AVCHD / iMovie questions - regrets? suggestions?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by slideshowmike, Nov 15, 2008.

  1. slideshowmike macrumors newbie

    Aug 14, 2008
    I’m just about to pull the trigger on the purchase of a Canon Vixia HF-100. I’ve done my research, but still questions linger. I’m a family movie-making enthusiast who recently sold his standard def camera in order to move up to HD. My plan is to edit in iMovie. I don’t do a ton of editing - not overly skilled, but I much prefer to put something together rather than just watch raw footage.

    Anyways, I was hoping to hear from people who are in a situation similar to mine. Do you regret your decision to go the AVCHD route? (I like the idea of not having to deal with tapes and the benefits from recording on to solid state). I understand that it’s somewhat of a pain to convert to AIC, but at this point is it just a mater of it not being that convenient or is it frustrating enough that you wish had opted for HDV? Do you think the AVCHD & iMovie combo is ok, or would you recommend a different software package? We only have macs at home – mine’s a year old MacBook Pro with 4 GB of Ram and a nice 2nd monitor.

    I’m also in the market for an external hard drive to store the massive video files I keep reading about. My plan is to purchase a non-portable drive with a faster RPM rate than what’s available in the portable realm. But what size – will 500 GB suffice for now, or should I just bite the bullet and go for the 1 TB? And can someone recommend a brand? I don’t plan on doing a ton of video work – I’ve got two young girls and just want to make movies of them, trips backpacking with the mates, etc. I'd use the drive as a backup for our two computers with decent sized MP3 collection and lots of digital pics.

    Also, I keep searching for a blog or something that provides a step-by-step AVCHD / iMovie workflow. Anyone know of one? Also, I’ve thought of getting an appleTV unit – not only for video but also as a nice way to show my digital pics as well. But I’ve read of limitations in terms of losing resolution when you convert to a format that’s viewable via AppleTV. Or is it just better to purchase Toast 9 in order to burn to something appropriate for Blueray? I don't actually have a Blueray player, but I've considered purchasing one in the past - is this another good reason to get one. Or are people adequately satisfied with the resolution when burning to just a regular DVD?

    This post probably has way too many questions. Essentially, I’m looking for someone to break it all down for me. Hope there are a few out there willing to provide their assessment. Thanks in advance.
  2. Loc macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2007
    Southern California
    I was in the same situation and I did end up buying the HF100. So far I have no regrets working with AVCHD files in iMovie. I have a Santa Rosa MBP 2.2ghz and 3gb of ram. Occasionally it lags but not often enough to bother me. Sure it takes a long time to convert to AIC, but c'mon let's keep it real. You're not making money off this so time isn't an issue. Start the conversion and go watch TV or play with the kids or have dinner.
  3. Courtaj macrumors 6502a


    Jul 3, 2008
    Edinburgh, U.K.
    AVCHD works for me: convenient, easy workflow, no tapes, reasonable quality for the money.

    The transcoding isn't the end of the world - raw AVCHD editing would be a massive drain on processing resources and would be almost impossible on anything less than a quad core.

    I was using iMovie but have migrated to Final Cut Express because I got sick of editing audio in Garageband and don't really like the interface of either iMovie '08 or iMovie HD.

    Once I've finished a project I erase the AIC files - they're just too unwieldy to archive. I only archive the raw AVCHD. That way I can store roughly 60 hours on a 500GB drive. I'd only get about 10 hours if I kept the AIC files.

    Here's my workflow:

    (1.) Using a USB card reader, make a disk image on my external drive. Name it.
    (2.) Copy the entire folder structure of the memory card to the image.
    (3.) Confirm that the files have copied by previewing in FCE or iMovie, then format the card.

    (1.) Open editing software.
    (2.) Mount disk image(s) required for the edit. A mounted disk image will be recognised by iMovie / FCE as a camera, so long as you copied across the fully intact folder structure at step 2 above. iMovie and FCE allow the connection of multiple devices, and allow you to switch between them while previewing & importing.
    (3.) Preview and import clips (in FCE this step sometimes also includes selecting in and out points).
    (4.) Get editing.

    Pretty easy.

    Hopefully someone can help with your other questions.


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