iMovie and HD camcorder, or not?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Purds, Apr 19, 2011.

  1. Purds macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2011
    Please help me do this correctly from the start. Background: I have a dual core iMac and have used iMovie from its early days up to 09. I had used a standard def. camcorder, but it died, and I am buying a new one. I will shoot almost exclusively track meets, outdoors, and then edit for two purposes, showing form and technique to athletes (easy to do, quality not an issue), but then also compiling shots from the year into a video, somewhere in the 20 minute long range. FInally, I make a DVD of the team video for each senior.

    My questions, or areas that need clarification:

    1) Should I get an HD camcorder, or save money by not? My concern here is that with iMovie 09, when I export to a DVD, the quality of the video suffers greatly, and if I am stuck with that quality, should I just forgo an HD camcorder and use that money to buy one with a better optical zoom, etc.?

    2) I have school license access to iMovie 11 (I think that's the current one). Would using it make a difference.

    3) I have tried FCE, and it was a big learning curve for me, and I don't think it's worth the time, relative to what I do (I don't edit video for money, or even for a hobby, but I would love to have the DVDs to be of the quality level closer to the older days of iMovie.

    4) I am not sure if I can get my hands on iMovie 6. Should I care, and how would that work with an iMac of my level?

    5) Within a year, but not by this year's track season, I will get a new Mac.

    So, any suggestions on how to proceed? The camcorder budget is fairly low, in the under $500 range for my simple needs. For example, sound is almost unnecessary for what I do.

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

    PS: I am fairly computer savvy, but I'd prefer not to jump through too many hoops and instead spend the time coaching, teaching, etc.

  2. zblaxberg Guest


    Jan 22, 2007
    1) Whether you have an SD camera or HD camera, the computer still needs to compress the video to fit onto an SD DVD. Compressing HD video down to SD for a DVD always looks better than SD video on a DVD. But the longer the video is that you are putting onto DVD, the lower the quality will be.

    2) If you are purchasing iMovie with an Educational Discount then you will save some money I believe.

    3) If you don't know Final Cut Express and don't really have the time to learn it you are best off sticking to iMovie.

    4) If you have iMovie '09 you can still edit HD video but with any program, newer versions will run better and the features will be better.

    5) When you get a new mac, it will come with the latest version of iMovie... not sure why this is a bullet point but figured I'd let you know.

    -Honestly if all you need is video you could buy an HD Flip camera for $100 but if you need the optical zoom there are plenty of HD video cameras out there with a good optical 5x, 10x and sometimes greater zoom.
  3. Purds thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2011
    Thanks for the info. Yes, I only need video, but I do need a good zoom. My old camcorder was x10, but I want x20 optical or better with the new one.

    Yes, I'll snag iMovie 11 from the school for free (they have plenty of licenses) -- as long as it's as good or better than iMovie 09. Going from iMovie 6 to the next evolution was a step back for my DVD creations.

    I noted that I will upgrade my Mac only because if someone has a software solution that is processor-intensive, well, after this year, my processor will be better able to handle that load.
  4. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    The reason why SD videos (from miniDV cams) look awful when exported to DVD is that iMovie'08 (and higher) doesn't do proper de-interlacing. It essentially drops every other frame, so the resolution looks crappy.

    If you are insistent on using miniDV, I would suggest sticking with iMovie'06, as it properly deinterlaces the 480i footage.

    As an alternative, you could get an HD camcorder and instead of burning DVDs for the seniors, you could export the movies as 1080p video files. Pretty much everyone is set up with iTunes anymore, and the ones that don't use iTunes can still probably play m4v files.

    If you need a camcorder to import your old tapes, you have a couple of options. Buy an older (used) miniDV camcorder or buy an HDV camcorder. The Canon HV40 is pretty much the latest HDV camcorder, but it's like 3 years old.
  5. Purds thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2011
    I am definitely not wed to miniDV. I was wondering if HD would give me any advantage considering that iMovie 09 had degraded the quality of the DVDs so much. But, I had never thought to give the seniors the movie as a file instead of a DVD. The easy way to show the DVD to the whole tam is via DVD in a room with a projector system on campus, but perhaps I should think about creating a file instead. Hmmm.

    Well, any camcorder suggestions if I want HD with a 15x or better zoom? I currently have a 10x zoom and it's not quite enough. I would love to have good stabilization and quick focusing on moving targets, but I also don't have a grand to spend.
  6. Purds thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2011
    I forgot to ask, does the poor interlacing happen at export, so that as long as I export to a file instead of iDVD I'll be okay, or do I need to make sure of some setting as I am importing? (assuming I get an HD camcorder)
  7. LinuxElf macrumors newbie

    Nov 25, 2010
    Definitely go for the HD video camera.

    I use Sony's because of the excellent low-light capabilities for shooting volleyball and basketball in high-school gyms.

    If you really want to do it super-right, get Toast with the HD plugin and an LG Blu-Ray burner. I can get two complete basketball games on each Blu-Ray disc in HD. I rarely watch any sports not in HD anymore.

    Get the internal LG Blu-Ray. I could not figure out how to have both my original Apple DVD burner and LG Blu-Ray burner working together, so I just unplugged the original Apple burner. LG burner is awesome. I've done an entire high school season of basketball and have yet to burn a coaster.

    When you burn the Blu-Ray, ALWAYS burn a disk image first, then burn the disk from the disk image. Takes longer, but no coasters!

    Get the HD camera, for sure! :D

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