HD Camcorders with iMovie 09 or iMovie HD?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by PCMacfly, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. PCMacfly macrumors newbie

    PCMacfly

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    #1
    I have iMovie HD and iMovie 08 on my MacBook and I am on the fence about buying an HD camcorder to start shooting scenes of my kids in HD. I went to the Apple support site to look up what HD camcorders are compatible with iMovie HD, but was a little disappointed to find no documentation about HD camcorder support for iMovie HD. I could only find camcorder support for iMovie 09 & iMovie 08.

    Then I reading about iMovie 09 and learned that iMovie 09 has made big improvements to iMovie 08, which quite honestly should never have been released by Apple. As an iMovie HD enthusiast, I would hope that iMovie 09 has all the same special effects as iMovie HD. '09 does appear to have most of them, plus a couple new features like the picture-in-picture feature and the animated road trip feature that loads an animated map to show the origination and destination of your trip (this would look real cool to integrate with our roadtrip footage).

    Still, I really need to buy an HD camcorder and hopefully find one that is compatible with iMovie HD...that is, until I feel comfortable to upgrade to iMovie 09, which has the HD camcorder compatiblity specs. I really need to get with the times and move away from analog tape. It looks like Cannon HD camcorders generally seem to jive better with iMovie than Sony by glancing at the chart Apple published here:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3290

    I would only be interested in a HD camcorder with a HDD incase I forget to download my footage for a while. Any other comments or suggestions that I should consider?

    - PCMacFly
     
  2. jzuena macrumors 6502a

    jzuena

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2007
    Location:
    Lexington, MA, USA
    #2
    With iMovie HD, you are pretty much looking at just HDV cameras (hi-def miniDV tape-based) as far as direct support. This means you can't go with iMovie HD if you have a unibody Macbook without Firewire, unless you are willing to add a step in transcoding your footage using some external program to massage it into something iMovie HD can understand. iMovie 09 adds support for many of the hard drive and flash based USB cameras that you are looking at.

    I have a Canon Vixia HV20, which is a HDV camera that works with both iMovie HD and iMovie '08 & '09 and as a bonus has an analog pass-through that allowed me to bring my old Sony analog tapes into iMovie. It is, of course, Firewire-only for video capture. It has been claimed by others that the latest version (HV40) will offload HDV via USB instead of Firewire. It isn't out yet, so I don't know if that is true and if it is whether that change will make it not work with iMovie HD. And it isn't HDD based, so it doesn't fit directly into what you are looking for.

    I also just got a Sony Webbie flash-based HD camera (the newer candy bar version) last night. The memory stick hasn't been delivered yet, so I was limited to ten seconds of video, but I verified it works just fine with iMovie '09 and with iPhoto for the stills. I didn't try it with iMovie HD yet but assume it will be a pain unless I just mount the camera as a USB drive, pull the videos down, and then convert them into something iMovie HD likes. For what I'm planning to use this camera for, I'm happy enough with iMovie '09 support. Its not HDD, but what you lose in capacity with flash you make up with the ability to swap in multiple flash drives. I just mention it since it is Sony and I have found it to be directly supported by iMovie 09 in the 1 hour I got to play with it so far.
     
  3. PCMacfly thread starter macrumors newbie

    PCMacfly

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    #3
    Yeah it seems firewire connections are for MiniDV camcorders that have removable memory, whereas USB connections are for HDD camcorders. I already made my mind to go with a HDD system.

    The Canon Vixia HG10 had some pretty good reviews for FCE on the B&H Photo website. I would go with this once since its around $500 and got overall good reviews, but I'm hesitating how iMovie '09 would "massage" native AVCHD into Apple format. One person said that the HG10 encodes AVCHD natively to MPEG-4 (AVC/H.264), which would have to be converted to Apple format (AIC) in order for editing to occur. I also recall a comment (maybe from another user) that FCE does this converstion very easily when it finds the HG10 automatically in the footage download process. Sounds promising if I had FCE, but i'm more likely to upgrade to iMovie '09 before I make the jump to FCE.
     
