How can I use imovie 09 to create a quality DVD

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Leo D, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. Leo D macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2010
    My camcorder (Sony DCR-SR100) records videos in MPEG2. I want to use imovie 09 to edit these video clips, and then burn DVD's that I can watch on TV. I am able to import MPEG2 files to my computer, or import directly to imovie as .mov files. I am trying to determine the best way to produce DVD's with minimal quality loss.

    I have done a lot of research on this topic, but haven't found an answer. I can produce a DVD, but the quality loss is significant when compared to what I see when I connect my camcorder directly to the TV.

    My research has revealed a number of possible causes for this quality loss:
    1) Importing directly to imovie 09
    2) Editing interlaced video in imovie (Single field processing almost certainly results in quality loss)
    3) Exporting project directly to iDVD

    I already have MPEG Streamclip, as well as the QuickTimeMPEG2 upgrade. I have tried different combinations with these softwares, but I can see that it could take months of trial and error to find the right settings for my purpose. I hope someone here can save me some time and frustration.

    Should I import directly to imovie, or convert and/or deinterlace the MPEG2 files before importing?

    Should I export directly to iDVD, or are there some intermediate steps that would result in improved quality of my DVD?

    Is there any additional software that might help?

    If anyone can help, please give specific and detailed instructions!
  2. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    As video DVDs use MPEG-2 encoded video, and iMovie either needs the DV or the Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) to edit properly, there is no way to circumvent the whole transcoding (conversion) issue. Maybe you can find a lossless MPEG-2 video editor, but MPEG-2 is not meant for editing anyway.

    Hmm, sorry if I can't help you though.
  3. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    load the MPEG2 into MPEGStreamClip
    Select "Export to Quicktime"
    Then set the video codec to Apple Intermediate Codec ( AIC )
    Quality to 100%
    Set the resolution to 720x480 (DV-NTSC ) or DV-PAL, whichever is appropriate for your region.

    Sound: Uncompressed Stereo 48KHz
    Field Dominance: Upper field first
    Do NOT deinterlace

    You should be able to bring this into iMovie 09 then with little quality loss.

    The way you handle it on the iDVD side is just as important. Make sure you set your Quality settings correctly in iDVD and make sure you "import" your video from the media manager in iDVD
    ( don't export it from iMovie, you'll lose quality here )

    Good luck!
  4. Leo D thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2010
    Thanks hunter, I understand the recommendations for importing to imovie, but the iDVD part is not clear to me. If I don't export the project from imovie, how do I get it to iDVD?
  5. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    Open iDVD, create new project and click on the circled MEDIA button.
    The rest is explained in the program.

  6. Leo D thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2010
    Hi spinnerlys, thanks for trying to help me out, I appreciate it! When I click on "create new project" in iDVD, it doesn't take me to the window that has the media option. What am I missing?
  7. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    What iDVD and iMovie version do you have?

    Do you have that MEDIA button on the bottom right?
  8. Leo D thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2010
    It's 09, I just bought the computer about a week ago, switching over from PC has been more challenging than I anticipated. Yeah, I have the media button, but I have to choose a project from the media list first, and my project isn't there. So no media button.... I also read somewhere that if you go directly from imovie 09 to iDVD, there's a loss in quality. Do you know anything about that?
  9. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    Have you shared it in iMovie, as iDVD suggested?

    There is a Menu Bar option in iMovie called SHARE.

    Have you taken a look at the iDVD and iMovie tutorials on Apple's official iLife website?

    Also have a look at the following links, as the information presented there might be helpful in your future endeavours into Mac OS X and could clear up initial confusion and may even prevent harm to your system or your files.

  10. Leo D thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2010
    Ok, I shared it with iDVD, rather than my media browser, which I'm trying as we speak. However, my initial question still remains unanswered - Does going directly to iDVD from imovie result in a quality loss, as others have suggested?
  11. Raytrace macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2010
    There will always be *some* quality loss when transcoding or anything else that moves your content another generation down the post production line.

