands (.mp4, 75s, 7MB)
I GIVE UP!! I used Streamclip with the MPEG2 Playback Component and tried every possible format to import my MPEG2 video. I tried MP4, AVI, DV, and every format that was shown as a possibility. I adjusted the quality all the way to 100% and everything in between. I then tried to import each of the converted formats into iMovie. They all suck. The quality is still poor and blurry. Yet, the same MPEG2 video plays perfectly on my TV. I am so frustrated!
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Old Oct 25, 2011, 04:26 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by B&I Dog View Post
I GIVE UP!! I used Streamclip with the MPEG2 Playback Component and tried every possible format to import my MPEG2 video. I tried MP4, AVI, DV, and every format that was shown as a possibility. I adjusted the quality all the way to 100% and everything in between. I then tried to import each of the converted formats into iMovie. They all suck. The quality is still poor and blurry. Yet, the same MPEG2 video plays perfectly on my TV. I am so frustrated!
Have you used the settings in the guides in screenshots too?
Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) and Uncompressed?
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Old Oct 25, 2011, 04:51 PM   #15
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Have you used the settings in the guides in screenshots too?
Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) and Uncompressed?

I'm not sure what you mean by "the settings in the guides in screenshots". I looked at all of the formats and Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) is not listed as any of the choices in Streamclip.
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Old Oct 25, 2011, 09:23 PM   #16
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I looked at all of the formats and Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) is not listed as any of the choices in Streamclip.
Yes it does.







The Apple Intermediate Codec is the best choice because that is what iMovie uses.
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Old Oct 26, 2011, 08:51 AM   #17
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Try not to get frustrated. It takes time to learn to do anything worth doing, but once you've done it a few times it becomes old hat.

We are here to help, so give it another try. Also, if you are using long clips or the clips you want to work with, I suggest shooting a few 10 second clips in different lighting, just for learning purposes. Make note of the settings you use to convert each time, then you'll know what to do when you get a positive result. Plus the shorter the clip, the less time you waste waiting on conversion and import.

If you just can't stand it, then try a different camera. I know that's not optimal, but I have several cameras that all shoot in different formats, and I get different results with each of them, so it takes a bit of patience to import the video in a decent format.

I like the JVC Everio series. They shoot good video, and imports look good to me straight from camera to iMovie. Others will disagree whole-heartedly, and will have their own preferences. There are tons of reviews and good information on this site in the video editing section (i guess that section is still here) I have been on macrumors so long I don't really pay attention anymore.
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Old Oct 26, 2011, 09:49 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Dave Braine View Post
Yes it does.

Image

Image

Image

The Apple Intermediate Codec is the best choice because that is what iMovie uses.

Thanks Dave! I was able to follow your instructions implicitly. Unfortunately, the quality of the video imported to iMovie was still not very good. I even tried moving the slider from the default 50% to 100% of quality. I went back to plugging my camera directly into the TV and again it played beautifully with great clarity. I have tried all of this with both my new iMac, as well as my Macbook. No difference. I have absolutely no idea how to fix this problem. I'd buy a new camera if I thought that would help, but I don't know if it would. If something good (or bad) happens, I'll be sure to post. Thanks for you efforts.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmcgonag View Post
Try not to get frustrated. It takes time to learn to do anything worth doing, but once you've done it a few times it becomes old hat.

We are here to help, so give it another try. Also, if you are using long clips or the clips you want to work with, I suggest shooting a few 10 second clips in different lighting, just for learning purposes. Make note of the settings you use to convert each time, then you'll know what to do when you get a positive result. Plus the shorter the clip, the less time you waste waiting on conversion and import.

If you just can't stand it, then try a different camera. I know that's not optimal, but I have several cameras that all shoot in different formats, and I get different results with each of them, so it takes a bit of patience to import the video in a decent format.