  4. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Location:
    Boon Docks USA
    #4
    I have a Sony SR11 (AVCHD) camcorder and use iMovie HD. But to get it in there, I import to iMovie 8 (which sucks for editing), then export to iMovie HD. Its a little time consuming but works good. The video quality is great. Better than my standard definition camcorder. I also use plugins from geethree for allot of effects. I bought FCE awhile back figuring it would be better but went back to iMovie HD. Easy to use and with the right plugins, can produce quality video like the higher price NLE's. Now if apple would update imovie to or FCE to let use edit AVCHD natively, would switch. Until then, will stick with iMovie HD.
     
  5. jzuena macrumors 6502a

    jzuena

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2007
    Location:
    Lexington, MA, USA
    #5
    I would be shocked if the HG10 isn't automatically detected by iMovie 09 as well. Both iMovie and FCE will transcode footage to AIC on import; only Final Cut Pro can edit these formats natively.

    You can't really go wrong with any of the Canon Vixia camcorders. They have them in all of the major formats: HDV (HV series), HDD (HG series), Flash (HF series), DVD (HR series) with similar features. You just pick the format that makes the most sense for your use.
     
  6. PCMacfly thread starter macrumors newbie

    PCMacfly

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    #6
    What sort of plug ins are there for iMovie HD? Do they offer more special effects than what it comes with? Also, FCE 4 is only $149 now, so I might just break down and buy it, along with a new camcorder. I'm looking also at the Panasonic HDC-SD5 as well, a little more expensive than the Canon mentioned earlier but very slick. Also, I was reading that AVCHD format is supposedly a write/read only format which makes editing very difficult. Not sure of the technical details about it, but I from what I read I doubt Apple will ever make software in iMovie or FCE that can edit AVCHD natively.

    Thanks for the ideas
     
  7. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

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    Sep 24, 2008
    Location:
    Boon Docks USA
    #7
    Here you go..... http://www.geethree.com .
    Download a few demo's and try it. Real cool.
     
  8. PCMacfly thread starter macrumors newbie

    PCMacfly

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    #8
    Wow this looks awesome! I'll have to download it this weekend when I have more time... Picture-in-picture would be great for iMovie HD! Draw on top of video! How cool is this stuff!

    Thank you for this link!
     
  9. wordspinner macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    #9
    Why buy an HD camcorder if I can't burn HD DVDs?

    Since I'm in the market for a new camcorder, this is the info. I want to get. But one key question--why would I buy an HD camcorder, import data into iMovie HD, edit it, and save the edited file if I can't burn an HD DVD without buying a $1000 HD DVD burner? Once I edit my home videos (I've been doing this with all my analog videos, using iMovie 06), I burn the finished iDVD file to a DVD disk for future enjoyment. Since I'd have to convert my HD movie back to Standard Definition before burning, why spend the extra money?
     
  10. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Location:
    Warrington, UK
    #10
    Although iMovie9 is far better than iMovie8, it still doesn't have the audio editing capability that iMovieHD has.
     
  11. WayneH1 macrumors member

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    Apr 28, 2010
    #11
    Why buy HD? The first time you see how HD from your camera looks on a big TV, you'll know. It's a jaw dropper. And I upgraded from a pretty nice Canon DV camcorder (that croaked), but the jump up in quality was shocking.
    You're right that getting HD edited and onto a disk is problematic right now, but I'm optimistic that will change. Apple's pro tools already allow creating blu-ray discs, or AVCHD disks, which are HD on DVD and play in blu-ray players. Toast offers similar abilities. The "blu-ray on DVD" disks don't allow the high bitrates of a true BD, but they look darn good and certainly are way better than anything in the SD world.

    There's no way I'd want to put a single penny into SD equipment at this point.

    ps: My replacement camera was a Canon Vixia HV30, which is awesome. It's tape based because I need access to my old miniDV tapes.
     
  12. wordspinner macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    #12
    Re HD camcorders

    Okay, so if I'm reading correctly, I CAN create a sort-of HD DVD using software. I'm going to research this. Believe me, I WANT to buy an HD video camera. Also, I'm thinking that even if I have to convert my iDVD file to standard to burn a few DVDs, that the picture quality from converted HD data will be better than from standard definition data. Does that make sense?
     
