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Old Jan 3, 2007, 07:44 PM   #1
MikeKamm
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Best format to import into iMovie

Hey all,

I just bought a new JVC Everio harddrive based camcorder. It saves the videos to it's harddrive in a proprietary format that needs to be converted before editing/importing. It comes with software to do the actual converting...

The choices are MPEG (system or elementary stream), DV stream, or QuickTime.

My question is what is the best format to use - which one will import into iMovie the quickest?

Thanks in advance!

MK
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Old Jan 3, 2007, 08:46 PM   #2
ftaok
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I hadn't realized that any of the HDD camcorders came with Mac software. Anyways, for iMovie, the best format would be DV.

ft

Last edited by Mitthrawnuruodo; Feb 11, 2007 at 03:28 PM. Reason: No need to quote the OP...
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Old Jan 4, 2007, 02:30 AM   #3
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That depends on your project settings (you choose them when you start your project) there is DV, DV widescreen, iSight, MPEG4 (and maybe another one too, but anywho,) I think you can choose MPEG4 or DV to import, as long as it's the same as your project. MPEG4 will give you a smaller file size (iMovie project files can easily go up to dozens of GB) but I think DV stream is slightly better in quality. (not really compressed)
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Old Jan 4, 2007, 08:32 AM   #4
Georgie
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Try an NxN array of possibilities

If no one is able to give you a definitive answer, and I certainly can't, you should probably set up an experiment where you convert a sample video to a variety of formats, import them all into the various iMovie project formats, and then subjectively analyse the quality of the results.

I can think of a couple concerns. I believe that DV is the highest quality because it is uncompressed (or compressed with a lossless format) and as therefore the DV files are quite large--you will quickly fill your hard drive.

From personal experience, I have a Canon S3 IS digital camera, which takes very nice video: easily tv quality, though only 20 minutes per 2-gig card. When I download the video files and play them they look nice and sharp. I was stymied, however, by iMovie because when I imported my video files into a project the quality of the video dropped significantly. It looked blurry with significant artifacts introduced into the stream. One day I was fooling around though, and I found that if I created an "iSight Project" in iMovie, the quality of my source files was maintained. So now, though I only make short movies, I always use the iSight Project setting because that's the only one that maintains the quality of my source video.

The point of my anecdotal story is to say that your best course of action is probably to experiment yourself, systematically going through the combinations you mention above, and deciding for yourself what gives you the best balance between quality and practicality (ie. hard disk space consumed).


Ps. Let us know what gives you the best results. I'm curious.

Last edited by Georgie; Jan 4, 2007 at 08:40 AM. Reason: Accidental tab->space bar results in inadvertant posting... learned that lesson.
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Old Jan 4, 2007, 07:46 PM   #5
MikeKamm
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Trying it tonight...

Thanks for all the advice thus far...

I am going to try an array of formats and methods to see which works best for quality, and which is the best time-saver. I'll post my results here when I have finished. Who knows, I may even start a support blog on the topic!

And to think... a harddrive based camcorder plus a macintosh was supposed to make my life easier???!!?!

Off to iMovie land...

MK
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Old Feb 11, 2007, 03:04 PM   #6
diamond3
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Here is another question. I have my 8mm tapes playing in my camera and then ran through my new sony dvcamera to make it digital and import them onto my movie. Would I really loose a lot of quality if my project is mpeg4 vs. dv. Also the only way I would do this is if I import as mpeg4, would I save time burning in iDVD? Its 2 hours for each tape. let me know please.
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Old Feb 11, 2007, 03:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diamond3 View Post
Here is another question. I have my 8mm tapes playing in my camera and then ran through my new sony dvcamera to make it digital and import them onto my movie. Would I really loose a lot of quality if my project is mpeg4 vs. dv. Also the only way I would do this is if I import as mpeg4, would I save time burning in iDVD? Its 2 hours for each tape. let me know please.
I don't think the quality loss would be that big, but a DVD uses MPEG-2, so I don't if it would spare you time in iDVD. I even suspect it automatically re-encodes your video.
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Old Feb 11, 2007, 05:21 PM   #8
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ok. Well I have a lot of movies that I am doing. I will just have to try it on one of them and then post the results.
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Old Dec 14, 2008, 11:36 PM   #9
patrickcollin12
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don't bother trying to import

imovie HD 06 is very slow to import as it always tries to convert the video first.

