Codec issue & video editing software HELP

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by tarheelmommy, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. tarheelmommy, Nov 20, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2011

    tarheelmommy macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011
    We currently have a Sony video camera that records in M-P2 format...not HD. I have to run the video through conversion software to get it to import into i-movie 09 with both sound and video. After conversion from m-peg 2 to AIC, the quality of the footage is awful. On occasion it does import into imovie without conversion (who knows why, apple support can't solve this mystery) BUT the video quality is VERY poor. The quality on my PC is great (no conversion needed) so this is a mac issue. We purchased our mac desktop FOR THE PURPOSE of video editing so we're pretty frustrated.

    At this point we want to buy a new video camera. What is the best brand or camera to buy to work with a mac? I DO NOT want to have to convert my videos at all - I want the camera's codec to work w/ the program's codec.

    I am willing to buy Final Cut Pro express OR Adobe premiere elements for mac instead of imovie if this would help.

    Please help with the following:
    1) Recommendation of camera brand, model would be helpful too. Obviously HD. The list on mac's website is useless b/c my 1 year old camera is on that list YET does not work with the mac, confirmed by over 10 hours of phone support over the last few months w/ mac.

    2) Recommendation for codec (is AVCHD the best???)

    3) Recommendation for software. Would abandoning imovie be the best way to avoid AIC?????

    THANK YOU for your help. I feel sick about the last year's footage of my 1st child which has been ruined w/ the imovie's conversion issues.
  2. cgbier macrumors 6502a

    Jun 6, 2011
    Would be easier to know what Sony model you have.
  3. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Curious as well as what Sony camera your having problems with.
    Importing into Windows tells me that its playing nice with MPG2 or AVI.
  4. tarheelmommy thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Sony DCR-DVD 850 Standard def. is the issue. Plus m-peg 2. I don't want to convert my videos and w/ this camera that's the only option.
  5. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Have you tried using MPEG StreamClip to convert to a safe option for Mac? Its funny over the years tech such as this camera fares well on the Windows side. The conversion for the Mac side never arrived as well as say DV-NTSC.
    Honestly any decent HD camera will be fine for both PC and Mac.
    Oh and I dont know if you can still buy Final Cut Express.
  6. tarheelmommy thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011
    MPEG Streamclip is what I'm using. I've tried converting to almost every codec and the quality is still awful on the mac. Very grainy. THe issue is that my camera is muxed / interlaced (according to the mac pros that I called) and that when it deinterlaces it / demuxes it the quality is ripped apart.
    When you say that any decent HD camera will work on the mac, are you indicating that it will work fine BUT will still need conversion? I don't want to convert my videos, period b/c of the quality issue...unless there's a solution out there that converts without losing quality. Thanks!
  7. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    What's your budget?

    Almost any cheap HD camcorder will outperform your old interlaced SD Sony. The discontinued Flip HD cameras are going cheap these days.

    PS some stores like Best Buy will give you a trade in value for your old Sony, won't be much but better than nothing.
  8. tarheelmommy thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011

    Budget would be 500-600 for a video cam, and an additional up to 250 if I really liked a new editing program. I don't need anything fancy. All I care about is that the quality of the videos is preserved with bright colors and good sound, no lines or fuzziness when the pic is moving (issues w/ my current camera). I'd pay up to 700 for a really nice camera but would prefer closer to 500-600.
  9. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Any chance you can send a screen shot of this grainy look?
    I understand the hell you have to go thru with the demux stage.
    In some cases we have to take the footage into the Windows world first to get it to a working format using anything from Adobe Premiere and Avid Media Composer. Your talking big bucks for that.
    When your viewing the clips, are you viewing from the desktop or the actual record/player source using any NTSC monitor/dispaly?
    Some clips tend to look like poop on the Mac side but legal on the actual NTSC side of viewing.
  10. tarheelmommy thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011
    The quaity is better when playing back on another device, but still not great. I am sick of spending so much time converting and not being happy with the final product. At this point I am 100% certain I am getting a new camera and abandoning this piece of you know what. I am just stuck and not finding a lot of information about WHAT new camera will work with my mac without converting the files. So I need a new camera that uses a codec that works with my mac. I can abandon Imovie if that is the issue and I am willing to spend money on a new editing program.

    Otherwise I'll probably get a new PC which I really would prefer to do this on my mac seeing that the main reason we bought it was for movie editing....obviously that was a bad call!
  11. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    That's a decent budget and you should be able to find something (don't forget to get that old Sony traded in)

    Many modern digital cameras have excellent 1080 video recording capabilities and often better lenses than camcorders. Take a look at for reviews on just about every digicam made to date.

    I'm pining for a Canon S100 ~$450 and it shoots 1080 video.

