Is it normal for iMovie to Letterbox for hours??

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by wattage, Apr 26, 2006.

  1. wattage macrumors 6502


    Oct 14, 2005
    I just got the new Sony HDR-HC3 camcorder a shot some video at the San Diego Zoo. iMovie imported the clips throughout the night and now it says:

    Letterboxing....this may take a while. with a scrolling progress bar. This has been going on for 3-5 hours now!
    (some of the first 4-5 clips were shot in widescreen)

    Is my Powerbook (667mhz) stuck or is this normal behavior?
  2. Kardashian macrumors 68020


    Sep 4, 2005
    I believe Letterbox-ing is when a Widescreen image (16:9) is changed to fit onto a standard (4:3) aspect ratio.

    Since your first few clips were shot in Widescreen, I imagine iMove is Letterboxing them to fit a 4:3 aspect ratio (non-widescreen), without the cut-off lines you get otherwise.

    This is a guess so hopefully some one can elaborate further..

    Oh, forgot to say.. I'm not sure how long importing would take, but it all depends on length of the recording time, the quality, whether it was HD or not, the resolution etc, also whatever form of connection your using (FireWire 400, 800 or USB2) all effect importing times

    If your on the highest setting, but using the slowest importing method, on a lengthy piece of film, it could well be hours.

    Like I say, I'm not an expert so I'm just trying to help.. a little
  3. wattage thread starter macrumors 6502


    Oct 14, 2005
    It is not in HD. I am using a 6-4 pin firewire cable.

    Now it says it is "Letterboxing....saving thumbnails" after I tried to save it. I will let it 'go' today and see if it finishes.
  4. FF_productions macrumors 68030


    Apr 16, 2005
    Mt. Prospect, Illinois
    That is HDV, and you are editing it on a 667 mhz PowerBook, definetely expect these slow-times. Not sure of what else you can do to speed up the process other than get a new computer...
  5. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    It's best to stick to one or the other filming format.

    If in WS, then unless you went into iMovie first and told it that you wanted a widescreen project, it will have opened it as a 4:3 project and will be diligently letterboxing so that you have 4:3 clips to work with.

    You need to open up iMovie (the first time) and choose a widescreen project then close it and reopen it. Then when you import WS footage, it shouldn't letterbox it. I'm not sure if it would just end up doing the same to deal with the 4:3 footage or whether it would attempt stretching it.
  6. Kardashian macrumors 68020


    Sep 4, 2005
    So, was it the Resolution/HD thing I initially said?

    Sorry... Just it was a guess, I would be quite happy with myself if I got it right.. or half right :cool:
  7. wattage thread starter macrumors 6502


    Oct 14, 2005
    OK, it has been letterboxing/saving thumbnails since 0600 this am, now it is 0415pm. Should I force quit, and if I do will I have to re-import?

    I quit iMovie and it sent the clip that it was letterboxing to the trash, so I just deleted it. I will try and make sure to only shoot in regular format vs widescreen I guess
  8. wattage thread starter macrumors 6502


    Oct 14, 2005
    It is taking my 667mhz a long time to letterbox b/c I did not realize I was recording in 16:9 format instead of 4:3. This sucks b/c a 1 min. clip is taking over 30 min. at this point.
  9. McScooby macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2005
    The Paps of Glenn Close, Scotland.
    I've only ever used iMovie a couple of times before on my 1.5Ghz PB and what I seem to recollect, again it took hours to letterbox about 30mins of footage even with 768Mb of RAM.

    I believe it's been discussed here earlier that when using iMovie, after footage has been imported ideally you want to have at least 10Gb or more disk space free otherwise the whole process grinds to a halt, it certainly did with me and that was with 13Gb free!
  10. The Mad Kiwi macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2006
    In Hell
    I'll be the one to break the bad news to you.

    Man you are gonna need a new computer if you want to do video editing on it.

    That old thing ain't gonna cut the cake.

    The good news is you really do have an excuse to upgrade now.
  11. liketom macrumors 601


    Apr 8, 2004
    how would you rate the sony BTW ??

    was thinking of this or the canon XM-2
  12. pashazade macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Richmond, London, UK
    Hi, one thing to note.

    iMovie HD '06 has a bug in. If you shoot in WS and then import into a WS project no letterboxing should occur. Currently as soon as you select a clip iMovie will incorrectly start the letterboxing. To ensure that this does not happen, after importing save the project, close iMovie and the re-open the project. You should now be able to edit your project without the letterboxing occuring.

    As everyone has said, not sure if HD is possible on a 667Mhz PB.

    Good luck
  13. wattage thread starter macrumors 6502


    Oct 14, 2005
    I wish I would have known that up front. I think that is what I did without knowing to do it. It letterboxed a few short clips and then I saved it and quit iMovie. Now I can access my clips without it letterboxing.

    Regarding the HD, I think you need a 1Ghz processor, at least that's what the phrase at the beginning of iDVD I think.

    The Sony is a great camera so far. We started out with a Canon DC 40 DVD camera, but quickly found out about the incompatability and MPEG-2 formats. So we returned it and went to Fry's. We almost got a Panasonic 3CCD camera for $999. But we saw the Sony with HD capability and the touch screen and couldn't say no. We obviously won't be using the HD feature yet, but it seemed kinda silly not to buy a HD camera in this day and age. We will need a new comp. soon for editing.

    sorry so long.
  14. Freya's Dad macrumors newbie

    May 29, 2006
    Open a new project first...

    Before importing 16:9 from the camcorder, make sure the project is set as 16:9, or the letterboxing will occur. If you started a project using "save as" from a previous project which was not 16:9, the old settings will remain. Start a clean project, and don't mix formats.

    To specify a video format for a new project:
    Choose File > New or click the "Create a New Project" button in the Project window.
    In the Create Project dialog, click the "Video format" triangle to display format options.
    Choose the video format options you want.
    Click Create.

    Good luck.
  15. Texas04 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 2, 2005
    This has happened to me, dont worry just let it go!
    If your project was selected as posted above to be in 4:3 format, than when iMovie imports the "widescreen" footage it will letterbox it to fit the 4:3 ratio. None of your video will be cut off it will just have the black bars on top and bottom. If most of your movie is in 4:3 format than just let it do its thing, if not then i would reccommend going ahead and switching video formats by creating a New project and selecting 16:9 ratio.

    I have a 2 GHZ~ MBP and 1GB of ram... and even that takes a few minutes so I can only imagine.
  16. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    To the OP: are you sure it's HD. because HD is always 16:9. So it shouldn't pillar box it. unless you imported it as SD. cause someone said "it's HD". But how you're so sure.

    Or maybe it's HD and it's the bug that's pillarboxing it.
  17. Else macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2009
    this was all useful thanks. i will set to widescreen before i import next time.

    question: now ive imported most of my footage and it has letterboxed, but there is a chunk that i imported, saved and closed imovie before letterboxing happened. how do i get imovie to letterbox this footage now that it won't do it automatically?

Share This Page