    If, in iDVD, you look at the "project info" pane, I think it's called, (sorry I'm at work, not on the mac and a bit removed from iDVD at the moment) you'll see an option to encode your DVD with "best performance", "high quality", or "best quality". I may be a bit off on those setting names but there are three levels of quality you can choose from. I think the default setting is best performance which encodes the fastest but skimps on video quality.

    I suggest experimenting with these settings and seeing if choosing the best quality setting yields the results you desire. Of couse the encoding will take longer but if quality is paramount, it's always worth it.
  12. Leo D thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2010
    I just spent the entire day experimenting. I've been able to convert my MPEG files to AIC with minimal loss of quality. The quality loss when importing into imovie 09 seems acceptable as well. But, no matter what method or settings I use, the project when exported from imovie 09 looks noticeably worse than the original, to a degree that makes it almost a waste of time to edit my videos.

    Any suggestions?
  13. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    How are you exporting it? ( and how are you viewing the project? )
  14. Leo D thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2010
    Wow, I've exported it just about every way you can imagine! Exporting as a DV stream generally resulted in a washed out, blurry video. I tried with DV, DVCPRO, and DVCPRO50, interlaced and deinterlaced. Also tried exporting to QT, as DV or AIC. The DV attempts were, again, washed out and blurry. The AIC attempts were better, but even with adjusting the brightness and contrast, the color was always off, and the picture was generally not nearly as sharp as the original.

    I was viewing all variations on my computer, comparing the video at various stages with the original. As I said, the video in imovie compared to the original was acceptable, but comparing any video, after exporting from imovie, to the original was very disappointing. The best results were obtained by sharing the project with iDVD, but even that left much to be desired.

    I did burn a few DVD's, but not today. Too many wasted blanks! The DVD's I did burn, however, looked very poor when viewed on my widescreen tv (compared to viewing the same video clips with my camcorder connected directly to the TV through an s-video cable).

    I know that a video viewed on the computer looks very different from the same video viewed on a TV, but as all videos were viewed on the computer, the comparison should have some validity. I also know that the preview in imovie or iDVD may not be equal to a QT preview, in terms of quality, but just the same, my results were discouraging. The biggest loss of quality seemed to occur after exporting from imovie, viewing the export with QT, and comparing to the preview screen in imovie. If anything, the QT preview should be a more accurate representation of the video, shouldn't it? The QT preview, after exporting from imovie, looked considerably worse than the same video viewed in imovie, before exporting. The QT export looked much worse than the original video, also previewed with QT. The quality loss happened between importing to, and exporting from imovie.

    Anyway, I really like working with imovie, so far. The quality degradation I'm experiencing makes it seem like a waste of time, though. I know the editing process will invariably result in some quality loss, but I've done video editing before on a PC with different softwares, and much better results in terms of quality. Hopefully there's something I can do to improve the end result.


    Theory---Single field processing may be the culprit, and if so, is there a work around?
  15. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    OK try this instead:

    After that, export your video from iMovie to iDVD this way:

    Share->Export to Quicktime-> Movie to Quicktime Movie
    then select options

    Click Video Settings:

    Compression type: Apple Intermediate Codec
    Framerate: current
    Compressor, Preset: Other

    Then click Size: NTSC 720x480 4:3 or 16:9 whichever your video is supposed to be

    Linear PCM, Stereo, 48KHz

    Uncheck "prepare for internet streaming"
  16. Leo D thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2010
    Thanks for the help, huntercr! I had already tried those export settings, and they gave me the best results...but, even though I had speculated that deinterlacing might be helpful, and I had even downloaded JES yesterday, I wasn't able to figure out how to best utilize it. That Google link will be really helpful, and now I am actually confident I'll get good results. That's the missing step!

    Thanks again....:)
  17. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    You may find a suggestion at Apples forum on this very problem. It is a very long thread and you kind of have to filter through a lot to figure it out. Sorry I can't recall the details.
  18. SBRBL2003 macrumors newbie

    Apr 27, 2010
    I am confused. :confused:I migrate to mac due to audio and video capabilities and I am getting very poor results.

    I used to edit my mpeg2 everio 720x480 videos in PC and I used to get reasonably good DVD only making a couple of trims and transitions and date stamp.