  13. WayneH1 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2010
    #13
    Yes, and I think it has the added benefit of being true. ;)

    The part about "converting your iDVD file to standard" doesn't make sense however. Anything you do in iDVD is strictly SD, at least when it comes to output.
     
  14. wordspinner macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    #14
    Importing AVCHD to iMovie 09

    Okay, I'm back. Having done some more research on HD camcorders, I see that Apple says iMovie 09 will work with flash memory camcorders (with some possible glitches). But elsewhere I've read that iMovie 09 will NOT recognize the format of AVCHD clips, and that I'd need some sort of conversion software. That's doable but will converting the clips strip out the Hi-Def quality? And will I be able to edit those converted clips in iMovie? I've looked for MiniDV HD camcorders but they seem few and far between and way expensive. Thanks again for the helpful info. I've gotten here!
     
  15. WayneH1 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2010
    #15
    This isn't my situation, so I can only tell you my sense of what I've read from others. As far as I know, folks are working fine with these cameras and getting full HD goodness in iMovie with them. But they do indeed need to pre-process with various utilities. I believe MPEGStreamclip comes up often.

    I highly recommend visiting the iMovie forum over at :apple:. That's where I've seen this very issue discussed ad nauseum.
     
  16. dan.mac macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    #16
    I'm looking at buying a HD sony handycam that uses AVHCD. I'm using imovie 08 but I'd upgrade to imovie 09 if it suits the format better. According to apple, imovie 09 is compatible with AVHCD but you have to delete the SD recordings in order to import the HD recordings onto your mac. http://support.apple.com/kb/ht3290

    I was wondering if anyone has experience in importing footage from sony handycam (such as the HDR XR150) into imovie.
     
  17. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Location:
    Boon Docks USA
    #17
    I import AVCHD from my Sony SR11 and from my Panasonic HMC150. No problems getting iMovie 9 to recognize it and import. I import into iMovie 9, then use iMovie 6HD to edit all of my clips. Hopefully apple updates iMovie or FCE to edit AVCHD natively like CS5 does now. If apple doesn't, I'll be switching.
     
  18. bkspero macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2009
    #18
    Apple is being "optimistic"

    You can import from HDR XR camcorders to iMovie 09, but as the poster a few above mentions, you have a choice to make between 2 less than optimal alternatives. You can do a natural import by iMovie where it re-renders your native AVCHD file to Apple Intermediate Codec with a long wait, a 10 fold increase in size, and a loss of half the resolution upon export (from 1080 to 540). Some feel the lost resolution is not missed. I find it clearly recognizable. The other alternative is to use one or more other programs to pre-re-render the AVCHD file to a format which will not have its resolution compromised by iMovie. An approach that is far from "It just works." As the other poster mentions, this subject is addressed repeatedly on the Apple iMovie support forum.

    The situation is no better for Final Cut Express, or any of the other Mac consumer video editing programs. You can edit HD if you want to spend $1000 on Final Cut Pro or Adobe CS5 (CS5 has accelerated video, so you can view directly from the editing screen).

    It is arguably simpler and definitely cheaper to install Windows on your Mac along with a Windows native AVCHD editor like Sony Vegas. You can do that for only $200. The main problem would be that except for the new i5/i7 Macs and the Mac Pro's, Apple computers will likely struggle with AVCHD.

    As an alternative, you could buy a Core 2 Quad PC running Windows 7 and Sony Vegas, and still save $200-$400 vs. the cost of FCP alone. That's what I did, and it is working great.

    Good luck whatever you decide.
     
  19. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Location:
    Boon Docks USA
    #19
    I plan on waiting on updates to apple's video editing programs, (ie. iMovie or FCE, to see if AVCHD will be 100% editable without transcoding. If not, the will probably bootcamp widows 7 or use my Octo pc I built and check out other programs. CS5 is supposed to be able to edit AVCHD natively but have to check out what folks are saying about it.
     

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