I've found a good solution is to get the movies into DV or mp4 format first and then actually place the files directly into the package in the "Media" directory. Then when you open the movie, it thinks the movies are lost and shows you them in the trash. You can drag them out of the trash and put them back into your timeline.

Exact steps are as follows. This does not work for imovie 08, only the older iMovie HD (06).

- Open imovie HD (06).
- Click "Create a New Project".
- Change the Video format to mp4 format then click the Create button.
- Save the video and then close imovie.
- Find the movie you just created in the Finder, then hold down Ctrl and click the movie name. You should see an option called 'Show package contents'. -- Choose this and it should open the inside of the imovie's contents.
- There is a directory inside your movie package called "Media".
- Drag your mp4 formats into the Media directory.
- Close the package (close the window)
- Open your movie again. imovie should tell you that movies were found in the trash. Open the trash and then drag the movies back into your timeline.
- You're done. Save the movie and you should have an mp4 imovie.
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Old Dec 17, 2008, 09:37 PM   #10
elbelcho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patrickcollin12 View Post
imovie HD 06 is very slow to import as it always tries to convert the video first.

I've found a good solution is to get the movies into DV or mp4 format first and then actually place the files directly into the package in the "Media" directory. Then when you open the movie, it thinks the movies are lost and shows you them in the trash. You can drag them out of the trash and put them back into your timeline.

Exact steps are as follows. This does not work for imovie 08, only the older iMovie HD (06).

- Open imovie HD (06).
- Click "Create a New Project".
- Change the Video format to mp4 format then click the Create button.
- Save the video and then close imovie.
- Find the movie you just created in the Finder, then hold down Ctrl and click the movie name. You should see an option called 'Show package contents'. -- Choose this and it should open the inside of the imovie's contents.
- There is a directory inside your movie package called "Media".
- Drag your mp4 formats into the Media directory.
- Close the package (close the window)
- Open your movie again. imovie should tell you that movies were found in the trash. Open the trash and then drag the movies back into your timeline.
- You're done. Save the movie and you should have an mp4 imovie.
I registered at these forums JUST to tell you how awesome your post was. You just saved me 30+ hours of re-coding, trans coding, whatever coding iMovie insisted on doing to a mp4 I just created. Thank you so much!
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Old Apr 2, 2009, 03:05 AM   #11
retrorandy
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I randomly came upon this post and I THANK YOU too!

My MP4 files were importing with way wrong colors. Your tricky method of putting them in the media folder & getting them from the trash made them import into the timeline perfectly.

THANK YOU sooo much!!! Plus, it's a lot quicker this way instead of waiting for Imovie to do its thing. http://cdn.macrumors.com/vb/images/smilies/smile.gif
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Old Apr 14, 2009, 05:02 PM   #12
viper1613
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VHS --> miniDV---> MBP

Hey everyone, thanks for the great tips. I am in the process of converting all our old vhs tapes to save on my external hard drive [connected to the new aluminum body MBP ]

I understand how to access the folder where I can drag the mp4's into in imovie 06, however, how do I get my vhs converted to mp4 without using the imovie capture feature? I am new to this, so I apologize if this is a stupid question. thanks for the help!
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Old Apr 24, 2009, 10:45 PM   #13
SiriusExcelsior
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patrickcollin12 View Post
place the files directly into the package in the "Media" directory.
Thank. You. So. MUCH!!!! This is great! I never knew why iMovie was never satisfied with the movie format I drag in... This will save tons of time and quality (transcoding)~

Thanks again!
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Old Aug 14, 2009, 08:43 AM   #14
macintoshjosh
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WOW! What a time saver. I don't know what's wrong with iMovie 06, but when I tried to import files that were already in mp4 format, it would do nothing for a while, then tell me there was only 3403 minutes remaining. Yikes! This was instant - and awesome! Thank you so much!