    Now I realized that importing to imovie is awful. I am using Streamclip, AIC, etc.etc. It improved
    Question: What should be the best config to import to imovie as much as lossless as possible (mpeg2, 720x480;60i 16:9 NTSC)

    I am lost. I would like to obtain something similar to encoding a DVD with appletv preset in Handbrake what is almost perfect. Of course there is some little loose but is nothing compared to size reduction.
    Up to now I could not obtain a good video with imovie. Everything looks like a tiny video being watched (streched) in a big screen.
    Question: How do I export with good quality ?.:(

  19. SBRBL2003 macrumors newbie

    Apr 27, 2010
  20. bkspero macrumors regular

    Dec 19, 2009
    Wish I had an answer for you

    I feel your pain. I went thru some of what you've described, but gave up much earlier. I bought a Core 2 Quad PC with Windows 7 and a copy of Sony Vegas for way less than the price of a Mac Mini. Rock solid, imports, exports, and burns like a star. If you want to stay with your Mac, please consider dual booting to Windows 7 running Vegas (or any of several other programs that work as well).

    In my opinion, Apple is living off of its reputation insofar as video editing and many other computer-related activities are concerned while it focuses its resources on consumer devices like iPad, iPods, and iPhones. We both got caught in the trap. Maybe this thread will help others avoid your issues.

    Good luck whatever you decide.

    p.s., Another benefit of Win 7 is Windows Media Center. It shames anything from Apple for running a media center PC. For about $20 you can pick up a no-name HD USB tuner (both ATSC and QAM capable) that works with WMC. It makes for a powerful home theater PC which you can use to display your HD video on your HDTV, watch broadcast and unscrambled cable HDTV, and play BluRay disks (maybe add another $80 for a BluRay drive....BluRay is another technology for which Macs are woefully unprepared).
  21. Xylian macrumors member

    Sep 28, 2009
    I've finished yesterday my first project in iMovie/iDVD and I've noticed the big quality loss when exporting from iMovie to iDVD.... I've set the best quality in iDVD, but the real problem seems to be the export from iMovie to iDVD... I'll try the export to QuickTime process next time, instead of exporting directly to iDVD.. I think the quality loss is something normal, but here we have too much quality loss....
  22. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    This has been discussed too many times to count. You have not lost any quality. You are trying to use iDVD as a viewer. MacOS X includes DVD Player for playing DVDs. iDVD is for a DVD editor. The preview function is an aid to editing. Most of its resources are devoted to rendering video to DVD, not playing the DVD. Once created, your DVD disc image file or finalized DVD will play at full quality in DVD Player or a DVD player deck.
  23. WayneH1 macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2010
    I cannot help you with the import steps for your clips, but once in iMovie, I use the following. First, make sure you set your iDVD preferences to encode at "Professional" quality instead of the default. This is much slower but produces the best encode you can get out of iDVD. This single change gives, in my experience, the biggest boost in DVD quality that you'll get by changing any of the iLife defaults.

    I read all the forums over at Apple and experimented quite a lot with advice I found over there. For me, the best possible quality was obtained by exporting using Quicktime to an H.264 file at all "best" settings. I believe the iMovie default for Share-to-media-browser, Large, produces a file at less than "best" quality and a lower resolution. (Sorry, I forget the numbers.) I doubled the resolution from the default and selected "best". The resulting file is much larger and takes much longer to export, and then to render in iDVD. But this slow approach gave me the best quality I was able to find. It's tough to say it's worth the extra time, though, compared to the quick and easy defaults.

    The other leading export recommend by many was AIC. This has the benefit of being pretty quick and less lossy, but personally I didn't get such good results trying this. It seemed to give me jagged titles and poor image quality of embedded photos. H.264 shouldn't have worked as well as it did for me, but it did.

    I experimented just a bit with de-interlacing but I didn't really see much gain from this. Even the experts agree that it's partly a matter of taste and that you need to test for yourself. My testing isn't done. My particular big project was already done before I started quality experiments, so going back and de-interlacing all my source footage wasn't an attractive idea.

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