Importing DVD's to iMovie 09 with least amount of quality loss?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by SeanM, Jan 9, 2010.

  1. SeanM macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2007

    I'm looking for the best way to import DVD's into iMovie 09 losing the least amount of quality. I am looking to make a fan montage video of a television series, it'd be a lot of brief scenes from 20-some hour long episodes.

    I have been using Handbrake to convert the DVD clips to an .MP4 file and then importing that into iMove 09 but in addition to the very long import time (since iMovie converts it and generates thumbnails etc) the quality of the finished movie ends up being *atrocious* especially on darker/night scenes (very blocky etc).

    I was told this is because iMovie uses the "DV" format and that my videos should be in DV format before importing into iMovie for the best results, otherwise it will convert to lossy quality. I guess what I'm asking is, what is the best way to accomplish this? It doesn't seem like Handbrake can convert to DV format. Or is there a better way?

    Basically I want the fastest way to trim little clips (10 seconds or so) from a DVD episode and then import that file into iMovie with the least amount of re-conversion or whatever so that the quality stays good. I'm sure someone here has done this before… Thanks in advance.
  2. Cagle macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2009
    I used MPEG Streamclip to convert the VOB file from a dvd to .dv, then imported into imovie. I had trouble with MPEG Streamclip reading off the DVD so I first ripped the episode I wanted with mac the ripper.
  3. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    Mroogle will have answered that question for you many and plenty of times.

    There is MacTheRipper, RipIt and Fairmount to rip (copy the DVD to your HDD while removing the copyright protection) the video DVD to your HDD.

    Then there is Handbrake to convert the ripped DVD to a file like .mkv, .mp4 and .avi with MPEG-4 codecs like Xvid and H264, which are not meant for editing though, as they don't store every frame of the video (video DVDs use MPEG-2 as a codec, which also only stores every 15th frame and the frames in between are approximations).

    After that you can use MPEG-Streamclip to convert the compressed video file to a .mov file encoded with the DV codec, a codec iMovie can read and is meant for editing, as it stores every frame and takes up approx. 220MB/s.

    You can also skip Handbrake and use MPEG-Streamclip for converting directly to a DV encoded .mov file from the ripped video DVD, but you need the QuickTime MPEG-2 component (19USD) to be able to access the MPEG-2 encoded video DVD footage via MPEG-Streamclip.

    But it would save one encoding process.


    In order for you to edit your videos stored on the video DVD, you need to rip it via MacTheRipper / RipIt / Fairmount, if the video DVD is copy protected (all commercial video DVDs are).
    If it is not copy protected, you might be just able to copy the Video_TS folder onto your HDD.

    Now there are two ways to convert the MPEG-2 compressed footage.

    1. Get Handbrake and convert the footage to either an .avi file with the Xvid codec (2-pass or Constant Quality of 100% and highest bitrate for video and audio) or an .mp4/.m4v file with the H264 codec (the same as with Xvid).
    Then use MPEG Streamclip to convert/export the .avi or .mp4/.m4v file to a QuickTime (.mov - CMD+E) file encoded with the DV codec or to a DV file (CMD+OPTION/ALT+E).
    Both, .mov and .dv, can be read by iMovie.

    2. Get the QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component from the Apple Online Store for 20USD, open MPEG Streamclip, in there go to File > Open DVD and select your Video_TS folder on your HDD.
    Then either export it as QuickTime with the DV codec or as DV file as explained in step 1.
    This saves you one encoding process, therefore time and image quality loss.


    MPEG Streamclip export options

    Handbrake export as .mp4 - example

    PS: answers are copied and pasted
  4. SeanM thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2007
    Thank you both for the MPEG Streamclip suggestion. I am trying that now and it's fantastic, it allows me to set marker points and clip the exact scene I want rather than with Handbrake where you have to do the entire chapter. It's also importing the DV file into iMovie nearly immediately. This will speed up the entire process significantly for me.

    However, iMovie 09 still seems to be adding some extra artifacts to the final export (I am using Share > Export Movie, not sure if that's the "wrong" way). It's not nearly as bad as before, but I'm still seeing extra blockiness and artifacts (particularly in the shadows/darkness) that weren't present in the DV version - or at least not as easily noticeable.

    Is this just something that's unavoidable? I wouldn't mind learning Final Cut if it had better quality exports.
  5. skruggie macrumors member

    Dec 11, 2005
    I do something relatively similar, but I go about it in a different way - I have an analog to digital converter and I have it hooked up to my vcr/dvd player. It doesn't just work for vhs tapes - it can also be used to grab the specific scenes I want off of a dvd as well, for the purposes of making montages, etc. It imports straight into imovie, and no need to fool around with re-compressing the footage.

    I am using the Canopus ADVC-55 for this.
  6. Cagle macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2009
    I too would like to know if final cut pro or express handles video better when exporting, than imovie.

    have you experimented with many of the differerent export settings imovie offers?
  7. TheZA macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2007
    I've done this a few times a couple of different ways. Typically, I rip the DVD to hard drive using Mac The Ripper, then convert select VOBs to DV using ffmpegx, then import to iMovie. Or the other way when I want the whole movie rather than select portions from select VOBs: Rip with MTR, then use DVD2OneX to output to a single VOB, then ffmpegX to DV, then import to iMovie.

Share This Page