iMovie 09 and telecine captures?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by eggplant72, Jun 1, 2010.

  1. eggplant72 macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2010
    I'm trying to convert some old 8mm home movies to DVD.

    To do this I project the 8mm films onto a telecine screen and capture them with my Sony PAL (not NTSC) camcorder.

    (Yes, I know there's a potential frames-per-second conflict issue here that can cause that annoying "flickering" effect in the capture, but by tweaking the fps speed of the projector it is possible to eliminate the flicker.)

    So far so good: when I import the captured movie files from my camcorder to my Mac (in .vob format) and view them with VLC Player they look fine - no flicker, nice picture quality.

    However, when I import the files into iMovie 09 for editing I'm annoyed to find that "flickering" reappears. I'm guessing this has something to do with iMovie's lossy compression rate, frames rates, interlacing, or something like that.

    Can anyone suggestion how to get rid of the "flicker" when using iMovie 09? I'm aware of the JES Deinterlacer software but I'm not sure what settings I should use in my case.
  2. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    How do you get the .vob video into iMovie?

    .vob files are MPEG-2 compressed video files usually found on video DVDs, does that mean your camcorder records to DVDs?

    You need something like MPEG Streamclip and the Apple QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component to convert the .vob files (or the whole DVD) to something iMovie recognizes, like a .mov file using the DV or Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC).

    Also know, that iMovie's preview windows does not show an exact image, even if it flickers, a TV will display it without flickering.

    And is your iMovie set to NTSC or PAL?
  3. eggplant72 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2010
    Yes, it's a mini-DVD camcorder that connects to the Mac by USB cable. (In case you're wondering there is no Firewire cable which is just as well because I have a new MacBook with no Firewire port.)

    Not necessary - iMovie 09 automatically recognises the camcorder when connected via USB cable and happily imports the contents. Unfortunately these "imports" have a pronounced flicker when I view them in the iMovie preview window.

    (Out of curiosity I also copied the .vob files from my camcorder to my hard drive. iMovie 09 will not open these raw .vob files directly from the hard drive, but I can view them with VLC Player - they look fine.)

    I'm not sure about that - after editing some of my home movies with iMovie I burned them to a DVD (using iDVD) and viewed it with the Mac DVD Player and VLC Player. The DVD looked terrible - flicker galore. Doubt it would look any better on a TV screen.

  4. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    Seems likely iMovie's de-interlacing is causing the flicker. If you have iMovie '06 you could see if that recognises your camera. If not you'll need to use MPEG Streamclip or something similar to de-interlace to 50p and hope iMovie '09 will accept that.

    I'd imagine you need the original folder structure intact for iMovie to recognise and import the files.
  5. bmb012 macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2006
    You can try running the footage through JES Deinterlacer to see if that helps any... It might be able to change the framerate in a way that eliminates the flickering... or something, heh, not really sure without looking at the footage myself...
  6. eggplant72 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2010
    I don't have iMovie 06 but I do have JES Deinterlacer. However JES has many, many settings and I have no idea which ones I should use to eliminate the flicker.
  7. OrganMusic macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2008
    I did a bunch of 8mm home movies a couple years ago with a cheap Canon MiniDV camcorder. Some of its presets put the camera I think down to 15 fps with a slow shutter speed -- I think the one I ended up using was called fireworks, but there might be some sort of night or low-light mode. I'm sure that introduces some noise into the picutre, but the color was still pretty decent and overall I was fairly happy with the result.

    I've heard of people using a variac to slow the projector down to a frame rate closer to a multiple of ntsc, but i didn't try that. I wonder if there's a final cut plugin filter for dealing with this kind of problem.

    You might try hooking up your camera to or playing back your captures on a normal TV to get an idea of what it will really look like. In my experience computer display playback is really a rather inaccurate representation of what your DVD will look like, especially in matters of flicker, motion artifacts, frame rate etc.