I like the JVC Everio series. They shoot good video, and imports look good to me straight from camera to iMovie. Others will disagree whole-heartedly, and will have their own preferences. There are tons of reviews and good information on this site in the video editing section (i guess that section is still here) I have been on macrumors so long I don't really pay attention anymore.
Thanks for your words of encouragement. I followed Dave's very clear instructions that he posted above with no success. I plugged the camera back into the TV and the quality was outstanding. I have been following your advice about using small clips and experimenting, but the quality is still bad. I don't mind trying a different camera. I'll research and see what doesn't record in the MPEG2 format and maybe try one of those. If he quality of my Sony was poor on the the TV, then this would be a no brainer. Even if I lost a little quality in the transfer I could live with that. However, the quality is poor enough that I can't even tell which of the kids in my daughter's high school marching band is her. Please feel free to offer up any ideas that might come to mind. I will come back here to post if I find anything that changes or resolves this problems. I do appreciate all of the comments and ideas I have been given. Thanks again!
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Old Oct 27, 2011, 11:32 AM   #19
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Have you tried importing using Imovie and the Full/Original settings?
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Old Oct 27, 2011, 04:00 PM   #20
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I've heard from others on this forum who said that their footage just didn't look good after importing to iMovie. I don't recall the camera models or makes, but it's bound to be something with the conversion and import.

I could be completely wrong, and I hate for anyone to get put off of such a great product as iMovie, but it happens.

How does the video look in MPEGStreamClip viewer? Can you play the video in VLC Media Player straight off the camera?

If it looks bad on all of them, may be a monitor issue, if it only looks bad in iMovie then it may be a conversion / compression issue.
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Old Jul 24, 2012, 06:41 AM   #21
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iMovie problems and Apple NoWill to fix it!

There's several problems with iMovie 8, 9, 11 and the way it handles codecs and color profiles:

Interlaced video - After iMovie 6 HD, iMovie no longer deinterlaces correctly, it just rip half of the frames, that's why any interlaced video will look horrible immediately after iMovie import, a workaround for this is use JES deinterlacer, is a free app that makes a good job deinterlacing footage and you should save in Apple Intermediate Codec or Apple Pro Res as progressive video, Apple Intermediate Codec is a lossy low compression codec made by Apple, iMovies mostly uses it.

The next problem with iMovie is that it don't render correctly color and gamma, its a nightmare, input colors and output colors will not match, they will fade and you will see lots of noise on dark images. I don't understand exactly what iMovie does to images, but what it does, it does really bad. The only way to get better results is to export with Quicktime Movie - Then choose Apple Pro Res HQ (it seems to be the only codec that bypass iMovie nightmares), in the filters make color sync profiles, in Saturation, about 20% more and in light about 7% less, all this to compensate the iMovie bad internal engine and try to get results as similar to the input quality.

To get the ProRes codecs you will have to download it from Apple since it's only for Final Cut Pro users... Then after the ProRes, you can re-encode to another codec, fortunately at least the Apple Intermediate Codec and Pro Res are very low compression so you should not miss much on quality...

Apple Pro Codecs:
http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1396

to install it you will need an app like the shareware Pacifist:
http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/6812/pacifist/


It's actually too much work and headaches, Apple knows all this problems, since I have moan to them several times with no response, it seems they don't care, and since there's no Snow Leopard iLife Updates at least the say you need Mac OS X 10.7.4 to get them, I guess the really don't even give a damn.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 10:27 AM   #22
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Hi,
I would like to export my iMovie project into my Sony dvdirect DVD maker. Anyone going this? Thanks
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 10:37 AM   #23
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Hi,
I would like to export my iMovie project into my Sony dvdirect DVD maker. Anyone going this? Thanks
Better make your own thread:

Select an appropriate forum here.
Find the NEW THREAD button (at the top and bottom of the thread list) looking like this:
Use an appropriate and descriptive thread title and follow the guidelines in this thread:
"How to maximise your MacRumors troubleshooting experience" created by mad jew in 2006

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Old Dec 31, 2012, 03:22 PM   #24
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I know this is an old thread, but for just storing camcorder footage, isn't iPhoto a better place?

The camcorder footage I've imported onto iMovie for making my own films, doesn't look that good until I've made my film and exported it to Finder.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 03:35 PM   #25
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Inasmuch as iMovie is designed for importing, editing and then exporting the finished movie and not for catalogueing video, then iPhoto is probably better.

However, I can only import from my miniDV camcorder into iMovie, but my digital stills camera imports it's video into iPhoto.
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