    IMHO avoid superzooms unless you're shooting with a tripod.
  12. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    But what works for your budget. I cant sway you to stay with the Mac but if your planning on buying a PC just for that, then you went over your budget.
    Ive seen it all over my years teaching and working in this field. Most of the time its just the dumb things that get on peoples nerve from interlace on desktop to USB not working with Final Cut Pro.
    There will always be some form of conversion.
    Even with FCPX, Avid Media Composer and Premiere there will be some type of converting from one codec/container to another so that you can use the host software/hardwares capability.
    I dont know what you are using on your PC but if that works for you then stay there.
    Save your money.
  13. tarheelmommy thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011
    I would much rather not use the PC since we bought the mac for this purpose. But yet I can't find anyone who is able to tell me what camera will work with the mac...and what software to use to minimize conversion if conversion of some type is unavoidable. Having to send my movies through streamclip is not an option i am happy with. I want to drag and drop essentially.
  14. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Sorry I forgot to mention that most professional apps dont require you to use MPEG StreamClip. This is only for cases with odd formats such as MPG2 (not demuxed), AVI and even weird ones that I cant remember.
    Programs such as FCPX for $300 USD will bring any Digital Video camera feed via firewire, usb and mounted media cards into its realm and convert on the fly to ProRes. You can actually start editing right away while it converts in the background.
    Now before any of the haters out there try and intervene, keep in mind that I will suggest Adobe Premiere and Avid Media Composer. Premiere being the cheaper option would be the obvious choice but most of us know that purchasing Premiere alone would be not be as beneficial as buying the Production or Master Collection Suite.
    Im trying to help this person to get going asap with their home pro-sumer set-up and not confuse them with some Editing room overkill overpriced solutions.
  15. tarheelmommy thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011
    So if I purchase a high definition camera (Canon) and then a new editing program, what type of format is the BEST to look for. I want to be sure this time that the camera I purchase uses a format that the video editing software also uses. What is the best format to work with? What would be the best program to work with considering my needs (simple editing to cut clips of my infant, organizing them by "milestones" and dates, making DVDs composed of 1 years worth of videos, etc. Nothing major at all in terms of editing. Thank you!
  16. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Haha your like Apple's dream user ;) Whats your Macs specs? not going to suggest FCPX until I know that :)
    There are some free tutorials out there that you can look into before buying.
    FCPX has a 30 day demo.
    Check out this site first for tutorials

    Have fun :)
  17. tarheelmommy thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011
    What specs do you need for the mac? It is a 10.6.8 version w/ 3.06 Ghz intel core i3 w/ 4 GB memory...any other info needed?

    I saw this on the Adobe Premiere Elements website:
    Adobe Premiere Elements supported import/export formats include:
    AVCHD, Blu-ray Disc (export only), DV-AVI (import/export on Windows, import only on Mac OS), DVD, Dolby® Digital Stereo, H.264, HDV, MPEG-1 (import only), MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MP3, QuickTime, Windows Media (Windows only), and many more. Import/export of some formats may require activation via an Internet connection. Activation is fast, easy, and free.

    This sounds like this software would work with the mac without conversion of the files, correct? Other better recommendations?
  18. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    So its a MacBook Pro? Yep thats a decent priced software. Now an AVCHD camera would be nice but i have not experience on buying those. I would suggest looking into that format and cross-ref with Adobe Premiere Elements.
    your obviously not going to get a DV camera since they are stuck at DV-NTSC Standard Def. YOu can also look into HDV cameras as well.


    I think both Adobe Premiere Elements and Apple Final Cut Pro Ten have 30-day trials. Dont buy anything yet just test with camera first.
    Some pro shows will let you test at their store with your laptop for situations such as this.
  19. tarheelmommy thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011
    What is the advantage / disadvantage to a AVCHD vs HDV camera?
  20. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Nov 6, 2009
    I was using the aforementioned Flip HD camcorder but now use my iPhone 4s to shoot video. Awesome video from a phone. Both Flip and iPhone video work well with iMovie. (Video gets pulled into iPhoto, where iMovie can easily access.)

    Flips can be had for much less than $100 right now if you want to try one out. You won't be sorry. I stopped using my MiniDV camcorder 4 years ago when we got the Flip...haven't looked back.

    For the type of footage you are shooting (home movies of the kids), there is really no need to spend more than $150 to get you spectacular imagery and great sound. The Flip works as well as some 1080p options from Kodak (Zi series). My 4yo and 3 month old have been served well by our Flip, and now the iPhone. Since you already know how to use iMovie and are used to it, I'd recommend an inexpensive HD camcorder (Flip/Zi...etc) instead of investing in all this new hardware and software as others are suggesting. If you don't like it, THEN shell out the bigger bucks.

    Amazing results these days from such inexpensive camcorders. My Flip and iPhone blow away anything I was able to shoot with my previous MiniDV camcorder. :)
  21. tarheelmommy thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Thanks for the suggestion. I have a flip and I don't like it and stopped using it. I much prefer a higher end camera.
  22. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    I have no experience with either. I use XDCAM, RED MX and the occasional Canon MKII for digital video.
    At home I use a Go Pro HD :)
  23. tarheelmommy thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011
    So is the issue with the mac itself, or is the issue with imovie? The answer to this will dictate the solution for me...either way I'm getting a new camera (HD canon of some type) but...depending on if its the mac or the software I'll get new software or a PC. The footage of my child is extremely important to me.
  24. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    No one can say (from everyone else's POV) if the Mac is the issues since none of us can see your actual and factual problems.
    Your best bet is not to spend money on software and test first.
    Due diligence with the camera. Not sure about return policies with consumer cameras these days.
    Haven't bought one since my GoPro.
  25. cgbier macrumors 6502a

    Jun 6, 2011
    For the things you plan on doing, the Canon S100 is fine. Software wise, I'd suggest iMovie 11. Don't make your life overly complicated.

    Those Sony harddrive cams are known to be a #$%& with Macs, but when you check the Apple support forums the might be able to help you.

    Grainy footage: Not enough light in the scene.
    You lines in the footage come from interlaced footage. You can solve that by exporting as progressive (AFAIK, iMovie does it automatically).

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