    I don't think de-interlacing is going to help you all that much.
  8. OrganMusic macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2008
    You can try playing around with the telecine and inverse telecine functions, but I'm not sure how to tell you to put the settings. I think that's really meant for people trying to prepare video to print onto film, but maybe you can use it to work backwards somehow.
  9. eggplant72 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2010
    My Sony camcorder doesn't have adjustable shutter speed. However, my 8mm projector *does*, and by tweaking the fps rate I was able to eliminate most of the telecine flicker during the capture process. As I mentioned, the raw files from my camcorder (in .VOB format) looked fine when I viewed them with VLC Player. In fact, by tweaking VLC's deinterlacing settings it is possible to turn the flicker on and off.

    Unfortunately iMovie is reintroducing the flicker - I'm assuming this is due to (de)interlacing and/or lossy compression etc.

    Phoned Apple Support, but they could only suggest I upgrade to Final Cut for more advanced editing options.

    I'm hoping that by experimenting with JES Deinterlacer it may be possible to remove the flicker again.

    I live in a PAL (not NTSC) zone, by the way.
  10. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Nov 6, 2009
    You REALLY should check this stuff on an actual TV screen. Each time you said you checked files or DVDs it was done on your computer, not a TV.

    There is a surprising difference at times, between what you see on your computer and what a DVD will look like on a TV...especially between what shows up in a preview window and what will appear on TV.
  11. eggplant72 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2010
    I'm primarily doing this so family members can watch the old home movies on their computers. Watching a burned DVD on a proper TV is a low priority. In fact I don't have ready access to a standard DVD player that's connected to a TV set.
  12. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    Will JES Deinterlacer read the VOB files? If it will, do exactly as I say, nothing less, nothing more:

    Open JES Deinterlacer.

    In the 'Input' tab, click 'Choose', and select your desired video.

    In the 'Project' tab, select 'Both Fields'.

    In the 'Output' tab, click 'Put', and choose your desired file name and location. Then select 'Export', followed by 'Quicktime Movie'. The movie settings should be as follows:

    Video compression type: Apple Intermediate Codec
    Frame rate: 50 fps
    Video size: PAL 720x576 ('16:9' if it's widescreen, '4:3' if it's not)
    Sound format: Linear PCM
    Channels: Stereo (L R)
    Sample rate: 48 kHz
    Sample size: 16-bit

    Click 'OK'.

    iMovie '09 will hopefully accept this video. But it's a bit long-winded. And I'm not sure JES will even accept the files.
  13. Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    I did this acouple years ago. And similarly.

    I used my Sony minDV camcorder. Played with the projector speed to minimize flicker or strobing.
    I brought it into FCE in DV format. Did the speed chinging thing to bring it back to a more normal speed.
    Blah , blah blah ...

    So I recommend transcoding to DV to see if that helps.

    As another (expensive) thought, what about getting a 720p25 camcorder.
    Has anyone tried this poors man's telecine with a progressive camcorder?
    8 mm frame rate is 16 fps. This might be difficult to get to 25 fps.
  14. eggplant72 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2010
    Short answer: no, it won't.

    The problem is not with the original VOB files but what iMovie does to them. It appears iMovie is importing the VOB files and converting them to MOV format. In fact when I go into the iMovie folder and open these "intermediate" MOV files with QuickTime they are not flickery. It seems that editing with iMovie is causing the flicker.

    I have tried exporting the edited files from iMovie to DV by going to Share > Export Using QuickTime > Movie to DV Stream. Same (flickering) result.

    Will experiment with a PC using Windows Movie Maker and/or Sony's Picture Package software which is specially designed for the Sony camcorder. Picture Package is not Mac compatible, unfortunately.
  15. kd5jos macrumors 6502


    Oct 28, 2007
    Denver, CO
    Use QT7 to export the movie at the "intermediate" point? Then open the exported movie in iMovie and see if adding the extra step side steps iMovie's interpolation?