Quote:
Originally Posted by patrickcollin12 View Post
imovie HD 06 is very slow to import as it always tries to convert the video first.

I've found a good solution is to get the movies into DV or mp4 format first and then actually place the files directly into the package in the "Media" directory. Then when you open the movie, it thinks the movies are lost and shows you them in the trash. You can drag them out of the trash and put them back into your timeline.

Exact steps are as follows. This does not work for imovie 08, only the older iMovie HD (06).

- Open imovie HD (06).
- Click "Create a New Project".
- Change the Video format to mp4 format then click the Create button.
- Save the video and then close imovie.
- Find the movie you just created in the Finder, then hold down Ctrl and click the movie name. You should see an option called 'Show package contents'. -- Choose this and it should open the inside of the imovie's contents.
- There is a directory inside your movie package called "Media".
- Drag your mp4 formats into the Media directory.
- Close the package (close the window)
- Open your movie again. imovie should tell you that movies were found in the trash. Open the trash and then drag the movies back into your timeline.
- You're done. Save the movie and you should have an mp4 imovie.
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Old Jan 24, 2010, 02:49 PM   #15
gregorywest
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Downloading video to iMovie with JVC Everio

Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgie View Post
If no one is able to give you a definitive answer, and I certainly can't,


Ps. Let us know what gives you the best results. I'm curious.
Try this: CLICK for VIDEO How To

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Old Feb 16, 2010, 06:05 PM   #16
Quack64
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Best format to import into iMovie

I have just tried to import as described in this post. It was very quick, but it scrambled all my clips. Is there a method to sort them - either by their "names" or the recording time/date? It is not terribly useful if I have move each clip to its appropriate location.

Thanks & Regards,
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Old Apr 27, 2010, 11:33 PM   #17
jfunkmaster
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Do you know why when I follow these steps, it is taking my vids out of widescreen and compressing it into a 4:3 format?

Quote:
Originally Posted by patrickcollin12 View Post
imovie HD 06 is very slow to import as it always tries to convert the video first.

I've found a good solution is to get the movies into DV or mp4 format first and then actually place the files directly into the package in the "Media" directory. Then when you open the movie, it thinks the movies are lost and shows you them in the trash. You can drag them out of the trash and put them back into your timeline.

Exact steps are as follows. This does not work for imovie 08, only the older iMovie HD (06).

- Open imovie HD (06).
- Click "Create a New Project".
- Change the Video format to mp4 format then click the Create button.
- Save the video and then close imovie.
- Find the movie you just created in the Finder, then hold down Ctrl and click the movie name. You should see an option called 'Show package contents'. -- Choose this and it should open the inside of the imovie's contents.
- There is a directory inside your movie package called "Media".
- Drag your mp4 formats into the Media directory.
- Close the package (close the window)
- Open your movie again. imovie should tell you that movies were found in the trash. Open the trash and then drag the movies back into your timeline.
- You're done. Save the movie and you should have an mp4 imovie.
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 03:31 AM   #18
De Rocca
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I've seen the issue with changing aspect ratio pass on a lot of forums.
The program Anamorphicizer should solve this issue, but take care , i think you need a previous version of Quicktime (not the one of Snow Leopard)

If you look on different forums or google on Anamorphicizer, you'll prbably find some user experiences...


http://mac.softpedia.com/progDownloa...oad-34893.html
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Old Jul 21, 2010, 08:47 PM   #19
auralb006
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Thank You!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by patrickcollin12 View Post
imovie HD 06 is very slow to import as it always tries to convert the video first.

I've found a good solution is to get the movies into DV or mp4 format first and then actually place the files directly into the package in the "Media" directory. Then when you open the movie, it thinks the movies are lost and shows you them in the trash. You can drag them out of the trash and put them back into your timeline.

Exact steps are as follows. This does not work for imovie 08, only the older iMovie HD (06).