    There's another straw I can grasp.... :)
  16. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    Not sure if this is what kd5jos is suggesting, but how about running those Quicktimes through JES? But obviously if Movie Maker or the Sony software work, it's not worth this hassle.

    And incidentally, DV is not going to save the clips — AIC will actually give you better picture quality — it's an interlacing issue, not a codec issue.
  17. eggplant72 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2010
    OK, have just done this ... burned a DVD-R and played it in a standalone DVD player connected to a regular TV set. Yes, flicker galore, as I suspected.

    Also experimented with Sony Motion Picture Browser and Windows Movie Maker on a PC. Again, flicker, flicker everywhere. It appears that neither of these programs have an option to (de)interlace.

    So, I'm running out of free Mac options here. It seems my choices are:

    1. Upgrade to Final Cut Express which I understand has built-in controls for flicker removal and deinterlacing.

    2. Dabble with deinterlacing software on a PC.

    3. It's been suggested that a camcorder with a 'progressive' capture mode would be helpful.

    4. Might I get better results with a camcorder that uses a format other than mini-DVD? (e.g. mini-DV or HDD)

    Suggestions welcome as always.
  18. the vj macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2006
    I do not like iMovie. It looks simple and is meant to do extremely simple stuff but obviously, it can make your life a living hell.

    Use Final Cut Pro, even Final Cut Express if you wish, but your first mistake is using your little syster's barbie kitchen to cook a actual lasagna.
  19. eggplant72 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2010
    I can't afford Final Cut Pro ... the Express version, maybe. Actually I have found iMovie 09 quite user-friendly, it's just a pity it has no option to deinterlace, which seems to be my downfall in this case.
  20. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    You don't want to deinterlace, ideally. But, as far as I know, you'll have to if you want to edit in iMovie '09. iMovie is deinterlacing, but it's doing so by binning half of your temporal resolution, which is introducing flicker. That's why I suggested you deinterlace outside of iMovie, using software like JES that will not bin half of the temporal resolution but instead double the frame rate and interpolate what's missing.

    As the camcorder files won't work in JES directly, and the Quicktime clips iMovie generates on import are without flicker, run the latter through JES.
  21. eggplant72 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2010
    OK, I delved thru the bowels of my Mac and found an original MOV file which iMovie generated on import. I then ran it through JES using the settings you suggested above. Unfortunately the resulting file looks dreadful. Are there some other settings in JES I can tweak?

    (Incidentally there is no need to keep the audio as they are all silent movies.)
  22. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    "Dreadful" doesn't really give much to go on. Video is something that really requires precision and specificity.

    Open the original video in VLC. What you're seeing in iMovie should be like VLC with de-interlacing set to 'discard'. What comes out of JES should be like VLC set to 'bob'. Is this the case?
  23. eggplant72 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2010
    Sorry, I'm new to this. Do appreciate your help. :eek:

    OK, when I open the original VOB file with VLC set to Deinterlacing > Discard the picture starts to "pulse", as in iMovie. Set to "Bob" it starts to flicker furiously, much worse than iMovie. The picture actually looks best set to "Mean" or "Blend".

    (Incidentally VLC will not open the VOB > MOV file created by iMovie on import - I get an error message that VLC "does not support the audio or video format m2v1".)

    What comes out of JES cannot by opened by VLC, same error message as noted above. Opened in QuickTime the JES output file flickers furiously (as with "Bob" above) and furthermore the picture quality is degraded - a sort of patchy, pixellated effect.

    When I import the JES output file back into iMovie it still looks "dreadful" - flicker, combing, patchy pixellation etc.

    I hope this makes sense.
  24. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    Then same settings as I suggested above but with 'Blend Fields' instead of 'Both Fields' and everything should look fine.
  25. eggplant72 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2010
    On "Blend" the image is not so flickery but still degraded (patchy and pixellated).

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