- Open imovie HD (06).
- Click "Create a New Project".
- Change the Video format to mp4 format then click the Create button.
- Save the video and then close imovie.
- Find the movie you just created in the Finder, then hold down Ctrl and click the movie name. You should see an option called 'Show package contents'. -- Choose this and it should open the inside of the imovie's contents.
- There is a directory inside your movie package called "Media".
- Drag your mp4 formats into the Media directory.
- Close the package (close the window)
- Open your movie again. imovie should tell you that movies were found in the trash. Open the trash and then drag the movies back into your timeline.
- You're done. Save the movie and you should have an mp4 imovie.


THANK YOU SOOO MUCH!!! This worked!! You are a genius. Final Cut wouldn't take it, so I tried I movie. When I tried importing the 30 min clip in Imovie it said it would take almost 1200 min.s to import. Then I tried streamclip to convert the mpeg4 into a .mov or something more compatible and it was taking the same hours of time. I followed what you said above and it went into the timeline in about 1 sec. Thanks again for being so helpful!!!!!
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Old Mar 21, 2011, 03:03 PM   #20
jhonny0099
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I love this trick to avoid import times. I have a Samsung HD camera that records in .mp4 (h.264) format. I bought this camera specifically because I did not want to deal with long conversions before editing. I can drag files right into imovie, but it takes some time. So I prefer to do it the backdoor way with the media folder trick. But does anyone else have some issues with this?

I have found that iMovie struggles to play the clips when imported this way. But it turns out smooth once exported. If I import normally, they play much smoother/faster while editing.

But my main problem is that the transitions I use have chattering audio, and they export that way too (no matter what I export to). This does not happen if I do the normal import method.

Any ideas what could be causing this? Could a setting fix it?
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Old Mar 21, 2011, 03:07 PM   #21
Dave Braine
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h264 is not a format that's designed for editing. You would be better off using MPEGStreamclip to convert, exporting to Quicktime using the Apple Intermediate Codec setting
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Old Mar 21, 2011, 03:07 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhonny0099 View Post
I love this trick to avoid import times. I have a Samsung HD camera that records in .mp4 (h.264) format. I bought this camera specifically because I did not want to deal with long conversions before editing. I can drag files right into imovie, but it takes some time. So I prefer to do it the backdoor way with the media folder trick. But does anyone else have some issues with this?

I have found that iMovie struggles to play the clips when imported this way. But it turns out smooth once exported. If I import normally, they play much smoother/faster while editing.

But my main problem is that the transitions I use have chattering audio, and they export that way too (no matter what I export to). This does not happen if I do the normal import method.

Any ideas what could be causing this? Could a setting fix it?
During import into iMovie highly compressed video gets transcoded into a .mov file using the Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) for video and Uncompressed for audio, which makes it easier to work with those files, as the CPU does not get taxed too much.
If you have the storage capacity and can leave your Mac on over night or in the evening, thus it can import the footage properly, do that, as it will make editing easier and less hasslesome, as MPEG-4 (the codec your camera uses) is not meant for editing.
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Old Mar 22, 2011, 07:52 AM   #23
jhonny0099
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Thanks guys.

Yeah, I know it's best to let it import. But I do still find it quicker overall to have somewhat slower editing performance with an mp4 than to wait for the transcode. In most cases I can be done editing and exported before the file would be done transcoding.

The strange thing is that I had a Sanyo HD camera (returned it because of horrible stabilization) that also records in h.264 mp4, and those files were not slow to edit at all. I also had a Insignia HD camera (returned because the audio is horrible) that recorded in h.264 .mov files and those were smooth as can be too.I'm wondering if Samsung uses a different variation of h.264 that is more compressed and harder to decode on the fly?

Oh yeah, I did find a workaround for the transition audio garbling. If you split your track right before you want your transition, then extract that audio segment, then apply the transition it will apply just to the video and leave the audio segment smooth. Of course you'll have to manually fade down the audio line. Kind of a pain in the butt, but not that hard.
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Old Mar 22, 2011, 08:47 AM   #24
jhonny0099
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Correction. I still have some files from my old camera and tried it again. Although they play much smoother and don't strain iMovie, they do still suffer from the transition glitch. I've been reading about it elsewhere and it appears to be an issue with any mp4 with imovie 6.
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